Sava Zivkovic, Director and CG Artist – CGA2019 Interview

Sava Zivkovic is a Director and CG artist based in Belgrade, Serbia. Born in 1989, he graduated from the Belgrade University of Arts in the department of Interior and Furniture design in 2012. Having developed a strong passion for film and animation, he decides to take on this career path and focuses on motion graphics, architectural animation and all things CG. He has a strong belief in devoting time to personal projects, has received several awards and recognitions from the CG industry and has also given back to the industry by publishing some of his personal tutorials.

In late 2017 he started his directing career at Axis Animation and continues the collaboration with Glasgow based studio, working on AAA game cinematics as well as never ending development of personal IP’s.

Sava will be on CGA2019 stage sharing his insight in his talk AAA projects vs personal projects – pros and cons

Can’t wait to see you back on CGA2019 stage this year. What are your impressions from the CGA2018

Thanks for having me, pleasure to be back! I absolutely loved the last year’s event, I think it’s incredibly valuable that things like these are starting to happen more often, it all helps to broaden the awareness of this industry and to inspire up and coming creatives. 

Your fame (and fortune? 🙂 ) are coming from your, greatly recognized, personal projects. Like, IFCC, Playgrounds, Twitch. What are you working on now and how big is your team this time?

We’ve just recently wrapped our latest project, Main Titles for Playgrounds Berlin, so a short break is in order:) We have a bit of a long term project that’s been in development for quite some time and that is what we’ll be focusing on next, but I can’t say more at this point.

Freight has got a great attention from the CG community. How do you find spare time for side projects like this beside your regular daily work and how do you organize your time around it? 

I’ve gotten this question a lot of times, and the answer is that I’m very lucky to be in a position where I can take a lot of free time in between client projects and devote it to personal work. Working remotely and on a per project basis means I get to organize my own time, and because I choose which projects to work on sometimes I have a lot of down time in between client work, which allows for personal work. This could be seen as a risky move, devoting multiple months on a personal project and saying no to client work, but a lot of the time it’s a risk worth taking in my opinion because it will create new opportunities. I’ve done things in parallel as well, when I was working on Destiny cinematics by day, I was working on my short Bounty Hunt by night, so you can definitely do both, but these days I like to separate client vs personal work and completely devote my time to either one. It creates this nice seesaw kind of balance, where I’m constantly changing from one to another.

Trailer for Outriders is looking amazing. Is this still ongoing project? How is your regular working day looking with Axis Animation and working on such demanding project remotely? 

Thank you! No we’ve wrapped this project last year, the game is still in development, but our trailer work is done. Turns out, after some getting used to, remote work is not that difficult at all. Typically my engagement is pretty heavy early on, the first couple of weeks are crucial, and I would typically travel to the Glasgow office for one or two weeks at the beginning of the production. That time is usually spent working with a storyboard artist and the layout team in producing a 2d animatic and a 3d previz. After that I would visit one more time for the MoCap shoot and maybe one more time towards the end of production, when most of the lighting and comp work is done. Everything else that happens in between is easily supervised remotely, through daily Skype meetings and review sessions utilizing management tools like Shotgun.  

We can see you on the page as director at Braw Production website, can you tell more about your collaboration?

Of course! Technically I’m a freelance director which means I can work with multiple studios, and I’ve been lucky to have worked with Debbie in the past, so when I heard she launched Braw I was thrilled to join the team! The talent that’s been amassing at Braw is incredible and I’m genuinely thrilled to be a part of it!

Where is inspiration taking you these days? What are you and what would you like to explore more? 

Recently I’ve been influenced by a bit more darker themes, which you can probably spot in some of my latest work. It has been my state of mind as well, but infusing that in your work can be quite therapeutic and cathartic, and I’m glad I was open to exploring that side of my psyche. On the technical side I really want to dive into real-time, and live action as well, those two have been on my mind for awhile and the timing just feels right now.


Can you recommend us some work that took your attention recently? 

 There’s been so much amazing stuff happening lately, but I also feel like I’ve been missing out on things. Everyone probably saw Chernobyl at this point, I loved every second of it, captivating on every level! Two artists, Eugene Pylinsky and Eugene Lekh created an amazing title sequence for OFFF Kyiv, I absolutely adored what they did and how they were able to utilize very popular astronaut imagery in a completely new way! And also I’ve had the chance of visiting E3 in LA and was just blown away by all the incredible CGI work done for game trailers. Still have a lot of film catching up to do, as of this moment I still haven’t seen Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…yeah, need to work on my priorities in life:) 

You held several art conferences talks this year so far and your next talk is on Playgrounds. What is the value of attending conferences as a speaker and what guests can get from it?

Well the difference is that most conference attendees get to familiarize themselves with your work ahead of time, which makes networking and introductions much easier. Obviously networking is the big one, you’ll meet all the other speakers and that can often times lead to work opportunities, but I’ve had a chance to do some portfolio reviews for people of varying backgrounds and I’ve found that experience to be incredibly satisfying. I know it sounds like a cliché, especially since I’m still learning, but there is something incredible in giving back to the community and helping out young artists. It’s like all of those questions that I didn’t know who to ask when I was starting out are repeating, only I’m on the receiving end now and can actually do something good.

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Even the best artists start with very precious but ugly artwork. Share with us some of your worst early work?

 Oh wow, yeah there’s a ton of those!:) I don’t think I can share actual images, eerrmmm my hard drive burned out? Yeah, I’m going with that excuse. But there’s been a time when I’ve worked on a lot of pointless product renders, or logo animations. It’s all been very valuable in terms of learning, and don’t get me wrong, some of it was decent, but it didn’t have a deeper meaning. And of course you can’t really infuse a deeper meaning into a pilates board ad, but that’s why I look at that early work as being ugly, it’s all a technically decent collection of polygons that ultimately has nothing to say. 

What can our readers expect from your talk at CGA2019?

A lot of on stage awkwardness, hopefully a couple of good insights, and maybe some cool projects:)

Find out more about Sava on our CGA2018 interview    
Sava will be presenting his talk AAA projects vs personal projects – pros and cons  on CGA2019 stage on 1. November.

Register by clicking on the link below to secure your seat.

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