TheCGBros, a Third-party aggregation YouTube Channel becoming an integral part of many short films’ release strategies, conducted a highly successful beta test of the first episode of their now-in-production podcast series, The CGBros CGInsider Podcast. Bill Johnston, co-founder of TheCGBros YouTube Channel with his brother, Shaun Johnston, delivered the program content solo, in “talking head” format, but future episodes will see participation from Shaun and from influential guests, as well. Of special interest is that, although Bill spoke as himself, he did it through the novel medium of an animated avatar, possibly a first in the industry. The avatar was designed and executed by co-founder, Shaun Johnston.
The program content is intended for consumption by people with a wide variety of tastes and interests, especially fans of short videos. The subject matter will also be of general interest to students of CGI as well as both entry-level and professionals in the field. The premiere episode in the podcast series was released to the public on TheCGBros YouTube Channel at Midnight January 5, 2021. The series will be rolled out on other streaming platforms weekly on Tuesdays.
The test episode, which runs approximately 20 minutes long, is entitled “What is CGI?” Podcast titles scheduled for the remainder of January include: “Can You Describe the Different Jobs That Relate to Creating a CGI Film,” “Are There Examples of Current CGI in Films That Are So Well Done That They are Undetectable?” and “How Can I Get a Job in Gaming?”
The venue used for the test was an online weekly meeting of the Voice Acting Academies “Conductors Club” (VAACC.) The VAACC is a membership support service open to voiceover talent at all levels of experience for the purpose of helping them to advance their voiceover career and to help them get more work. Membership in the VAACC includes weekly live coaching sessions directed by Voiceover Guru, James Alburger, who says that the monthly cost of membership is a lot less than the usual cost of a single hour of private coaching. ConductorsClub sessions are conducted using Zoom, a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform app that allows virtual video and audio conferencing, webinars, live chats, screen-sharing, and other collaborative capabilities.
The test involved a three-member panel of long-time members of the VAACC. Participating in the test were James Alburger, Tom Daniels, and George Asteri. Senior member of the panel, James Alburger, of San Diego, author of the book commonly used as a required text in college-level voiceover classes, “The Art of Voice Acting,” now in its 6th edition, asserted, “That’s really nice. Very interesting, very thorough, very effective.” Alburger is an 11-Time Emmy® Winner for Sound Design, and owner of The Voice Acting Academy and CIGMA Media. He is also an Engineer, Voice Acting Coach, and Executive Producer/Director for Film, Video, and other media. Alburger operates the websites VoiceActing.com and at cigmamedia.com. Panelist Tom Daniels averred, “That was awesome. Very informative and entertaining. It held my attention all the way through. What surprised me most was that the first use of computer generated imagery dates all the way back to 1958 in the Alfred Hitchcock film, Vertigo.” Daniels is an Emmy®-winning Voice Actor/Executive Producer who lives in Massillon, Ohio.
The third member of the panel, George Asteri, opined, “That was an excellent summary and gave a really good understanding of CGI. It really informed me.” Asteri, who lives in Saginaw, Michigan, has been acting for his entire life. As a Shakespearean trained actor, Asteri has performed on stage with such notable stars as Christopher Walken in Richard II, and Nicholas Pennell in Richard III. He has also played leading roles in many stage plays, including Shakespeare’s Hamlet. As a voice actor, Asteri has voiced national, local and cable commercials, shared his narration talent with a large Michigan school district film production, narrated for audiobooks, and has made several recordings for Internet clients. Asteri operates a website at https://www.GeorgeAsteri.com where he has provided his email address and telephone number.
Bill, when asked to describe his company’s vision for entering the wildly-expanding, somewhat chaotic podcast marketplace responded, “Well, we believe that mounting up a podcast series not only continues, but builds on our long-standing mission, which from Day-One has been to curate the highest quality professional-level CG content from around the world, as well as to provide insights and inspiration to our two main constituencies: the producers of video content and the consumers of that content. Simply stated, we help the second group — the consumers — by providing them with high quality video content, and we help the first group — the producers of video content — or as we call them,‘New Media Producers,’ by providing them access to a ‘destination site’ where members of the second group can come and discover their works. And by destination, we mean, specifically, a proven, well-established place, with a great reputation for streaming quality videos, where people who love our content know they can come to see outstanding videos that were created with the ‘blood, sweat, and tears’ suffering (not to mention loss-of-sleep) of artists with great talent but with little-to-no prospects to obtain timely significant Media Reach on their own. The proof is in the pudding — as we speak, we have more than 3.5 Million subscribers to our channel; that number is increasing by approximately 40,000 per month, and we are averaging more than 20 million views per month. And, we’ve aggregated almost 1.25 Billion views since we launched our channel. These statistics don’t tell the whole story, of course, but they put us, according to SocialBlade, the social media statistics website that tracks and measures growth, near the top 4,000 in YouTube subscriber ranking and near the top 3,000 in YouTube video view ranking.”
Responding to a further question, “How, specifically, will your podcast series contribute to the accomplishment of your mission,” Johnston explained, “As a forward-looking company in the entertainment business, we’re always on the alert to detect changes that are happening in the entertainment marketplace. What we’ve seen is a growing trend that people want more engagement with great Internet sites that they have gotten to know and have grown to love. Given the rapid increase in the number of podcasts available in the marketplace, we figured a podcast would be a great way, not only to meet our fans’ desires for a higher level of engagement with us, it would also be a great way for us to enhance the value we can add to providing curated videos to our viewers. We are also creating the company infrastructure necessary to support a fan club. We think that will provide even more of the engagement
that fans want.”
Bill Johnston is an established Digital Media Professional with 22 years of experience, the last 18 years within the console-gaming industry. There, he has been involved in Creative Direction/Supervision, Project/Team Management, Dynamic Simulations, and Fluid Dynamics involving Rigid Bodies and Soft Bodies, Particles, and Sprites. He has also managed the production of cinematic FX animation for industry leaders such as Activision/Blizzard, Sony Computer Entertainment of America, and Bungie. He has specialized in in-depth work in the areas of Pre-Visualization, Pre-Rendered FX/Cinematic Cut-Scenes, Promotional Projects and Real-Time Future-Gen FX for Game Environments. Johnston has worked on more than 45 AAA game titles played on personal computers, as well as on Sony’s Playstation, and Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. The titles include, among others, game series such as the CALL OF DUTY,DESTINY, RESISTANCE, UNCHARTED 2, LAIR, WARHAWK, GOD OF WAR, and SOCOM 3. He is currently working on another high-profile game franchise creating FUTURE-GEN FX for next-gen Platforms.
Shaun Johnston is a professional CGI artist and animator in the video games industry with over 27 years of experience, with a broad background in creating 3D animation including previsualization, VFX, and cinematic sequences for PC and Console game trailers, and in-game Cut-Scenes. Today, he is a full-time 3D Animator. He has worked for several industry-leading video game companies including Sony Computer Entertainment America, Gearbox Software, Sony Online Entertainment, Daybreak Game Company. Shaun has also worked on numerous game titles including the billion-dollar Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO) franchise EVERQUEST, the Guinness World Record-holding FPS PLANETSIDE 2, and one of first successful battle royale games, H1Z1.