Tarin Camarena career path to 'Slow Dance', music video,
And in-depth thinkingParticles FX breakdown 

Cebas is very excited to finally get to showcase the 'Slow Dance' music video by Julian Camarena - And Behind-the-Scenes full CGI visual effects breakdown by Tarin Camarena.

A lot of you would know Tarin from the facebook.com/groups/thinkingparticles but recently, more from the Camarena brothers production of 'Slow Dance' music video that has to date seen more than 1 million viewers and still going strong. Here goes, 

cebas: Firstly, Thank-you and Welcome to cebas Insights Interview.
 You have been an active member in the cebas community for quite some years now and we are glad that you are now ready to show and tell us about yourself and your FX work, especially with thinkingParticles. 

    Tarin Camarena: No problem, I am glad to be here.

cebas: Let’s start with ‘What’s the latest..?” with you now? 

    Tarin: Well we are now in Los Angeles enjoying the beautiful weather here.   We  recently finished my brother Julian's latest music video for his song "Slow Dance". So been busy working on promotion and other business aspects. We also recently finished the first season of the "Camarena Show" where my brothers Adrian and Julian chat with celebrities and other people in the LA entertainment industry. We are also in preproduction for our next music video as well as working on other various projects. 

cebas: A
nd Tarin, we are all ears - tell us as well about how the Camarena Productions birthed; who are the team members - your Role - and what are some of the projects you folks have been managing? https://camarenaproductions.com/ 

    Tarin: Camarena Productions is a family owned full service media production company. We do everything from concept art,  to cinematography and VFX. The fulltime team members right now are myself my brothers Julian and Adrian, and our cousin Anthony.  Julian is a talented singer, music producer, and VFX compositor. Adrian directs the talent and is also the screenwriter, and Anthony is a great and experienced cinematographer/photographer.  The Camarena family is large with several of our relatives being into creative fields. So depending on the project we might bring some of them onboard as well as hiring the local talent. We started Camarena Productions about 8 years ago. My brother Julian's music started to grow a large audience online so we opened up a studio in Phoenix Arizona where we could shoot his music videos as well as promotional content for him and the brands he works with. Some of these brands include Warnerbros, nickelodian, Ford, Apple, among others. Our main focus has always been my brothers projects but we also occasionally would work on projects for companies -  shooting events, music videos,  doing audioproduction, product visualizations, motiongraphics, commercials, and films.  As a small team I often have to wear many hats, but my main role right now is to come up with both creative and technical solutions to creating high quality live action visual effects shots.

Tarin Camarena Instagram

cebas: Any memorable people in the industry that you felt open doors to you when you
first started ? 

    Tarin: the best thing about Thinking Particles is its online community. Everyone is so supportive and helpful in answering questions.  I've learned something from just about everyone. I feel very fortunate to have learned from all the amazing Thinking Particles VFX artists. Many whom have worked on some of the biggest hollywood VFX films. Its thanks to all the Amazing VFX artists that  helped me learn along the way, that I'm able to create the VFX that I can today.  

cebas: How is LA life (if you are near to Tinseltown... are you?) Does it make a major difference to setting up a studio in LA / Hollywood so near to the many film studios? 

    Tarin: LA life has been great!  And Yeah we are pretty close. We are in Sherman Oaks which is right next door to Hollywood.  It's definitely pretty cool to be so close to all the big studios where all the biggest films are made. It's very helpful to be surrounded by such a large and amazing pool of talent that we can work with for our projects.  Alot of the companies that my brother partners with are based in LA so it makes things a bit easier being closer to them. 

cebas: We all know that some years back the costliness of LA life and lack of local
support forced many V/FX studios out of business as well as move out to other cities. Have things changed? 

    Tarin: Well LA  is the place where people from all over the world come to do media and entertainment related business.  A lot of VFX companies still have a location here in LA for business , working directly with clients, producers, investors, and directors.  If direct business is your main focus then I think LA is the place to be. The LA life can be very expensive, but nothing beats building relationships in person and you never know who you will run into here.

Was it Julian Camarena’s ‘Slow Dance’ single that you had created the concept art and effects ? Could you tell us all and everything about this number, and of course, the visual effects. 

    Tarin: Yeah my brothers and I created concept art work for all the main VFX shots. My father is a world renowned painter and illustrator, so we all picked up a lot of his artistic skills from a young age. We use concept art work to communicate Ideas with each other. The concept work is used to determine composition, lighting, effects, and the overall look of the shot. We created around 60 shots with visual effects/compositing. 47 shots made it into the final cut. There are all sorts of VFX, from destruction, particle effects, digital doubles, greenscreen, full CG environments, and mattepainting. All the large scale destruction VFX simulations were made with Thinking Particles. My brother Julian and I did all the postproduction. I did all the CG scene assembly, lighting, digital double creation, and vfx simulations. Compositing was done by both of us, where my brother mostly focused on 2D compositing including greenscreen, color, and live action VFX integration. While I mostly did the 3D and deep image compositing. My brother Julian also did all the data management as well as setting up the overall workflow/pipeline to handle working with over 50 terrabytes of up to 8k raw footage and large deep data CG renders. The Camarena Productions crew made everything from concept to cinematography, VFX, and compositing in 5 months.

Tarin, how did you start with TP? In fact, how did you learn it? 

    Tarin: I wanted to take my brothers music videos to the next level. I remember seeing the movie 2012 and was impressed  by the large scale destruction shots. So I started doing research on how it was made and came across TP. I looked into it but was unsure at first if I wanted to dive into learning such a deep toolset.  Soon after, the trailer for Independence day 2 came out and I was just blown away by the work Scanline VFX did. I saw that TP was used as well in that movie so I just had to learn it. I did just about everything to learn, from getting involved with the amazing TP community asking lots of questions on the TP facebook page and effectivetds forum, taking courses, and watching just about every tutorial I could come across.  When I really started to learn quickly though was when I started to work on my own shots and setups. I created hundreds of little setups and Rnd figuring out all the different ways I can combine nodes and get different results.

cebas: Please show and tell us more of your best RnD or actual shots that you have created, driven by TP.
( this very important content, you would need to watch the video, thank you. ) Includes: 

  • TP RBD sequence from music video 

  • Show concept work video to create TP rbd sims. 

  • Show statue destruction workflow video 

  • Show Ground destruction workflow video 

  • Show TP setup for statue destruction. 

  • Show 3dsmax scene assembly setup with all assets. 

  • Quickly show - basic deep compositing workflow and its usefulness in combining TP simulations with simulations coming from multiple software, and other important benefits. 


cebas: Have you tested out the PhoenixFD 4 thinkingParticles operator ? 

    Tarin: Yes. PhoenixFD is definitely another great VFX tool. It's great that there are operators to sample data directly from Phoenix FD. These operators give a lot of control and flexibility in a simple way.  

cebas: What are some of the features in thinkingParticles that you feel are unbeatable?

    Tarin: Thinking Particles is overall an excellent VFX tool especially for large scale RBD sims.  I love shapecollision dynamics as its very predictable and forgiving. I can test settings on a smaller scene until I get the dynamics I want with fast iterations, then apply it to a larger scene and get similar results. Also the overall workflow of TP is very well structured for large scale destruction. I can create a base simulation to get very specific art directable  results cache it out to disk,  then uprez certain objects, progressively layering simulation caches to give more detail where needed. I also find bullet dynamics very useful in smaller scale simulations and for simulating larger debris. The flowsolver is excellent for simulating smaller debris with fast multithreaded results. Thinking particles overall gives you a nice blend of technical flexibility combined with an artistic friendly approach without having to dive deep into expressions/coding.  

cebas: What do you find usually are the most difficult aspects of 3d/ fx design work - is it technology or artistic inspiration ? - is there an available vfx software that resolves all your technology-to-creativity needs? What is missing? 

    Tarin: We did a lot of things right with my brothers music video but I still feel we can do things alot faster, with even  higher quality, and more complex VFX. Our artistic knowledge from a young age combined with excellent communication skills and shared knowledge of the entire production, and postproduction pipeline has helped us excel as a team. However it’s a never ending learning adventure with tools constantly changing and new useful production workflows emerging.  Software and hardware can always be faster allowing more time to fine tune shots and increase complexity.  We experimented with many workflows and techniques throughout the progression of the video. Already with what we have learned from this music video I'm confident that we can create more complex shots, much faster, and with even higher quality. 

cebas: And you are an Audio wizard as well - for Camerena Productions. 

    Tarin: I'm quite knowledgable about different aspects of audio however my brother Julian Camarena would be the audio expert. He has years of experience and one of the best music productions studios in LA  with the worlds top of the line equipment.

cebas: Finally, in your view, what is your wish for cebas software to achieve that is not currently doing for you? 

    Tarin: Thinking Particles is already one of the best VFX tools. Things can always be faster. More speed equals faster iterations which helps us to get our projects completed faster. 

cebas: And what projects can we expect from you in the future (if you're able to tell us) ? ***

    Tarin: We are already in preproduction for our next music video. Our goal is to create more artistic visually entertaining projects. Capitalizing on our main strength which is our creative artistic knowledge. We also plan on starting up another season of the "Camarena Show". We are also looking forward to working on a number of high quality live action VFX projects for clients. We have been getting really good response from our VFX breakdown videos For "SlowDance" . We are very thankful to all the people and social media pages that have shared it.  Its already accumulated over a million views across all the social media pages. We've been getting a lot of interest in using our VFX services, so we are pretty excited for the future.  

What are your professional and what are your personal hopes and dreams in moving into the future in the art of visual effects and balancing life/work? 

     Tarin: I am looking forward to creating more exciting projects with my team. It would be great to expand our team with other talented individuals that can help strengthen our team, as well as collaborate with other companies. We are constantly pushing the envelope when it comes to VFX for music videos as well as feature films and other projects. 

In terms of balancing life/work. My work is my life and I really enjoy working with my family.  

Photos Galore: Slow Dance scenes
Long shot ground break thinking particles Tarin Camarena

Slow Dance Tarin and Julian Camarena VFX breakdown thinkingParticles

Slow Dance FX breakdown Julian digit double slide from falling statue

statue fall slide clay visual effects

slow dance vfx effects breakdown Tarin Camarena

digit double slide from falling statue vfx 1

Slow Dance VFX TP breakdown statue destruction Tarin Camarena

pillar statue destruction

Tarin Camarena Slow Dance vfx breakdown

Camarena Productions crew 
Camarena Productions 1

Camarena Productions 2

Camarena Productions 3

Camarena Productions people

Cebas would like to thank Tarin Camarena, and his bro team for this amazing interview. Keep up the good work crew!