Wizardry 101

I talk about “making magic” often in this blog when I’m referring to 3D models used for product storytelling. And indeed, those models do make magic. But I really took it to the next level in 2009, when my long time creative friend and collaborator, Jeff Sherwin, asked me to join him in developing “Mage Life”, a mobile spell-casting game app. Little did I know the skills I gained from game development would later translate so well with my other clients’ projects!


I’ve used Autodesk Maya for my 3D modelling since 2004, but during the two plus years Jeff and I developed Mage Life for his company, And Then Adventures, I explored and experimented with Maya’s main component for creating special effects: dynamics which includes fluids/liquids, smoke, fire, explosions, wind, turbulence and gravity. I also explored other apps to create visual fractal effects, unique worlds/environments, and wild animated visual effects. Sadly, we did not create a Pokemon Go sized sensation, or become even thousandaires, but there were certainly some elements of that mass player style of online gameplay in our app, way back in 2010. And in the process of creating the spells for that game, with total freedom to try anything possible, I learned about creating special effects. Lots of them.


Now, I have never presented myself as a special effects wizard, or worked in any movie studio, but I’ve learned enough to be dangerous. I have some great tools, and I’ve learned how to use them enough to make some serious magic. I created 150 unique spells for Mage Life in the categories of air, earth, water,  fire, plasma and perception, each with its own animation, making it a visually compelling game. It still amazes me that the same app that can produce photo-realistic 3D models can also generate unique, natural, organic effects, which can combine with the 3D models to make very original storytelling.

Thanks to Mage Life, my creative talents expanded. By learning how to make dynamic explosions, I was able to create The GasGun, Inc. story of underground oil well stimulations in action, with lots of smoke, fire and sound, for over 30 seconds of a five minute video. By learning how to make fluids, I produced videos for StormwateRx, showing water being cleaned and processed as it moves through their treatment chambers; for ATI, I made water move through a pipeline of valves that their actuators controlled; and for Labcon North America, I made several close-up videos of blood samples moving through their pipet tips, demonstrating various features of the tips. Because of Mage Life, I can use dynamics to tell my clients’ stories better and in more interesting ways. Everybody wins!!

So, if you need somebody to ”blow stuff up real good”, maybe we should talk about it. I might have just the special effect you need, in my magic bag of tricks.

Share this:
Follow bgob1:
Bill Giobbi (bgob1) is founder and owner of Linea Forma Design, a 38 year old design firm specializing in creating graphic content for print, web and video. He is a graphic designer, industrial designer, model maker, technical illustrator and a digital 3D content creator/animator, with a love of all things design.
Latest posts from

2 Responses

  1. Elisa

    Amazing, Bill! I wish I had a need for blowing stuff up real good!! You are so talented…

    • bgob1

      I’m having fun! Thanks, E.