From Call of Duty Fan Edits to Music Videos for Russ: An Interview with 3D Artist Vollut

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Hear how a digital artist turned his favorite music into looping 3D animations, and then caught the attention of Russ, Ed Sheeran, Snoop Dogg, and more.

At 26, Lenar Singatullov (aka Vollut) has already worked professionally for ten years, producing motion design content for clients like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Snapchat. Recently, he’s also gotten into creating looping animations inspired by some of his favorite songs and album covers.  

Made with Redshift and Cinema 4D, the animations feature vibrant environments and dancing characters and are posted on Vollut’s Vimeo and Instagram accounts.

We talked with Vollut about how he got into the industry and the animations he’s been creating— some of which have gone viral — as well as his emotional connection to the music of Radiohead, Frank Ocean, Snoop Dog, and many others. 


PB: How did you get started in the industry when you were just 16?

I was curious about how they did it, and that’s how I discovered After Effects and later Cinema 4D. It was so amusing to play and make montages with my friends. I enjoyed the process and even had a small community of followers on YouTube, where my first freelance job came from. 

I’ve made about 20 logo reveals and intros for other YouTubers who found my channel. They paid like $10 or $15, crazy money for me back then. So, at 16, I already had some experience with After Effects and Cinema 4D, and it was pretty easy to find a freelance job through dedicated groups on Facebook. From there, it’s been all about practice and a never-ending learning process.


PB: Tell us how you got into doing these animations for Vimeo and Instagram. 

Vollut: I loved Tyler, The Creator’s new album “Flower Boy” when it came out last year, and I wanted to express my feelings about it. I had seen some fan art here and there and decided that animating the album cover would be a good way to embrace my connection to the music. 

Though it started with me creating fan art, now I try to put new meaning into the artwork by reflecting on a song, so it’s more of a personal experience rather than just replication. I usually start by looking to the album covers or lyrics for inspiration. I can’t force myself to work on something I don’t enjoy, so if a song or artist sticks with me, I will eventually start working on a new piece. I had no idea how much that decision would change my life. 


PB: What do you mean by that?

Vollut: It’s not easy to pay your bills without actually working, so I decided to take this opportunity to turn my work into NFTs. I think of selling NFTs as a sort of high-end Patreon where art collectors can help me continue to make the art I want to make. 

The overall NFT experience was great. I sold everything in my Jukebox collection and gained a lot of friends in this space. The first collection was a little chaotic; moving forward, there will be more of a plan and focus. I plan to continue to create my art as a product, but in the future, I’ll devise a more systematic approach.


PB: Do you approach these animations differently from your commercial work?

Vollut: Differently, yes. I always try to do my best in both cases, but with personal projects, I’m not limited by the normal client constraints, which allows me to find new ways to produce my artwork. I push myself to the limits and get really stressed. Or sometimes I just get stressed, you never know. But in the end, I’ve stepped to another level.


PB: Tell us a bit about your process using Cinema 4D. 

Vollut: Cinema 4D is like a Swiss Army Knife, allowing me to do most of my work inside it, and it’s getting easier with each new version not to use anything else. Rigging was always a significant pain to me, but all the improvements to the character tools have made it much more manageable. We all love to tweak lighting and animating objects, but no one loves to draw weight maps and fix rig bugs.

My usual character animation process starts with creating key poses. Sometimes, though, I want to catch the vibe of a song and start animating straight away, focusing on the biggest moves of the hips and spine before moving on to the arms and legs.

I use all sorts of tools for world-building, including MoGraph cloners and effectors, deformers, dynamic place and scatter tools, volume builders, and fields. For rendering, I always use Redshift; I can’t think of any other render engine that offers such flexibility in terms of artistic direction and speed. 


Vollut: Not directly responding to my work, but I do get a lot of messages from artists. I’m not familiar with most of them, but when I check their Spotify or Instagram accounts, it turns out they’re pretty popular, so that’s cool.

I have heard from many mainstream artists like Ed Sheeran, Snoop Dogg, Russ, Baby Keem, The Game, DJ Snake, Jason Derulo, and Chance The Rapper. Some have inquired about collaborating on animations, and I recently worked on an awesome music video with Russ and Ed Sheeran.


PB: What animations are you working on currently?

Vollut: I’ve been taking a little break after working with Russ and Ed Sheeran. But I have been working with brilliant Harry Hambley, aka Ketnipz, on some really fun stuff. I’m also launching the sale of posters. I’ve always wanted to make something physical, and it’s finally happening.



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