Welcome to another in our new series of interviews with artists and designers from some of the UK's leading VFX, VR and games companies – who've been using the brand new Wacom MobileStudio Pro tablet PC on a long-term trial.
REWIND is a creative technology production company that we’ve featured quite a lot on Digital Arts, especially for its pioneering VR work. Daryl is the creative director of REWIND, and the artist who has been putting Wacom’s latest mobile solution through its paces.
Watch our interview with Daryl Atkins on how he has used the MobileStudio Pro, or read it below.
“At REWIND we merge content creation and storytelling with cutting-edge technology” he says. “One interesting project, we finished recently, was a VR spacewalk experience for the BBC, which puts you first-person position inside an astronaut suit and allows you to explore the International Space Station.”
“Virtual reality can transport people to another place, and make them experience things they otherwise never would. It feels very genuine and leaves a lasting impression."
Like many digital artists and designers, Daryl is very familiar with pressure-sensitive tablets.
“I’ve been using Wacom Intuos tablets since REWIND started,” he says. “It’s great to have a product that just works. It’s really easy for artists to pick up and use straight away.”
"As we've evolved our workflow, we've started using Wacom Cintiq Companion and the Wacom MobileStudio Pro platform as well”
Wacom’s family of 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch MobileStudio Pro lightweight mobile computers cover the range of professional creative computer and budgetary needs - but equipped with integral touchscreens and Wacom’s new pen technology, they offer maximum mobility.
Starting at £1,399 there are six models to choose from, in a variety of processor, memory and storage configurations.
“The MobileStudio Pro has a number of benefits. For example, the ability to pick it up and move around."
“A lot of the time my work involves storyboarding and concepting,” he adds. “It involves lots of pre-visualisation, which is essentially mocking up concepts before they enter into production and trying to communicate those ideas very effectively in a visual way.”
Being mobile therefore helps.
“When you’re fixed to a workstation it’s very difficult for you to move around and go to people’s desk to sketch and draw over images,” says Daryl.
Bundled with Windows 10, Wacom MobileStudio Pro has the power professional creatives need to run industry-standard applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator.
“More than [just being mobile] is the fact that the MobileStudio Pro is a fully-fledged PC, so you access the programs that you normally would use on a desktop system, which is great when you’re on the move. If we’re on set, for example it’s really nice to have all those tools and files available. A very useful feature.”
“We move the concepts into production where we work with the team to actually physically create those ideas. This involves 3D modelling, creating shaders, lighting and code to create the final product,” explains Daryl. “We make sure that the standard of the experience is really strong.”
As well as supporting demanding 3D creative software applications on the Windows 10 OS, the Nvidia Quadro graphics on the 15.6in model helps boost computer-generated imagery and digital content creation on the Wacom MobileStudio Pro.
“Personally in my workflow, I use a lot of 3D programs,” says Daryl. “So instead of having to render things out and send them across to a different machine, I can very easily make changes to lighting, rendering and textures on the Wacom Itself. I can instantly start painting over those and working with the images, without it having to be separate processes.”
“I think the screen made the most immediate impression on me” says Daryl. The new etched glass surface of the Wacom MobileStudio Pro provides the familiar sensation of working with pen on paper.
“It’s got this incredible matte finish that’s unlike any other tablet that’s out there,” he continues. “It doesn’t have that glassy feel that a lot of tablets do. There’s a soft texture to it and it doesn’t reflect the glare of the lights in the room. So it feels like you’re actually just working on paper.”
“I think it’s really important to have a kickstand,” adds Daryl. “At the moment, it’s very comfortable to use on your lap which is fine for those quieter moments when you want to go and sketch something on your own; But if you're using it all day, it's really important for it to have a stand so you can use it comfortably like you would with the Cintiq for example.”
To this end, Wacom has designed a stand especially for the MobileStudio Pro. Available as an optional accessory in the next couple of weeks, the Mobile Stand lets artists choose between three comfortable working positions and folds flat for travel.
Control is key for artists. The 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160) touch-sensitive screen renders each fine brush stroke perfectly, and provides plenty of space in which to work. Multi-touch gestures make zooming and rotating artistic creations as simple as pinching and swiping on a smartphone.
There are also six physical ExpressKeys and a Touch Ring, as well as onscreen controls, a radial menu and a precision mode.
“The multi-touch is really useful,” says Daryl. “Being a left-hander, it used to be a bit of a pain for me when trying to set up a tablets. But with the MobileStudio Pro I just hold it the way I want it – it flips it the right way round, and then I can use the Express keys and touch pads on the side.
This device is great if you’re a Photoshop power user,” Daryl enthuses. “[If you need to] change your brushes quickly, flip the canvas and use custom commands, for example, you don’t have to interrupt your work by needing an external keyboard. You can just work fluidly with your drawing hand and press the modifier keys with the other. After a little bit of practice it’s completely intuitive.”
“It’s actually a really solid piece of design,” he states. “It’s minimal, It has just the right amount of weight so it feels well built. And it has all the built-in features you would want. You can insert an SD card, it’s got a camera and Bluetooth. If you want to work with reference, or if you want to send work over to clients you can do all of that within that device.”
“Wacom has such a strong name in the industry because the company designs around artists’ needs,” concludes Daryl. “They’ve listened to how people interact with hardware to create art which is why it’s such an artist-centred tool. So if you’re thinking about buying a Mobile Studio Pro, I’d say you really should try it.”