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Interview with Squids Visual Arts, VFX Creator of the Vodafone x Salah Campaign

Interview with Squids Visual Arts, VFX Creator of the Vodafone x Salah Campaign

The legendary Mohamed Salah starred in a new Vodafone Egypt campaign themed “Our Strength in Encouragement”, showing the connectivity between the Egyptian people and the iconic football player in a fun way.

Vodafone x Salah AD

Fox Renderfarm, as a world-leading cloud render farm, is thrilled to have the chance to provide cloud rendering services to the amazing video by collaborating with Squids Visual Arts, a growing visual effects studio based in Cairo, Egypt, and also the pivotal vfx creator in the short.

Vodafone Salah | VFX Breakdown

Mr. Yousef Taher, Owner and Co-founder of Squids Visual Arts had an in-depth conversation with Fox Renderfarm, revealing details of the ad, and sharing with us their endless pursuit of high-end output using top-notch technologies and techniques in Squids Visual Arts.

Yousef Taher

Yousef Taher

Owner & Co-founder 

Squids Visual Arts

Fox Renderfarm: Hi Yousef, thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Yousef: I am a 3D artist with more than 12 years of experience. I have spent most of my career time experimenting different aspects in the industry, from modeling/texturing/lighting/rigging/animation/FX/previs and layout/compositing. For 3 years I have been focusing exclusively on FX and been featured on CGrecords and 3D total as well as Cebas thinking particles website. Then later now, I have been extensively focusing on 3D cinematic lighting and camera work as well as screenplay writing and directing. Now I have proudly founded Squids VFX with my other two partners 6 years ago. Our studio specializes in creating state of the art visual effects for TVC, dramas and feature films.

Demo Reel | Compositing | Squids VFX

Fox Renderfarm: The Vodafone Ad Campaign is so fun and creative. Could you share with us which part of the production that you are in charge of?

Yousef: I was responsible for supervising the 3D Department, starting from creating a proper workflow to Assets LookDev. Along with the team leader and the rest of the very talented artists, we were able to create believable 3D renders that perfectly blend with the live action footage.

Fox Renderfarm: When creating the campaign, did you meet any difficulty? How did you solve it?

Yousef: Yes, of course we did face one big challenge which was the render time vs. the deadline. But thanks to Fox Renderfarm we were able to deliver 47 full CG shots in only 4 days.

Fox Renderfarm: You are the partner of Squids VFX studio, could you share with us your story with Squids VFX?

Yousef: Me and my partners have been working as CG supervisors for other big studios in Cairo for about 7 years. The three of us gained valuable experience in the industry, an experience that had a lot of achievements as well as frustrations. We thought that this is the perfect timing to start our studio with our own values and ambitions. and that was the start of our journey that has a lot of challenges to overcome.

Fox Renderfarm: Squids VFX has been involved in the production of many movies and TV series, which of them is your most unforgettable one?

Yousef: I remember in 2016 and 2017 we had three big projects with hundreds of challenging scenes. It was the Movie “30 Years Ago” and the Drama “Wanoos”as well as “Adly Allam”. We had very few artists at that time, and delivering those challenging scenes was almost a mission impossible. However, it was really fun to see amazing results coming out by just 5 artists on board.

Teaser | 30 Years Ago

Breakdown Reel | Wanoos | Squids VFX

Breakdown | Adly Allam | Squids VFX

Fox Renderfarm: Squids VFX also provides mind-blowing VFX to the advertising industry. What is your most unforgettable case? What did you think is the key to make the vfx in an ad pop up and assist the ad to convey its key message?

Yousef: We worked on “Etisalat” TVC back in 2021, the required brief was really fun and interesting. However, the deadline was unforgiving. Despite this, we were able to create various static and animated assets, creatures, saucers, flaming meteors and mechs. We were very keen to carefully craft the details in each asset whether by modeling or through texturing. But we have all agreed that “details are what make the difference”.

Breakdown Reel | Etisalat | Squids VFX

Fox Renderfarm: As a partner for Squids VFX, what did you do to optimize the communication and cooperation to enhance the production efficiency?

Yousef: Checkpoints were the primary key to ultimate productivity. whether those checkpoints are intended to follow up with the artists in-house or for the clients. It does put everyone on track and keep us perfectly aligned on the same page. instant feedback is what completes this process, it saves a lot of time that could be wasted with no use.

Fox Renderfarm: How did you encounter CG? Could you briefly share with us your educational and work experience?

Yousef: I studied directing for TV and got my bachelor degree in 2010. However, I have been professionally working in this career even before. My passion for creating moving elements have dictated me to dive deep into motion graphics for sometime, later, a vicious appetite for Film visual effects ate me from inside, I was working very hard to promote myself for big studios creating VFX for block-busters. In 2009 I was able to join one of those big studios and I was able to get myself credited in the movie “Zahaymer” and many other films after.

Poster of Zahaymer

Poster of Zahaymer

Fox Renderfarm: You also provided new techniques in the field of 3D animation by innovating your own facial motion capture techniques and rigging tricks. Could you introduce these new techniques to us?

Yousef: Yes !! That was so much fun. A really long time ago, I was fascinated by mocap tech, especially facial capture. At that time it was really expensive to own the hardware and the software. So I came up with a manual offline solution, basically is to track points over a face using regular tracking softwares like syntheyes and then create an advanced facial rig in 3ds Max that is able to read those tracking points using a script that I have created, and attach them to the facial bones. it did drive the animation like a charm. It was tedious but totally worth trying. I think it was really cool at that time before things got really easy just using an iphone to capture movement in real-time.

Fox Renderfarm: Any artist or artwork inspires you the most?

Yousef: Of course, several artists do inspire me always. Tyson Ibele is my one true hero, he is insanely clever in all disciplines. The same is Ian Hubert. one new favorite artist is Oleg Vdovenko, known as “Chuvabak” . Just crazy good.

Tyson Ibele

© Tyson Ibele

Episode 1 : Salad Mug - DYNAMO DREAM | Ian Hubert

wILL | Oleg Vdovenko

Fox Renderfarm: What’s the next step for both you and Squids VFX?

Yousef: We are now working on several projects that have extensive VFX work, really challenging projects. we are putting very high hopes to make it look stunning. The next big step is producing our own content. We are now working on our first production, a CG short that is mind bending. It will be a true breakthrough for Squids.

Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about the cloud rendering services of Fox Renderfarm?

Yousef: Fox Renderfarm is a true lifesaver. Working on heavy projects simultaneously is not easy. Rendering them out will definitely clog your local farm. When you are under the stress of delivering within the unforgiving deadlines, things might go wrong. Fox Renderfarm is equipped with thousands of monster machines that are able to output shots like a shredder, enabling us to output several shots in parallel in no time. In a nutshell, because of Fox Renderfarm, being stressed about rendering is no more.

Fox Renderfarm: Is there anything else you want to share with the CG enthusiast?

Yousef: I know a lot of artists out there are working on their own projects and are concerned about cloud rendering being expensive, It is NOT. It is actually much cheaper to use it than building your own local farm. don’t be afraid and give it a shot, your work will come out to light much faster ;).

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