Learn From the People Who Inspire You Most

Dave Koss and Jon “Jags” Nee on Mograph’s new 24/7 streaming channel and Jags’ remake of the Halo 3 trailer.
By Meleah Maynard

When Dave Koss, Matt Milstead and the rest of the team at Mograph.com were planning their newly launched 24/7 streaming channel, MographTV, they knew they wanted to include many different artists who could pop on in between shows in short videos offering tips, inspiration and whatever else they dreamed up.

One of those MographTV personalities is Jon “Jags” Nee. Motion designer, cinematographer and self-described “big nerd,” Jags is well known for his video series “WTF is After Effects”, as well as loads of other tutorials on using Unreal Engine, Redshift, Cinema 4D and more.

Sponsored by Otoy, Maxon, RocketLasso and BorisFX, MographTV is currently streaming talks, tips and replays of popular lives shows on motion graphics and animation. All of the content is free and is shown daily in three eight-hour blocks to reach artists in every time zone.

“We’ve got tons of content, thousands of tutorials and talks from our podcast and from Maxon, Rocket Lasso and a lot of different artists,” Koss explains. “We’re hoping this will be something people put on during the day while they’re working at home or in studios so they can look up and catch something interesting they may not normally see.”

Meet Jon “Jags” Nee

Content on MographTV will evolve over time. To start, Jags is offering content for beginners, which is part of the reason Koss wanted him to be one of the channel’s main personalities. “Jags has a lot of energy and is really good at talking to newcomers who are trying to learn,” Koss says.

“There are always going to be new people wanting to try motion design and I want to appeal to people who are getting into it for the first time,” Jags explains. “People who want to make art but are intimidated by the software. I remember being so frustrated because I wanted to do stuff in After Effects and I had no idea what button to push to make that happen.”

Jags, Koss, and about 28 other motion designers, are also members of an Instagram group called Halo Kitty. The group plays Halo together online, which inspired Jags to remake the Halo 3 trailer using Unreal Engine, Cinema 4D, motion graphics artist Jonathan Winbush’s Rokoko suit and Maxon’s Mathias Omotola playing the part of Master Chief.

Most of Jags’ freelance work is in the hobby game industry, including board games, trading cards and collectibles. He learned Cinema 4D in 2020 when Ultra PRO International asked him to make some videos to showcase Magic: The Gathering’s new line.

“I should have said no, but I wanted the job, so I took a School of Motion C4D course at the same time to learn what I needed to,” he recalls. “There were a lot of sleepless nights, but it turned out well.”

Remaking the Halo 3 Trailer

For the Halo 3 trailer remake, Jags relied primarily on Unreal Engine for design, lighting, building environments, and animation while Omotola used Cinema 4D to model the alien and all of the wreckage. “What’s cool about CG is that your imagination is limitless, and you can create whole worlds,” Nee says.

“From a technical standpoint, one of the things I enjoyed most was that I could keep everything in Unreal Engine, so I could cut things together and do my blocking in a single project file. “Then, I could see the cuts back-to-back as a quick mockup rather than rendering each scene out just to check on things like lighting.”

Jags and Omotola worked together to create the complex animation in C4D of the portal opening. “Cinema was perfect for that because I only had to set two keyframes and I would have had to do so much more individually in Unreal,” Jags recalls.

Knowing he isn’t a game developer so his render times would be long, Jags was glad to have the time to render the trailer over the Christmas break. “Things were taking 30 seconds to a minute per frame and one shot took three days, but I got it done,” he recalls. “A few years ago, it would have taken a giant team to make a video game trailer, but now we’re entering an era where individual artists can do it with very low production cost.”

Meleah Maynard is a writer and editor in Minneapolis, Minnesota.