Interview with Keller Max

Dota 2 / News / 25 August 2018 — 15:12

Meet Keller Max!

We caught up with the winner of to speak about his impressions and feelings after winning the contest as well as the way he discovered video production as a hobby.

— Congrats on winning the contest! What are your impressions?

— Thanks! I haven't placed first before, so, naturally, the feelings are a bit bizarre, but I'm very happy for sure.

— Many viewers want to find out more about the creator of the video, could you tell us a little about yourself?

— I don't even know... I'm a 24-year-old living in Kyiv and an avid fan of Dota 2, the one looking for inspiration for new animation videos at all times.

— You've been making videos for 7 years. How did you discover this hobby?

— It all started with Team Fortress 2. I really liked its machinima and short clips. Also, Valve's "Meet The" videos. But I've never thought I would be able to reach this level until the Source Film Maker was released, Valve's tool for animations and movies.

— What was the format of your content – highlights, fan videos or something else? What format would work best for beginners, in your opinion?

— I started with Garry's Mod. I really liked making stop motion animations, changing characters' positions and taking screenshots. It all looked like a puppet animation. After SFM was released, I stopped using Gmod.

— What software do you use most often and why?

— I use Source Filmmaker for animations and would really recommend it for beginners. However, this tool seems a bit outdated to me personally, so I'm moving on to some cooler things, like Maya, Max, Blender. I'm now learning Unreal Engine and Autodesk Maya. I use After Effects and Premiere Pro for compositing and editing. But you can also use Sony Vegas.

— Who do you look at for inspiration? Whose works do you consider as guidelines?

— I'd like to give credit to Slava "Portman" Alekseev – we won the prize in the first Dota Short Film contest together. I learned a lot from him. Also, Roman Maltsev – he taught me how to do motion capture for SFM and gave me some great technical tips. Both of them squeeze the most out of the SFM engine and can create a very beautiful, realistic picture.

— In your opinion, do we have many worthy moviemakers in CIS? What can you say about the quality of Russian-language content?

— Actually, I don't follow any bloggers and the Russian content in general.

— What do you need to improve as an animator?

— Practice and desire.

— Let's get back to the contest. If you would be given a chance to pick the winner, who would it be?

— I like my entry, of course, but I also enjoyed the Ballad of Lovelace.

— You've participated in Valve's contests before. How many attempts did it take to win?

— I finished in the top 3 in 3 out of 4 competitions.

— Have you always enjoyed creating humorous content or tried some other genres, too?

— I love drama. We did well in the first contest with it. But jokes are easier to come up with and implement in general.

— Why do you think you won this year?

— I don't even know... People admired the baby Viper. Probably because of him :)

— You took the second place last year, how did finishing one step away from victory feel like?

— I was happy to finish second.

— Where does the idea of Ability Madness 2017 stem from? Why did you opt for a humorous story?

— It's easier to communicate with the audience through comedy. And why the Ability Draft... I really wanted to make something unusual.

— How does the whole process of video production look like? Do you get any help or do that alone? How do you decide on a subject? 

— I make short videos myself. When the competition time arrives, I meet with a team of talented animators, composers etc. Those are all my friends.

— How long does it take to make the project of this scope become a reality?

— It depends. It took me a month to create this video.

— Which one of your works is your favorite? Why?

— I can't choose the best one; each one is good in its own way.

— Have you ever gone through a creative crisis? How do you regain inspiration?

— I've never had a creative crisis, I think...

— Your Dota Short Film Contest projects are well known to the public. What else do you do as a content creator?

— I make custom videos. Commercials and small animations.

— Your mascot is a Vengeful Spirit. Why?

— She's cute. She's probably the prettiest out of all Dota 2 female characters.

— We can't miss the subject of The International 2018, how do you like it so far?

— I love TI. It's the only Dota 2 event which I enjoy watching.

— Who's your personal favorite? How did you like the games of CIS teams?

— I usually support CIS teams, but I do not follow it all especially.

— What's your favorite team and why?

— ua NAVI is the first team I cheered for. I support it to this day.

— What player do you consider the strongest skill-wise?

— An OpenAI 3 bot.

— Do you have any ideas for the Dota 2 Short Film Contest 2019?

— Yes, I've come up with quite a few punchlines :)

— You've reached the goal which you have been pursuing for several years. What is your next milestone?

— I'd love to learn to animate professionally, like Disney does, and keep communicating my ideas through videos.