Graphic Tales from the Road: An Interview with Rudy Sarzo

Lillian Hawkins

I am completely fascinated with both art and music, especially when an artist expresses themselves through both mediums. Seems like a natural fit to me, especially since I come from the "I want my MTV" generation. I think it is exciting to discover which popular artists display this "Dual Expression of the Creative Mind". It is from that perspective that I continue the quest to get to know the artists that use both gifts.

This time the journey takes us back home to Renderosity with the discovery of a multi-talented creator in our midst. It is my pleasure to introduce you all to Rudy Sarzo.

Rudy Sarzo is best known for his musical bass chops as a professional recording and performing artist, worldwide, for over 20 years. He has played with Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Yngwie Malmsteen, and is now a member of the multi-platinum Heavy Metal group DIO.

Besides Rudy's musical accomplishments, he also demonstrated Acid, Vegas, and DVD Architect software for Sony Pictures, released the "Acid for Non Linear Editors" training DVD, and created the "Working Man's Bass" loop library exclusively for Sony Pictures' Acid Software. He has an admitted passion for digital art.

It was Rudy's passion for digital art that brought him to Renderosity. It was the first article on this creative quest that prompted him to get in touch with me so we could explore this concept further.

So, let's get this show on the road!
(Rudy Sarzo)

(Rudy in Action)
Hi Rudy, I'm pleased to meet you. I have to admit, Clint and I have been fans of yours for a long time. Your heavy metal riffs have caused my husband to bang his head for many years, and inspired me to learn to play the bass.
I'm happy to meet you too, Lillian. I love the Renderosity website! It amazes me that there is such a resource like this on the Internet.

You are already a member of Renderosity?
Yes, I am a member of Renderosity. I subscribed to your newsletter so I won't miss any news while we're on the road. It's how I found out about your articles.

I'm really glad you did. would you describe yourself?
I was born in Cuba, and came to the United States in 1961. I'm 55 years young and still going strong. Rock and roll keeps you young!

It's funny, I don't drink and I don't smoke. Coffee is really my only vice. I guess I just have too much to do and too much to accomplish to have any other vices. Well...except you count music and graphics!
Who or what inspires you?
Everything! Everything from the personal experiences of life, to absolutely out-of-this-world concepts and ideas.

It's all about the stories.

Art is about telling stories. Wondering what is going on behind the eyes of that character in the image. It is the thread that unites the video with the audio. That is inspiring. Sharing stories. Connecting the audience with a story.

(Murray looms during the sound check in Santiago, Chile while Rudy plays bass.)

(Two of Rudy's training DVDs)

What came first for you, art or music?
I think for me, they both came at the same time. Music and visual art are both important elements to story-telling.

My background is in visual communications. For example, I was able to use what I learned in college to produce my own bass training videos. Pretty simple, just point camera at myself, and go. Fun stuff!
How did you get started in music? Was there a moment when you went, "I have to do that"?
The real reason I did it was because of the girls. I saw the Beatles and went, "WOW! I want that!" What I went to school for was mass communications. I wanted to be a motion picture director. At that time I was living in Florida. The only thing available for film in Florida back then was "Flipper". What I found instead was a lot of club work.

(Rudy laying down on the job, back in the day)

(A few still images from the DVD Rudy created. It is used during the Dio "Holy Diver" performance and features Ronny James Dio, pictured.)
How did you get started in graphics?
I have always gravitated towards graphics. Now the technology has finally caught up to where I can actually create what I have envisioned, and can now easily create it with a push of the button.

When I first started with the Amiga, it was a very painstaking process. But, I kept trying and learning more and more so I could tell a story on the screen.

I love Motion Builder. I think it is so important to have an easy work flow. If I took a Poser character into Carrara, it handles beautifully. All I have to do is create a character and create a new template for the bones. Most of the bone structures are very similar and can be used easily. Weight maps translate really well.

Now I live in Los Angeles. LA is a very Maya and Lightwave oriented town. I attended Siggraph last year to get a good grasp of the industry. Because I am getting serious about graphic art, I made the investment in Maya, and to learn how to use it properly.

Sometimes the choice of software can be a political choice. Because of the industry standards and that it demonstrates a persons commitment to a particular platform. If you invest your time and money, it sends a message that you are "serious".

It's the same thing with music software selections regarding midi-integration. Before I made the decision, I did a lot of hunting on the net. Everyone had their own opinion of what was the best software. I do believe that proper training in how to use each software is important to maximize the full potential of each piece.

Here's what I created for the "Dio Holy Diver Tour Video", if you would like to take a look. I've progressed a lot since I made this, but don't have anything else complete that I can share at the moment.
Do you listen to music while creating art?

Oh yes. Obviously, I have to listen to the music while creating this kind of visual art. They have to compliment each other, to tell the story of the song.

I notice there is a lot of music content now that does not currently have a visual representation associated with it. I foresee there will be more musicians creating a visual story or representation to showcase their music on the mobile content devices.

I wish there was a software that was more intuitive to the musician's mindset that is easy to use. Now that Vue, Zbrush, and Carrara are reasonably priced and easier to use, I think you will see more and more artists learning how and creating art.

(Dio performing WE Rock at the Razzmatazz. Last show before Rudy's basses were stolen)

(From Buenos Aires to Germany and all points in between, the fans love their Heavy Metal)

Do you have a preference of music?

I like heavy metal, where I can create to the emotion of the music. You know what's coming next when it changes keys and tempo. They work well together, the combination of visual and audio. Because we are affected by the interplay of the music behind what is happening.

How many times have we heard that music is the sound track of our lives? It's because we emotionally connect the music with time and space.

What software/equipment do you use and why?
3DS Max, because it reminded me of the way that music software works. I watched numerous training videos before even attempting to use it.

To create the tour video, I used Combustion and Partical Illusion for the fire in the eyes and stuff, then played them on the JumboTron. I also use 3DS Max, Carrara, Poser, and Motion Builder. Once in a while, I go into Maya 6 standard. But basically, because the Carrara-Poser combination works so well, along with the terrain, it makes it easy.

It's funny, Poser reminds me a lot of the loops and samples we have in music. Most of the new music created today, are loops and samples. It's not a bad thing. It's just another tool available for creating and telling stories.

Living in LA I meet a lot of animators. Many of them use Poser, but don't want to admit it. Little by little they are coming out and saying, "yes, I used Poser". It's sort of like musicians admitting they used samples and loops in their music.

It is really about getting to a point where telling the story is more important than what you used to tell it. It's no longer important to have to start from scratch with creating and expressing the story.

(Rudy and Gaudi's Art Gecko)

What are you currently working on?
I just came on board with Ocean Visual FX, a 3D animation and Visual effects boutique studio, located in Huntington Beach California, as the company's new 3D Technical Director.

I will be using Lightwave. So, I'll be learning it more while I'm out on the road.

Also, last fall our Holy Diver tour was captured live at London's Astoria and is going to be released on DVD May 30, 2006 in the US.

What are your plans for the future?
We're leaving May 24th to go on tour throughout Europe and South America.

What? No plans for a US tour?
I would love to play the US. Oddly enough, it's more cost effective to tour the world where the venues get more fans at each performance.

Any parting advice or "words of wisdom" you would like to share?
I really appreciate what you guys are doing. It makes it possible for people like me to learn how to do stuff like this. I'll tell my friends, I was up till 3:00am learning another software! I get so excited learning new stuff. I think the secret is never stop learning!

Oh yes, I would love to meet up with Renderosity members all over the world during the tour. You are welcome to contact me via my site at

(Meet and greet with the fans backstage at the Tuska Metalfest in Finland)

Rudy, it was a pleasure talking with you. Thank you for taking the time to do the interview and for sharing your art and music with us. I know you and the rest of the band are pretty busy with the release of your new album due out May 30th and getting ready for your European/South American Tour next week. We wish you all the best on your tour and with the new job at Ocean Visual FX. Please pop in from time to time and say hello and let us know how things are going.
The pleasure was all mine. Thank you!

Check out the latest clips from Dio's new CD due out in the US on May 30th!

"Man on the Silver Mountain"

"Rainbow in the Dark"

"Straight Through the Heart"

"We Rock"

Please visit Rudy Sarzo?s official website at

go to to get the latest news about the band and see Dio's tour dates!

All images within this article are copyright and used with permission from Rudy Sarzo.
Any use of these images without written permission from the artist is prohibited.
Music copyrighted by Dio and may not be redistributed without express written consent.

  Graphic Tales from the Road
Industry News and What's Happening

"Dual Expression of the Creative Mind"
featuring Rudy Sarzo from Dio
Published: May 15, 2006
Lillian Hawkins
Marketing Manager

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