The people who use our boards.

304 interviews since 2018

Dietrich Magnus

Animation Supervisor

Who are you, and what do you do? What do you like to do outside of work?

I have always loved games and movies. I started my career in video games as a generalist and later as animator, which I love to this day. I switched careers to film, since I always wanted to work on films ever since I saw the making of Jurassic Park. I worked in London for spent five years, and returned to Germany in 2020. I work as an animation supervisor and worked on Shazam 2, House of the Dragon, and some unannounced projects.

Lately I have ventured into 3D printing, which is good fun. I printed some of the community parts and altered them to my liking. Besides that, I am obsessed with coffee (a bit of a coffee snob), love relaxing after work watching Korean TV shows with my lady, and drive around Frankfurt with my Canyon full suspension bike.

At work I enjoy the creative part, but also the technical aspects. I am not a programmer by any means, but I like to code smaller tools/scripts in Python, design my UI, and work on my workflow in Maya.

Dietrich Magnus's setup
This is where the animation magic happens

What hardware do you use?

At home it’s a 5850x Threadripper, 64 gigs of RAM, a 3070 RTX, three 27-inch monitors from Dell, one Wacom Creative, a Wacom Intuos. For work I have a Teradici machine, which hooks into a USB switch, so it’s easy to switch from my computer to work and back.

Dietrich Magnus's keyboard with Wacom device
One kind of input device is simply not enough

The desk can switch to a standing desk as well, and I got cable tunnels running under my desk so things are a bit tidier. I’ve got some Bose noise-canceling headphones, but mainly use a Beyerdynamic MMX 300, which is connected with an audio mixer. This way I can talk on the phone (I have a physical phone at my desk for work) and listen to my work computer and my home computer.

I have three laptops, each with Linux, but I mainly enjoy the smaller form factor laptops (around 12 inches) and got a Surface Laptop Go 2, which is a nice small machine.

I have three mice—one is hooked up to work, sitting on a mouse jiggler. This way I can go brew a coffee in the kitchen and don’t need to log in again when I return to my desk. The second mouse is for safety, in case my Bluetooth Logitech runs out of juice. Mainly I use a Logitech G502 X Plus, where I can customise every function. Copy-and-Paste is on left+right on the mouse wheel—once you use it, you won’t go back. Beside that, I have a Keychron and a YMDK 96 percent keyboard, all with Glorious Pandas and modded. The Keychron I use mainly to play Dota 2. I logged around 4000 hours on Dota with the Keychron, and my brain refuses to use the Moonlander with the game, so I don’t force it.

I’ve also got four Govee light bars, so I can easily change the light settings depending on my mood. They are behind the monitors, and it’s great to adjust the brightness in the evening.

Dietrich Magnus's office
Dietrich's office is welcoming—unless you try to nab his headphones from their toothy rest

And what software?

Autodesk Maya, RV, and Sublime Text would be the most common apps I use on a daily basis. Zulip for chats and Shotgun as the main tool to schedule, monitor, and review the work we do. For automation I currently look to AutoHotkey v2, and I use Total Commander at work to manage files and to browse the file system.

What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?

Where to start…I had the desire to use the arrow button with my thumb, so I mocked up a design and got it printed by a company. I quickly realized that I wanted my own 3D printer so I could prototype the ergonomic aspects. So I changed the arrow buttons, making them taller and easily reachable with my thumbs and fun to press.

The next stage was the wedge from the community, which I made taller and able to get the thumb cluster down. So the max angle of the default Moonlander is the angle I currently use. So far, so good. But I wanted a rotary wheel for work. I am an animator and either animate or review a lot, so whether I use a mouse or a Wacom, it is quite useful and fun to have a bigger rotary device to quickly go frame by frame, like an editor would. It’s a bit of a niche requirement, to be fair. For symmetry I added one to the right as well, mainly just for volume control. So those boards are the GB4 from Picatea.

I still want to design a better version with screws, but at the moment, work is overtaking my spare time a bit. So for now the boards are dampened a bit with painter tape, as well as two strips on the bottom for better hold. It’s not ideal, but you don’t see it with the thumb cluster down, and like I mentioned, I want this part to be more elegant with screws at some point.

I use Boba Silent Tactiles, because there’s not a lot of space in the Moonlander to dampen the sound profile. A bonus is that I can type in meetings in secret and nobody will ever know.

I kept the original keycaps. The Moonlander is still quite new, and I use different colors to show different layers. I designed everything so it’s good for everyday typing, but also I have everything I need on the left hand. Alt is heavily used in 3D applications, and I needed Space and Enter on the left.

Additionally I have a layer for a numpad cluster, since I use the numpad a lot when I’m going through shots at work. Maybe the biggest game changer in general is not to use my right hand for a numpad and instead keep it on my mouse or Wacom. You need some time to get used to it, but it’s very enjoyable.

What would be your dream setup?

I think I am quite close, to be honest. Most limitations and annoyances come from work (only two monitors, some devices not properly supported, etc.) The Moonlander gives me all the freedom to make quick changes to my workflow, either for Maya or in general. I enjoy the combos a lot, more than I thought.

At the moment I have even more cables attached to the Moonlander—three in total because of the two additional keyboards/wheels, but that is not a big issue. They don’t draw attention on a black desk. That being said, a wireless Moonlander would be cool, but it’s not trivial of course for various reasons.

I would pay good money for an all-metal version of the Moonlander, or an all-wood version. I have a 96 wood keyboard from YDMK, and it’s really something, but I moved on to the Moonlander and didn’t look back.

Recently I bought a black Moonlander as backup and I work on 3D-printed wrist rests, but this is more difficult than anticipated due to the design and ergonomics. Some of my designs were worse than no wrist rest at all, and at the moment I like the no-wrist-rest setup, till something new comes my way.

Dietrich Magnus's keyboard with paper, up close
Looks great, Dietrich! We'll be watching for your name in the credits!

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