How did you get into VFX?
My background was photography and I studied Fine Art Photography, but I always wanted to get into film and originally wanted to be a cinematographer. As I started to learn filmmaking, editing, and eventually VFX, I realised photography and VFX/Compositing were closely related and I really liked the idea of creating the final shot for TV or Film.
There weren’t many VFX schools at the time so I did a lot of learning on the job, starting out as a receptionist at a VFX company, before working on commercials and Film. It’s great to see that now there are so many online tutorials and trial softwares available for young artists to try out and see what’s involved in VFX.
What’s the best thing about VFX/Compositing?
We are the department that finishes the shot. We’re bringing everything together and making it look completely realistic. That was the original appeal for me, making everything look completely photo-realistic and believable in the environment. Working in VFX is about working with amazing artists, supervisors and directors who have their creative vision and helping them to tell a great story.
Nowadays, the quality of VFX in Film and TV is unbelievable. To be a part of a team that puts something on the air or in the cinema is a great experience and definitely a exhilarating achievement and ego boost! Seeing your name credited and seeing your shots on the big screen is a real goosebump kind of moment.
What can an applicant do to stand out?
Show the artwork that you feel most passionate about. It might include work you’ve done for school assignments, but hopefully you’ve also done something outside of school that you really enjoy, perhaps a self-taught craft or a tool that you particularly like. We’re looking for something that you feel represents your personal style, voice and passion. For example, if you love the anime genre, then take that as your inspiration, and develop your own style and concepts from that. Copying a techniques is great method to start, then expand on it and make it your own to stand out more.
A variety of work is also important. This will give you a sense of which tools you like better. We’re not expecting anyone to be an expert at digital art but we are hoping that people have tried a variety of different art mediums, whether that’s life drawing, painting, sculpture, Photoshop or other digital softwares.
One question we’ll ask applicants is why they’re interested in getting into VFX, game art or animation. Really think about why you want to invest 3 years in developing this craft. What is it about VFX in films that appeals to you? Have you thought about the process that goes into a VFX shot? Have you watched any VFX breakdowns of shots? We all love watching films but students need to demonstrate a passion beyond “I love films”. Starting to visually analyse a cool VFX shot will help demonstrate your passion and interest in what is neede to create amazing imagery.
What’s your favourite thing to see in a Creative Portfolio?
For someone interested in getting into VFX, it relates to typical photography and filmmaking skillsets. Particularly filming styles, photography, cinematography, lighting choices, colour palettes and editing with intentions to tell a visual story in a concise manner. If you are already interested in VFX Compositing, then include artwork from AfterEffects (this could be Motion Graphics to demonstrate your art of composition) or stills from Photoshop showing a realistic combination of various elements seamlessly blended together. Filmmaking are things anyone can do with a smartphone or low-end camera. There’s also free creative and editing software out there to try out, otherwise using Final Cut Pro, or Premier to create short 10-30 second films.
If you haven’t tried any 3D software before, you can download Blender for free and try it out. There are also video tutorials to help you model a simple object first, then understand basic texturing, lighting, rendering, and putting the object into a photorealistic background. Do the basics really well first, then expand into more challenging models and materials.
It is all about how realistic it looks in the photographic or filmed background environment.
For more advice and tips, check out our VFX blog.