I played around with 3D in high school by using Cinema 4D and After Effects for silly projects after school, taking inspiration from YouTube channels like Freddiew and Corridor Digital. During college I freelanced for multiple small commercial studios and started a full time compositing / generalist position after graduation. I worked primarily in Nuke but soon felt restricted by relying on 2D stock for fx elements. I realized that creating truly integrated vfx meant looking into fx and Houdini. At first this was by hiring freelancers, but while investigating quickly fell in love with the craft!
I am currently an FX artist at Luma Pictures.
During college I focused on cinematography and photography, which I think is my biggest strength. Looking back, it proved critical for me to have learned and experimented with composition, color, lighting, etc. VFX ultimately aids in visual storytelling and contributes to the aesthetic style. It can be as important a tool as anything else in a cinematographer’s tool-belt to be aware of the possibilities and restrictions of VFX. And for these reasons, I think FX can be the perfect intersection of technical and artistic aspects and why I love what I do!.
Rebelway offers an exceptionally good balance of individuality and teamwork in the learning process. For me, the online class model is too constricting as the student must adapt to the teachers schedule or wait a whole class cycle for instructors to engage with the students. While it is not practical to expect instructors to respond immediately, I found that Rebelway’s discord platform allows students and instructors to work more as a team, and can arrive at solutions more quickly and effectively. I also believe that the content is some of the best out there because Rebelway has a focus on the “why” and not the “how”. It is way more important to know why to use a technique than to know the technique itself!
When I started learning Houdini and practicing FX, I felt like there is a correct and incorrect way to achieve an effect. While there might be tried and true methods, Rebelway showed me that these techniques are only some of the many different options that an FX artist has. This realization pushed me to create personal projects where I did not feel constrained by the tool, but rather comfortable in pursuing the look that I had initially imagined.
My favorite projects are the spaceship shots that I created while enrolled in the Magic FX course. This is the first project I felt like I could completely forget about the technical aspects and focus solely on the visuals. I spent long hours without realizing it just tweaking settings and experimenting with different results, completely turning of the technical side of my brain and focusing on the final shot. During this project I also felt like I utilized my compositing skills. Granted – I was pretty messy with it as you can see below. Don’t worry, I cleaned it up later!
There is a lot of creativity in the procedural 3D industry, especially after Simon Holmedal and Man Vs Machine popularized abstract 3D art in mainstream commercial production. One look at behance and you can get a ton of inspiration and reference for new effects from all of those artists at these highly creative studios pushing the boundaries of what you can do with a hybrid artistic and technical approach. In terms of a specific person, I have always looked up to Roger Deakins. His approach to lighting and style influences much of my work – it’s inspiring to see someone who is so well known on high budget films use very little other than practical lights and pull off insanely beautiful shots. He really proves that you can achieve a ton without all the bells and whistles.
I don’t listen to a ton of podcasts or vfx related youtube channels. But I do scroll through behance and portfolio sites regularly!