How Jesse Gozo's Created an Awesome Frozen Particle Experiment

By: Rebelway

Rebelway Alumni Jesse Gozo unlocked some particle magic with this Frozen-inspired Houdini project.

Many VFX artists dream of working at big-name studios like Disney or ILM. While there is no magic formula for landing gigs at these top studios, one of the best things you can do to practice your skills is to simply do R&D projects inspired by the work you want to do.

Rebelway Alumni Jesse Gozo recently did one such project, so we thought it’d be fun to ask him about how he created this awesome Frozen-inspired scene.

Interview with Jesse Gozo

This is an incredible R&D project. Did you just create this project for fun?

Thank you! It was mainly for fun. I was inspired after seeing the animation test from Usman Olomu.

It looks like you collaborated with a few people for this project, what was that process like?

This project was incredibly fun and challenging to work on. Not only do you have to address technical hurdles, but you also receive creative inputs/notes from other artists. The animation and layout by Usman has a lot of compositional cues within the shot and working on top of that was fairly straightforward. Usman put a lot of story into his animation too, and trying to tell and supplement that story with FX and lights was really fun to do (like the off-screen explosion – which wasn’t in the animation test).

Elsa Particles

I worked very closely with the lighting artist, La Van, for this project to achieve specific artistic directions as well. For example, we decided to reference a color mood from the Frozen II movie (the Fire Spirit scene). However, making sense of that color mood within the current environment from the animation was tricky. So we changed it up, and went for an interior cave environment.

Frozen VFX Breakdown

The new environment made more sense now with our current color mood. And because it was a cave, I took the chance to watch the Free Tutorial: Procedural Asset Development for Environments in Houdini from Rebelway. The environment setup is completely procedural all the way from mesh generation to the shader (thanks to Rebelway).

Frozen Scene Breakdown

It’s very versatile since a huge part of the cave is also art-directed like adding the depth and opening of the cave and small holes where Van wanted to have volumetric lights coming in from the outside. We worked up to about six versions of the cave until we were satisfied with how the lights and FX interact with the environment.

Color Mood Reference

Why do you think collaborative projects like this are important for aspiring FX artists?

Receiving feedback from artists who have different artistic perspectives, for me, is necessary to train, not only your creative eye, but also your technical approach on solving problems and feedback. This is a recurring thing within a production; and if you have the chance to get into collaborative projects early on in your journey as an artist, then I think it’s important to take that.

If someone is new to VFX, how can they begin to collaborate with other artists?

Build connections. Get into artstation or vimeo or on LinkedIn, and find works that inspire you. Join Houdini discord servers and creative Facebook groups. Better yet, be a rebel — join the Rebelway fam.

Your FX skills seem to be way more advanced than the average VFX student, where did you learn to create FX?

I’ve been exposed to the CG pipeline way before I started learning Houdini. That knowledge translated very well as I pursued a more specialized role. My first investment in my Houdini education was Steven Knipping’s Applied Houdini tutorials. In the beginning, it was very difficult to understand all the lingo and information presented in the tutorial. But I took my time to digest everything and kept doing mini-projects to help implement what I learned.

In 2018, I did my diploma for VFX @ 3DSense Singapore under the mentorship of Craig L. Stevenson. I wouldn’t be where I am right now if not for their undying support and my family’s unconditional love.

If someone wanted to gain the technical and artistic understanding you have towards FX work, what advice would you give them?

Invest in a Rebelway workshop. Work on personal projects and outline your goals for that project. Whether it’s to increase your understanding on RBD workflows; or to learn how to artistically control pyro, make sure to have a goal. You are safe to make mistakes on that project, so make a lot of them and learn from it. Share your work and WIPs, and be open to criticisms from other artists, and learn to pick up valuable feedback from them and apply it on your current take or on the next project.

The community in Rebelway is amazing, and a lot of the artists I look up to are active on their discord server. Just being around folks like Saber Jlassi, Jayden Paterson, Igor Zanic, and others makes you want to push yourself even further.

Are you a Rebelway alumnus? What courses have you taken?

I’m a proud Rebel! I took Saber’s Mastering Destruction and FX in Houdini; and Jayden’s Mastering the Art of Magical FX in Houdini.

What’s next for you on your artistic journey?

I will be saving up some money to buy a beefy workstation. I’ve done all my personal work on my laptop which has a 6-core CPU and a measly 24GB ram. Can’t wait to cover a larger scope of FX tasks on a much better machine soon!

Where can people see more of your work?

You can check me on my socials here:

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Vimeo
  3. Instagram: @mistergozo 

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