Marcella Brown - Rebelway Online VFX Course Alumni

How did you start in 3D and how did you discover Houdini?

 Well I started learning 3D back in 2010, when I first moved to Atlanta, GA after I got out of the army. I went to art school down there. I ended up getting my bachelor’s there and I was doing 3D environments for games and other phone app companies. My first 3D tool there was Maya, which we used for modelling, materials and lighting, all still using Mental Ray back then. I later, discovered Houdini when I started going to Gnomon School of VFX in 2015, I was hooked immediately. I had already known that I was going to be in the FX classes there early on so when I was shown Houdini in the labs it was a complete change for me.

Where do you currently work?

 I am currently at ScanlineVFX in Montreal, where we use many different tools Houdini included but when it comes to anything fire, smoke or water-related, Flowline is the main resource. I have worked on 3 shows with them now, Midway, The Rescue and Godzilla vs Kong.

What drives you to learn the craft of 3D & VFX?

 I have always loved tech and art! I did not know that I was going to be working as fx artist though. I did not even know this industry was this big thing they do not tell young black kids “Hey, do you wanna be an artist” lol nah that does not happen at all.  I knew that I wanted to make games coming out of high school and that was it. So what keeps me going is the fact that I can empower and show other black and latino people that this is an option. Not only is it creative and fun but you can travel and do something completely different with your life. You don’t have to be a stereotype or a statistic, you can actually be proud of the work yo put out in the world. So awareness I guess is what really keeps me going.

There are many vfx schools & tutorial websites. In your opinion how does Rebelway compare? 

 I am an Gnomon Alumni so I will have to rep that proudly first haha! But I would say if you’re serious about continuing to advance in FX, I would definitely recommend Rebelway, and have in the past. Although Gnomon gave me a great base in learning a lot of different FX,I am always the type of artist who likes to specialize. For that, taking the additional courses in Pyro and water FX from Rebelway set me up for success at ScanlineVFX, were my first show was Midway. I could pull from those courses on how to get the most detail in your sims and that helped a lot in getting my shots approved.


Tell us about your favorite project accomplished in Houdini. What made it interesting? What were the challenges you faced?

 My favorite project in Houdini was while I was still working at MPC, I was assigned to the show Dumbo. That was also my first Disney show to work on so that made it extra special as well. I did a lot of hay and fire on that show. Dumbo obviously interacts with everything around him so having proper collision was key. Godzilla King of Monsters was also a fun project, I got to do a lot of lightning for Ghidorah, and we used Houdini for that as well.

Who inspires you as an artist? Who do you look up to and why?

 Jackson Pollock and Banksy are my two favourite artists. I feel like these two speak to me as an artist. The art is wild, passionate and fully intentional at the same time. I think that says everything you need to know about me, haha. I look up to women like Michelle Obama, Angela Rye, Tamika Mallory. Strong black women that are out here doing the work, that gives me a lot of excitement to keep going in vfx as a black women when I rarely see anyone who looks like me.

What podcasts or youtube channels keep you motivated to grow as an artist?

 I actually have a podcast of my own. It is called THE VFX Club Podcast, where I invite other artists in games’ animation and vfx to sit down and discuss what we love: art and storytelling. We talk about relevant issues dealing with us as artists, and what’s happening in the world currently. Season 2 just dropped on June 2, it is on every major platform iTunes, Spotify, Android etc.

What’s next for you on your artistic journey?

Well right now it is all in God’s hands, this year so far has been crazy to say the least so I’m just relying on faith. I hope to get to work on my first Marvel fist this year though. If all goes well, i’ll have a couple Marvel shows under my belt soon, so I am looking forward to that. Season 3 of my podcast is coming back in the fall so I am also looking forward to that.

Marcella Brown - Rebelway Online VFX Course Alumni

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