We recently hosted the Rebelway FX Challenge with the Rookies. Over 100+ artists submitted their work and many of them were new to the FX industry. However, we also had quite a few pro submissions that showcased the best of the best work. Today’s interview showcases one such project.
Tyler Britton is an FX artist with incredible skills. In his Rebelway FX Challenge submission, he created the best Pro submission and won two seats in a Rebelway course. We thought it’d be fun to ask Tyler a few questions about his work on the project.
I initially had a couple of ideas, one of which included more of an ice vs fire theme. However, after coming to terms that that would be a very popular theme (which it was), I switched to more of a light vs darkness one. It relied a little more on magical and abstract effects which I am not as strong at, but I thought it was a good opportunity for me to get better at a weakness.
In terms of inspiration, my wife has been playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, which is what inspired the sort of foggy Nordic swamp environment. In terms of the FX, the monster’s emergence was inspired by the Minas Morgul scene from Return of the King. That is my favorite movie ever and that scene just has a sense of awe and dread which I tried to bring to my project. The other FX didn’t have any particular inspiration, but I get generally inspired by the real-time FX in the Total War: Warhammer games. There are just so many awesome FX there, and I tried to draw inspiration from some of the spells, particularly Banishment, Chain Lightning, and Pit of Shades.
I started all the concept work in my head in December and started actual “shot work” in January. Before that, I carefully planned out the time for each FX in weeks and tried to stick to that as close as I can. There was some FX I had to leave out and some I added in at the end. The compositing took a lot longer than I thought, considering I had some 40+ layers to comp, and sometimes I did FX elements in Nuke using ST maps.
There were not many technical hurdles, but something I struggled with a lot is the deep compositing. Most of the important layers were rendered in deep, and while you can save render iteration by using deep, there are some tradeoffs down the road including slow file read times and artifacts in the holdouts. I had to think about when I had to use deep and when I would not, and when I needed to bake in the holdouts to get the best result. I think deep is the way to go in some situations, but not all.
I went to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) for school and graduated in 2015. I got to learn from some amazing teaches and go to school with some awesome classmates who are very successful in the VFX world now. There are some pros and cons to going to a formal school versus doing classes as Rebelway does. That is something I could talk about forever, but at the end of the day, I am happy with where I am in my career and SCAD enabled me to be the best artist I can be.
I would say to just keep working at it. No matter how good you are now, chances are that you will be better a year from now. I would also recommend people to get into coding. While I am more artistic, learning Python at a basic level has helped out my career a lot. I am lazy and mistake-prone, so learning Python and how to automatic everyday tasks cut down on that. Aside from that, when working on a task I feel like it comes down to two questions, how do I make this look better, and how do I get there? If you have the artistic knowledge to realize how to make it look better, and the technical knowledge to make sure you get to that point, that’s all there is.
Also, in terms of doing projects like this, your project will only be as good as your concept. I highly recommend taking the time to plan and develop stuff out before you start. If your concept is uninspiring and lacking, then chances are your project will be as well. You are going to spend a lot of time on this, so mine as well make sure that what you are doing is work your time.
I would love to just keep creating cool stuff. Outside of working in VFX, I normally do a personal project every two years to improve on my weaknesses and keep my skills sharp. I have some ideas for my next one, but that is still a long way away.
Feel free to follow me on Vimeo. I post my reels there once and a while, as well as any other cool thing I do.
Thanks again to Rebelway and all of the sponsors for putting on this contest. It was awesome and I hope they do more in the future.
The VFX Challenge has ended! Take a look at these awesome VFX Breakdowns from the Rebelway FX Challenge entries!
No risk. Just results.