Digital VFX Artist

Latest VFX Reel (2017)

Time sure flies by!

Hey there!

Now it is the beginning of November, 2018. I was reading my last post, about how living in Los Angeles as a roto/paint artist is becoming more and more obsolete.

What I’ve done since then is study compositing like crazy, and then I got a paint artist job at Method Studios for a few months, which was very cool!
But then, the day after I finished up at Method, I was contacted by Digital Domain to work as a compositor. Of course I said yes. And so, my career has taken a turn for the better (and busier pace!) since then.

I worked on some very difficult shots that the senior level artists were doing. Wow, what an opportunity!! And, my fellow comper coworkers were so nice and super helpful and I am so grateful.

I had been avoiding being a compositor all these years because I didn’t want to work the 70-80 hr work weeks that are usually required. I was going in every day for 3 weeks, I think, with no days off. Well, it’s what’s the reality of working in the VFX business, no matter what location.

Prior to that, I was seeing how if I wanted to keep working in L.A. I definitely needed to expand my skills and the most logical step is to move into compositing. I got some great advice from others who moved from roto/paint into comping and the best thing I heard was, “You’ve got to just make that leap!”. Well, working on Lemony Snicket at DD as a compositor was definitely making a jump.

But I gained some skills, and then I got hired after that at Dreamworks Animation! Another crazy wonderful step in my life and career! I’m currently working as an Image Finaling Artist (basically, a 2D compositor for 3D animation). I love it!!!! Wow, I am learning a great deal now, and it’s an awesome team of folks to work with.

I know that I am always going to need to grow/learn/change in order to keep up with the changing industry. I have been telling my fellow coworkers from roto/paint (in L.A.) that they need to move into compositing or move to Canada for work. Or, some are taking the route of becoming a supervisor which really means, Q.C.’ing the work coming in from Outsource.

Many have just given up on VFX, and moved on to other careers instead. I have loved my career so far, and it’s taken me many places when I decide to take risks and increase my skills. Whenever I’ve moved out of my comfort zone I’ve benefitted. Or, if it was an awful experience, I was still blessed because it showed me my weaknesses and I could only move towards strengthening them. See, we always win if we stay open to change and roll with it. Life is all about learning and growing and changing. We become stagnant human beings if we stay inside our comfort zones.

Not Going to be a Dinosaur Anymore.

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Work is getting more and more scarce as a roto/paint artist living in Los Angeles these days. It’s kind of scary, with all the competition from using outsourced and subsidized work that really is cheaper and faster, and now it is also better quality. Why not pay a cheaper price for your rotoscoping and 2D paint, when you are running a business? I can understand that decision.

So… my job is becoming obsolete. It doesn’t matter that I really love it, or that I know things from experience that I can do by hand, that cannot be done procedurally. I’ve made the decision to finally move up into compositing for a living. I would hope that I am a valuable asset if I can do my own roto/paint work. I am already performing at a junior compositor level now, why not take on the challenge of being one of the compositors that are responsible for bringing the shots to the screen?

I think I have been intimidated all along, with all the things you need to know how to do. But when I think about it, I already know so much already! I already have a fantastic foundation. And I also want to be able to have more creative input with my shots instead of just with absolute results. I’m ready to expand now. Well, I’m kind of forced to, because I need to bring in some income!

OK. So for the past month or so I’ve been studying keying and creating my own composites. I also want to expand this website so that I can have a page dedicated to my portfolio and works in progress.

Here is an example of a lovely green park scene that I changed into a winter scene. It is still a WIP but so far, so good! I will make sure I keep on posting more and more examples of any fun projects I’m doing, as always. But now that I’ve got a fire under my ass (and more free time) I will continue to learn and grow, and post what I’m doing here. This is what I’ve been wanting to do with this blog all along anyway!

In this example, I had to find a dark cloudy background, then graded it down, and keyed the tree tops, and then created a bump map so that the tree leaves get “snow” on them, and then added a thicker layer of snow on the surfaces. Then I had to punch through the tree trunks and parts of the bench. I still would like to keep working on the edges, but I think this is a good WIP for now.

before:
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It’s Spring Already!

Hi there,

I see that the last time I’ve written anything here was at the beginning of the year.
If you are a VFX artist living in Los Angeles, working in roto/paint primarily, the work tends to come in waves. The latest project I finished working on was “Avengers: Infinity War” which comes out later this week!

Now that I have some time off I’ve been doing some spring cleaning and going through old files. I found some fun drawings that some coworkers at ILM and I collaborated on over time on our office whiteboard. Really fun stuff, and I’m glad I found it. I’ll have to share something here. We all just got as silly and absurd as we could, and kept changing stuff until it made us laugh. What a fun time that was, I loved working there.

I’m also back to CrossFit more regularly… if anyone reading this can understand, it’s really addicting and feels so good for you, once you get over the hump of being completely sore from head to toe every day LOL. I discovered last year that I really must find work that lets me have time to go to these classes in the morning. VFX work really takes its toll on the employees, with the crazy long hours and sitting all day long, into the night. I gained some weight on my last gig, doing 70+ hr work weeks on average. It’s a struggle, especially when you are in your late 40s…

I’ve also discovered that if you live in the Los Angeles area, and have a LA County Library card, you can log on to Lynda.com and learn all you can there for free! Such a wonderful gift that I am so grateful for. I’ve been getting through the Steve Wright compositing videos lately. There’s just SO MUCH to learn, and I love learning so this is right up my alley.

Take good care of yourselves, everyone! Keep on creating!
Whiteboard_Drawings_ILM

Another book recommendation

Howdy!
I just finished reading “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy and it is truly inspiring and motivating. So much so, that I wanted to share it here. I am going to read it again, just to reinforce anything that I may have missed.

The idea is that if you are determined to change your habits and behavior, or improve your skills, or want to get physically fit or see any kind of improvement in your life, you need to be consistent. That’s all. Just keep making that effort to improve and stay consistent, and when you hit a plateau, just push the effort a little harder, and you will become that dream person you’ve always wanted to be!

You can reduce your own bad habits with this method, too. If you decide to, every day, cut your calorie intake by 250 cal., after a year you will see a significant change! It’s the effect that compounding brings. I’ve heard of this idea when it comes to finance and investing, but never really thought of the concept of how it can apply to every day life.

Just like that video I shared here, probably a year ago, that I found to be so inspiring. The guy said that he would draw every day. It didn’t have to be a good drawing, and to get himself started on the days he didn’t feel like drawing he would tell himself to just draw one line, but he did it every day. At the end of the video, his drawing improved by so much!! Can you imagine the improvement over a year, or 5 years, or 20 years?? It’s the compound effect of working at something consistently.

Anyway, this is the book, hope you feel inspired to read it too:

Clean Slate, and Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!!

Here we are, now it’s 2018. Hopefully you are all feeling inspired to get some creative ideas out there on paper, canvas, computer, on a recording, or any other creative expression!

I believe that we, as humans, are meant to create things. We are supposed to create. Do you believe this too? It makes sense, if you look at all the different forms of life here on Earth. So, why aren’t you creating something now??? And if you already are doing something, are you working to make it better and better?

I only ask this, because I struggle with this question for myself all the time. And still, I procrastinate getting anything done. The only way to get really good at something is to just do it, and get some practice, so what does it matter that it is shitty? (this is exactly what I struggle with myself. Of course, I want everything I create to be perfect right off the bat, LOL)

I keep looking at a blank wall in our kitchen at home and every time I see it, I am reminded that I haven’t done anything to begin my ‘great work of art’ to go on that wall. The thing is, whenever I go to places like Urban Home I see wall coverings that to me, looks like I can do it, but better. And I can personalize it too! But I still procrastinate and put it low in my priority list. But, why? If I know I can do this, why don’t I do it??? I’m hoping I’m not alone with this. Sigh.

So, today, on Jan. 2, 2018, I have finally begun to paint a large canvas that hopefully will be good enough to go on our kitchen wall. I’ve been researching feng shui ideas for the position in our kitchen (southwest = yellow, orange, red… like fire) and since I’m fascinated with doing more landscapes, I am attempting to do a Fall scene. Doesn’t matter if I fail at this point. Why not just do it, and learn from any mistakes???

So, here I go!!

I hope that any of this has resonated with you, whether you are an artist or writer, or just venturing out into your desire, whatever it may be.

Happy New Year, I sincerely mean it!!!

Works in Progress

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Hey everyone!

I’m finally getting back into painting in acrylics again. I’m forever fascinated by landscapes so I figure I will try out a few. I also did a little sunflower piece too.

Just getting back into it, practice makes perfect, right?

It’s good to just do some little studies, because my real plan is to make some large paintings for the house. We’ve had our house for 8 years now and still there are some bare walls. Every time I go to places that sell decorations and I get to the prints/paintings section, I think that I can do these much better. So why haven’t I done anything? (with the exception of a few paintings I did a couple years ago) Am I being lazy? I think it’s just fear of hating what I paint. It’s fear of the unknown, maybe? Also, finding the time seems to be difficult. My husband has been wonderful- encouraging me to paint all the time. But I keep doing other tasks, making this a lower priority.

It’s time to put creativity into a higher bracket. Being creative really is a gift that we all have as humans, why don’t we shine like we’re supposed to?

Anyway, I hope everyone has a beautiful and happy holiday season!!!

Mastery

Hello again, I’m back!

I’ve been working on “A Star Is Born” for a small vfx company, since last September and wrapping up on it tomorrow. It’s on the Warner Brothers Lot in Burbank, and it’s been so fun getting to work at that location! I love how everything is different every day, when you walk around the different stages and backlot areas.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to a great audiobook that I wanted to share here: “Mastery” by Robert Greene. I’ve been meaning to read this for some time now, and only recently have been seeing some serendipitous reminders of it. It was coming up on my YouTube recommendations, for instance. So, I decided to give it a go.

It’s SUCH a great book, especially for aspiring artists! It doesn’t matter if you want to be an artist, a scientist, a businessperson, or musician or whatever… all of these (or whatever you wish to pursue) requires dedication and the courage to just dive in and do whatever it is you want to do! It talks about getting the necessary practice, finding mentors, believing in yourself, and sticking up for yourself too, when things get rough. I’m not finished with the book yet (only about 1/2 way so far) and I’m finding it to be so inspiring.
I know that I’ll be reading it a few more times.

What’s most interesting about the book is that there are many historical examples of famous people and what they went through to pursue their dreams, such as Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin and Leonardo da Vinci. I love biographies because I’ll remember that everyone is human and not some elevated amazing lucky person – everyone has to go through difficulties to become the master of their specialized skill.

I’ve been missing this blog, and thinking about how I can continue to write more consistently here. I feel strongly that I should just tell stories and when I have something new to share from my artwork, I’ll share that here as well.
I have a lot of stories, but what I really want is to share my progress as an artist.

Thank you for your time, and be sure to pick up “Mastery” as a truly inspirational book!

Mastery

Hello, again!

Hi everyone,

It’s the eve of my birthday, and I decided to work on some paintings for our house, starting tonight.

Of course, I’ve thought of doing this for probably a few years now and even focused on what to paint, but I haven’t executed my dreams yet.

I hear about how we need to just act on our ideas and not just keep thinking about it. So here I go, I will begin tonight. Although I felt inspired to write about it, tonight.

Last weekend my husband and I went to Blick Art supplies in Pasadena to pick up a bunch of supplies so now I am on the hook to produce some really great paintings for our home. I am looking forward to it, but I still worry about failure in getting it to look as nice as I imagine. Sigh. Maybe this is something a lot of artists go through.

I think about this blog a lot, too. I think that I should share all my stories here, for fun, and also to share any wisdom I have learned along the way. Not just in my career but in my life.

Oh by the way, I started a job a month ago. It is in Burbank, at the actual Warner Brothers studio lot. It’s great for me because the commute cuts my usual one by 1 hour each way every day. It’s fantastic!!! Plus, I love walking around the lot throughout the day so I see many interesting things I’d like to share here.

Okay, time for me to actually start on my paintings! I had this inspiration within the past year to do paintings that would be feng shui themed for each room. I’m interested in what comes up with this. I’m inspired, actually!
I want to start with our kitchen. I’m thinking yellows, reds and white to keep with the feng shui idea. It’s something that is interesting to me and I’ve been dabbling in studying this idea for a bit of time now. Time for me to get started!

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Cheers!
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False starts.

Hey there,

I started doing this blog so that I could write about and show my progress with personal art projects and also with job training to advance my skills. I wanted to have something to show for my progress.

Well… sigh. I think that I’ve let life get in the way of art, which is a common theme of my life. I know that the little voice inside of me continually pleads with me to create a painting or even just a drawing but I tend to ignore it and give other general tasks a higher priority. I figure, I’ll get to it eventually.

I have to put my foot down and think of a way to keep making art progress. One suggestion, that I even posted here earlier, was to tell myself that every day I have to draw. Even if it is just one line in my sketchbook. Because if you draw one line, you might feel inspired to keep going until you have to do something else. I have to make creativity as one of my highest priorities!

I like listening to motivational speeches. One I just heard this morning was about how distracted we all can get in this age of social media and entertainment. I’d never heard of Bishop T.D. Jakes before, but he was right- I am letting my distractions get the best of me and squeezing out my own creative ideas and goals. It’s so upsetting to me when I sit and think about how unproductive I’ve been on these last 3 months I’ve had off from work. Granted, I got a lot of house projects done from my never ending list, and maintained a lot of things like dishes and laundry. The best things that have come from this time off, actually, has been the quality time I got to spend with my husband, and joining a crossfit gym together, and also just sitting and reading books and expanding our pretty backyard with plants. I’m so grateful for all of that. Just getting to be home every day is a treasure. I would long to see the daylight at our house sometimes, when I am working those long long hours in crunch time. So this is all a blessing, don’t get me wrong.

But now that I had this wonderful break I must learn to focus on getting back to my highest priority: creating art.

I called this “False Starts” because of all the times this summer I got contacted to go back to work, and then got told that the project got cancelled or went a different direction where they did not need me after all. I’m okay with that because I know I am a good artist and eventually the right job will come along that is perfect for me. But in a way, I’ve also had the best intentions to work on some art for myself during this time but somehow got distracted and never really dedicated time for creativity. Except for that birdhouse that I made because it was a gift for a loved one.

Oh, and I did attempt to do some encaustic paintings a few weeks ago, which is wax mixed with oil paints. I just did a few abstract things that I let melt in the sun. I guess that was my attempt to “draw a line in a sketchbook”, to get my creative juices flowing. But nothing has been done since.

I just took a picture of my clean slates ready to go!! (empty canvases) And a couple of the encaustic paintings I was messing around with.

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I decided to write this today because I want to express my thoughts on knowing you are an Artist in your heart and soul but not really showing results, which is pretty frustrating to keep it inside. I’m kicking myself in the butt to get started again.

Cheers to all you fellow artists out there, I hope this inspires you a little today, too!

Updated my VFX demo reel for 2017…

Hey there!

I finally took the time out to update my reel.  It’s a new-and-improved version of my past reel, basically.

Working in the vfx industry, we are not allowed to show current footage of work we did that is not yet released on DVD so it is always a little behind the times.

Mine’s pretty far behind the times even more so, because I wanted to show all my *best* work and not some stuff that I thought was just okay or not relevant enough.  For example, I worked on “Deadpool” and rotoscoped Deadpool on a few shots (boring) and when it came to paintwork, I only worked on fixing paint that came in to our studio from outsource, that looked wrong.  I want to showcase work that is more challenging to me and paint is more interesting, in my opinion anyway…

So I am very proud of all the work I did on “Black Sails” season 3, “Pixels”, “Her”, “Gone Girl”, “Furious 7”, some very cool and challenging commercials, all for Digital Domain, and then “Cowboys & Aliens” for ILM. I love what I do for a living, and have been doing this for 20 years now.

I’ve been thinking about putting together a reel that showcases all of my best work over the 20 year span. Maybe sometime I’ll do this when I retire..? Well, that’s a long way away so I have time to think about it anyway.

OK- here is my latest reel for 2017: