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.

dinosaur

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:
GreenTrees_2snowyPark_v02<img

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

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: