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

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!
IMG_0505

Rough first attempt

Hi again,

I have been going back over some of my lessons on matte painting, taught by someone from fxPhd, a few years ago.  I had previously needed to stop attending my online class because I realized I was totally lost when it came to using Photoshop.

Then, I bought an online remedial Photoshop training class that I never had time to finish all the way through.

About a year ago or so, I decided I wanted to do a projection of a sky using photos that I took of the sky near my house, then stitched together using PTGui. Then I brought it into Nuke and attached it to a sphere, to simulate the dome of a sky appearance. But I never put it into a scene, so that idea also had been put aside when I got busier at work.

Fast forward to now, where I do have some time off again. I have all these ambitious dreams of creating 5 really awesome, spectacular matte paintings so I finally got started today to resume my matte paint class.  I now feel like I am right back at square one again! I still can’t easily perform well in Photoshop so I will need to get back to that remedial PS class again, sigh.  It’s frustrating when you have ideas in your head, and know what you want to do, but the tools are not working for you.

Well, as with anything, you need to know the basics before advancing onto greater things!

I did at least go back today and try to finish that sky replacement piece I started in Nuke. That was going okay until I realized there is a technical issue with that technique as well, and needed to put that aside too.

Which leaves me to… my rough simple matte painting that I projected onto a card and then rotoscoped buildings and other objects over top of it. Voila … this is (sort of) my first attempt at a matte painting, put inside a moving sequence!  I am using the non-commercial license for Nuke so they won’t allow me to key anything so I rotoscoped everything in front – so time consuming.  It’s not perfect, but I wanted to demonstrate my simplest first step into matte painting. I will progress from here, for sure. I guess I also cannot submit the entire sequence I did, so I will post a few photos from it instead:

 

Here is a pic from the original footage:

MotorcycleGetaway_bg_v01.0023

It’s not spectacular, but at least I got something to show here on my progress so far. I was busy last week doing personal stuff and now I’m dedicating more time on advancing my skills.

Thanks for reading!