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VFX Expert Shares Real Industry Insights

October 13, 2023 | Campus News

The Virtual International Creative & Design Masterclass organised by The One Academy returned with its fifth instalment, featuring esteemed industry professionals from the film illustration, visual effects, advertising, digital media and fashion industries. With participation extended to secondary school students, The One Academy students and alumni, the event had taken place virtually over two consecutive weekends.

During a live video conference, Rob Au - a VFX Supervisor at LDS Motion Picture Studio in the U.S., was invited to present his talk titled “A Journey Through the VFX Career: Navigating Success in a Dynamic Industry”. An artist and educator as well with over 15 years of experience, his influence spans across renowned studios such as Rhythm & Hues (now defunct), Pixomondo, EA Games and Method Studios.

With a well-rounded experience in filmmaking and image creation, including pre-production, on-set supervision, to post-production, his credits include films such as The Golden Compass (which won an Oscar for Best VFX), The Mummy 3, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and Guardians of the Galaxy. He was also nominated in the VES (Visual Effects Society) Awards for outstanding supporting visual effects in an episode of Fear the Walking Dead.

During his session, he shared the journey of becoming an artist, and his evolution from a VFX artist to a visionary supervisor, as well as his retrospective on how to navigate a career in the professional arts and where the industry may be leading. Explaining his role as a VFX supervisor, he works with directors and producers to help them create their vision, then help build the team and set the team’s aim on how to aesthetically and technologically achieve the vision.

“There will always be people that tell you that you can’t. But the only person who actually can stop you doing what you dream of doing is you,” he said that there will always be detractors – teachers, friends, family, and self-doubt that can all combine to make one feel that professional art is a fool’s journey. Once they get past that hurdle, the next big step in their journey is getting the right education.

“You should be looking for a place that offers your opportunities, gives you resources and teaches you skills that are relevant to the industry, that has adequate infrastructure – computer, software, cameras and tools necessary to learn. In your education, you would want to be in a space that allows you to be connected to people in order to network and collaborate,” he added.

He also mentioned the importance of choosing a specialisation early in the career. “One of the great things about working at a studio where it allows you to specialise is that you usually get to work with people who are at the peak of those disciplines, whether that’s lighting, animation, modelling or rigging. The technical and artistic volume of knowledge that they get to impart to you is one of the greatest assets to you becoming skilled in your craft.”

While it is important to specialise, it is also equally important to continuously develop skills outside of that specialty in order to do well and move quickly through your career. It is one of the things that will set you apart from peers in the workforce. The willingness to go past things that are challenging and be aware of things you can do to help solve problems will make you an indispensable member of any team.

“It’s really an exciting time to be in this industry right now. We’re seeing massive changes happening and machine learning becoming part of our everyday life. As someone who’s working and developing tools with AI, I can tell you that I don’t think AI is taking over anybody’s job. We’ll see a shift in the industry and there’ll be changes in some of our roles and responsibilities, but if you change with them, then you’ll be successful,” Rob concluded.

He then addressed questions sent in from the audience during the Q&A segment. In response on how to stay relevant in the industry and keep up with technology and creative trends, he advises to set aside time to work on new skills and experimenting with the latest software in the market. All in all, it was an insightful sharing that opened eyes to the visual effects industry and what it has to offer.

The One Academy is committed to providing the best art education programmes and continues to nurture its students passionately through its “Masters Train Masters” coaching philosophy, which has been practised for over 30 years, by providing diploma and degree courses in Advertising & Graphic Design, Digital Animation, Digital Media Design, Film Visual Effects, Interior Architecture & Design, Illustration, Fine Arts, Paris Fashion Design & Pattern Making, Computer Science & Game Design. For more information, visit www.toa.edu.my or call 03-7875 5510 or e-mail your enquiries to [email protected].

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