This Course is Perfect…
- If you're looking to gain the skills needed in the VFX industry right now
- If you want to take your skills to a more technical level
- If you’re an aspiring Compositing Professional
- If you're a professional filmmaker looking to enhance your projects
- If you're a student or graduate preparing for the job market
- For 3D Visual Effects artists wanting to enhance their skills or move into 2D
- For career changers who want to start learning the creative skillset for a career in compositing VFX
- Mentorship from our VFX industry partners at significant stages during the course
- Free online primer course before you start studying - so your foundation skills are up to speed
- Access to our VLE system where you will be able to access additional resources to supplement your training throughout the duration of the course and 12 months of free access after completing the course.
- Escapee Aftercare and career support.
- Help and advice on your CV, showreel and job applications
- London, UK
- Full-time Mon – Fri 10am-5pm
- 18 Weeks
- Start Dates:
- August 19th 2014
- November 17th 2014
- Nuke, Silhouette
- Early Bird Discount:
- Save £1,000 when you pay in full, 3 months before your course starts
Take Your Compositing to the Next Level
The role of Junior Compositor is constantly evolving, highly complex, and it can be tough job to enter at the higher end studios. The 18-week Compositing Professional course provides a rigorous grounding in all compositing fundamentals plus an expanded technical repertoire including Maya and Stereoscopic. The program concludes with a heavy technical showreel focus so students can confidently compete for these highly sought after positions.
Taran Spear tells us about working for Electric Theatre Collective and offers advice for those looking to enter the industry!
NAME: Taran Spear
COMPANY: Electric Theatre Collective
COURSE STUDIED: Advanced Compositing For Visual Effects (Full-time)
FAVOURITE YOUTUBE CLIP / MOVIE ONE-LINER: I don’t think I could pick out a single YouTube clip as there are so many good ones, but my favourite movie one liner would have to be from the movie ‘Airplane’:
Striker: "Surely you can't be serious.”
Rumack: "I am serious…and don't call me Shirley.”
WHY VFX AND WHY ESCAPE STUDIOS: I chose the VFX industry because I have always had a passion for movies and the amazing moments made possible on the screen. I initially gained an interest through tinkering around in After Effects and learning a little more about how these effects were created. I did some research into training and found that After Effects is not the industry standard in terms of film and commercial compositing. Instead I found out about NUKE and discovered Escape Studios who offered a course focused purely on compositing with NUKE. The rest is history, as they say.
PROJECTS: My favourite project to have worked on would have to be the PS4 launch commercial, because I'm a huge fan of video games. There was a real buzz around this project.
ADVICE FOR THOSE ENTERING / CONSIDERING ENTERING THE INDUSTRY: The main bit of advice I can offer those interested in working in visual effects is that you need to really want this career and be willing to work hard to achieve what you want. Out of all the people I studied with at Escape, every person who stayed late after class and really worked hard to learn the software and techniques is now working in the industry. When it comes to applying for work, you must make sure you apply everywhere. Just because you don’t get a reply from one or many companies doesn’t mean you should give up. Companies hire people depending on how busy they are. If you don’t get a reply, or were not successful in an application it could simply mean the company you applied to just isn’t hiring at that time. Also don’t just target the main big companies for your applications, you will quite often have more luck with smaller companies plus you may have more of an opportunity to work on a greater range of things in a smaller company and use a wider range of skills.
FINALLY, CAN YOU GIVE US A FEW LINES ABOUT YOUR LIFE OUTSIDE VFX: Outside of VFX I like to play music. I am a drummer in two bands and spend a lot of time writing, recording and performing. I also try to fit cinema visits in when I can. Film has always been a passion of mine, even more so now that I am in the VFX industry.
Escapee Catarina Ferreira speaks to us regarding her recent appointment at Cinesite
NAME: Catarina Ferreira
FAVOURITE MOVIE ONE LINER: "Someday my dream will come? One night you will wake up and discover it never happened. It’s all turned around on you. It never will. Suddenly you are old. It didn't happen, and it never will, because you were never going to do it anyway." – Collateral.
PROJECTS: I see all the projects that I've worked on as great experiences. There is always something to take out from each, no matter how exciting the work itself is. Learning something new, improving my skills and getting to know new people are the best parts of it. I quite enjoyed working on "Snow White and the Huntsman" at Blue Bolt as roto/prep artist - I learned a lot every day. Two years after completing the Compositing Professional course at Escape Studios I'm finally having the opportunity to do some compositing work at Cinesite for “300: Rise of an Empire” and I'm loving it. It's a been great reminder of why I chose to work in this industry.
WHY VFX: In the last year of my degree in Communication Design, I got into motion graphics. Started working with After Effects and one thing came to another. I got my first job in an Architecture Visualization company as motion grapher and that title also included doing some compositing work. I think it was a good starting point, from here my passion for comping grew day by day.
I always had some kind of fascination with watching the special features on DVD's, the "making of", the replacement of green screens, the "before/after" visual effects... It´s like making magic, deceiving people and making the impossible possible.
Being a part of great features was something I thought was unachievable, until I heard about Escape Studios. So with 3 years of work experience in Portugal I decided to step back and start all over again in London. It was a huge decision and a big investment to do the course, sure, but it was the best thing I've done. The unachievable became achievable and now the dream is happening.
ADVICE: Try to be creative on your show reel, accept criticism and grow with it, and don't give up if someone tells you it's impossible or too difficult.
It's VFX, nothing is impossible; it's just a matter of time and hard work
Escapee Ahmed el Azma speaks to us regarding his recent appointment as an intern at Prime Focus.
NAME: Ahmed El Azma
COMPANY: Prime Focus
FAVOURITE MOVIE ONE LINER: No Country for Old Men [Anton Chigurh flips a quarter from the change on the counter and covers it with his hand]
PROJECTS: I am currently interning at Prime Focus, as a stereo conversion artist - converting 2D to 3D. It’s such a fun and challenging job because you get to use what you have learnt in compositing, and apply it to a similar but different practice. Thus you are forced to find solutions to an array of problems and keep your compositing skills in check!
I’d say the favourite project I have worked on so far would have to be ‘Burma Repossessed’,. It’s the first shot on my reel where the trees come alive and grab the pagoda. It took me a while to finish that shot and my love for VFX is shown in it as I animated the tree branches and replicated the pagoda top, finally bringing it all together in compositing to achieve a sense of realism.
WHY VFX: It’s simple. As a kid, I was on the couch for years glued to the TV – watching movies and a lot of MTV. In between the video clips came the break segments with mostly 3D characters and other cool stuff, I was hooked!
ADVICE: The one thing I’ve learnt (and still am learning) is to keep learning! Whether you are doing 2D or 3D – the capacity for learning is endless and the more knowledge you give, the more you will receive. It is highly competitive out there but work hard and you will reap the rewards.
VFX loving Leo Neelands has traversed the globe on a ship built of his much sought after VFX expertise.
I was inspired by my favourite childhood films ‘Back to the Future’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘ET’, ‘Tron’, ‘Bladerunner’, and ‘Indiana Jones’. The visuals in these films were magic, and I wanted to be part of that. I genuinely look forward to going to work every day.
‘The Hobbit’ was incredible to work on. Weta Digital is an amazing company, with some of the cleverest people in the world working there, as well as some of the nicest. I loved it!
FAVOURITE MOVIE ONE LINER:
‘This is Spinal Tap’ is full of some of the best lines ever. My favourite would be; “It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.” A friend at FuelVFX, reminded me of the line a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been chuckling to myself ever since.
VFX loving Leo Neelands has traversed the globe on a ship built of his much sought after VFX expertise. From MPC to Cinesite, Fuel VFX to Weta Digital. He truly has a number of serious motion pictures under his belt. It only takes one glance at his IMDB profile to see that his back catalogue is nothing short of impressive. We recently caught up with escapee Leo, to find out about his journey into this realm.
In 2005, after a number of years working as a Drug & Alcohol Worker, a career change beckoned, and the creative platform that was VFX was calling his name. After undertaking a HND course at South Nottingham College, his skills were recognised by a tutor there, who advised him to make his way down to London. Some industry based friends coerced him into furthering his skills, eventually streamlining them at Escape Studios.
Be brave - I was terrified when I started at Escape. I was a yokel from the midlands moving to the hub of the film industry. I wasn't confident that I was going to be able to meet the standard required, but Escape was a great place to be; very relaxed and fun which put me at ease, but also very focused on the industry and on gaining employment. It felt like a serious course and was an inspiring place to be. It made me want to learn more and work harder. I don't remember thinking or talking of much else but VFX for a couple of months... in hindsight, I may have been a little boring to be around in that period!
Enjoy your career - I've met a lot of lifelong friends through this industry, so I am rather lucky to have lots of fun in and out of work with them. Myself and Jon Van Hoey Smith, (a compositor from MPC) started a band a couple of years ago, after realising we tapped our angle poised desk lamps with our wacom pens in a pleasing way whenever a ska tune came on.
Don’t expect family and friends to understand - I would tell them about the 700gb per frame deep rgba file I had to grapple with on The Hobbit. It was a scary monster of a thing to deal with, where in technology is moving faster than the hardware capabilities. In response, they would look at me with empty expressions, and ask me what the cider was like in New Zealand… it was great by the way!
After an overdue stint on our professional Compositing course at the beginning of 2011, it’s fair to say that ever since, Carlos has grabbed the bull by the horns and tamed it into his very own four legged chauffeur.
Roto Artist at Double Negative
Batman – Dark Knight Rises, Total recall, and now the new Bond film, what can I say, a dream come true!
A dream come true indeed! After an overdue stint on our professional Compositing course at the beginning of 2011, it’s fair to say that ever since, Carlos Conceição has grabbed the bull by the horns and furthermore, tamed it into his very own four legged chauffeur.
Now living in London and working in the heart of the VFX industry with Soho’s Double Negative, Portuguese born Carlos Conceição has worked with some of the largest names in the business on some truly ground breaking cinematic projects. For Carlos though, working in the VFX industry was not always so straight forward.
“Back in the days when I decided to enter the VFX industry, I searched the internet for options, inside and outside of Portugal; Escape Studios was the best option out there in terms of reviews and general opinion”
Although Carlos was aware of Escape Studios at this time, finances were a considerable factor in his career progression, being fresh out of University in Europe, a move to the UK was a huge decision…
“In the end I chose the Portuguese option and went into Architecture Visualization, and worked there until I decided that I wanted to progress in my career further…then came the Escape dream again… fortunately I got the chance to do the course, and it changed my life. It's not easy getting to the top of your career in Portugal and then starting all over again in the UK… back home, I was a senior ‘Arch Viz Artist’ and a Master Class Teacher, but there is nothing compared with the Film industry.
After completing a professional Compositing course at Escape Studios, Carlos found himself almost immediately knees deep within the industry..
The Foundry, Electric Theatre Collective and his current employers - Double negative, are all firms who have made use of Carlos’s extensive skillset over the last year. One of his favourite projects was during his time at the Electric Theatre Collective…
”I went to Electric Theatre Collective to work on a cool project with the Sesame Street characters. There were also some other escapees there from my course. Those days were amazing, the team environment was flawless and ETC is such a great place to work”
Today’s escapee is brought to you by the letter S, that’s S for SUCCESS… sorry we just couldn’t resist…
Since then it’s been peak after peak for Carlos, who has recently been working on the new Batman motion picture Dark Knight Rises, due for release later this month, and the new Bond film Skyfall, amongst other things.
We asked Carlos what advice he would give to any prospective escapees hoping to do the same, following their career dreams into the VFX industry.
My advice to the new students should be, learn from the best, Escape studios teachers are the best, but try to be creative somehow, try to get new footage, try and understand how to film, how to make photography, and why not do a bit of directing and producing? I did it with my military friends and it was so fun, the result got me my dream job!
The veracious combination of personal determination and extensive resources provided here at Escape can propel you to unimaginable places. For obvious reasons we can’t provide a link to the Dark Knight Rises (!) but you can see Carlos’s show reel here. Have a look and see what starting off in the business is all about.
"I went on a 3-day introductory course at Escape and to learn what software each role used – I decided pretty quickly that Compositing was for me".
Digital Paint & Roto Artist at Framestore
“I wanted to be part of something bigger!”
Unlike most of our students, Alex Swann didn’t know that he wanted to be a VFX artist. And, he certainly didn’t think that he would be a Digital Paint & Roto Artist at Framestore working on the likes of Steven Spielberg's "War Horse", "Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 2" and “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows". You see, Alex had always wanted to work in TV. But what he didn’t expect was to find him self thinking that he wanted to be part of something much bigger than day-to-day TV programming. Alex tried to narrow down what it was that intrigued him about commercials, films, and TV in general and quickly discovered that it was VFX he loved. Once that bulb had light up, he wasted no time in making plans to forge his brand new career.
Before we explain how Alex got to where he is today, it’s probably good to point out that he’s a pretty intelligent guy. Straight A’s at school meant that he was able to pick and choose what he wanted to study at university. He finally settled on Archaeology and Anthropology, thinking that he could utilise this to work on documentaries or for investigative journalism in the TV industry. Alex then embarked on several running jobs, getting a feel for what was involved. Before he knew it, he was working full-time in an editing suite. “Editing was great, but I loved the stuff that had visual effects incorporated into them and it just dawned on me: this is what I want do”.
Alex’s Journey with Escape Studios
Having been a runner before, Alex knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to get a foot in the door of the VFX industry and so after some research he came across our website. “I can remember looking through the website and thinking that all the courses looked amazing, but the two that stuck out for me were the 'Compositing for Production' and 'Visual Effects for Production' courses. Because I couldn’t decide between the two, I went on a 3-day introductory course at Escape and to learn what software each role used – I decided pretty quickly that Compositing was for me”. Alex wanted to ‘geek-up’ on as much compositing information as possible and so checked out what software was included in the Compositing course syllabus. He spoke to some of our Training Team about what reading material he could go through before starting the course. “The professional knowledge offered to us by our tutor throughout the whole course was fantastic and if I hadn't gone to Escape, getting into the CG Industry would have been incredibly difficult for me. I also feel I have got more out of Escape than my degree. It prepared me for a job in the industry through practical knowledge not just by talking about the theory behind it. Many university courses don't consider the practical side of Arts based subjects including CG, which is pretty detrimental when looking for a job. However, establishments like Escape &Framestore are working together to change that.”
Finding a Job
Escape Studios has an in-house recruitment service that helps students polish their showreel and get a job in the industry. When the team put Alex in contact with the Head of Recruitment at Framestore and arranged an interview, Alex didn’t think that he’d be in with a chance. However, six months later, it seemed that they did want Alex after all. “Escape has given me the chance to start a career in what I want to do and I love working at Framestore. Working in VFX makes everything so exciting, no two days are the same and I love that ”.
When Victor Perez started studying with us he had enough imagination to sink a battle ship, or rather, enough to create a CG one. Throughout his 12 weeks studying compositing...
There was a mix of early experiences that inspired Victor to study compositing: his fascination with the original Star Wars trilogy first led him to focus his attention on film and VFX; then, with a photographer for an older brother, he grew up surrounded by cameras and Photoshop, and felt himself progress definitively down the road of photography-related digital imagery. He had always loved 3D-generated images, but when he was a child, CG was never really photorealistic. Victor explained that it was only when he watched Jurassic Park—“4 times in the cinema!”— that everything had changed: “I finally started to believe in things I saw on the screen that I knew couldn't exist in the real world … Although it took me a few years to understand how every computer-generated image needs someone to composite it; someone who makes it photographically believable.” The knowledge he had already acquired retouching photographs and mixing digital images was a useful background to compositing, and Victor started studying film, whilst working for small studios to pay for his schooling.
Prior to studying the compositing course at Escape Studios, Victor worked as a 2D generalist across Italy and Spain: “my job list included digital grading, motion graphics, film editing, DIT and, of course, compositing. But it was all for 'small' projects”—although he admits “everything looks 'small' now after a few years working on blockbusters.” After setting up his own studio in Italy, a friend of Victor’s encouraged him to make the move to London, which was a growing hub of excitement for VFX artists at the time.
What Victor enjoyed most about his time at Escape was “being treated like a professional, and not just a student: in every assignment, each conversation and class, our teacher, Mark Pinheiro, and all of the staff at Escape Studios would always refer to us as ‘Artists’, not only ‘aspiring artists’. This instilled a sense of responsibility within us—like planting a seed of professionalism, so that after all of the hard work, you could both reap the benefits of your own success and learn to stand by and progress from your own mistakes.” Victor felt the experience put him in good stead for a professional environment.
Victor believes that Escape Studios is one of the most important VFX schools in the world; “the skills I learnt at Escape were essential. I cannot thank Mark enough—one of the most important teachers at all levels in my life, and a good friend too. However, the biggest step-up in my professional life came thanks to Garreth Gaydon and the recruitment team at Escape.” Even though he had several years’ experience tucked under his belt, Victor had no contacts when he arrived in London, so he had to build up his reputation starting at the bottom, giving his all at each job: “Garreth gave me my first chance in the industry here, then I had to earn my reputation up from the very beginning of the scale.”
Since leaving Escape Studios, Victor has been working non-stop on feature films such as The Dark Knight Rises, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows, Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, John Carter, The Bourne Legacy, 127 Hours, and many others. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with top studios such as Double Negative, Cinesite, Union VFX... Oh boy, I'm having fun—meeting so many talented people and learning a lot. It’s what I have always dreamed of doing!” Victor’s experience has led him to be one of the first officially-certified NUKE Masters at The Foundry, and he now gets to share his love of comping with like-minded people attending NUKE workshops, online courses and conferences. Victor has contributed to Nukepedia.com since its beginning, where he was recently voted their second most important contributor, and he has also been accepted as a member of the Visual Effects Society.
So what advice would Victor give to all of those budding compositors out there? “Shoot yourself,” he laughs. “I mean, grab a camera and start filming something—anything! Just get a feel for the camera, and you’ll start to understand how lenses work, and the difference between seeing and filming something. For a compositor, a solid knowledge of photography and cinematography is far more important than just being able to use Photoshop. Try mixing your images in a photorealistic way; you will encounter limitations and problems, but don’t give up: you will start to find your own solutions.”
Looking to the future, Victor sees himself moving into a VFX Supervisor’s role, but is staying open-minded to what may lay ahead.
Our open days often feature guest industry speakers, so you can get a real insight into what life is like as a VFX Artist. Watch this space for more information on when our next industry guest will be joining us and also when our next Open Days will be taking place.
Join us at our London campus to:
- Learn about the specialised jobs in VFX and Compositing
- Understand the course options which suit you
- Be a fly-on-the-wall in one of our classroom courses
- Review successful student reels
- Understand what skills you need to become studio-ready
- Learn about student perks and soak up the atmosphere
- Next open day: 6/8/14
André Dias is a London based compositor with a background degree in Audiovisual & Multimedia. In 2011 he moved from Portugal to London to further develop his career by specialising in compositing on Escape Studios' 18 weeks course.
Online Virtual Learning Enviroment Tour
If you are thinking about studying Visual Effects online, then why not arrange for an Online VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) Tour?
The purpose of the Online VLE Video Tour is to demonstrate how students use our Unique VLE system to study 3D or Compositing for VFX online. If this is something you're interested in, fill out the form to the right and select 'Online Virtual Tour' and then 'Online Tour - any date' and we'll be in touch with a link to our Online VLE Tour video.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more information about our Open Day/Online Tours.