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Advisory Board Member: Diarmid Harrison-Murray

Diarmid is the head of Framestore's 3D Department in London, having arrived as a mid-level TD in 2006 and accelerated through the ranks to lead some of their biggest projects, (including the Skyfall Title Sequence)

Since taking over as head of the department Diarmid has continued to add to his already impressive list of projects, overseeing work on the Coca-Cola ‘Siege’ ad, Pepsi Crowd Surfing and Three: The Big Fish. Now with a huge amount of experience under his belt, he is described as an ‘indispensable cornerstone of the Framestore family’ and we welcome this escapee’s expertise with open arms.

Tell us about your most exciting projects, and why they stood out?

I CG Supervised the Skyfall title sequence - It was a pretty epic project and I’m really pleased with the outcome. The great thing about this particular job is that individuals were assigned certain segments that they could work on from beginning to end. This is pretty rare and required us to be more flexible with regards to the pipeline. This flexible way of working requires a different mindset but provides a great opportunity for creative ownership. By assigning all the VFX work – from setup, animation through to lighting – across an entire scene to just one artist, that person is able to develop their scene as a whole, rather than just contributing one smaller element to it. It’s an incredibly satisfying way to work. One great example is Martin Aufinger’s beautiful and technically accomplished CG dragons.

Recently I’m enjoying Directing and being more creatively involved with projects. I Directed Three Mobile’s 'The Big Fish' commercial. It was a short schedule by anyone’s standards, but the approach of putting a bit more creative control into one place and having a one-stop creative solution, from concept to CGI to directing, can be more efficient. You don’t always need to take the scenic route to get a great result. The giant Octopus was one of our own script evolutions for example.

How important is it for the industry to continue to dispatch knowledge and experience on to other budding VFX artists?

It’s massively important. Speaking from my own personal experience, when I started out I relied heavily on the advice and guidance of people already working in the industry. A friend of mine was working at Framestore when I was thinking about getting into VFX. Speaking with him about the projects he was working on was a great insight into the industry and what I needed to learn to work alongside people like him. Professionals’ educating budding VFX artists helps continue the stream of people into the industry,.

What inspired you to want to get into the world of VFX?

I was working as a photographer’s assistant doing digital re-touching. An old friend of mine who worked as a CG supervisor at the time mentioned CGI as a possible career path. He said that it was a huge subject to try and learn, but that if I stuck at it and had some talent, there were jobs on the other side. I don't know how serious he thought I was, but I took him at his word and started teaching myself CG. This was the beginning of the winding road that led me to Escape and to where I am now.

What made you choose to study at Escape?

I guess the thing that I remember most fondly is just being in a supportive learning environment in which I could just explore and experiment with both creative and technical ideas. Surrounded by really smart tutors, most of whom had come directly from the industry, and other like-minded students, really meant it was a time of accelerated learning.