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Advisory Board Member: Lee Danskin

With over 25 years of experience in the high-end graphics business within Media & Entertainment, Lee was part of the development team at Alias|Wavefront for Maya and was awarded the much coveted Maya Master status in 2007. Lee was Deputy Head of 3D at The Moving Picture Company, Head of 3D at Smoke + Mirrors, Training Development Director at Escape Studios and CG Supervisor at the Film Factory. Is there nothing this man can’t do?

Now Technical Director at Escape Technology, the UK’s leading VFX & CG specific reseller Lee is doing what he does best, share his extreme wealth of knowledge to the biggest post-houses in the business.

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

Working for Shell on the two ‘V-Power’ commercials at MPC was excellent, and working for Framestore on the same project was also great, as we got to travel to the Red Sea to shoot tropical fish for 2 weeks! I worked in long form TV for the BBC on ‘Killer Dinosaurs with Bill Oddie’, which was my little piece of Jurassic Park, and is also quite memorable as it included another excursion in the form of a recce in Utah, a wonderful experience.As well as these, in the realm of film I’ve been involved with James Bond, Lost in Space, Tomb Raider, and Harry Potter, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of.

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

Knowledge transfer in our industry is crucial, every 6 months a new piece of software or hardware can change the landscape and process of how VFX is conducted, for example, we are on the brink of the ultraHD/QuadHD,4k (call it what you will) revolution, and with cameras capable of shooting it and monitors capable of showing it, it’s not long before commonplace broadcast and we’re consuming it on a regular basis. New techniques in simulation, lighting and rendering mean the bar is always being raised that little bit higher. VFX artists are always looking to exceed their boundaries and training is the only way to keep up to date with these changes.

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

I’m not sure I was so much as inspired to do VFX, I think it was more a case of needing to know how effects were created…

Watching the water monster in The Abyss and the liquid metal Terminator in T2 were moments that triggered this need for knowledge, that and the fact that if anyone has ever said to me “I bet you can’t do that” I have to prove them wrong!

What goals did you set out to achieve when working with Escape studios?

The aim of the game when helping to create the courses at Escape was to produce someone fit for purpose, someone who if asked a basic question by a VFX supervisor would answer intelligently and hit the ground running.

A VFX artist who could look at a roto or camera track for example, and understand what made it good or bad, I wanted to train people to be able recognise problems, troubleshoot them, and come up with the most efficient option for getting the shot done that had not only great artistic quality, but did not break the time/processing bank. I wanted to help Artists understand the pipeline and where they fit within it, artists who are working with industry relevant tools and hardware, to appreciate the process and levels of skill that are required to enter this industry.

Bottom line though was to get graduates fit for purpose and into a job, the future of the VFX, motion graphics/realtime industry is a bright one, so many devices out there are expected to give consumers access to all types of content, from video to virtual reality, animation to film, TV, games and the internet, you name it, it all requires 3D/2D content in some shape or form, making for a promising future for the well-rounded VFX artist!