Having previously worked in the games industry and studied Computer Games Art at degree level, Ewan Armstrong wanted to broaden his skill set to make the transition into film and TV media. Ewan made the decision to study at Escape because he saw an opportunity to fill the gaps in his knowledge on production rendering techniques, camera tracking and compositing, all while being in an environment closely linked to the VFX industry.
Over the weekend we attended the London VES Career Fair & Tech Expo, and let’s just say it put Love Box to shame with the numbers who turned out for the event itself! Queues of aspiring VFX artists patiently lining up to speak to representatives from some of the world’s greatest post houses, including ILM, Framestore, Pixomondo, Method Studios, Cinesite, Prime Focus and Disney, really highlighted just how much competition there is to get your foot on the first rung of the ladder in the world of Visual Effects.
We are really pleased to have been invited to partner with The Foundry at the VES Career Fair and Technology Expo this weekend.
After a previous visit to Double Negative, James Dower and his class mates really got a taste for the high standard of work that DNeg set. And on this, their second visit, they were all keen to get some professional feedback for their own VFX Production projects.
Doing a VFX course can lead your career in many directions. For many of our students it has been the launching pad for a career in post-production, for film, TV and commercials. Many students have also gone on to work in other areas such as games and architectural visualisation. We teach the fundamentals and practicalities of working in CG, paving the way for what you will eventually specialise in.
This year, Escape Studios is ten years old, and it’s a pretty big deal for us. It’s also a big deal for all of the students who we’ve trained over the years and are now dotted throughout the world of VFX. So, from now on, every week, we’re going to be launching a story from our escapee Wall of Fame which will showcase all of the escapees who have gone on to work on the biggest and boldest films, TV shows, commercials and games over the years. It’s a chance for them to step up and take a bow, albeit a virtual one.
I have found that there are many advantages to studying at Escape Studios. Aside from the obvious vast amount of knowledge that you acquire, you also get to visit and meet some very cool places and people. Last Friday we had the pleasure of visiting Framestore for a presentation with Ben Frost and Chas Jarrett to hear about their experiences working on the second Sherlock Holmes movie - A Game of Shadows. In particular, they discussed with us the typical hurdles and constraints they came across and what we as VFX artists may expect to experience working in the VFX industry.
The current VFX Professional class were assigned The Mill as part of the ‘Industry Coaching’ scheme, which is a new initiative for us here at Escape Studios. The main idea behind the scheme is that we invite established post-production houses in Soho to mentor our students as they prepare to enter the industry as VFX artists. The VFX Professional course is our more advanced course for students who have completed the VFX Production course or artists already in the industry who are looking to further their knowledge in the field. For these students, getting advice from professionals working in the industry is golden, helping them prepare better for what is to come. Emmy Castelain was among the group during this visit, and this is what she had to say about their time at The Mill…
A recent venture undertaken here at Escape was to invite established post production houses in Soho to coach our students, to offer them direct feedback on their work here at our studio, and subsequently helping them prepare for what is expected once they enter the industry. On Thursday, 12th April 2012, the alumni class of Studio 5 attended the final coaching session with Framestore commercials, where they got to present their ‘end of course’ project to the VFX producers for feedback. Charles Downman was among the group presenting work that day, and here’s what he had to say about the experience...
So we have a new class of students for the Visual Effects Production course and I thought I’d quickly run through what this class has been up to recently and where they’re at now in their studies. We are currently on week four and they have just started their first major project after covering the ins and outs of Maya (the industry go-to package in VFX). So far, we have covered modelling, UV’ing, texturing, some lighting and rendering and a bit of Photoshop just to mix it up a bit. To put all they have learnt into practice, they have been asked to create a CG object, integrate it into a backplate and to make it look photo-realistic.
When it comes to catching recruiters’ eye, it’s all about looking good. And this is when only the best showreels will cut the mustard. You have 10 seconds to impress and there is no room for error or work that you're half hearted about.
Being relatively new to CG and to Escape Studios I am still astounded by the standard of work that comes from our students. Despite studying Media Production at University, where I majored in Scriptwriting, I never knew the actual amount of effort that goes into creating CGI. It gives me a completely new perspective on everything that I watch in the cinema and at home on TV.
The quality of work that our students create during their Visual Effects Production course is always awesome and there's no doubt it's getting better and better. When you consider that every student doesn't just attend their daytime lessons. They have to find, track, model, light, texture, render and composite a shot in just 6 weeks that shows the extent of their ability. One of our former students and now Studio Assistant Ashley Miles remembers how stressful it can get.
I was pretty shocked last week when the Coalition Government reversed its position in their dramatic Budget announcement. The UK government has declared its intention to establish a nationwide games tax break policy, in a manoeuvre that leaves the British sector in shock and jubilation. They stated: "Following consultation on the design, the Government will introduce corporation tax reliefs for the video games, animation and high-end television industries from April 2013, subject to State aid approval," read the official budget report.
There are so many useful apps on the market and I have found a couple of super useful and cool iPhone apps for the VFX artist and digital photographer. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing these with you in a series of blog posts.