Last Friday, 23rd March, the students at Escape Studios had a much deserved break from the studio in Soho. It was nice to finally catch a bit of sunlight as all of us have been cooped up indoors, out from this amazing weather. However, the blast of sunshine was short lived as we were to enter one of the largest VFX studios in Soho.
Davi Stein and Juan Salazar (our Compositing tutors), Ashley Miles (our Studio Assistant) and I took the VFX and Compositing students to Framestore to attend a special presentation by Kevin Jenkins (Art Director/Concept Artist) and Ben Morris (VFX Supervisor). The presentation was great and it was very inspirational to hear from two top professionals working in the UK VFX industry at the moment. The guys discussed in detail the work they had done for Steven Spielberg's War Horse.
Kevin Jenkins, Framestore's Head of Art Department - considered by Ben Morris to be one of the best Art Director/Matte Painter/Concept Artist in the entire world - gave our students a run-down of the complexity of his job. I must admit, I was in awe of Kevin's beautiful concept drawings and I have much more respect for Concept Artists and Matte Painters and the work that they do. What is also interesting is that Kevin started off as a VFX Artist before moving into Art Department, and he could relate to our VFX students on a more personal level.
One big tip from Kevin was '... if you have to explain anything [for your concept drawings], it means you haven't done your job'. It's not about the details. It's about simplicity'. He also mentioned that a lot of the time concept artists have to go straight to the Director for approval, so his ideas have to be visual strong.
Kevin likes to use photos, pictures or Google images to help create his visuals quickly. He also added, that for every concept image approved, there are about 70 images that are not used. So you can imagine how creative, skilful and talented these guys have to be with such a quick turnaround to contend with, as well as extremely flexible. Expecting changes are a standard and Kevin also re-enforced how important it is not to get too attached to your work or take it personally when the images you create get cut from the edit. It is just the way it is and it comes with the job.