Technical Director at MPC
Sat cross-legged in front of the TV screen watching Jurassic Park, Nik Illingworth certainly didn’t think that one day, he’d be part of the CG team that worked on the iconic Evian "Babies" and Sony "Paint" commercials. Nik is now Technical Director at MPC and is constantly pushing the creative realms of Visual effects. He never thought it was possible to make a living creating dinosaurs and blowing up buildings. Turns out he was wrong.
Nik’s Journey with Escape
After starting his degree in computer animation, Nik realised that to make his dream a reality, he needed to take his skills to the next Level. He explains, “Though I had a good grounding in CG theory, I didn’t know any of the software. I heard that Escape Studios were a leading CG Training Academy and found out that the tutors were industry professionals who teach you Monday to Friday, 9-5 PM. He decided to get some VFX Training during his summer break at Uni and he never went back. “I saw what the guys were doing at Escape and there was no turning back - it’s the best decision I’ve ever made”.
Nik enrolled on our 12-week VFX Professional Course and learned as he put it ‘a heck of a lot’ in a small space of time, getting to grips with Maya, Boujou, Nuke, Shake Linux, and ZBrush.
Breathing passion into CG
Nik explains that one of the main things he learned from the tutors at Escape is that you cannot create a good visual effects shot without injecting passion into it. “I don’t just owe my success to hard work but to my VFX tutors at Escape, Lee Danskin and Mark Spevick. It was a complete joy to get taught by people with such passion about the industry, it’s infectious. They helped me believe in what I was capable of and that the end goal was in sight”. Nik took his initial passion for CG and applied it to the work he was starting to produce, spending long hours at the studio from 9 – 10pm.
It’s no surprise that after just two weeks of completing the course, Escape’s Recruitment team had arranged for Nik to have an interview at Framestore. This turned out to be his first job in the industry and it’s something he’s pretty proud of. But being ambitious, Nik decided that although he’d completed our 12 week VFX course and had a job, he would come back to Escape and study for six more weeks to further expand his technical skills and advance his career even faster. This meant he would be able to jump straight into a job as Technical Director, and he did just so.
Carving out a passionate career in VFX
‘My current job title is Effects Technical Director at MPC, and my day to day responsibilities can be anything from R+D FX set up, particle, fluid, liquid simulation and cloth simulation, to Mel scripting and rigid body simulation using proprietary tools including PAPI.
For someone who hasn’t been in the industry that long he has a considerable list of credits under his belt: Clash of the Titans, Your Highness, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Trader, and that’s just the films. Commercials include Cadbury’s Spots vs Stripes, Syfy 2010 and many more that are still in production.
From watching Jurassic Park to working on The Chronicles of Narnia, Nik has come a long way. Here is how he summed up his time at Escape Studios: “Skills-wise, Escape gave me the tools to survive in this industry, and instilled in me the ability to learn fast and on the job. From a personal point of view, Escape just re-ignited my passion for CG and helped me turn it into a career”.