Live Q&A: Breaking into the visual effects industry

Now, to me, the awards seasons this year, on both sides of the pond, went something like this; award for The King’s Speech, another for The King’s Speech, er, Black Swan gets the nod, and then more recognition for The King’s Speech.

This is all great news for the British film industry, of course, but with Colin Firth et al getting all the attention, you may have missed the wave of recognition for some homegrown visual effects talent, which also basked in Oscar and Bafta success this year.

A creative team from London-based FX company Double Negative won top awards for their work on the visual effects of Inception. One of them, Paul Franklin, kept a diary of his Oscars experience for the BBC. He wrote: “Suddenly our category was up: clips of the five movies, representing cumulative centuries of staff hours from the various SFX and VFX teams rolled past in seconds…”

Now, if you are starting out in this industry, Oscar glory is probably still a long way off, but there are still ways to gain recognition for what you’ve achieved so far – and it could even lead to bigger and better things.

In a guest blog for Guardian Careers 3D artist Adam Droy revealed that his big break came when he entered and won a competition to find new CG talent run by Escape Studios. Part of his prize was a placement at effects studio The Mill – which in turn led to a full-time position at the company.

So, aside from competition glory, what does it take to break into this industry? We’ve asked talented individuals from the sector to answer your questions in a live Q&A. So, whether you need advice on honing the perfect showreel or you want advice about the creative and technical skills you’ll need to succeed, join us on 11 April at 1pm.

Our panel:

Lee Danskin is a tutor and training development director at Escape Studios. Lee joined Escape in 2006 and developed the academy’s VFX courses. Lee has worked on high-profile projects for some of the UK’s biggest visual effects studios.

Garreth Gaydon heads up the recruitment team at Escape Studios. He has more than six years experience in recruiting CG artists.

Sofronis Efstathiou is joint associate dean & postgraduate framework leader for the Computer Animation Academic Group at Bournemouth University. Sofronis previously worked in the film and games industry on projects such as Happy Feet and 300.

Ben Cantor is a junior 3D Artist at the Moving Picture Company (MPC).

Kyle Mcculloch is a compositing supervisor at Framestore, a visual effects and computer animation studio.

Alan Lewis is head of visual effects & animation at the Met Film School. Alan is a 3D artist and compositor with more than 15 years experience in the CG industry.

Saint John Walker is VFX sector manager at Skillset, the sector skills council for the creative industries.

Philip Dobree is an award winning VFX supervisor, creative director and co-founder of Jellyfish Pictures, working in all genres of VFX and CGI including games, film, commercials and broadcast TV.

Ged Wright is a VFX supervisor for Double Negative Visual Effects.

Mike Kelt is CEO and SFX supervisor at Artem – a leading physical special effects company with workshops in London and Glasgow. He has been in the special effects business for more than 30 years.

Matt Johnson is a visual effects supervisor currently supervising Cinesite’s work on X-Men: First Class.

Matthew Bristowe joined Prime Focus as executive producer for View-D – the company’s proprietary system for the conversion of 2D moving images to stereo 3D images. Matthew has since become head of production, orchestrating the development and recruitment for the growing 3D division.

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