Family-owned FX artists give advice to budding animators


When it comes to visuals, bigger and bolder doesn’t always mean better. Three visual effects artists who worked on DreamWorks’ The Boss Baby following, The Boss Baby: family business, On Friday, they shared their ideas and tips for students interested in the animation field during a panel at SCAD AnimationFest 2021 at Savannah College of Art and Design.

One of their biggest tips? Sometimes simplicity is better.

“When I was a student at SCAD, I always wanted my effects to look big, cool, as complex as possible. But when I’m working on the shot… the main thing is to help the storytelling and also to try to direct where the audience, the eye, is going to look, ”said Jinguang Huang, a VFX artist at DreamWorks Animation who graduated from the SCAD. in 2017 with a master’s degree in visual effects.

“We always want them to focus on the character himself rather than the effects,” he added. “Sometimes we don’t need to do really hard and complex effects setups. Sometimes the simple thing is good… because we can easily change the effects and also hit the notes and get a quick turnaround time.

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Jim Koonce, another DreamWorks VFX artist who worked with Huang on The Boss Baby: family business and graduated from SCAD in 2016 with a BFA in visual effects, agreed that it didn’t always make sense to add unnecessary work just to make a shot more complex.

“As effects artists, we tend to want to create these awesome systems and setups. And that’s something you do in school… you start to learn more about the software. You want to make it more robust so that anyone can open the file and click a button and make it work, ”he said. “Sometimes it’s easier to do a simple correction – just toggle a keyframe on and off. You don’t need to do a setup that interpolates distance and uses matrix math to figure out some kind of rotation between two different scales. Sometimes it’s easier to turn something on and off and do the shooting, I think. It’s good to be simplified where you can.

Jason Mayer, 2003 graduate from SCAD with an MFA in Computer Art and now Effects Manager at DreamWorks, says people learning animation and visual effects should focus on performing a simple effect rather than to bite more than they can chew.

“One of the things I urge on all of the people, especially the students, who listen here is your reach – your scale of what you’re trying to do. When I was a student it was always, ‘I have this epic that I want to talk about like, you know, this quest that this person is going on and it has to be short 17 minutes and I’m going to do it all myself’, Mayer said. “The reality is that when you come out here, you might have 10, 15 experts – like absolute experts – who have spent their entire lives working on each of these things, and that’s how these movies come together. Each person puts that expertise in, and there is no one who will be an expert in all of these things. And so take that down and figure out exactly what you want to do and be like, you know what, if I’m going to try to be an effects artist, for example, I’m going to make sure I can do a torch, like a perfect burning torch, simply moving it.

Mayer also provided an overview of what animators should see when reviewing a potential new hire’s reel.

“As a reviewer of reels and stuff like that, I would rather see something that is really smooth and put together and that is simple but executed at the level we expected, rather than that big, wide,” I’m going to blow it up. to that building and then it’s going to set fire to it and you’ll set off a tidal wave, ”he said. “It’s a trap you fall into. “

SCAD AnimationFest runs from 23-25 ​​2021. Learn more and get passes here. Main image: a photo of The Boss Baby: family business. Credit: DreamWorks Animation


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