Ekaterina Diaz

What course did you study?

Producing for Visual Effects between March and April 2014.

What’s your favourite movie and why?

Can’t really pick just one… but I’ll stick to the classics and go for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. It’s a great example on how a combination of practical and visual effects can bring to life a whole universe and submerge you into a timeless story (plus the behind the scenes material works as an amazing introduction to the world of filmmaking).

Where do you currently work? / What are you working on at the moment?

Double Negative Montreal. (Can’t reveal the show yet, sorry!)

What have you worked on you left Escape Studios?

After the course I went back to Mexico City to work as a VFX Production Coordinator at Ollin VFX for projects like Gone Girl, House of Cards and Furious 7. A year later I got hired by MPC Montreal, where I worked as Show Coordinator (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Aquaman), Lighting Department Coordinator (X-Men: Apocalypse, Ghost in the Shell, Jumanji) and now I am starting a new journey at Double Negative as a VFX Production Manager.

What work are you most proud of working on and what is your most notable achievement?

Every show has its charm, but the Attic sequence in Fantastic Beasts is probably one I’ll never forget. It was the first time I got a chance to follow up on every aspect of the creation process: from the concept art of the Occamy to the very last version of Compositing. Our team delivered about one hundred shots with a bit of everything: CG creatures, digidoubles, set extensions and FX destruction.

What is it like to work as an VFX Production Manager in Canada?

It’s a unique experience to be part of one of the biggest VFX studios in the world, when you realize that your schedule will most probably involve resources from multiple facilities in various cities. I really enjoy the multicultural environment, as it provides the opportunity to work alongside artists with all kinds of backgrounds and levels of experience. Montreal’s industry is growing at a very fast pace, and with more companies opening every year the scope of work becomes wider, allowing you to work in all kinds of projects: Film, TV, Animation or even Videogames and VR.

What do you find most exciting about working in the creative industry?

The fact that every project is different, every new brief comes packed with multiple challenges that trigger the development of more advanced tools and workflows.

If you had to sum up your time at Escape Studios in one word what would it be and why?

Reassuring! It’s never an easy bet when it comes to picking any film-related career paths, but our mentor managed to summarize in a few lessons the importance of our future roles and gave us some useful pointers on how to approach this daunting  industry for the first time.

How did studying at Escape Studios help you into the world of VFX Production?

The program helped me to understand better the balance between the creative, technical and logistical aspects involved in any visual effects-driven show, as well as some of the best practices to be applied in terms of budgeting and scheduling.

What lessons have you learned during your time studying and your time working in VFX?

At Escape I confirmed the importance of collaborative work: there's too many subjects to learn about and multiple ways to approach a shot, therefore you need to build a team you can trust depending on your project's requirements and keep the communication flowing to achieve your delivery targets on time and on budget.While working for the Lighting department, I learned to never underestimate a project: a relatively small sequence-shot (Alien: Covenant “In Utero” - VR) proved to be as challenging to render as any sequence of a monster show like Ghost in the Shell or X-Men: Apocalypse, even more when you are on a tight schedule. Be careful when calculating your resources (artists, software licenses, render farm), be mindful of your team’s workload to avoid burnout at all cost, and leave some wiggle room for contingencies… believe me, there’s always one!

What is your advice for those considering entering the industry?

Start with some research on the position that interests you the most, seize every opportunity for networking and don’t give up: all projects are different, roles and pipelines change from one studio to another and the work is still somehow seasonal, so it might take you a bit to find the perfect fit, but it’s totally worth it once you are there.

The program helped me to understand better the balance between the creative, technical and logistical aspects involved in any visual effects-driven show

Ekaterina Diaz