What course did you study?

3D Foundation part-time

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

Escape equipped me with necessary software knowledge and industry used techniques for building an enriched showreel. By learning Nuke compositing and camera projection techniques I was able to transform my digital paintings into matte paintings with a level of polish I would not have achieved otherwise.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on Thor: Ragnarok. Previously I worked on another Marvel title, Dr Strange. I have also had the opportunity to help out short-term on other titles that were in production in Framestore: Beauty and the Beast, King Arthur, Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2 and Alien Covenant.

What's your favourite movie and why?

Honestly, I can never find an answer to this question! There are so many films that I have enjoyed for different reasons, that touch me on a sentimental level, intellectually, emotionally, spark my curiosity, that I enjoy more artistically or more for the story...I cannot define one as my favourite! And I am always looking forward to a future movie that will leave a lasting impression.

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

The most important lesson for me is not a technical one, technical and artistic development evolves with practice and experience. Instead the biggest lesson I have learnt working for a large VFX house is the importance of communication. For two reasons, on a departmental level, to discuss your ideas and approach to different tasks, to be open for critique and advice on alternate methods - there is a wealth of knowledge from the people around you, all coming from different backgrounds and all having different experiences and skills to bring to the table. Learning from those around you benefits not only you but the team as well. On an inter-departmental level, dealing with other artists and with production and supervision is important to manage expectation so that you are not under any unnecessary pressure. This industry has tight deadlines so making sure everyone works well together can help manage stress.

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

Studious. I spent a lot of my time studying in and out of class. The lessons were very informative but full, and to cover all topics scheduled per class meant there was a certain pace to them, anything that you didn't quite understand or needed more examples of you would need to find your own time to catch up on, as the next class would have to continue to the next topic. The very good thing about Escape Studios is they have a very good supportive network and you can book computer time and the time of the staff supporters who themselves have a lot of knowledge, and this really helped me to stay on top of everything as much as I could.

What is your advice for those considering entering the industry?

My advice would be to find out what the current softwares are in use in your area and learn enough to put a reel together with a couple of strong examples. By showing what you can do with the software that is currently in use, it will be easier for your level to be evaluated. For example in my discipline of Matte Painting, when I started 4 years ago, everything was mostly done between Photoshop and Nuke, and supported with basic Maya. Now we are needing to develop a stronger Maya understanding to model, UV, texture, light and render environments, and use different projection techniques on top or alongside of this. There are of course still shots that only require traditional matte painting techniques, but now we would look to hire new starters that show not only 2D and 2.5D techniques, but 3D as well.

Escape Studios has a very good supportive network and you can book computer time and the time of the staff supporters who themselves have a lot of knowledge, and this really helped me to stay on top of everything as much as I could.

Laura MacFadyen