Adam Chabane, Lighting Technical Director at Framestore

Blue quotation marks

Escape Studios helped me develop the fundamentals required for a career in Visual Effects.

Adam Chabane profile picture

How did studying at Escape Studios help you get into your industry?

Escape Studios helped me develop the fundamentals required for a career in Visual Effects. Everything from the basic principles of photography and animation, to the practical knowledge of modeling, texturing and lighting were taught to us within the curriculum set. The course was intense, well structured, taught by a lecturer with many years' experience in the industry and had coursework milestones to test our progress. After-hours there were many social events available to us; whether it was visiting industry studios on a field trip, attending a private movie pre-screening or networking with professionals at the pub after class. It was all great fun too. The course was a real deep dive into the industry culture, work practices and came with all the knowledge required to get started.

After the course, an aftercare plan was available to us. During the application process to studios after finishing my student showreel I utilised the aftercare plan to obtain feedback on my work and get advice on my next steps. I managed to get a lot of valuable advice that I used to polish my showreel which eventually got my foot in the door at Framestore as a runner. 

Where have you gone on to work and what is your role?

I now work at Framestore, in IA (Integrated Advertising), as a Lighting Technical Director. I predominantly work inside Houdini as a Lookdev/Lighting Artist; however, I have a broad technical role within the department as a TD; I help develop the nodes, tools and scripts for the department as well taking part in the RND and decision-making the department does with regards to new workflows and pipeline. 

What are you working on at the moment?

I usually work on many different forms of media, anything from a commercial for The Sunday Times, or an Advert Spot for Jaguar to a television show like Netflix's The Witcher series. However, I am currently working on a Jurassic World Ride for Universal! 

What do you enjoy most about working for Framestore IA?

Working at Framestore has put me in contact with so many incredibly talented people. The wealth of talent and depth of experience is truly great. A lot of my success I can put down to improving my skills working in and around a supremely talented team-members. The company culture is very people-oriented: I have been able to build great working relationships with my colleagues; some of my best friendships were made as a Runner at Framestore. Also, Framestore has given me the time and resources to further develop my skillset. I have been given the freedom to develop upwards with access to many courses, software licenses and, most importantly, been given the opportunities to apply a new skill on a project. The restriction-free working environment has allowed for a lot of development for not only myself but many others. 

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

I think the greatest lesson I have learned since joining VFX is to never settle in one place. Always keep yourself aiming for something new and never get complacent with where you are in life. Maybe for one person that might mean constantly learning new skills, developing existing ones or working on new projects. For another, it could mean moving countries, changing companies or meeting new people. With how rapidly the VFX industry moves and evolves the one thing you don't want is to get caught napping. 

What was your favourite part of studying at Escape Studios?

My favourite aspect of studying at Escape Studios was how simultaneously intense the course was and yet everyone in the class, the lecturers and staff were all very laid back and easy to get on with. It was truly reflective of the VFX Industry as a whole. I knew VFX was for me in the first week of the course. Vania, who was my lecturer in 3D, was extremely passionate about his work and had worked on really awesome projects – which only furthered my enthusiasm. I didn't at the time know what to expect, however, I came out of the course having thoroughly enjoyed my time and feeling really excited to start my career! It was fantastic to see all of my fellow classmates' progress and watch them make it into the industry. 

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

Priming! 

What advice would you give to students looking to start a career within your industry?

There's no way around it, getting into VFX can be hard. Year on year we see many a fresh face of students applying to join us either at networking events or directly. It can be incredibly disheartening to apply to VFX Studios and not even get so much as an automated email reply. My advice would be threefold:

Firstly, alter your expectations: You may not land the role you had studied or hoped for, you may not intern at that VFX Studio you most admire and you might have to change your expectations and turn on a dime! I joined Framestore as a Runner, with my skills being in Maya as a Generalist; Almost four years later I work as a Houdini Lighting TD and I routinely spend more time excitedly looking at lines of code than rendered pixels on a screen. I didn't know a single line of code when I joined!

Secondly, be prepared to work. Whether it's at completely changing your skillset, being thrown in the deep end or crunching on a project. Having a great work ethic, and a few cups of coffee in you will go a long, long way!

Thirdly, keep working at it - don't give up! There is no such thing as a perfect render, perfect model or perfect animation. You can always improve, learn something new or try and better how you work. Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice, seek out industry professionals and ask their advice. Get feedback on your work and don't take the feedback personally! A standard skill in VFX is being able to take feedback on your work well. Lastly, I know how the silence from the lack of replies from applications can be deafening, but don't let it get to you, if you continue to work at it, you'll be sure to succeed.   

What's your favourite brand and why?

I'd say my favourite brand would be Audeze. They are a headphone designer and manufacturer company that started over a decade ago in the US out of a garage workshop. Their headphones use 'Planar Magnetic' technology to make sound. They don't have a corner in every market, they don't have huge budgets for marketing like other headphone brands and their headphones usually don't come with the same number of features you might expect after seeing the high price tag. However, what they do, they do extremely well – which is manufacture incredibly detailed and vibrant sounding headphones. Their attention to the product itself has driven their success in the audiophile market. Quality over quantity. 

What course did you study?

I studied the 18 Week Advanced 3D for VFX Course.