Alessandro Pieri

What course did you study?

Compositing for Production (12 weeks) course headed up by Davi Stein.

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

Escape Studios gave me the first taste of what means to be part of this industry and which requirements are needed. Having tutors that are actually still working in the industry makes the difference. Yes we all work with machines but at the end this is a constantly changing industry driven by people. So having the right people teaching you is really important if you want to raise the bar of your work and this is one of the things that Escape gives you.

What are you working on at the moment?

I worked on Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children from May 2015 until December 2015 and I was the Roto/Prep Supervisor for Double Negative. The show had its own challenges. There was a lot of prep involved on the show and not really the usual prep tasks. There are in particular two characters in the movie that required more work. Millard is invisible so we had to remove his hands, face, legs, rebuild his cloths and whatever was behind him.We always tried to avoid the use of CG renders where possible so the prep approach would be first option. We'd use the body track provided by the matchmove department and either projecting the UV's on the geometry or using 2d solutions. The prep work for Emma was more limited in terms of techniques. She flies so there were a few shots where she would be on wires on real locations and we would paint them out usually frame by frame. 

Watch some of the shots we did from the latest trailer.

I supervised a team that reached up to 12 artists in London. The team was able to deliver great works and a few shots ended up straight to final as they didn't required any CG renders or additional compositing which nowadays doesn't happen very often. This was a very unique project and I enjoyed every single minute of it. It felt really small in the sense that everything was organized and the directions were very clear. We faced some challenges but there were great people in the team that made everything easier. I believe everyone had great time working on it and did the best to bring Tim Burton's visions on screen. I've also worked on Captain America: Civil War and I am now working on Wonder Woman as Roto/Prep Supervisor!

What's your favourite movie and why?

Well, I've got a few in my list but the only one that can probably be on top of it for different reasons and has to be mentioned is Interstellar. For me this movie is like a massive canvas where the director painted a very ambitious story with many elements and layers but the more you watch the more you see how delicate and emotional is. It's also a great example of the use of visual effects in movies. How the tools developed for a movie can be actually adapted for scientific research. These ones are not simply effects for entertaining. The team at Double Negative achieved something really remarkable and having the opportunity to be part of the incredible journey is something I will never forget.

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

I've learnt that whatever your background is - it will help you at some point and whatever your level of skills is, you can always improve it. There's always substantial room for improvement in this field. So you are constantly learning and improving whatever you are studying or working on.

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

I would say experience. Experience because I didn't have it before attending the course but once I finished it I felt I had learnt so much that I needed to sit down and start to use all this knowledge that I didn't expect to get in such a small amount of time. Experience also because I had a great time at the Escape Studios. I met a lot of interesting people, some of them have become close friends and even colleagues. So it has been a great experience from different point of views.

What is your advice for those considering entering the industry?

This industry is getting very competitive and is constantly growing and changing. So don't give up if you send 10 CVs and no one replies to you. Be honest with yourself, keep working on your showreel and try new things. Keep pushing your boundaries, look at other people's showreels and check how long it's taking you to work on a single shot. Knowing how to manage your time is fundamental if you want to be competitive and whatever you learn in those days is going to be important for you in the future.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Escape Studios gave me the first taste of what means to be part of this industry and which requirements are needed. Having tutors that are actually still working in the industry makes the difference.

Alessandro Pieria