Industry Alumni case study/showcase

Ricardo Musch - Compositing Supervisor & Pipeline Consultant

This month Escape alumni Ricardo Musch, who is a currently working in 2D, supervising a TV series at VFX and animation studio Darkside Studios, talks to Rendered about his experience in the industry and his thoughts on the shift in the animation and VFX industries.

As a compositor what changes are you currently seeing in the industry specifically across the VFX and animation worlds? 

What is definitely noticeable today is that whereas VFX had always strived for realism, animation is now catching up on that point. Even in stylised animated movies you will see that hair or skin behaves the same as in the real world. A few years ago this was much more stylised.

What do you believe is the catalyst or cause of these changes?

The industry itself is driving this change. Rendering software is becoming more physically based and that bumps up the realism value. The underlying reason they are becoming more physically based is because of advances in technology and the speed of processors. On top of that the merging of gaming and VR with conventional visual effects pipelines speeds up workflows. The gpu can now be used for rendering which sometimes has tremendous speed benefits.

How do you think these will impact the future of filmmaking and the industry?

Very crudely said, you can iterate more, so versions can get out quicker. In the long run rendering for TV and film, whether in VFX or animation, becomes less of a hurdle. Hopefully this doesn’t mean even shorter post-production times, but rather better quality films and animations.

There has been a resurgence of animated films at the cinema do you believe there is a crossover with skills needed for feature animation and VFX?

Absolutely, it is very much the same. Take Jungle Book for example, 95℅ of that is animation/CG/rendering/matte painting/FX/compositing. Simply said, only Mowgli is real (and not even always either). Just like in VFX, animation films employ compositors and obviously matte painters, modellers, lighters, texture artists, animators and FX td's. These days there are also a lot of other specialist titles added to that list, for example a Groom artist for the animals fur.

You worked on The Jungle Book, what practices/changes did you experience creating the animation on this picture?

I did see a very big change in the realism of certain aspects of this film. Fur, water and the integration of both CG and live action is at a level at which it hasn't been before.

What was your experience like working on this production?

Due to the sheer amount of rendering to be done, as a compositor we only had few frames to work our comps with before being given the final render, with little time to spare.
We also added quite a lot of detail and little glimpses of realism, but it was absolutely majestic to see such a brilliant picture mostly being made possible by rendering technology and beautiful modelling/lighting and animation.

What tips would you give to those entering the industry or to employers supporting young talent entering this constantly evolving area of industry?

Make sure you know your stuff. Entry-level roles are there but employers (especially the smaller ones) do expect to sit you down and get you working ASAP. You don't have to be able to make the next Iron Man; you just have to be good at your job. If your going for a roto prep position, then make sure you know how to handle some advanced clean-ups.