All of our courses are now mentored by at least one of our industry partners. The main idea behind the new mentoring programme is that we invite our industry partners in to mentor our students and help prepare them for the industry. Each course is mentored by an expert in the field and it's great for students as they get advice from professionals working in the industry today, and it helps prepare them for a career in the industry. Aikaterini Valma was among the group who were mentored by Framestore, and this is what she had to say about her time studying with us.
Why did you choose Escape Studios?
I was searching for a programme that was industry focused, with less theory, a course that was short and could give me the platform to get into the industry as soon as possible. Escape is industry orientated, and I felt that I would learn exactly what I needed to know to get into the industry quickly.
What projects did you work on?
1st: Our first project was 3D modelling, I worked on a brass helmet, applying my learning during class to the model. I presented this project to the mentor from Framestore and our tutor.
2nd: A match moving project, we videoed the footage and tracked it. I shot a video of Canary Wharf, it was great that our tutor (Dan Shutt) took us to these places to actually shoot different locations, it was a hands-on experience. It was really cool and interesting, he showed us exactly how to do things and broke it down. For my shot of Canary Wharf, I added cranes to it and animated them. I tried to focus on using different techniques, matchmoving, rendering, texturing and animation. My showreel will contain my work from my second project, I have now gone back and worked on both projects, to use what I learnt. Escape gave me the knowledge I need, and I now need to improve both of these projects to apply what I learnt from the whole course.
How was your time at Escape Studios?
It was intense and great to be involved with a lot of different people, both tutors and other students. We had students who had worked in the industry already and the experience they had and the course tutors bought the industry experience to the classroom. The most powerful thing about Escape Studios it’s focused on industry not just the theories.
How did you find the mentoring experience at Escape Studios?
There were three stages of interaction between students and mentors: the first was our visit to Framestore, where we were given an introduction to what they do, how they do their work - I found this interesting and really exciting. As it was on the first day it gave me lots of energy and makes you even more enthusiastic about the course you’ve chosen to study on!
The second and third visit was a mentor visiting us, the artist told us about his work and useful information about what’s going on in the industry today. Our projects were then reviewed individually, he looked at our renders, he spotted areas for improvement in our work so quickly and had such great knowledge to spot what needed more work. I was thinking about studying the course later, but seeing Framestore as a mentor I pushed myself further and felt more motivated. The visit to the studios and the presentations were great as it showed you how a real VFX studio worked.
What was the best piece of advice from the mentor?
The most important bit for me was him answering our questions. The artist told us about the programmes they use in industry, he told us about his path and how he broke into the industry. Another great aspect of the mentoring was that we got to have our work individually reviewed, it was a personable experience taking us through and answering any specific questions we had.
Escape Studios in one word….(or three)
Intense and inspiring - the whole team and the fellow students really inspire and push you to do the best you can, when you all ask questions and the tutor gives you such great feedback that you would never have thought of yourself, it’s so useful.
What’s your piece of advice for students looking to study or studying VFX now?
You have to be sure of the discipline you want to study as you need to give 100% to it. Do your own research, experiment yourself, watch tutorials so you can be sure it’s the right thing for you to do.
What’s your favourite movie and why?
I have so many - I’d say, Mr Nobody. The way they use VFX is very spectacular in that they have managed to blend well-made CGI with the actual footage so dexterously that the results becomes the viewer's reality. I love movies that make you think. I’ve always enjoyed watching movies, it’s an experience! Visual effects makes the movie addictive and makes it the more of an experience.
If you could add your 3D skills to any movie what would it be?
Did you attend any of our industry events when you were a student?
Yes, my classmate won tickets to VFX Festival - I was able to meet people in the industry, and when you meet them you get really intense feedback about how it’s going to be in the profession. I have also attended some of the ‘Evening with…’ events.