Computer Graphics World

July-Aug-Sept 2022

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j u ly • a u g u s t • s e p t e m b e r 2 0 2 2 c g w 2 1 I worked on another film with Dwayne Johnson — Jungle Cruise. There were a lot of sequences with water. There was a lot of roto work, and since I'm a comp artist and I'm really good at rotoscoping and assembling everything together in Aer Effects, I felt super con- fident working on the sequences where millions of markers had to be removed from the background, and some reflections or splashes from the water [needed to be] eliminated from the shot. That was my part. I felt it was a project for me. I'm not entitled to speak a lot about Stranger Things, but I should say that every new project that comes to us still, even aer 15 years working in pre-visualization, provides some new challenges and new tasks that I am not always ready for. For example, for Stranger Things, we need to work [on] some kind of fire simulations. It was new for me, again, because it was Maya, and every tool was new for me. We did a great job and the directors — the Duffer Bros. — were happy with the results we provided. A recent project that just came out was [Chip 'n' Dale:] Res- cue Rangers. We did almost 1,500 postvis shots for that film. The director, Akiva Schaffer, shot empty backgrounds and several actors who interact with the puppets, and then we replaced the puppets and made Chip and Dale and other characters work in these shots. We have rough animation. We have a rough render. But we basically design eyelines and all the sequences, how they match together, how they cut together. We did that work for him. It was challenging. Again, 1,500 shots is a lot for a small team. We had one or two teams at MPC Technicolor, and everybody there was ultra-professional animators. I really appreciated the supervisor who helped us, who got us together and gave everybody the exact task that each person could handle. ML: Can you give any advice to somebody just out of school who is looking to pursue a career in previs or VFX? AS: First thing that comes to mind is the effectiveness of the work- flow. Years pass by, but I still open projects and see chaos in the organization of the layers and groups. It really slows down the work. If you are a perfectionist who will put everything in a proper place and name it properly, it helped 10 or 15 years ago, and it will work today as well. It is always a good habit to organize everything. Spend some time on organization! The second thing I would say is that character animation is the thing I'd really like to learn more [about]. It's easy to learn com- positing and tracking, but for character animation, I would suggest everyone to spend more time dealing with rigs and poses and arcs, and learning in general how to build a story. A tiny story with maybe several shots. It helps every artist to understand the visual narration, which is the subject we work [on] every day. Probably the last one is editing. Not [many] artists feel com- fortable editing their sequences. If you do, it helps a lot. All media nowadays, even [if it] goes to TikTok or some virtual reality, it's all about the stories. It's all about narration. If you can build a dynamic edit of whatever story you are showing or narrating, it'll help you later to work on the same level with a director or be a team leader or supervisor. Basically, effectiveness, organization, character animation, and editing — these are skills that everybody, in my opinion, should focus on. I see the lack of these skills every day in my colleagues. Not like everyone, but my colleagues in Russia, for sure. And I see lack of knowledge or talent in character animation. I invest time and effort to learn character animation at the animation school here in Los Angeles. Again, this requires so much time, and the older you become…it's harder and more difficult to learn something new. Character animation requires like 40 hours a week just to learn and update your skills. It's a lot. I just feel sorry that I'm not the best character animator yet. ¢ Marc Lous is the Editor-in-Chief of CGW's sister publication, Post.

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