Advice from VFX industry veterans

CGM students get to do a lot of cool things.  We tour production studios, learn to shoot, discover all the interesting disciplines of 2D and 3D production, but none quite as awesome as this.  5 CGM students were invited to the set of Deadpool 2.  Little did we know at the time that we would get to spend over an hour chatting with veteran VFX Supervisor Dan Glass IMDB who took time out of his day just to be with us.  Dan has been in VFX for over 25 years and is well known for his work on The Matrix trilogy, Batman Begins, Cloud Atlas, Sense8 and many others.  We can’t talk about what we saw on set…you’ll have to wait for the movie… but the trip was worth more than a touristy gawk at the goings-on of a major blockbuster feature film shoot.

Dan offered sage advice to students just starting their careers.  This advice comes from a man who has worked with thousands of digital artists and TDs over decades on some of the biggest VFX films of all time.  So when he offers it, we listen.  Here, I paraphrase Dan’s long talk about learning for success:

“Learn to observe well.  Learn about light.  Take the time to learn your tools deeply, you’ll be much better off for it.  Learn a breadth of tools as well.  The more you know, the better.   Learn photography.  In order to create full CG shots, we need to know what real cameras do.”

And there was so much more great advice.

We also spent a great deal of time with Ashley Bettini, Visual Effects Production Supervisor for Deadpool2 who talked about her path through industry, from the props department, into post facilities like ILM and eventually out onto set, which is her true love, working with the crews and directors.  She talked about the challenges of being a female production supervisor in a world that is 90% male and how she manages it.  Ashley encourages young women to enter industry and she is a perfect role model–smart, tough and organized, commanding the respect of her crew and getting things done.

So while we were so excited about being on the set of Deadpool 2, one of the most secure sets in the city, what we came away with was much more valuable than the memories of a tourist oggling greenscreens and expensive camera equipment on a secret studio set.  We came away with great advice from some of the top people in VFX.  What more could one ask standing at the threshold of a new career in this industry?

BTW, most of you reading this probably don’t realize what a big deal it is to have a senior VFX Sup like Dan Glass take an hour out of his incredibly busy day to give us his exclusive attention.  What an unusual privilege that was.  Thank you Dan and Ashley for time and especially for your great advice!