Last week we were lucky enough to talk to Senior Compositor at Industrial Light and Magic Patrick Conaty about what it's like working in the visual effects industry.
Patrick has worked on some massive titles in recent years including 300: Rise of an Empire, Sucker Punch, Cowboys and Aliens and, most recently, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Photo: Patrick Conaty
1. How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for our students looking to get their break?
I think anyone can learn and master the technical aspect of visual effects with the right kind of education and discipline. If you’re looking to set yourself apart from the others and break into the industry it’s important to show a creative edge. After all, the medium of visual effects was born out of the desire to show audiences something new. Get inspired by movies and short films but try not to emulate them. Explore the tools, experiment, be a god, and create something new and exciting!
2. Give us a little insight into the world of compositing and lighting. Where do you slot into the visual effects pipeline?I work in the compositing department at Industrial Light and Magic. Compositing is the last stop in the in visual effects pipeline but it requires general knowledge of most departments that come before it. While every department is responsible for outputting a quality product to pass on, it can often be the compositors duty to help steer the ship when need be.
3. What steps should someone looking to get into the compositing and lighting take to succeed? What skills do they need?
Having solid technical knowledge of compositing or lighting programs is a must but it’s equally matched by a solid foundation in both creative curiosity and an appreciation or experience with photography. Get inspired by art, color theory, composition, and get to know the difference between viewing the world through a photographic lens vs your own eyes. Get your hands on as many lenses as possible and study how they respond to light, materials, and exposure. An understanding of the imperfections and limitations of photography will help make your shot even more believable.
Photo: Patrick Conaty
4. What are some of the entry level jobs students or recent graduates should be looking to apply for?
5. Tell us about life at ILM. What's it like working for such a massive and exciting company?