Third annual Irish VFX & Animation Summit Industry Questions & Answers

Including Ireland’s first screening of Disney/Pixar’s

The Good Dinosaur.

 

 

Liam Neville – Vfx supervisor
Egg Post Production

What inspired you to get into working with the VFX / Animation in the film industry?

Cartoons! I grew up watching shows like The Simpsons, South Park, etc and couldn’t get enough of them. I knew they were only little pixels, but I was amazed how the creators managed to bring these great characters to life.

Was there a person working in your field who you saw as a role model when you were first getting into the industry?

Although they were more known for their physical character work, Stan Winston and Jim Henson were both absolute geniuses. There has and never will be a better alien design than the xenomorph, and who doesn’t love Fozzie Bear 🙂

What is the best part of your day? And the worst?

The best part of my day is reviewing shots with my team and seeing the amazing work they produce each day. The worst would be when the day keeps on going and going. The hours can be pretty long.

If you had to recommend one film (that 11- 16 year olds may not have seen), what would it be and why?

One of my favourite animated films that you might have missed is ‘Rango’. The texturing, lighting and rendering of that film is astounding. Every frame is like a piece of art. The gritty western tone is also a great change from the typically bright and colourful films you usually get in animated films.

How do you feel your work involves communicating with young people?
We love taking work experience students and showing them what we do. Some of them as young as 15 have ended up doing work on a film and gotten their name in the credits!

What does Copyright Protection in the Film Industry mean to you and your career?

It’s what is keeping the film industry alive. If people don’t pay to watch films, there won’t be any money to make them. And then not only would we all be out of a job, but they’d also be no great films and cartoons to watch.

Are you excited about the future of film exhibition, why will still go to the cinema (despite all the other viewing platforms available)?

There is no experience like going to the cinema. Yes, you can now watch a film on a bus with your phone, or have the biggest TV screen and amazing stereo at home. But the feeling of buying a ticket a sitting in a theatre makes everything seem more special, more eventful and well more…official.

Tell us about your participation in the VFX and Animation Summit , what can we expect?

I’m going to show people our VFX and animation work on the film ‘Ghosthunters: On Icy Trails’ and how we brought ‘Hugo’ the ghost to life, so to speak. From initial sketches through to the final CG renderings seem on the silver screen. Egg VFX will guide you through every step, including concept artwork, animation, slime tests, lighting and rendering, final compositing, and even some things that didn’t make the final film.

Eoghan Cuneen
Co-founder of the VFX and Animation Summit

What inspired you to get into working with the VFX / Animation in the film industry?

I was given a present of a pack of crayons from my sisters when I was seven or eight. I didn’t like them initially, but over time I began to love drawing and illustration. That led to an interest in animation and film. The Lord of the Rings trilogy finally cemented what I wanted to do. The final film came out around the time I was doing my leaving cert, so that helped my decision. I watched the making of parts of that move more than the films themselves.

Was there a person working in your field who you saw as a role model when you were first getting into the industry?

Not initially. I didn’t know anyone in the industry, and I certainly wasn’t aware of how much of an industry was in Ireland at that time. I did spend a Summer in 2007 working as a runner (entry level role in the industry) at a commercials studio called Glasswork(www.glassworks.co.uk), who are based in London. That experience was incredible and I knew it was what I wanted to continue doing. While I was working there I received a great deal of mentorship from the team, many of whom I’m still in contact with.

What is the best part of your day? And the worst?

The best parts are always varied. You’re creating something that a lot of people will get to see in the cinema or on television. That’s a wonderful feeling. The teams we work in can be tremendously diverse – we work amongst physicists, mathematicians, engineers, producers, artists and animators. It’s a brilliant and diverse environment. The tougher side is that it can get very busy and stressful with deadlines. There’s a lot of pressure that goes along with that.

How do you feel your work involves communicating with young people?

There isn’t enough of it. What we do can be very closed off from the public. A lot of this has to do with working on sensitive material that people can’t see before it’s released in the cinema. This is a big reason that Laura and I wanted to start the summit and to show that the industry is accessible to students who might have a wide range of interests and skillsets – particularly in Ireland. Screen Training Ireland and The Animation Skillet are doing an amazing job at connecting those channels
between schools, universities and industry.

If you had to recommend one film (that 11- 16 year olds may not have seen), what would it be and why?

Only one? I’m going to name a lot. The Iron Giant, Gravity, Star Wars Episodes 4 thru 6, Paddington, anything by Studio Ghibli, Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea or Secret of Kells – both of which are magic.

What does Copyright Protection in the Film Industry mean to you and your career?

It means a great deal at the moment. There is obviously implications for studios who may not recoup as much of their investment as they had hoped, but there are other effects as well. For instance, on the technology side of things, many VFX studios need to change their technology systems and make them more secure so that people cannot hack in and steal content that a studio is working on. That can be really valuable to a studio. It’s a lot of work changing the technology infrastructure of a VFX studio. Sure they create nice looking images, but VFX studios are every bit a technology company as Facebook, Google or Apple. The internet, and the ease of transferring data, makes it easy to think that we can watch this stuff for free. What it really means is that studios will need to find alternative forms of income to subsidize production costs – so expect more ads, or less quality entertainment.

Are you excited about the future of film exhibition, why will still go to the cinema (despite all the other viewing platforms available)?

I think cinema will still play a huge role in entertainment. People have long anticipated its demise with the television, computer games and Netflix. Now with virtual reality, people are asking the question again. I think cinema will still live on because people still love getting popcorn and watching a movie on a huge screen with great sound. With 3D and IMAX options as well, there’s a good deal of choice. The types of films we watch in the cinema may change and be more spectacular like Gravity, Avengers or Interstellar. I’m pretty sure that all forms of entertainment will co-exist. It’s still my favorite by far.

Tell us about the VFX and Animation Summit , what can we expect?

A lot! This is our third event, and it keeps growing. This time we’re in Google’s fantastic Foundry venue in Silicon Docks – so we’re really excited about that. We’re hosting a day of workshops on the Friday, which is the first time we’ve hosted these. Saturday and Sunday are full of talks on amazing films like Ex Machina, The Martian, and another secret one. We’re also really thankful to Disney Ireland who have arranged for Pixar President Jim Morris to come and speak about Pixar’s work on their newest feature animation, The Good Dinosaur. We’re also screening the first showing of that film in Ireland on Saturday night. The main thing for us is that those in the industry really get to learn something from the talks…a new technique or suggestion, while younger attendees might learn the same thing but also meet those attending and make contacts and even find a mentor.

Laura Livingstone
Event Founder and VFX producer

What inspired you to get into working with the VFX / Animation in the film industry?

I’ve always been interested in how films are made. I used to watch Saturday morning cartoons as a kid followed by a tv show on ‘how it was made’ which featured the low down on the latest block busters of the day. I went to film school in Dublin and was pretty familiar with the huge teams and efforts it took to make a film in terms of live action. But when I moved to San Francisco, the home of ILM and Pixar, I became hugely interested in VFX and Animation. I aspired to get a foot in the door and delve into the wonderful world of VFX and Animation.

Was there a person working in your field who you saw as a role model when you were first getting into the industry?

My first VFX job was at ILM, so I was pretty much surrounded by role models. But the interesting discovery was that not everyone went to film school. Many of my colleagues came from various backgrounds including art (painting and model making), maths, science, computer science, technology, camera operating, photography, etc.

What is the best part of your day? And the worst?

I love going to dailies and looking at everyones work on the big screen. The worst part is when our technology gives up and we’re at a stand still, that’s never fun.

How do you feel your work involves communicating with young people?

A lot of the shows I work on are geared for young people. Last year at the Summit we screened Paddington and this year we are delighted to be showing the first Irish outing for Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur. I would like to think a lot of my work in film and television helps to educate, motivate and inspire young people. I love opportunities where I get to share my knowledge and experiences with children and young adults and to encourage their interest in cinema, animation and the arts.

If you had to recommend one film (that 11- 16 year olds may not have seen), what would it be and why?

I would recommend the first film we showed at the first VFX + Animation Summit – ‘Gravity’. It’s a beautiful and fantastic film that depicts an epic journey of adventure and discovery, pretty awe-inspiring for young ones.

What does Copyright Protection in the Film Industry mean to you and your career?

I am an advocate of everyone receiving credit and acknowledgement for their work as well as their intellectual property being respected.
I am all for promoting the value of copyright and creativity and encouraging others to do the same by choosing to watch film and TV via legitimate sources.

Are you excited about the future of film exhibition, why will still go to the cinema (despite all the other viewing platforms available)?

It’s hard to say where film exhibition will be ten years from now, but I am still grateful that we still have small independent theatres showing quality stories from storytellers with original and important ideas, as well as big theatres showing the blockbusters that ought to be seen on the big screen. Despite being able to view films online, on your phone or on a plane you can’t beat a 4K IMAX experience or 3D in a well equipped theatre.

Tell us about the VFX and Animation Summit , what can we expect?

This year’s event is at Google’s HQ in Dublin. It’s a fantastic venue to house this year’s third Summit and we are very excited for all the amazing talks, presentations, workshops we have lined up.