First, can you tell us your current title and summarize your day-to-day responsibilities?
I’m a senior generalist at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). I create photo-real environments for movies and TV shows using a variety of software from 3D to 2.5D. My responsibilities include modeling, texturing, shading, and lighting. Technicalities aside, the backgrounds I create—whether derived from fantasy or reality—must be believable and artistically pleasing.
How does your role fit within your larger team or department?
I mainly answer to and communicate with the generalist supervisor of the specific show. I take whatever assets and layouts are available for the shot, go to town on making a believable background from them, and hand the passes off to the compositors to push it the rest of the way home.
Could you summarize your background before joining the company? Where did you go to school? What early jobs did you have?
I was a painter who majored in computer science at New York University and have always loved the combination of the technical and the artistic. I started off coding and designing for advertising, before shifting over to movies.
When did you start at ILM, and in what role? If you have grown or evolved in your position here, could you describe how?
I was lucky enough to start off as a junior here at ILM. It was an amazing platform to leap off from and travel internationally to work for other global visual effects studios. I came back in 2020 on a StageCraft project. Working with emerging technologies is one of the many great things about being with ILM.
Is there an aspect of your current role that you find most enjoyable or interesting?
The joy of having a scene come together from just a picture in your mind to actual textures and objects and light filling a space was the kick that got me into the game and drives me still to this day.
Is there anything about your job or your team that you think people outside would find surprising or different in the way you work?
I think for budding artists, they are always surprised with how much kitbashing and how off-the-beaten-path we stroll as generalists (which is the fun part).
Are there any types of skills or attributes (beyond the normal qualifications) that you think are important for someone in your role or one like it?
One might think that mastering the required skills for your chosen visual effects medium might be the number one priority when working in our industry, but in actuality, communication and teamwork are two of the biggest assets you can bring that allow you to work efficiently and effectively across a team, and people will like you for them!
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join ILM?
I’d probably tell my younger self that everything has a time and place.