Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
As a husband and father of four fabulous kids, I describe myself as the guy who hates the queue but is too polite to jump it. I love illustration and story and would happily lock myself away with books and movies never to leave my neighbourhood again. In a previous life I worked as a manager of a band venue through the 90s and still love listening to grunge!
What films and television really got you interested in the industry?
I was always a fan of Pertwee/Baker Dr. Who and B-grade horror – bubble wrap monsters and all. It was the story that drew me in and it was the comic books that got me into the industry. I was running a comic book group for kids and a local studio thought I might make a good storyboard artist. I’d been working on a previs gig for Peter Pan in 2003 when my eyes were opened by a storyboard artist, Tani, who was helping out. All of a sudden composition concepts, motion and ideas in art clicked into cinematography; that was my wow moment. My favourite films change regularly, but right now it’s Get Shorty. Chilli Palmer is the very definition of a three dimensional character. Before that my favourite films were V for Vendetta, Watchmen and Miss Potter.
What are some of the biggest projects you’ve worked on during your career?
Some of my biggest projects are Scooby Doo, Ghostship, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, King Kong, Dawn Treader, Green Lantern, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Great Gatsby, The Dressmaker and The Water Diviner. They were all great films to work on alongside fabulous crews. We all worked very long hours together to make them happen. I find the most satisfying films I’ve worked on have been the smaller character-driven projects – they tend to have smaller crews, where are larger films tend to lose you in the machine. What drew you towards working with the VFX Legion?
The industry on the Gold Coast dried up after Photon VFX closed, so I began travelling a lot. I reached the point where I needed my family close by, so I started making the effort to work remotely. It’s turning out great! Legion provide interesting and steady work and the people are great to work with.
Where are you based in the world?
I live in the hinterland behind Queensland’s Gold Coast in Australia – it’s a brilliant spot. I’m based five minutes from Lamington National Park where we have rainforests, waterfalls and fabulous wildlife. Most mornings there are wallabies in the front yard. When summer comes around we drive down to the coast for a weekend with our extended family for the beaches and surfing spots.
What is your favourite thing about working with VFX Legion?
I like our Google, Zoom and Skype calls! It’s so interesting to see people in different time zones with a common cause. Legion also tend to work on horror films which I enjoy. The tasks also call on different skill sets, which is great for keeping you sharp. What do you like most about the location in which you live/work?
Family is number one. Also the Queensland landscape is inspirational. Our weather changes are dramatic in the mountains, so I feel where we live is an ideal balance; the city is 40 minutes away for film and events but our street has no traffic lights – just fireflies and a big starry sky.
What would you say are the core skills that you bring to the VFX Legion team?
I’m a generalist and have been taking on projects from tracking to compositing, but my foundation is in camera work. Tracking is an aspect of that but I also do creative camera work and previs. Problem-solving with the camera plays a big part in my role, especially when stereo work comes up. Since King Kong I have also developed skills as a strong lighter.
Which projects have you been most proud to work on at VFX Legion, and why?
Jem and the Holograms! It was a fairly smooth process, Legion provided a fabulous model and rig. When I joined the project they needed a lighting solution and I was able to help out there too. What projects have been particularly challenging or exciting?
The Gift. I only worked on one shot but it was a lot of fun. We needed to create dying fish in rippling water, reflections and refraction. It was hard work but the end result was absolutely fantastic!
What are the challenges facing artists today, and how do you overcome them?
I think the greatest challenge today is being able to effectively tell a story in virtual reality. I believe this is where the action is going to happen for visual effects. VR will be like rebirthing films and the people who are able to deliver this best will be writing the bible. An artist traditionally uses a bag of tricks to draw the eye and focus attention, contrast, motion, colour and so on. VR requires rethinking and redefining those foundation to create effective form following function and art. For example, in You’ve Got Mail Kathleen delivers the rebuke to Joe, “You are just a suit”. The next shot is from inside a wardrobe looking over a line of identical suits as Joe hangs another. It’s this fabulous storytelling giving people an emotional reaction – we see Joe considering his life and find empathy. Cinematography found its poetry a long time ago, now it’s VR’s turn. Why do you think remote working is so important for today’s VFX industry?
Being less centralised enables Legion to draw on a greater pool of talent and discover resources outside of the local sphere of influence. From an artist’s point of view it enables us to create a work environment that suits our nature and makes us more effective. We are less distracted by personalities and politics, helping us to find the all-important ‘zone’.
What are your hobbies and passions outside of work?
I’ve been filming around the local area with the Blackmagic URSA mini – although finding the time lately has been tough! The local area is filled with dairy farms and rainforest. We have some fabulous weather events over our area and I try to get out and capture them around the golden hours. Some years ago I began building our house and am still adding to it. On my list right now I’m building a deck, finishing a media room and creating a man cave. To keep fit I’ve joined a gym and am working to get my surfing body back for the summer. On the tech side of things I’m also exploring a drone and a 3D scanner.