Audionamix – 7.1.20

Category Archives: Women in Production & Post

Quick Chat: Compositor Jen Howard on her move from films to spots

By Randi Altman

Industry veteran Jen Howard started her career as a model maker before transitioning to a career as a compositor. After spending the last 20 years at ILM working on features — including Avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Hulk and Jurassic World — she recently made the move to Carbon Chicago to work on commercials.

While Howard’s official title is Nuke compositor, she has been credited on films as digital artist, lead digital artist, sequence lead, compositing lead and sequence supervisor. We recently reached out to her to talk about her transition, her past and present. Enjoy!

While you specialize in Nuke, your official title is compositor. What does that title entail?
Regardless of what software package one uses, being a compositor entails marrying together many pieces of separately shot footage so that they appear to be part of a single image sequence captured at one time.

For realistic-style productions, these pieces of photography can include live-action plates, rendered creatures, rendered simulations (like smoke or water), actors shot against greenscreen, miniatures, explosions or other practical elements shot on a stage. For more stylistic productions that list might also include hand-drawn, stop motion or rendered animations.

Sounds fun as well as challenging.
Yes, compositing presents both technical and aesthetic challenges, and this is what I love about it. Each shot is both a math problem and an art problem.

Technically, you need to be able to process the image data in the gentlest way possible while achieving a seamless blend of all your elements. No matte lines, no layering mistakes, solid tracking, proper defocus and depth hazing. Whether or not you’ve done this correctly is easy to see by looking at the final image — there is largely a right and a wrong result. The tracked-in element is either sliding, or it isn’t. However, whether you’ve made the right aesthetic decisions is a trickier question.

The less quantifiable goal for all the artists on a shot is to manifest the director’s vision … to take the image in their head and put it on the screen. This requires a lot of verbal discussion about visuals, which is tricky. Sometimes there is production art, but often there isn’t. So what does it mean when the director says, “Make it more mysterious”? Or what if they don’t even know what they want? What if they do, but the people between the director and the artists can’t communicate that vision downstream clearly?

When you build an image from scratch, almost everything can be in play — composition, contrast, saturation, depth of field, the direction and falloff of lighting, the placement of elements to frame the action and direct the eye. It is a compositor’s job to interpret the verbal input they’ve received and know what changes to make to each of these parameters to deliver the visual look and feel the director is after and to tell their story.

What would surprise people the most about what falls under that title?
I think people are still surprised at how many aspects of an effects shot are in a compositor’s control, even today when folks are pretty tech-savvy. Between the person doing the lighting and rendering and the compositor, you can create any look. And they’re surprised at the amount of “hand work” it entails, as they imagine the process to be more automated than it is.

How long have you been working in visual effects?
During college, I became a production assistant for master model maker Greg Jein, and he taught me that craft. Interesting fact — the first lesson was how to get your fingers apart after you’ve glued them together. I worked building models until about 1997 then crossed over to the digital side. So that’s about 30 years, and it’s a good thing I’m sitting down as I say that.

Kong

How has the industry changed in the time you’ve been working? What’s been good? What’s been bad?
When I was a model maker, most of that work was happening in the LA area. The VFX houses with their own model shops and stages and the stand-alone model shops were there. There was also ILM in the Bay Area. These places drew on local talent. They had a regular pool of local freelancers who knew each other, and a lot of them fell into the field by accident..

I worked with welders, machinists and sci-fi geeks good at bashing model kits who ended up working at these places because someone there knew them, and the company needed their skill set. Then all of a sudden, they were in show business. There was a family feel to most shops, and it was always fun. Some shops were union, so the schedules for projects at those places mostly fit the scope of work, and late nights were rare. The digital world was the same for a long time.

Model shops mostly went away, and as everyone knows, most digital feature effects are now done overseas, with some tasks like roto and matchmoving entirely farmed out to separate smaller companies. Crews are from all over the globe, and I’d hazard a guess that those folks got into the industry on purpose because now it is a thing.

What we’ve gained with this new paradigm is a more diverse pool of new talent who can find their way into the industry pretty much no matter where they’re from. That makes me happy because I feel strongly that everyone who has a love for this kind of work should get a shot at trying it. They bring fresh vision and new ideas to the industry and an appetite for pushing the technology further.

What’s lost is the shorthand and efficiency you get from a crew that’s worked together for a long time. They’re older and have made a lot of the mistakes already and can cut to the chase quickly. They make great mentors for the younger artists when tapped for that job, but I don’t feel that there’s been the amount of knowledge transfer there could have been — in either direction. Sometimes an “us versus them” dynamic emerges, which is really unfortunate.

Another change is the increasingly compressed schedule of feature production, which creates long hours and weekend work. This is hard on everyone, both physically and emotionally. The stress can be intense and translates into work injuries and relationship tension and is extremely hard on families with children. Studios have been pushing for these shorter schedules and cheaper prices. VFX work has been moved to countries that offer tax breaks or a generally cheaper labor pool. So quality now takes a back seat two ways: There isn’t enough time, and sometimes there isn’t enough experience.

You recently made the move to Chicago and spot work after years at ILM working on features. Can you talk about the differences in workflows?
The powerful role of advertising agencies in commercial work really surprised me. In film, the director is king, and they’re there all the way through the project, making every creative decision. In advertising, it seems the director shoots and moves on, and the agency takes up the direction of the creative vision in post production.

The shorter timeline for spot work translates into less time for 3D artists to iterate and finesse their renders, which are time-intensive to run, and so the flexibility and faster turnaround of comp means more comp work on renders, sooner. In features, 3D artists ideally have the time to get their render to a place that they’re mostly happy with before comp steps in, and the comp touch can be pretty light. (Of course, feature timelines are becoming more compressed, so that’s not always true now.)

Did a particular film inspire you along this path?
Two words. Star Wars. (Not unusual I know.) Also, when I was older, Japanese anime. Starblazers (Yamato), specifically.

Growing up, I watched my mom struggle to make enough money to support us. She had to look for opportunity everywhere, taking whatever job was available. Mostly she didn’t particularly enjoy her jobs, and I noticed the price she paid for that – spending so many hours with people she didn’t enjoy, doing work that didn’t resonate for her. So it became very important for me to find work that I loved. It was a very conscious goal.

You mentioned school earlier. Was that film school?
Yes, I went to Cal Arts in Valencia, California, just outside of LA. I studied animation and motion graphics, but I discovered pretty quickly that I had no talent for animation. However, I became fascinated with the school’s optical printer and motion control camera, and I played a lot with those. The optical printer is the chemical way of compositing that was used before digital compositing was developed. Using those analog machines helped me understand digital compositing down the road.

Porche’s The Heist

Can you name some recent projects you’ve worked on?
My last ILM project was the new Star Wars ride that opened recently in Disneyland, called Rise of the Resistance. Other recent projects include Solo: A Star Wars Story, Transformers: The Last Knight, Kong: Skull Island and Bumblebee: The Movie.

While at Carbon I worked on a spot for Porche called The Heist and a Corona campaign.

What projects are you most proud of?
For model making, I’m proud of the work I did on Judge Dredd, which came out in 1995. I got to spend several months just detailing out a miniature city with little greebles — making up futuristic-looking antennae and spires to give the city more scale.

Batman

On the digital side I’m really proud of the look we developed for Rango, ILM’s one and only animated feature, directed by Gore Verbinski. We brought a lot of realistic cinematic zing to that world using some practical elements in combination with rendered layers, and we built comp into the process deliberately so we could dial to our hearts’ content.

I’m also extremely proud of the first three Pirates movies, in which we did something of the opposite — brought a fantasy world to reality. The pirate characters are extreme in their design, and it was especially rewarding to see them come to life.

Where do you find inspiration now?
Chicago is amazing. I’m a fan of architecture, and I have to say, this city knocks my socks off in that department. It is such a pleasure to live somewhere where so much thought has gone into the built environment. The Art Institute is constantly inspirational, and so is my backyard, which is full of bunnies and squirrels and my wife and our two kids.

What do you do to destress from it all, especially these days?
Well, we don’t really leave the house, so right now I mostly hide in the bathroom.

Any tips for folks just starting out?
– Do whatever you’re doing now to the best of your ability, even if it isn’t the job you ultimately want or even the field you want to be in. Relationships are key, and it can be surprising how someone you worked with 10 years ago can pop up suddenly in a position to help you out later on..

– Also, don’t be scared of software. Your most important asset is your ability to know what an image needs. You can learn any software.

– Start saving for retirement now.

As for me, I’m glad I didn’t know anything and that there was no internet or social media of significance until after I finished school. It meant I had to look inward to figure out what felt right, and that really worked for me. I wouldn’t want to spoil that.

VFX studio Cinesite adds three to global management team

Visual effects and animation studio Cinesite has added three to its management team: Melissa Taylor joins as general manager in London, Siobhan Bentley is head of production VFX in London, and Tamara Boutcher is the company’s new global head of production for feature animation in Montreal.

“Melissa, Siobhan and Tamara are proven talented executives with deep knowledge of the visual effects and feature animation industries,” reports Cinesite CEO Anthony Hunt. “Working toward equal representation in an industry that is statistically male-dominated is very important to us all, and we’re working hard to improve the balance. We have a collective philosophy on diversity and inclusion, which is embodied in our wider approach of encouraging everyone on the team.”

Taylor will oversee Cinesite London’s visual effects studio while working closely with Montreal colleagues and group VFX brands Image Engine and Trixter. Taylor brings over 30 years’ industry knowledge and relationship-building experience. She joins Cinesite from visual effects studio Framestore, where she served as global head of business development for film and was involved with projects such as Spider-Man: Far From Home, Wonder Woman 1984, Lady and the Tramp, Tom and Jerry and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. Prior to Framestore, Taylor was EP at DNeg.

Bentley is tasked with leading, developing and motivating the London production teams throughout a show’s lifecycle. She joins Cinesite from MPC, where she oversaw the production teams on many acclaimed films, such as The Lion King, Roma, The Jungle Book, The Martian and Guardians of the Galaxy. She will work closely with crewing and producers to ensure projects are progressing through departments and deadlines are being met.

Based at Cinesite’s Montreal studio, Boutcher will be responsible for the production and day-to-day operations of the company’s feature animation service slate, developed and produced out of the Montreal and Vancouver studios. Her animation career began at The Walt Disney Company and as the studio transitioned from 2D features to 3D features, Boutcher worked as the director of production, helping to guide the teams and develop practices and technologies for the blending of traditional animation and CGI. Her work is featured in The Addams Family, Dinosaur, The Angry Birds Movie and We Are Not Princesses.

Image Caption: L-R Siobhan Bentley, Melissa Taylor and Tamara Boutcher

Audionamix – 7.1.20

Talking with Franki Ashiruka of Nairobi’s Africa Post Office

By Randi Altman

After two decades of editing award-winning film and television projects for media companies throughout Kenya and around the world, Franki Ashiruka opened Africa Post Office, a standalone, post house in Nairobi, Kenya. The studio provides color grading, animation, visual effects, motion graphics, compositing and more. In addition, they maintain a database of the Kenyan post production community that allows them to ramp up with the right artists when the need arises.

Here she talks about the company, its workflow and being a pioneer in Nairobi’s production industry.

When did you open Africa Post Office, and what was your background prior to starting this studio?
Africa Post Office (APO) opened its doors in February 2017. Prior to starting APO, I was a freelance editor with plenty of experience working with well-established media houses such as Channel 4 (UK), Fox International Channels (UK), 3D Global Leadership (Nigeria), PBS (USA), Touchdown (New Zealand), Greenstone Pictures (New Zealand) and Shadow Films (South Africa).

In terms of Kenya-based projects, I’ve worked with a number of production houses including Quite Bright Films, Fat Rain Films, Film Crew in Africa, Mojo Productions, Multichoice, Zuku, Content House and Ginger Ink Films.

I imagine female-run, independent studios in Africa are rare?
On the contrary, Kenya has reached a point where more and more women are emerging as leaders of their own companies. I actually think there are more women-led film production companies than male-led. The real challenge was that before APO, there was nothing quite like it in Nairobi. Historically, video production here was very vertical — if you shot something, you’d need to also manage post within whatever production house you were working in. There were no standalone post houses until us. That said, with my experience, even though hugely daunting, I never thought twice about starting APO. It is what I have always wanted to do, and if being the first company of our kind didn’t intimidate me, being female was never going to be a hindrance.

L-R: Franki Ashiruka, Kevin Kyalo, Carole Kinyua and Evans Wenani

What is the production and post industry like in Nairobi? 
When APO first opened, the workload was commercial-heavy, but in the last two years that has steadily declined. We’re seeing this gap filled by documentary films, corporate work and television series. Feature films are also slowly gaining traction and becoming the focus of many up-and-coming filmmakers.

What services do you provide, and what types of projects do you work on?
APO has a proven track record of successful delivery on hundreds of film and video projects for a diverse range of clients and collaborators, including major corporate entities, NGOs, advertising and PR agencies, and television stations. We also have plenty of experience mastering according to international delivery standards. We’re proud to house a complete end-to-end post ecosystem of offline and online editing suites.

Most importantly, we maintain a very thorough database of the post production community in Kenya.
This is of great benefit to our clients who come to us for a range of services including color grading, animation, visual effects, motion graphics and compositing. We are always excited to collaborate with the right people and get additional perspectives on the job at hand. One of our most notable collaborators is Ikweta Arts (Avatar, Black Panther, Game of Thrones, Hacksaw Ridge), owned and run by Yvonne Muinde. They specialize in providing VFX services with a focus in quality matte painting/digital environments, art direction, concept and post visual development art. We also collaborate with Keyframe (L’Oréal, BMW and Mitsubishi Malaysia) for motion graphics and animations.

Can you name some recent projects and the work you provided?
We are incredibly fortunate to be able to select projects that align with our beliefs and passions.

Our work on the short film Poacher (directed by Tom Whitworth) won us three global Best Editing Awards from the Short to the Point Online Film Festival (Romania, 2018), Feel the Reel International Film Festival (Glasgow, 2018) and Five Continents International Film Festival (Venezuela, 2019).

Other notable work includes three feature documentaries for the Big Story segment on China Global Television Network, directed by Juan Reina (director of the Netflix Original film Diving Into the Unknown), Lion’s Den (Quite Bright Films) an adaptation of ABC’s Shark Tank and The Great Kenyan Bake Off (Showstopper Media) adopted from the BBC series The Great British Bake Off. We also worked on Disconnect, a feature film produced by Kenya’s Tosh Gitonga (Nairobi Half Life), a director who is passionate about taking Africa’s budding film industry to the next level. We have also worked on a host of television commercials for clients extending across East Africa, including Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.

What APO is most proud of though, is our clients’ ambitions and determination to contribute toward the growth of the African film industry. This truly resonates with APO’s mantra.

You recently added a MAM and some other gear. Can you talk about the need to upgrade?
Bringing on the EditShare EFS 200 nodes has significantly improved the collaborative possibilities of APO. We reached a point where we were quickly growing, and the old approach just wasn’t going to cut it.

Prior to centralizing our content, projects lived on individual hard disks. This meant that if I was editing and needed my assistant to find me a scene or a clip, or I needed VFX on something, I would have to export individual clips to different workstations. This created workflow redundancies and increased potential for versioning issues, which is something we couldn’t afford to be weighed down with.

The remote capabilities of the EditShare system were very appealing as well. Our color grading collaborator, Nic Apostoli of Comfort and Fame, is based in Cape Town, South Africa. From there, he can access the footage on the server and grade it while the client reviews with us in Nairobi. Flow media asset management also helps in this regard. We’re able to effectively organize and index clips, graphics, versions, etc. into clearly marked folders so there is no confusion about what media should be used. Collaboration among the team members is now seamless regardless of their physical location or tools used, which include the Adobe Creative Suite, Foundry Nuke, Autodesk Maya and Maxon Cinema 4D.

Any advice for others looking to break out on their own and start a post house?
Know what you want to do, and just do it! Thanks Nike …


Randi Altman is the founder and editor-in-chief of postPerspective. She has been covering production and post production for more than 20 years. 


Meet the Artist: The Mill’s Anne Trotman

Anne Trotman is a senior Flame artist and VFX supervisor at The Mill in New York. She specializes in beauty and fashion work but gets to work on a variety of other projects as well.

A graduate of Kings College in London, Trotman took on what she calls “a lot of very random temp jobs” before finally joining London’s Blue Post Production as a runner.

“In those days a runner did a lot of ‘actual’ running around SoHo, dropping off tapes and picking up lunches,” she says, admitting she was also sent out for extra green for color bars and warm sake at midnight. After being promoted to the machine room, she spent her time assisting all the areas of the company, including telecine grading, offline, online, VFX and audio. “This gave me a strong understanding of the post production process as a whole.”

Trotman then joined the 2D VFX teams from Blue, Clear Post Production, The Hive and VTR to create a team at Prime Focus London. She moved into film compositing where she headed up the 2D team as a senior Flame operator. Overseeing projects, including shot allocation and VFX reviews. Then she joined SFG-Technicolor’s commercials facility in Shanghai. After a year in China she joined The Mill in New York, where she is today.

We reached out to Trotman to find out more about The Mill, a technology and visual effects studio, how she works and some recent projects. Enjoy.

Bumble

Can you talk about some recent high-profile projects you’ve completed?
The most recent high-profile project I’ve worked on was for Bumble’s Super Bowl 2019 spot. It was its first commercial ever. Being that Bumble is a female-founded company, it was important for this project to celebrate female artists and empowerment, something I strongly support. Therefore, I was thrilled to lead an all-female team for this project. The agency creatives and producers were all female and so was almost the whole post team, including the editor, colorist and all the VFX artists.

How did you first learn Flame, and how has your use of it evolved over the years?
I had been assisting artists working on a Quantel Editbox at Blue. They then installed a Flame and hired a female artist who had worked on Gladiator. That’s when I knew I had found my calling. Working with technical equipment was very attractive to me, and in those days it was a dark art, and you had to work in a company to get your hands on one. I worked nights doing a lot of conforming and rotoscoping. I also started doing small jobs for clients I knew well. I remember assisting on an Adele pop video, which is where my love of beauty started.

When I first started using Flame, the whole job was usually completed by one artist. These days, jobs are much bigger, and with so many versions for social media, some days a lot of my day is coordinating the team of artists. Workshare and remote artists are becoming a big part of our industry, so communicating with artists all over the world has become a big part of my job in order to bring everything together to create the final film.

In addition to Flame, what other tools are used in your workflow?
Post production has changed so much in the past five years. My job is not just to press buttons on a Flame to get a commercial on television anymore; that’s only a small part. My job is to help the director and/or the agency position a brand and connect it with the consumer.

My workflow usually starts with bidding an agency or a director’s brief. Sometimes they need tests to sell an idea to a client. I might supervise a previz artist on Maxon Cinema 4D to help them achieve the director’s vision. I attend most of the shoots, which gives me an insight into the project while assessing the client’s goals and vision. I can take Flame on a laptop to my shoots to do tests for the director to help explain how certain shots will look after post. This process is so helpful all around in order for me to see if what we are shooting is correct and for the client to understand the director’s vision.

At The Mill, I work closely with the colorists who work on FilmLight Baselight before completing the work on Flame. All the artists at The Mill use Flame and Foundry Nuke, although my Flame skills are 100% better than my Nuke skills.

What are the most fulfilling aspects of the work you do?
I’m lucky to work with many directors and agency creatives that I now call friends. It still gives me a thrill when I’m able to interpret the vision of the creative or director to create the best work possible and convey the message of the brand.

I also love working with the next generation of artists. I especially love being able to work alongside the young female talent at The Mill. This is the first company I’ve worked at where I’ve not been “the one and only female Flame artist.”

At the Mill NY, we currently have 11 full-time female 2D artists working in our team, which has a 30/70 male to female ratio. Still a way to go to get to 50/50, so if I can inspire another female intern or runner who is thinking of becoming a VFX artist or colorist, then it’s a good day. Helping the cycle continue for female artists is so important to me.

What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Moving to Shanghai. Not only did I have the challenge of the language barrier to overcome but also the culture — from having lunch at noon to working with clients from a completely different background than mine. I had to learn all I could about the Chinese culture to help me connect with my clients.

Covergirl with Issa Rae

Out of all of the projects you’ve worked on, which one are you the most proud of?
There are many, but one that stands out is the Covergirl brand relaunch (2018) for director Matt Lambert at Prettybird. As an artist working on high-profile beauty brands, what they stand for is very important to me. I know every young girl will want to use makeup to make themselves feel great, but it’s so important to make sure young women are using it for the right reason. The new tagline “I am what I make-up” — together with a very diverse group of female ambassadors — was such a positive message to put out into the world.

There was also 28 Weeks Later, a feature film from director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. My first time working on a feature was an amazing experience. I got to make lifelong friends working on this project. My technical abilities as an artist grew so much that year, from learning the patience needed to work on the same shot for two months to discovering the technical difficulties in compositing fire to be able to blow up parts of London. Such fun!

Finally, there was also a spot for the Target Summer 2019 campaign. It was directed by Whitelabel’s Lacey, who I collaborate with together on a lot of projects. Tristan Sheridan was the DP and the agency was Mother NY.

Target Summer Campaign

What advice do you have for a young professional trying to break into the industry?
Try everything. Don’t get pigeonholed into one area of the industry too early on. Learn about every part of the post process; it will be so helpful to you as you progress through your career.

I was lucky my first boss in the industry (Dave Cadle) was patient and gave me time to find out what I wanted to focus on. I try to be a positive mentor to the young runners and interns at The Mill, especially the young women. I was so lucky to have had female role models throughout my career, from the person that employed me to the first person that started training me on Flame. I know how important it is to see someone like you in a role you are thinking of pursuing.

Outside of work, how do you enjoy spending your free time?
I travel as much as I can. I love learning about new cultures; it keeps me grounded. I live in New York City, which is a bubble, and if you stay here too long, you start to forget what the real world looks like. I also try to give back when I can. I’ve been helping a director friend of mine with some films focusing on the issue of female homelessness around the world. We collaborated on some lovely films about women in LA and are currently working on some London-based ones.

You can find out more here.

Anne Trotman Image: Photo by Olivia Burke


Behind the Title: Ntropic Flame artist Amanda Amalfi

NAME: Amanda Amalfi

COMPANY: Ntropic (@ntropic)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Ntropic is a content creator producing work for commercials, music videos and feature films as well as crafting experiential and interactive VR and AR media. We have offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City and London. Some of the services we provide include design, VFX, animation, color, editing, color grading and finishing.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Senior Flame Artist

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
Being a senior Flame artist involves a variety of tasks that really span the duration of a project. From communicating with directors, agencies and production teams to helping plan out any visual effects that might be in a project (also being a VFX supervisor on set) to the actual post process of the job.

Amanda worked on this lipstick branding video for the makeup brand Morphe.

It involves client and team management (as you are often also the 2D lead on a project) and calls for a thorough working knowledge of the Flame itself, both in timeline management and that little thing called compositing. The compositing could cross multiple disciplines — greenscreen keying, 3D compositing, set extension and beauty cleanup to name a few. And it helps greatly to have a good eye for color and to be extremely detail-oriented.

WHAT MIGHT SURPRISE PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR ROLE?
How much it entails. Since this is usually a position that exists in a commercial house, we don’t have as many specialties as there would be in the film world.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
First is the artwork. I like that we get to work intimately with the client in the room to set looks. It’s often a very challenging position to be in — having to create something immediately — but the challenge is something that can be very fun and rewarding. Second, I enjoy being the overarching VFX eye on the project; being involved from the outset and seeing the project through to delivery.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
We’re often meeting tight deadlines, so the hours can be unpredictable. But the best work happens when the project team and clients are all in it together until the last minute.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
The evening. I’ve never been a morning person so I generally like the time right before we leave for the day, when most of the office is wrapping up and it gets a bit quieter.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Probably a tactile art form. Sometimes I have the urge to create something that is tangible, not viewed through an electronic device — a painting or a ceramic vase, something like that.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I loved films that were animated and/or used 3D elements growing up and wanted to know how they were made. So I decided to go to a college that had a computer art program with connections in the industry and was able to get my first job as a Flame assistant in between my junior and senior years of college.

ANA Airlines

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Most recently I worked on a campaign for ANA Airlines. It was a fun, creative challenge on set and in post production. Before that I worked on a very interesting project for Facebook’s F8 conference featuring its AR functionality and helped create a lipstick branding video for the makeup brand Morphe.

IS THERE A PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I worked on a spot for Vaseline that was a “through the ages” concept and we had to create looks that would read as from 1880s, 1900, 1940s, 1970s and present day, in locations that varied from the Arctic to the building of the Brooklyn Bridge to a boxing ring. To start we sent the digitally shot footage with our 3D and comps to a printing house and had it printed and re-digitized. This worked perfectly for the ’70s-era look. Then we did additional work to age it further to the other eras — though my favorite was the Arctic turn-of-the-century look.

NAME SOME TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Flame… first and foremost. It really is the most inclusive software — I can grade, track, comp, paint and deliver all in one program. My monitors — the 4K Eizo and color-calibrated broadcast monitor, are also essential.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Mostly Instagram.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK? 
I generally have music on with clients, so I will put on some relaxing music. If I’m not with clients, I listen to podcasts. I love How Did This Get Made and Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Hiking and cooking are two great de-stressors for me. I love being in nature and working out and then going home and making a delicious meal.


Marvel Studios’ Victoria Alonso to keynote SIGGRAPH 2019

Marvel Studios executive VP of production Victoria Alonso has been name keynote speaker for SIGGRAPH 2019, which will run from July 28 through August 1 in downtown Los Angeles. Registration is now open. The annual SIGGRAPH conference is a melting pot for researchers, artists and technologists, among other professionals.

“Victoria is the ultimate symbol of where the computer graphics industry is headed and a true visionary for inclusivity,” says SIGGRAPH 2019 conference chair Mikki Rose. “Her outlook reflects the future I envision for computer graphics and for SIGGRAPH. I am thrilled to have her keynote this summer’s conference and cannot wait to hear more of her story.”

One of few women in Hollywood to hold such a prominent title, Alonso’s dedication to the industry has been admired for a long time, leading to multiple awards and honors, including the 2015 New York Women in Film & Television Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement, the Advanced Imaging Society’s first female Harold Lloyd Award recipient, and the 2017 VES Visionary Award (another female first). A native of Buenos Aires, her career began in visual effects and included a four-year stint at Digital Domain.

Alonso’s film credits include productions such as Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, Tim Burton’s Big Fish, Andrew Adamson’s Shrek, and numerous Marvel titles — Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp and, most recently, Captain Marvel.

“I’ve been attending SIGGRAPH since before there was a line at the ladies’ room,” says Alonso. “I’m very much looking forward to having a candid conversation about the state of visual effects, diversity and representation in our industry.”

She adds, “At Marvel Studios, we have always tried to push boundaries with both our storytelling and our visual effects. Bringing our work to SIGGRAPH each year offers us the opportunity to help shape the future of filmmaking.”

The 2019 keynote session will be presented as a fireside chat, allowing attendees the opportunity to hear Alonso discuss her life and career in an intimate setting.


Marvel’s Victoria Alonso to receive HPA’s Charles S. Swartz Award

The Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) has announced that Victoria Alonso, producer and executive VP of production for Marvel Studios, will receive the organization’s 2018 Charles S. Swartz Award at the HPA Awards on November 15. The HPA Awards recognize creative artistry, innovation and engineering excellence, and the Charles S. Swartz Award honors the recipient’s significant impact across diverse aspects of the industry.

A native of Buenos Aires, Alonso moved to the US at the age of 19. She worked her way up through the industry, beginning as a PA and then working four years at the VFX house Digital Domain. She served as VFX producer on a number of films, including Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, Tim Burton’s Big Fish, Andrew Adamson’s Shrek and Marvel’s Iron Man. She won the Visual Effects Society (VES) Award for outstanding supporting visual effects/motion picture for Kingdom of Heaven, with two additional shared nominations (best single visual effects, outstanding visual effects/effects-driven motion picture) for Iron Man.

Eventually, she joined Marvel as the company’s EVP of visual effects and post, doubling as co-producer on Iron Man, a role she reprised on Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. In 2011, she advanced to executive producer on the hit The Avengers and has since executive produced Marvel’s Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and most recently, Ant-Man and the Wasp.

She is currently at work on the untitled fourth installment of Avengers and Captain Marvel.

The Charles S. Swartz Award was named after executive Charles Swartz, who had a far ranging creative and technical career, eventually leading the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California, a leading industry think tank and research center. The Charles S. Swartz Award is awarded at the discretion of the HPA Awards Committee and the HPA Board of Directors, and is not given annually.


Director Natalia Leite joins Humble’s roster

Bi-coastal production studio Humble has signed director Natalia Leite to its roster. Humble is Leite’s commercial representation, but she brings her rich experience as a writer and director for features, indie films and Vice documentaries.

Her MFA, a psychological thriller about rape crimes at a university, premiered at SXSW 2017 and was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize. She also worked on Every Woman, a Vice documentary about traditionally female-held jobs that are often looked down upon. It garnered over 12 million views.

Leite believes in weaving social commentary into her work, especially when it comes to female empowerment.

Her first work with Humble included two docu-style brand films for Vans Off the Wall brand titled Girls Skate India, and Vision Walk, which featured young women building a community and encouraging others to seek and live their passions. Girls Skate India was shortlisted for the 2018 AICP Awards and the AICP Next Awards.

Leite also teamed up with agency Sid Lee to direct a new campaign for The North Face, Move Mountains, that highlights the inspiring stories of female creators, athletes, educators and innovators who are moving mountains in their fields.

“For me, joining Humble was a perfect marriage,” says Leite. “Humble is a collaborative and supportive team that has embraced my passion and personal directing style. There, I will be able to continue telling stories about causes I care about, while branching out more into branded content work.”

Most recently, Leite wrote and directed a short film for a Condé Nast series on LGBT perspectives, which premiered during Pride Week in New York in June. Leite’s project, Kiki and the Mxfits, follows one trans girl whose high school popularity skyrockets when she rebels and uses the girl’s bathroom.