• Oscar Winning VFX Artist Jim Rygiel Advises Students on Working in Visual Effects


    Jim RygielThis week, New York Film Academy students in Los Angeles were treated to a Q&A with visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel following a screening of Godzilla. Rygiel won three Academy Awards for his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His excellent work has also contributed to other feature films such as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Fast and the Furious, and Night at the Museum. NYFA Animation Chair Mark Sawicki moderated the event.

    One of the things that Rygiel touched on was using real imagery alongside digital effects. “We always tried to get something in the shot,” said Rygiel. “My trick is to always try to get something real In the shot…it’s a mix. I’m always trying to get the director to shoot more, not less.”

    He stressed the importance of keeping parts real in order to keep it feeling real.

    jim rygiel

    Rygiel also advised students that when trying to get hired, they should let their work speak for itself. “What you mostly get hired on is your portfolio,” he added.

    One of our NYFA students asked for advice on how to act for effects, such as motion capture or with green screens. Rygiel reassured the student, saying, “Just shoot it. Act like you normally would—we’ll never replace actors. I could never create whole scenes [without actors].”

    Finally, he talked to the students about the importance of a balance between sticking to the plan for shooting and rolling with changes. He said that costs can go up if you change from what was already planned but, “don’t be a complete stickler to the pre-vis. There are things that happen. It just might be a better shot—always go with the better shot.”


    June 21, 2016 • 3D Animation, Guest Speakers • Views: 7299

  • How to Make a Better Zombie Movie


    world war z animators

    Our students and World War Z fans got a special treat this past Saturday at a New York Film Academy Animation School event where they were introduced to the “pre-viz” team that planned out the remarkable visuals for the blockbuster horror film. “Pre-viz” stands for pre-visualization and it is an invaluable technique for planning out complex sequences to not only visualize what a film will look like using CGI but keep costs down as well. Brian Pohl, a leading pre-viz artist and one of the founding members of the pre-viz society, was our host and moderator for the afternoon.

    We began with an enlightening discussion of the time honored art of storyboarding, presented by artist Robbie Consing. Working closely and quickly with a director to create storyboards is the start of the process. Robbie made mention that as an artist he not only has to work fast but also quickly discern what each individual director means when he or she describes a shot. A tilt up may be described as a “pan up” and the artist will need to understand and accommodate what the director means in order to move the process along. Robbie also shared some marvelous pre-production matte painting mock ups of set ideas that enhanced existing locations.

    animation wwzOur next speaker, Dan Gregoire is one of the founding partners of Halon the company that executed the pre-viz for the film. Dan mentioned that to sell a film today directors are making use of the technology to also make a “pitch-viz” to use as a marketing tool for showing the proof of concept to a studio. The students were shown the chilling pitch-viz for WW Z which was met with a round of applause at its conclusion. Mr. Gregoire continued by sharing his experience of going on location to scout the locations used from all over the world while taking extensive notes and recording video with a GoPro. Dan said that while the GoPro may have seemed overkill the production always came to him later wanting to know about some little detail they missed, but he hadn’t. The images shot on location are used to provide texture maps for the CGI settings in pre-viz. Dan went on to say that pre-viz was invaluable in planning out set construction and letting production know exactly how much green screen was needed for the shoot. Construction is a very expensive proposition and pre-viz undoubtedly saved many thousands of dollars by supplying excellent preplanning.

    Our next speaker was co owner of Halon Brad Alexander who shared many chilling videos of performance tests for zombie movement in which he and his team were often performers. This entailed people acting like zombies while walking or standing up to making running leaps at dummies and biting them viciously. These reference videos were used to provide guidance when animating the CGI characters. Brad mentioned that Halon could work around the clock taking advantage of time zones. Brad would share notes via the Internet from Dan who was just ending his workday in Madrid, and Brad would start his day after the call acting upon those instructions and be ready with dailies for Dan when he started the next day.

    The final speaker was Patrick Ready owner of Digilab who stressed the importance of data wrangling in this tech heavy production pipeline. What came as a surprise was that Patrick is responsible for saving and cataloging all the images from the camera and then after that process “erasing” the files from the cameras hard drive so that it could be used again for the next shoot. You can’t make a mistake there!

    At the end of the presentation, a robust Q & A followed from a long line of fascinated audience members. Our guests and the pre-viz society drove the point home that pre-viz is here to stay and a valuable part of the film making process.

    Special thanks to Juniko Moody co-chair of NYFA Animation along with Clayton Shanks and Brian Pohl of the pre-viz society for making this up to the minute look at current movie practices possible. We hope to see them again soon!


    July 9, 2014 • 3D Animation, Guest Speakers • Views: 6196