Compositing and VFX: the Insights

Compositing and VFX: the Insights

Vlad Akhtyrskiy discussed his career path in the industry, talked about the advantages of Nuke and shared his view on the future of VFX production. 

Introduction

Making movies wasn't my life’s dream, but I was always interested in technology, innovation, creativity, and CGI. 

I started back in 1999 in Moscow, Russia. I was doing 2D animation films and commercials. My specialization was compositing, but at that time, I didn't know that it was compositing. I was studying at a technical university. I didn't really have any particular education regarding film or animation production, I was searching for tutorials online and on CDs. After a few years of doing compositing for animation, I also started to work in VFX. I was doing different roles in my career, but compositing was my passion and love. 

After 10 years of working in Moscow, I moved to London, did a commercial for the Mayfair School of English and started working at MPC. I spent a few years in London working for MPC, Cinesite, and Framestore and moved to Canada to work for Framestore as a Compositing Supervisor. After almost 5 years, I moved to Vancouver to work for MPC as the Head of Compositing in the Vancouver office. I am now working at ScanlineVFX and concentrating on optimization and automation for the 2D pipeline. All these years, I met amazing and incredibly talented people, and some of them even became very close friends. 

The Fascinating Things in VFX

I am really amazed by how an international team can come together and create something unbelievable and beautiful. 

I can't separate the creative process in creativity or technology. It's a combination of these things. I really love to create something that never existed before or recreate known things, but I want to make them in a smart way.  

Comparing Visual Effects and Compositing

The key element from my point of view is us - humans. The differences in our cultural backgrounds make us want to create something that will inspire millions of people across Earth.  For a few years, I have been developing a new paradigm - TECH, which means Technology, Education, Collaboration, Human. These aspects big areas to work on and combine.

The Workflow

I love to use a powerful combination of technologies, collaboration and make things fast. I would love to see more realtime features in software and simplified and structured approaches. The best way is when it's clear for anyone who is involved in all production stages.  

The contact sheet tool, RayRender, gives cool features and has lots of inhouse developments. The key thing is - for Nuke we can write almost anything. I even remember the bullet engine written for Nuke. The Nuke itself is so flexible that you can do lots of things. I love to see changes in the 3D space, as it's coming more and more to compositing. 

Templating and standardizing your workflow, as well as keep consistent naming conventions is important if you want to be efficient.

About Working in Nuke

Well, Nuke is a powerful tool in many aspects. It has 3D projections, lots of default compositing features, but what I like most about Nuke is that I can integrate and create any type of tools.

Nuke Studio can deal with retimes and re-racks, which we can pass to comp super fast. I look at Nuke as a platform of thinking: adjusting the software for your needs and creating in-house development. Nuke became popular in the industry around 2009-2011, having features of 2D and 3D workflow, after Apple stopped supporting Shake, which was the industry standard before. 

Nuke provided lots of out of the box solutions, while also providing a lot of flexibility with specifics, which industry needed - such as color spaces, file formats, 2D and 3D workflows, an intuitive interface and a node-based workflow. 

I am a really big fan of this powerful tool.  I’ve been using it for so many years and I still don't see its limits. The demand for fast results in our days is incredible, and Nuke is providing us, as I see it, the powerful platform and place to build our own tools that make the life of artists easier so we can provide the best quality to our clients.

The Future of VFX

Well, it's a big topic to discuss, but I want to mention that the use of ML- machine learning and AI will be more and more common. I did my own research regarding it, and I see various ways of the implementation. Mostly, we can save time and spend it on what algorithms cannot solve for now. Also, it's a collaboration - and my TECH idea is about how hard it's all connected. We can develop new technologies, and we have to remember the human aspect of production. I like intuitiveness in any stage of production. Clear conversations and understanding. 

Afterword 

I love the technological part, and I still remind myself - we are just humans. I respect this and I prioritize this to develop a financially efficient workflow and keep the crew happy. It's always about collaboration - and keeping this in mind - we always can make life easy or hard.  

Vlad Achtyrskiy, VFX artist 

Interview conducted by Ellie Harisova

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    Compositing and VFX: the Insights