Season eight of Supernatural kicks off tonight with the help of seven VFS 3D Animation & Visual Effects grads, ranging from Class 5 (grad 1997) to Class 86 (grad 2011). We caught up with VFX Supervisor Mark Meloche, VFX 3D Artist Jason Macza, and Compositors Derek Rein, Steve J. McLeod and Werner ten Hoeve to learn more about their time in the program and what it’s like going to work everyday with so many other VFS grads.
What was your experience like in the 3D Animation & Visual Effects program?
Werner: I loved every minute of my experience. It felt like waking up after years and feeling alive again. I worked for a very long time to be able to come to VFS. Knowing that I would be able to finally have the life that I always wanted for myself was a dream come true. The program itself gave me the opportunity to network with students and faculty from my program as well other students at the school. The friendships that formed out of that experience is something no one will ever be able to take away from us. All in all, it was more than I could have asked for.
Derek: My experience at VFS was a lot of hard work and dedication. By the end of it, I had a great sense of accomplishment as I had completed a visual effects project of my own vision under the guidance of industry professionals. I also developed a well-rounded understanding of the post-production industry including facets beyond visual effects, which has given me a sense of being closely integrated with the industry as a whole. Looking back at my time at VFS, the three things that come to mind are the camaraderie and support amongst fellow students, leaving school ‘early’ at midnight, and epic awesome Foosball tourneys in the lunch room.
Jason: The teachers I had at VFS were good mentors - Jay Falconer and Paul Boyd were key to my success.
Mark: I entered VFS knowing that, although I had some basic 3D and 2D experience from some of my personal projects, I really needed insight into the software industry standards, and a great demo reel to get a job. The instruction I received allowed me to perfectly tailor my reel to show my strengths as a digital artist, and my reel landed me my first VFX job at Lost Boys Studios straight out of school.
How did VFS help prepare you for your work on Supernatural and in the visual effects industry?
Werner: Funnily enough, I actually based my reel on Supernatural. When my instructor took our class onto the show’s set, it set certain things into motion. Based on my reel, that same show in which my reel was based was interested in bringing me onto their effects team.
Mark: I don’t think it’s a coincidence how many of our staff here at Supernatural are from VFS. Some are seasoned vets who have been in the industry for over a decade and a half (like myself) and one is fresh from VFS. Seven of our artists are graduates of VFS. Not bad!
Steve: By giving me access to the computers that were powerful enough to do the job, VFS definitely prepared me for the industry. Back then PC’s were only just emerging as capable tools. We were using SGI workstations that were quite a bit more expensive. I went on to do the effects for cartoons for a few years before moving on to do effects for shows like Smallville, Heroes, Haven, Battlestar Galactica, and many more before finally arriving at Supernatural.
What’s it like working with so many other VFS grads?
Werner: The fact that almost the entire visual effects crew on Supernatural is made up of former VFS grads is a blast. One of the first things we started talking about was about our time at the school – what has changed in the program over the years and what has stayed the same.
Derek: The crew is made of VFS grads from many different graduating classes, but there is a certain appreciation of what the program is that transcends changes in faculty or facility during the last 10+ years.
Jason: A local school in a visual effects city is a good jumping off point. You are meeting so many people and then working with them again through the years.
Steve: Many of the grads that I went to school with have gone far and wide to become supervisors and producers for big projects. The relationships built in this industry, whether in school or afterwards, are very important. The majority of my jobs in recent years have all been through personal contacts or recommendations rather than cold calls and advertisements.
Supernatural premieres tonight at 9:00pm on CW.