Rey tells us why he left the hustle and bustle of Soho for the golden sands of the South Coast
Hi Rey, how did you get into the VFX industry?
I’ve always been into drawing and art since I was a little kid. I always knew I wanted to do something creative. At first I wanted to be a comic artist, then an architect and eventually I did an animation course at Ravensbourne Uni. That’s really what led me into it. After I did that, I was pretty sure that that was what I wanted to do for work. I started at MPC in completely non-artistic related work. I was in data ops, and that was like tech support. I was there for three years with the intention to retrain for modelling and texturing because that was what I focused on at uni. But then, a colleague of mine mentioned they need some lighters for a show. They said ‘Oh you used Maya before, do you want to give it a try?’ I thought sure, I’ll give it a try even though lighting was never my intention. But after the first three months I really enjoyed it and they decided to keep me on, and that was it basically! I’ve been lighting ever since!
Why did you go into Data Ops in the first place, was it to get your foot in the door?
It was a stroke of luck because I had ex-class mates from the uni that was dotted around the industry. One of them mentioned ‘Look there’s an opening for this position’ - I had no idea what data ops was though! He said 'Oh you manage data for the company, archiving and data storage'. It was really useful to get into actually as we used Linux and it was very helpful later on to understand how things work behind the scenes. It’s kind of the department that, if it works well, you’ll never hear of them. It’s only when things go wrong that you go ‘Oh there’s a department for that?’ That really gave me a nice base before I got into lighting because, when stuff would break I’ll be like ‘Oh I bet I know what it is’, I’ll type away and find out exactly what it is.
Once you were working in lighting, what kind of projects did you work on?
The film I started on was Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 1. That was really like being thrown into the deep end because we were at crunch time, and I’d never done lighting professionally before, I knew basic lighting from uni, but it was really a sink or swim scenario. At the same time, it was like a trial by fire – if you made it through it then everything else was not so bad. After Guardians, I worked on Exodus: Gods and Kings, and then The Jungle Book. After that, I did Fantastic Four, Transformers: The Last Knight, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
After MPC, I moved to Cinesite just across the road and worked on Robin Hood and Avengers: Infinity War.
How did you come to work at Outpost?
I got this message on LinkedIn saying ‘Hey we see you are available, we have this possible work for you in Bournemouth’. I thought it was a bit far at the time as I lived on the other side of the country so I said no, thank you.
By sheer coincidence, one of my ex-uni classmates changed her LinkedIn status to Junior Animator at Outpost VFX in Bournemouth, so I messaged her on LinkedIn and asked ‘Hey are you in Bournemouth?’ and she said, ‘Yeah I started a couple of weeks ago, it’s great down here and you should come down!’. I said okay, and told her about the message on LinkedIn and she said ‘Well if you like, I could pass on your details’ and I said okay! She then told me ‘Oh one of our producers already knows you!’. It was Andy Burrow [Head of Production, UK], who was my co-ordinator on Guardians, I worked alongside him for quite a while and I really liked working with him. So I changed from being like ‘Oh it’s too far,’ to ‘Oh, maybe, it could be fun! I’ll try it out for six weeks and give it a shot!' I absolutely loved it when I came down, and was thrilled when they asked if I could come back again and stay longer!
I then had to have a two month break for Christmas and other things, but I said I absolutely would love to return here. I love the area, the beach speaks for itself! Being ten minutes walk from the beach is amazing! It’s a lot more chilled out than the hustle and bustle of London, it’s a bit more relaxed. It was a nice change for me! I love London, but sometimes it’s a bit too much.
What is it about Outpost that made you want to come back?
When I first moved to Cinesite from MPC, the main difference I saw was that working in a smaller company had a much different atmosphere. That was also exactly the feeling that I got when I came down here and I instantly liked it! Simply because, it feels like a more tight-knit group and I really like that. That was an instant positive for me. But wherever you go, it’s the people that make you enjoy the company. If the people are nice and cool and friendly, you’ll have a great time! You could work at the company of your dreams, but if the people around you aren’t very nice, then you’re not going to have a very good time. Here, I found that it’s very casual in that everybody is very sociable and friendly with each other. There’s no rigid hierarchy, I mean I’ve worked for some companies where you never even see a Producer on the artist floor, you just hear of the name. Whereas here, you’re more in contact with everybody around you! As an environment to work in, I think that’s really nice!
Do you have any tips for aspiring lighting artists or tips for newcomers wanting to join the VFX industry?
If you are not completely sure of what discipline you want to go into, then maybe go into a generalist position or have experience in more than one discipline. As far as lighting goes, it’s both technical and artistic but research is key! There’s a lot to understand about the way light behaves, colour theory and so on. So pay very close attention to those kinds of details and also things like photography – if you can understand photography, then that’s a big bonus because with lighting, you have to understand cinematography, exposure, framing and all of these kinds of things. This was something imparted to me by a previous lead, who really taught me everything I know. He used to say that I didn’t have ‘eyes’ yet and eventually I’ll get eyes! I didn’t know what he meant and he would sometimes walk past my desk and say ‘Huh, that’s too much red’ and I’d say, ‘What do you mean?’. He’ll say ‘Boost the exposure’ and sure enough it’d be too red. He’d identify that in a split second whereas for me, I had to really look. It takes time to develop those observational skills.
So those are my two tips really: do plenty of research and attention to detail is very important because what makes a photoreal picture are all the tiny details and imperfections.
Let's do some quickfire questions now.
Dog or cat? Dog
Tea or coffee? Coffee
What’s one thing you always keep on your desk? A Wacom pen
Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise
Are you a morning or evening person? Evening
Dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Milk chocolate
Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars
Fave movie? Predator
Fave book? Legend by David Gemmell, it’s one of the first fantasy books that I’ve read about 150 times over
iPhone or Android? Used to be iPhone, now absolutely Android!
What would be your superpower? Teleportation.
Do you have any pets? Not at the moment. Used to have dogs.
Would you want any pets? I would absolutely want a dog!
Favourite thing to relax? Netflix and chill, literally watching Netflix and chilling!
What time will you go to bed tonight? Around 12
What are you currently learning? I’m always watching CG tutorials, even now. I still watch lighting tutorials because there’s always something new to learn!
Crisps or chips? Chips
Rice or pasta? Rice
Bacon or sausage? Sausage
Takeaways or eating in? Eating in
Ninjas or pirates? Ninjas
TV or film? TV
Facebook or Twitter? Facebook