Diving Deeper into VFX with NextGen!

How we spread the word about VFX

Sometimes making choices of what career or pathway is right for you can be difficult. How do you find out if you are going to like working in a certain role? How do you know if you have the beginning of the right skills, or the right attitude to succeed?

To help answer some of these questions NextGen Skills Academy teamed up with Saint John Walker to design and run a series of events at London partner colleges with industry guests during March 2024.

What we called Show and Tell events took place at Barnet and Southgate College, Westminster Kingsway College and Big Creative Education.

Kicking off at Barnet and Southgate College, we had great presentations from our guests telling us what their roles are, and what they get up to one a day-to-day basis.  Joe Ibbett, Junior FX Generalist at Time Based Arts, ran us through the work that got him started in his role. Next up was Charlotte O'Keefe, Paint & Roto Artist at Industrial Light & Magic, who gave some great advice on how to start and then progress in this important entry level job.

Lastly Aidan Callaghan, CG Generalist at Electric Theatre Collective, was joined by Talent Coordinator Tasha Beddoe who focused on work culture and wellbeing, a theme across all the presentations.

Next week we were guests in the theatre space of Westminster Kingsway College in Kings Cross, London. Once again, Industrial Light & Magic were a feature with Senior Paint and Roto Artist William Hopkins, ably supported by Emerging Talent Specialist Amy Backwell, answering a wide range of questions from the audience.

There was more invaluable advice from from Jellyfish Pictures' 3D Animator Brenda Ximena Roldan Romero too. An impromptu Q+A session ended the show, it’s so rare to be able to ask anything you want to this calibre of VFX talent!

The following week provided an exciting culmination of our mini roadshow with the last Show and Tell at Walthamstow’s Big Creative Education Academy Campus, with the biggest crowds yet.

We were joined by Coffee and TV’s VFX Lead Alfie Vaughan and owner of a 43,000 strong YouTube VFX community, and ex-DNEG, ILM, MPC and Goodbye Kansas Compositing Supervisor Rafal Kaniewski. Not only that, but free Pizzas were supplied during the break, which was a great way to finish our Show and Tell series of events!

A Deeper Dive into VFX

However, at NextGen we know that sometimes its not enough to hear practitioners talk - you want to try out some of the professional software to see if these roles are right for you. So, we organised a couple of tasters, or Deeper Dives as we called them - sessions where you could follow along as a professional runs you through a project.

We were excited to run a 2D Deeper Dive with Rafal Kaniewski, who ran through how he’d composite a clip in Nuke, at Westminster Kingsway’s Regents Park campus, whilst attendees followed along on their workstations. Two days later we returned to Barnet and Southgate College where Olly Nash, 3D Generalist at BlueBolt, ran a 3D Maya session, animating a carnivorous 3D plant!

All our presenters remarked that they wished they’d had a series of Show and Tells and Deeper Dive tasters like that when they were choosing their careers. We’d like to thank all our VFX company contributors and our supporting FE Colleges for making this happen. Hopefully we’ve persuaded many young people to think about joining the VFX Community!

Thank you from NextGen

Thank you Saint for hosting all of the events and for writing this piece! Thank you to all of the professionals who gave up their time to inspire the next generation of VFX artists, to the colleges for hosting, and to everyone who attended for being such part of such a great run of inspirational and engaging events.

If you would like to learn more about VFX Apprenticeship opportunities please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Written by

Saint John Walker