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60 Second Interview: VFX apprentice

Keanu is beginning his career in visual effects (VFX) with an apprenticeship. In today's interview, he explains what he does day-to-day, why he chose an apprenticeship and how you can follow in his footsteps.

This interview is from our subject guide to maths which you can view here in our shop.

Name: Keanu
Employer: DNEG
Job role: Compositing apprentice
Apprenticeship title: Junior 2D artist (visual effects) - level 4

What does your role involve?

I am a compositing apprentice in DNEG’s film department, training and learning to be a junior compositor. Compositing involves creating realistic effects by combining live action and computer-generated images to form a believable scene.

As an apprentice, I have the roles and responsibilities of a regular artist but I get taught on the job. I work on blockbusters and Bollywood films, which is a dream come true.

How do you use maths in your role?

My A-levels were maths and film studies, as well as geography and history. The knowledge I gained from film studies and maths has helped me the most in my current role. Film studies covers the industry as a whole, but maths helps me on a daily basis. I’m working with algorithms and values, and although you don’t have to study maths to work in visual effects, it’s really helpful.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

It offered me the chance to gain a qualification as well as learn on the job. It has also allowed me to get my foot in the door in the film industry. I always had my sights set on working in the filming part of the production process, so working in visual effects was new to me. But I discovered a field of work that I’m really passionate about; the apprenticeship has opened my eyes to endless possibilities.

How did you adjust to working life?

Before starting my apprenticeship I was working full time, teaching sports and fitness at a school, so I didn’t have to adjust all that much to working life. I did have to adapt to working in London and using public transport on a daily basis. It took a bit of time to get used to!

The best tip I can give for adjusting to working life is to be proactive and try to give 150%. The initial few months at any company are so crucial and it’s imperative to make a good lasting impression.

What are the two most important transferable skills for your role?

Like in any job, communication and being proactive are key. Being a good communicator also means being a good listener, taking advice and learning from it. Being proactive, meanwhile, means you’re always one step ahead and giving it your all.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to do your role?

Build up a creative portfolio of work. This is what recruiters in companies will look at and base their decisions on. A creative portfolio of work can include film projects, photography work, drawings, VFX shorts on the computer, clay sculptures. The list is endless: you’re really trying to showcase your talent and who you are.

Check out our guide to careers in visual effects (VFX) to find out how you could follow in Keanu's footsteps.


Lead image by Martin St-Amant, CC-BY-SA 3.0