Camila Lopez -2018
What education did you have before you took the Visual Effects for Film and Television course?
Hello world, I'm Camila, and I started with a degree on Filmmaking and Digital Communication from Colombia. There I tried every role behind the cameras. I directed, wrote, edited and even held the mic but it wasn't until the last year of my bachelors that I got into 3D and 2D animation. Later I did a little bit of comp, a bit of motion graphics and even some motion capture but I wanted to shift to a career where I could work both with live action image and 3D. VFX was perfect for that and I thought Seneca would the best option for me. And I was right.
Tell us a bit about your experience at the college.
It was wonderful. From start to end. I barely slept, I was practically living in the lab and I was working almost all of the time. But it was dream.
To begin with, the teachers were extremely nice and competent. They were experienced in the industry and helped you with whatever you needed, either if you were having a creative crisis or if nothing was working on your assignment and everything kept crashing. All of them taught the latest softwares and techniques that they used in their work. They gave us real talk about the industry as a whole as well, which was very helpful when it was time to decide in which department you wanted to fit in.
On top of that, the lab is 24/7. This is extremely useful, especially when you feel like working at 4 in the morning when you can't sleep. Besides, we had access to cameras, equipment and a green screen room that we could use to record footage for our shots.
Overall it is an intensive program. You learn a big deal in 8 months and to add more pressure, you’d have to make your reel. But it is possible to achieve it all and have fun. If VFX is what you love, your experience would be as wonderful as mine.
How do you use the education you got at Seneca in your job today?
A month after I finished the program, I started working as a Junior Lighting Artist in Mr. X. Even though I still had a lot to learn, I was more prepared than I thought I was. The fact that in Seneca we learned Houdini and Python, helped me understand a great deal of my job.
In the course we learned the logic behind how everything works. We did not learn to push buttons only, we also understood how to find solutions no matter the software or the render engine. This further understanding of everything helps me every day at my job. The software is always being updated and it may even change, but if you get the essentials, you’ll be fine.
What advice would you give potential students who are thinking of taking the course?
If you're looking for a VFX course that is not too long but teaches you the essentials, then this is it. If you work with passion and discipline, you will end up with a strong demo reel that will help you get a job in the industry. Also, more tips:
- Ask! Even if you think your question is silly. The fear of being embarrassed would only paralyze you and not let you progress. Everybody came here to learn so, don’t worry.
- Don’t forget your Python! I felt that a lot of my classmates didn’t like the Python Programming class but it was actually my favourite. And it wasn’t until I started working that I realized how much you need to know about coding. At least the logic behind it. So please, be patient if you don’t like it, but make an extra effort because eventually you’ll face more than one of a only-code-can-save-me-now kind of situation in your career.
- At some point most of the teachers would ask you what is it that you want to learn. Please, please, please don't let this opportunity pass. If you don’t know what new thing to learn, then look it up! They'll listen and they'll teach you because they are awesome in that way. Just be happy you got nice teachers and go to class, you'll learn things that are going to be very useful.
- You know what they say, “stay hungry.” But like, super hungry. This industry is constantly changing. Keep researching and don’t be afraid to learn new things everyday. Here at Seneca you are at a starting point, but eventually your knowledge has to grow so you can keep up with everything that’s happening in the VFX world.
And remember, just because you take this program doesn't mean you are automatically going to land the best gig of your life. Don't get me wrong, it's a great place to begin, but you would need discipline and passion to learn all you need in only 8 months. Don't worry, you can do it. Just don't complain, go to the lab and get some work done.
Best of luck!
(Written in 2019)