Life in the VFX
Your career has been the pinnacle of the freelancing field. While looking at the evolution of visuals and VFX in recent times, how much of your success do you owe to self-taught skills rather than being mentored or guided?
I have always loved learning in the style of 'play' - going in and seeing what happens if I do this, oh what happens if I plug this effect into that one, does it break it or create something pretty unique and interesting?
I found that I'd rather just be curious, open up After Effects, and just experiment without knowing the rules first. This eliminated the concept of limitations for me.
Later, I would follow up with an anti-technique when I am stuck - watching tutorials and seeing how you are supposed to do it. It encouraged a sense of unconventional resolution of problems with more creativity.
Having said this, mentors and tutors are always incredible to have. They can get you to where you want quickly as long as you are mindful of your purpose and know your craft.
You have mastered the niches - Fashion, Technology, Business, Cosmetics, Food, and Drinks. How does the implementation of visual effects differ in each of these categories?
There are a ton of associations when you look at any of these genres individually, so it is a case of really absorbing as many references and experiences as possible from each to sketch a baseline of what the audience naturally associates with each niche. From here on, it is about pushing the boundaries a little with either stylized strong visual effects or the less appreciated 'Hidden-VFX'.
Surprisingly, a lot of techniques in each niche cross over these days. For example, there are techniques that you would see in technology commercials like creating HUDs or holograms that I have used in cosmetic commercials.
I set out to just have fun, work on creatively cool projects and work with great people. I never dreamt of or was ever focused on winning awards. I genuinely love the craft of post-production instead of seeing it as 'work' in the traditional sense.
The VFX Breakdown Reel is an excellent example showcasing the power of Post-Production. Given the fact that Post-Production is a strictly microscopic process, which technical element within the process challenges you and the team the most?
If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have said potentially the removal of people from shots and detailed retouching work to rebuild shots. But AI seems to be helping out with a bulk of these processes these days.
On a technical level, it is mainly complex Visual FX and concepts that need more creativity and thought. When it comes to creating something which does not have many references, never mind a tutorial or template, we face the biggest challenges here. Visual FX is the most exciting department for me, because of its constant development. Peculiarly, when it is tied into a compelling narrative, it is a dream project to be part of.
We are aware of the embellished delicious ad campaigns in motion on our television screen that spikes our appeal. Which one of the creative projects that you have worked on, has been the most challenging?
Over the years, I have been on projects that have been challenging, usually for very different reasons.
The recent Elvis Immersive Experience film was challenging as it was a 25-minute concert, 360 degrees with 9K files that involved a lot of motion graphics and components. We worked with set resolution and several projectors to overlap each projection to create this immersive wrap-around.
Working remotely, instead of being at a location in Saudi Arabia, made it especially tricky. But with enough maths, brains in the team, and a wonderful client, we made it work!
Thinking back on all the awards that you have received over the years, was launching your own enterprise, NK Films, a prophecy into making, since the beginning?
Not in the slightest! I set out to just have fun, work on creatively cool projects and work with great people. I never dreamt of or was ever focused on winning awards. I genuinely love the craft of post-production instead of seeing it as 'work' in the traditional sense.
I am really lucky to get recognition and awards over the recent years. Though the most gratifying moments are found once you finish a project and you read testimonials or get to hear words of appreciation from the client. These moments make it all worthwhile.
Which fellow artist do you find commendable and inspiring the most?
Hernán (Nano) Vazquez is a real inspiration to me. His level of motion design work speaks for itself and he is just one of those rare insanely talented motion designers who should be shouting from the rooftops and showing off his work. Above this, he is also such a nice guy with rich positive energy. He is always encouraging me and offering his feedback. I am grateful for his generous efforts.
Your contribution to the freelancing world, especially during the pandemic is laudable. Now that we are in 2023, what are the biggest after-effects or changes you have observed in the industry so far?
The adoption of remote working and building systems to create online workflows and communication has been one of the biggest shifts since the pandemic. The mass adoption of being a digital nomad and working with international clients is more and more accepted. This positive change has opened doors for artists in developing countries and locations who had hardly any mention next to bigger studios or high-end clients.
Can you share a few deets on any upcoming projects in 2023?
At the time of this interview, most of them are under NDA!
Although I do have an Adidas commercial coming up. Recently, I have finished an Elvis Immersive Experience film in Saudi Arabia and it may need more updates to take that exhibition worldwide.
I have started to marry my passion for creative problem-solving and helping others. So I have put the last few years into an online course and supportive community to help post-production freelancers on landing great projects and do the work they love.