- Job title:
- Senior VFX Producer
- Film | VFX
Mara Bryan is Senior VFX Producer for Prime Focus. She has also worked as VFX Supervisor, Pre-Production Manager and Bidding Producer. Mara has a number of high-profile films to her credit, including Avatar (dir: James Cameron), District 9 (dir: Neill Blomkamp), The Lovely Bones (dir: Peter Jackson), and three Bond films, two of which were as a VFX Supervisor. She was part of the team nominated for an Academy Award for its work on The World Is Not Enough (1999).
What does a visual effects supervisor's job involve?
Visual effects encompasses everything in a film that cannot be captured on a single piece of film in the camera. It often falls under the umbrella of special effects. But technically special effects concerns live sequences that take place on a film set such as animatronics, pyrotechnics or wire-work.
Visual effects involves everything that is created as more than one element but will finally be put together in a digital environment. It often involves compositing together computer generated effects with live sequences that are filmed using blue/green screen techniques or miniatures.
A visual effects supervisor will usually be called onto a film during pre-production. I'll need to talk to the director and the production designer as concept art is being created and as a story board artist is laying out a movie so we can discuss the scope of what is needed and what effects we can do.
For example, they might want to shoot a scene in a studio of a set piece 15 stories high. But their studio might only be 30ft high and can only fit in a set a few stories high. In order to extend it, I need to know the exact dimensions of the set, and how the camera has moved around it, how it is lit, and what it is constructed of so I can fit the computer generated version on top.
How would you recommend getting into the business?
A lot of people start as assistants at visual effects and post-production companies. They are very good places for getting the basic knowledge of the techniques. There really is no better way to learn than on the job.
It's a good time to get into the business. There is a huge market at the moment as more and more films are being made using digital techniques. In fact, there is more work at the moment than there are artists.
To get into the business, you need a good basic knowledge of camera equipment and techniques, film lab processes, compositing techniques and software. You need a good visual sense and a creative approach to telling a story. The rest is just experience.