Exclusive interview with Luma Pictures: Leading Visual Effects and CGI Animation Studio

Luma Pictures is a prestigious Animation and VFX studio, known for their astonishing output in numerous award winning movies.


We talked at length with Vincent Cirelli (VP and Head of Production – Luma Pictures). Check out excerpts of our exclusive interview with Luma Pictures.

The Virtual Assist welcomes Vincent Cirelli. How have you been associated with Luma Pictures?

I started with Luma Pictures as a Lighting artist about 15 years ago. During my time with the company Luma has grown from a small team working on boutique shows, to an international studio executing some of the most complex visual effects on huge blockbusters.

What is the vision and philosophy of Luma Pictures?

The company, started by Payam Shohadai, maintains much of it’s operating philosophies still years later; These include the concept that we would be an independently owned facility, staff based workforce, always challenge the norm, reinvent when it makes sense, create brilliant imagery and above all, have a blast while doing it.

Kindly share complete credentials (movies + other works) of Luma Pictures during 2018.

Black Panther, Ant-Man and The Wasp, Peppermint, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Mary Poppins Returns and Aquaman.

making of ant man and wasp

Every project is different in its own capacity and standards. How do you manage successful deliveries on time?

The most challenging type of work tends to be sequences where the effects start as an amorphous idea. Through lots of look development and discussion, eventually the right effect is conceived in a way that supports the story and yields a visual that is spellbinding. A great example of this was on a film named ‘Dr. Strange’. One of the sequences that Luma was tasked with was based in ‘the dark dimension,’ a trippy world with a black-light poster aesthetic. Luma tends to hire artists with a technical mind, not just technicians, and so much of our staff was the reason for delivering a successful show that required intensive, abstract thinking.

Have any of your movie projects been nominated for this year’s Oscars Awards? If so, please tell us more about your works in these movies.

We are very proud to have worked on Black Panther and congratulate Marvel Studios on the film’s nomination for Best Picture. Our work on the film can be viewed on the Luma website’s Black Panther page and included the Busan Casino sequence, the Busan Street chase and the CIA Black Site.

black panther vfx cgi

How do you balance aesthetics of creativity and technicality during execution of certain shots?

We often try to attain a ‘look’ on a few hero shots, and then reverse out the technology to be able to execute across a large sequence. Understanding what your target is prior to building a factory we feel is often the best approach. But, visual effects has a lot of moving parts, lots of variables, and solutions are often no a one size fits all situation.

As an independent creative studio that works in Animation and Visual Effects, what were your learnings last year? Can you share details of new tools, techniques, R&D or other related that you developed?

Our Pipeline Architect Chad Dombrova has created an amazing tool named Rill which allows us to automatically launch simulations, lighting renders, and even comps sequentially base elements change. This allows us to update entire sequences through automation and not artist time. The reason this is a significant step forward is that it allows us to make model changes, or tweaks to simulations and look at comps once the machines are done processing. That way artists can spend time doing what matters most – Art.

As a multi-location studio, how do you manage a smooth pipeline between studios?

Our systems automatically sync and have parity. Our pipelines are singular. Luma operates as one studio with one team that just happens to have an ocean between them.

luma pictures ragnarok thor

How can an aspiring artist join Luma Pictures? What are your criteria for hiring fresh artists?

Please submit through our site. We’re always looking for diamonds in the rough, so don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of work to show. Just prune your gallery and only show us the best work!

What are your tips for the students who want to make a career in this amazing world of Art and Science?

It’s a rewarding career, and the beautiful thing about this industry is that it’s always changing, there is always something new learn and there’s always room for innovation!

If possible, let us know about your current projects and set of challenges.

We’ve just wrapped up with our work on Captain Marvel and are currently working on Spider- Man: Far From Home, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Jojo Rabbit. In addition to these films, we also have several in-house content projects in the works.

Again we thank Vincent Cirelli for such an amazing interview. Kudos to entire technical and management team of Luma Pictures.


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