Learn how to become an FX TD from veteran artist Duarte Victorino.
Duarte Victorino has worked for leading studios including MPC, Framestore, ILM and Sony Pictures Imageworks; he has worked in the VFX industry for nearly ten years and on 20 blockbuster films. Find out more about how he got into the creative industries, plus gain an insight into regarding how to become an FX TD including advice for anyone looking to get into visual effects.
Why the creative industries?
I started by studying industrial design, and at first I wanted to be a Car Designer. However, during those years at university, I was introduced to computer graphics and I got hooked. I’ve always enjoyed the arts and technology and CG looked like the perfect combination. In the beginning, I turned into architectural and production visualization and only years later, after graduating, I discovered visual effects and Escape Studios.
2019 will mark my 10 year anniversary graduating from Escape Studios, and since I started working in visual effects, plus over 12 years in computer graphics. I still remember fondly the time spent at Escape Studios as well as the opportunities and contacts it provided me in the beginning of my career. Currently I work at Weta Digital in Wellington, New Zealand as a Lead FX TD.
What’s your current role? What’s your favourite part of your job?
As an FX TD you’re expected to do all sorts of volumetrics, natural phenomena, magic elements, destructions, procedural environments, and any tools necessary for pipeline. Plus many other unglamorous bits and pieces :).
As a Lead FX you’re given a lot more responsibility. You have to manage a team of artists, develop tools and setups for the team to use, improve and refine the publishing processes (which means the way data is passed into other departments and how things can be rendered), and be available to help anyone that needs your technical support.
For me, FX / Simulation is a super interesting discipline, considering how it incorporates so many different skills including maths, physics, art and programming all of which help you to succeed in your job. Also, it’s an ever changing discipline which requires your dedication to be up-to-date with software and techniques, this makes it fun and never boring.
Regarding my favourite part of the job, I’d say it’s the people. Working alongside some outstanding minds is just incredible. Specifically about FX, I love volumetrics and destructions – explosions, fire, smoke…so cool :)!
What projects have you worked on? And what was your favourite?
Luckily along the years I’ve worked on some pretty epic films. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I is always in the back of my mind as the first film I worked on. Gravity is also very important, considering it was the first and only project I worked on that has won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects – I still remember how everyone at Framestore was ecstatic. Pacific Rim marks an important milestone in my career which was working at ILM. Edge Of Tomorrow and Guardians of the Galaxy were super fun and exciting films to have worked on, during my second term at Framestore. As my all-time favourites I’d say Avengers: Infinity War and Mortal Engines. The work I was given on those projects was incredible and the team was superb. My next project is currently unannounced but will be my 20th title and its hard to explain how excited I am to see it in cinemas. It’s a pretty special one to finalise with.
What are you working on at the minute?
The most recent project I finished is Mortal Engines. It’s another Peter Jackson’s creation so as you can all expect, it will be pretty epic.
How did you get into the industry and is there anything you would have done differently?
My answer won’t be very different from what I said initially but I studied industrial design and during those years I did some architectural visualisation courses and freelancing. Once I graduated, I found Escape Studios and I did the old school Maya Core and VFX course. My regrets are mainly regarding the math and programming skills. I should have invested a lot of time in those and I wasn’t aware how important they would become in the progression of my career.
What advice would you give to budding creatives?
Be confident and have a kickass showreel! Learn to accept and grow from criticism and don’t be afraid to speak up or ask anything. Be passionate about what you do and follow your dreams whilst always being professional. I believe the network of contacts will come naturally with time, however being an outgoing and an interesting person to hangout with, will for sure be half of the way.
Duarte Victorino studied the Maya Core and VFX course at Escape Studios and has since worked on films including Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Infinity War; he currently works as a Lead FX Technical Director at Weta Digital.