Studio Insight: Working as a Junior Artist at Rising Sun Pictures
My name is Sheree Chuang talks and I would like to share with you my internship experience at Rising Sun Pictures in Adelaide, Australia.
The first day I had a very warm welcome from Human Resources (HR) and got to meet all my lighting teammates. My shots were not ready for me to work on yet, so I spent most of the week familiarising myself with Houdini, which I have never used before so it was quite intimidating. I also spent a lot of time getting used to publishing assets or shots to Shotgun.
I also attended a few dailies. It was really insightful and interesting to see how visual effects (VFX) supervisors and lighters interact with each other to give feedback.
At Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) we have a daily 10-minute meeting called ‘scrums’ every morning where we get to talk about what we are going to do for the day and update our leads on our progress.
I also had a one-on-one every week with my Lead Lighter to get personal feedback and talk about anything in general. I liked to use this time to get more insights on how RSP or the industry works.
”It was really eye-opening to see all the automated systems and how it travels down the pipeline with a click of a button.”
In my second week, I got some shots to work on! However before I dived into the shots, I had to understand a concept which I never learned at school. I was given a sequence that contained a number of shots. One of the shots in there is a master shot, and everything else was children shots. Master shot controls children shots, so if I have the same light and render settings I won’t have to recreate them per shot. I can also create renderAux or lightAux where it will only affect a specific shot.
After getting my head around that, I also familiarized myself with an in-house program called AutoShots, which helps delivers shots to the render farm. It was really eye-opening to see all the automated systems and how it travels down the pipeline with a click of a button, compared to when I was in school and had to import/export everything manually every time I had an updated texture or model.
I also got my first brief from the VFX supervisor on how I am to approach the shots! I was given some main points on how he wanted the shots to look, and then I had the creative freedom to make it look good.
In my third week, I realised I wasn’t just responsible for artistic lighting, I also had to diagnose errors coming from the automated systems and report back to the lighting TD or my lead. I also learned to communicate with artists from another department to solve issues such as missing shaders or assets errors. Communicating with my compositors had become very frequent as I hand over passes. It was really interesting to see the final assembly of my shots as it went through compositing.
A month in, I am starting to realize that ‘movie magic’ is real. Sometimes there are shots which you have to pretty much ‘fake it till you make it’. In the end, it’s all about the art and cinematics so in some shots, I had to break real life consistencies to make the shot look more interesting. For example putting in fake lights and reflection cards to lighten up certain areas or even passes which may actually contradict natural lighting.
“Tasks and concepts that intimidated me during the first few weeks have become a lot less daunting”
Further into my Internship, I started picking up more shots as deadlines were crunching closer. Not only was I just lighting and rendering, I had to anticipate the load on the render farm and carefully manage when I could get my shots back for review. I had to pay very close attention to my settings and ensure that I didn’t put anything wrong through the farm to avoid wasting resources.
Towards the end, it became a big blur to me as we approached the end of the show, and before I knew it I was coming to the end of my contract. Looking back now, tasks and concepts that intimidated me during the first few weeks have become a lot less daunting. The realisation is actually quite eye opening and comforting because I could never picture myself to be lighting complicated shots with confidence when I first stepped into the VFX industry.
Rising Sun Pictures has been a great place for me to grow as a new artist. The culture here is fantastic, we all work hard and put in 110% effort. I also love that even when it’s crunch time we still crack jokes and keep the atmosphere light and friendly. I look forward coming into work every day. I am really proud and humbled to have worked with so many fantastic artists. I have learned something valuable from every single person I interacted with and I can’t wait to use these skills on my next journey.