Multitalented and highly motivated Spanish filmmaker and visual effects artist Victor Perez has unquestionably been a busy guy. If he’s not working with his specialty, digital compositing for top Blockbuster films like The Dark Knight Rises or Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, he’s off producing his own films or graciously lending his expertise as a certified Nuke trainer and mentor in courses online and in-person.
He’s tutorials are best-sellers like the Color Master for Nuke Compositors published by CMIVFX and his most recent short film Another Love has been honored with the Award of Excellence Special Mention: Film Short at the Accolade Film Competition.
Yet he really shines in the niche world of digital compositing, work that he says can go unnoticed “compositing is one of those disciplines where it’s not meant to be seen, and when somebody points it out it’s because it hasn’t been done correctly,” said Perez.
Compositing, though mostly unseen, is such an important element in film post-production because it enables a filmmaker’s wildest imagination to come to life on-screen. VFX are not effective unless they “make you believe what you see is real,” said Perez.
As VFX technology advances Perez looks forward to bringing to life more human figures with computer graphics. This would open up the storytelling capacity of film even further “we are seeking to reproduce believable human beings completely generated in computer graphics. We are getting really close but the human brain is still smarter than CG,” said Perez.
The Dark Knight Rises
We picked Victor’s brain about his workflow, trends in the VFX industry and what the future may hold for budding special effects artists.
You’re known for your VFX contribution in Blockbuster films like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), tell us a little about what goes into working on such huge projects at major visual effects houses such as Cinesite and Double Negative?
Working with big VFX houses such as Double Negative or Cinesite gives me the opportunity to push the boundaries of my own knowledge together with the actual boundaries of technique and technology worldwide in the VFX industry. It’s great to work with such great minds, learn from them, share with them and create something great together.
The key point of working in big teams is you can focus in very specialized tasks and develop “new ways” of creating the film magic.
I always take a project if it will bring me something new to learn and I believe I could collaborate to make it look great. On the other hand the amount of pressure in a big project is proportional to the expectations the audience have so it forces you to be extremely efficient if you want to deliver over-the-top results and don’t get lost in the production chain. We produce art in an industrial way.
What specific visual effects/compositing did you do in those films? What is it like collaborating with so many people for a Blockbuster movie?
My specialty is Digital Compositing, which is the art of mixing visual elements together– such as computer generated images (CG) or digital matte paintings, or green screen footage– and make them seem they have been shot with the same camera and lenses, under the same lights and at the same time. In other words make you believe what you see is real.
The downside of my job is that when it’s well done nobody notices it, the compositing is one of those disciplines where it’s not meant to be seen, and when somebody points it out it’s because it hasn’t been done correctly.
But I’m proud to be a “ninja” of VFX, I enjoy doing my job, the result it’s just a consequence, for me it’s more important the process.
About working with so many people, in my opinion is great, because we are all doing something together, with the same aim, tell a story and make it look right. Everybody brings their best and it’s a great opportunity to share, discuss, learn and grown as an artist. I prefer this rather than working alone in a self-feeding loop.
Another key part of art is to share, in all disciplines. Your style develops from the exchange with other artists, even those you don’t share their point of view, or from their errors and failures. This is a social industry.
Do you have tips for someone just starting in the visual effects industry? What are some tools that could help them become a better artist?
The best piece of advice is to work, and keep working on new challenges, and try every excuse to get experience. You need to demonstrate you know the craft with a good show reel, a demo of what you know. It doesn’t matter the size of the project, deliver your very best and one day you’ll find yourself working on the film of your dreams. For me is easy to keep working because I love my job, so if you love it like me, believe me, it’s just a matter of time until you make it. Never stop learning, that’s the most beautiful part.
Perez with his students teaching a Nuke class.
How do you collaborate with others’ in your team when you’re traveling all over the world?
I use LookAt.io for many different things, of course to discuss editing or VFX designs, as I travel a lot, I’m not always able to show my videos for review to my collaborators or clients. It’s great for showing first versions or look development. It’s great to have a commenting tool and a drawing option so everybody can express clear comments in a visual way instead of just writing and try to describe it, you avoid a lot of mistakes and misunderstandings.
It’s great and easy to setup. Especially for independent film makers. I would say give it a try and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Film making is a collective piece of art, the more and better communication the more accurate is the result.
What are some trends that you see happening in film post-production in terms of visual effects?
I can speak for my field of expertise, as the VFX industry is so vast there are so many things going on. In general I feel like we are seeking to reproduce believable human beings completely generated in computer graphics…we are getting really close but the human brain is still smarter than CG. In terms of digital compositing something that would change the industry as we know it.
Deep Image Compositing as it’s simplifying things a lot for artist in order to focus more in the art and less in the technicalities, but we still have a problem handling Deep Image files, they are so massive not everybody could afford this technology, but I know researchers are working to reduce file sizes, and they are getting closer.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
There have been so many tech advancements in 2015, what do you predict will be some trends in 2016 for post-production in film and video?
Well, it’s clear there is an exploding trending in 360 degrees immersive technology for both recording and playback/experience. With this technology stories every day are becoming closer to the ominous point of view, like in the videogame experience. But for me it’s something which runs in parallel with the “movie” business. It’s something new, half way between video games and film. We still need to wait for someone smart enough to use all the potential of this new technology to tell a new kind of stories.
I see it like the first movies in film history when the Lumiere brothers where showing “postcards” in movement from around the world to see the unseen, or the train coming to the station where people where running out of the cinema thinking the train was going to come out of the screen.
It took several years from the invention of “cinema” before someone was crafting the rules of visual storytelling in film. It’s still early. Definitively it will bring a new way of telling stories and know-how to tell them, new technology requires new techniques.
I don’t see this as change, I see it as an implementations of the existing tech.
(Photo: Brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere, were the first filmmakers in history and patented the cinematograph.)
-Contessa Abono, LookAt.io Correspondent
Check out Victor’s online classes here:
Best Seller “Color Master for Nuke Compositors” published by CMIVFX.
Author of the VKeyer Technique published on Nukepeida.com
Head of Nuke Training at VFX Learning. See his demo reel:
Connect with Victor: