Josh Parks – Compositing Artist interview

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Josh Parks is a compositor currently at Bluebolt London, having previously worked for Industrial Light and Magic London, Double Negative and MPC. Josh also shares his knowledge with the VFX industry by teaching at universities and on his site www.compositingpro.com.

 

 


  • What are you working on at the moment and where can we find you? 

I’ve just got back to London after working at Important Looking Pirates in Stockholm, so I’m now back at Bluebolt working on some fun shows! As well as writing/teaching in the evenings at compositingpro.com

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  • Writing for the 3DWorld, Lecturer at Hertfordshire University as in many blog posts, I can see sharing knowledge is important to you. How do you see it after doing it for some time now?

Teaching is still incredibly enjoyable to me, I think it is a nice balance with compositing, which is generally more headphones on and focus on getting the shot looking good. I enjoy teaching for the same reason I enjoy compositing the problem-solving aspect of it. In regards to a pre-recorded tutorial, it’s the challenge of getting the viewer to understand a set of techniques as quickly and clear as possible so that they can start using them in their work straight away.

For the 1on1 training, I do it’s working out how to structure and word a course in order for the student to progress as quickly as possible. For instance one of my students is coder so understands certain aspects of compositing easier than others and is finding other areas trickier, whereas another of my students is great at the creative look stuff however struggles a little with the technical. So I love the challenge of getting them to where they want to be in the most efficient way,

  • Compositing Pro website is getting more followers and getting positive traction on the internet. How did you get the idea to start your compositing newsletter and training program?

So, I started the newsletter around 5 years ago, as I was following newsletters from other industries, designers etc and I thought it was crazy that there was nothing similar happening in VFX. I was at MPC at the time and people were sharing awesome articles with each other that others outside the company would find equally useful. So from there I started just making a list of cool stuff that I found and sending a newsletter out when I had enough cool stuff worth sharing. I now stick to one a month and the newsletter reaches compositors all around the world.

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In regards to the training I started teaching online, and realised that I only have x amount of hours I can teach after work, and was also getting frustrated by the amount of tutorials that where teaching things wrong, as well as dragging out topics to fill 8-20 hours worth of video so that they can justify a higher price, even though the amount of content is very little.  

So in order to scratch my own itch, I decided to make tutorials that would be straight to the point and explained in a simple thought out manner. Richard Feynman is a big hero of mine and he was great at explaining complicated physics in a way that anyone can understand. So my goal is to do the same with VFX topics. With the 1 on 1 training, I started due to a frustration of courses being the same for everyone, they weren’t dynamic so even if you were ahead you’d still have to work through each week of the course, it couldn’t change to best fit your current knowledge and the way you learn best. So far I’ve taught on set VFX supervisors, to artists wanting to move up, as well as people starting out with Nuke. All of them need a different course to give them what they need.

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  • Internet and social media presence are important for a freelancer. How do you approach it and do you have any rules or guides for managing freelance career using the internet?

Hmm, I don’t really have any rules, I generally reply to emails and linked messages in a batch and that’s about it.

  • Which part of compositing career do you enjoy the most and does it get tiring or boring after many shows and projects?  

Hmm, I definitely think that burnout is real and I can understand people getting bored of particular projects, this is part of the reason I like to teach and write alongside compositing as it keeps me enthusiastic about each other thing. One of the reasons for me heading to Bluebolt is due to me wanting to try out tv shows after being a little tired of film narratives. The part I enjoy the most is the problem solving with smart people as well as the real mix of nationalities within the industry.

  • Describe your view on the state of the industry at the moment?

I think the industry is doing fine, obviously, this is the view of me as a compositor and not as a VFX house owner. There seems to be an influx of work due to the number of tv shows being made which has added a great boost to the industry and if the pound drops due to Brexit that will probably encourage more work to be pushed to the UK.

  • Machine learning is getting deeper into the VFX these days, do you see it as just another additional tool or danger for a VFX artist? How do you see a VFX artist in the new brave world of VFX?

I think machine learning will be used, however, it’s very hard to algorithm something that is subjective, I think the jobs most at risk are the ones where the work is either done or not. No one can give a completely confident view of the future as no one knows, however, I think the best thing to do is look to the past when technology improved. For instance the technology in VFX has got better, certain aspects are way easier than they were 20 years ago, however, I’d say that there are more jobs within the VFX industry now than there were then. This isn’t to say that this will continue on, however, it’s not as clear as when technology gets better VFX jobs drop.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
  • How do you see yourself in the next five years? Where would you like to be as a professional?

In regards to where I see myself in five years, I’m not quite sure, haha this is actually a question I’m trying to answer right now, as there are a few different routes. The first is continuing to progress through the industry, the second is to start freelancing more and travelling the world, third is work more on my teaching stuff and the fourth is what I’m doing at the moment and a mash-up of all 3. As long as I’m still enjoying what I’m doing and working on interesting problems in 5 years time then I’ll be happy.

  • What is a less known fact about you that we dare to share with us? 🙂

Hmm, I’m a big dota 2 fan, and generally, watch most of the tournaments!

  • You had many talks and wrote many articles about what would be the fastest way to get into and succeed in the VFX industry. How do you see this topic in this stage of life, what would be your recommendation to start?

So the talk I gave on this subject came about due to the number of university visits I’ve done. When visiting a uni you can basically know who will go on into the industry in a week of teaching a class. Attitude is the biggest thing that determines this as well as grit, which is the ability to not give up easily. The biggest idea I’m thinking about at the moment is how to get people to absorb the information within a tutorial, as I speak with lots of students who have seen every tutorial on there chosen topic, however when asked about the topics within the tutorial they don’t understand them. Many people just watch the tutorial without focus.

My recommendation would be to do some free tutorials on the topic, now it’s probably going to be really frustrating at first, so the thing you’re testing here is do you enjoy it enough to push through those frustrations. If you do then the next thing to ask is whether you’d like help along the way and how much you’d like. For instance, is posting on a forum enough? Or do you need a more guided course. It’s a different answer depending on what kind of person you are.

 

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