We are proud today to share with you this interview with the FX Artist /FX Supervisor and co-owner of the studio “Delicate Machines“, Joël LeLièvre. Joël’s works features movie like Tron Legacy, Transformers 3, Sin City or Chronicles of Narnia and also a lot of impressive commercials.
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Hi Joël. Could you describe your background in the CG Industry ?
I started in the CG industry back in 2001. I was hired as lead lighter on a television show for kids, here in Canada. That led to me eventually getting a gig out in San Francisco working for The Orphanage, doing VFX for films like Hellboy, Day After Tomorrow, and Sin City. After a few years of traveling around, my path eventually led me back home to the east coast of Canada where I now live and work.
Have you ever faced some difficulties in your career ?
I tend to look at my career from two perspectives. When working at a big studio, the list of available resources you have access to is amazing. You usually have a highly skilled and talented team you are working with; artists that you can work with and learn from, producers and supervisors who can give you advice and guidance when working on a shot. Also it is very rare that you are dealing with the client directly, which can be nice because it can lessen the stresses involved in completing a shot or effect. You also have access to faster and more abundant hardware; more computers for rendering, more RAM for doing intense simulations. Working in the studio environment is an amazing experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone. It’s a great way to learn, meet new people, and gain invaluable experience.
Now that I am more of a freelancer, and tend to work on my own a lot, the biggest difficulties I encounter, are time and client management. When a job comes in, I have to assess the clients wants and needs, devise some sort of budget that makes them happy, but makes it worth my while in the end, and I also have to look ahead and try to foresee any obstacles that may present themselves down the line. This is where working in studios and gaining experience comes in handy. Generally I have a good idea of how long it will take me to complete a certain project; I tend to budget in some extra time to cover any delays on my end. But more often than not, there will be a change at the last minute that wasn’t planned for, or the director will want to add something new to a shot that he or she thinks will make it better. This is the situation where it can be tough to be a freelancer. No longer do I have a producer, or supervisor who is looking out for me, and who is willing to talk to the director to work out a solution. Also from time to time because I am one creating the visuals, I tend to be subjective when a director or producer criticizes my work. It can hard to be objective and look at the project through the director’s eyes sometimes, so this is something I find difficult at times. In a studio, it is easy, and sometimes fun to have heated, yet artistic discussion with your supervisor. It is not in good business practice to have a heated discussion with the person who is signing your cheque at the end of the week.
Going freelance can be tough, but it is very rewarding. Choosing the projects you want to work on, choosing the people you would like to work with are both great benefits to working for yourself. It will be difficult to getting started, but once the ball is rolling it’s pretty sweet.