Arina A. (She/They)
In your own words, tell us a little bit about your role and what you do here at the studio.
I am a part of the Tech Art and VFX team at ILMxLAB. Our main focus is to immerse people in a world and story through creating VFX that look as realistic as possible. I am so glad I was able to work as a Junior VFX artist on Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition. The new PlayStation VR2 system has amazing performance and quality, so it allowed me to create a lot more VFX throughout and make the scenes even more beautiful overall.
In addition to getting a degree in 3D Animation and VFX, you also got one in Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology. What drew you to both of those, and what led to your decision to work in this industry today?
I see art and science as equally important fields that are pushing each other on the path of progress, so I struggled a lot when I was choosing between them. I was interested in medicine and allowed myself to try it, but I couldn’t bear any deaths, and I quickly became depressed and decided to explore animation. The art of visual effects combines all my interests together – it is very technical, very scientific, and very artistic work. I am absolutely happy with my decision and I have never felt so fulfilled in my life.
Where does VFX land in the development pipeline? How do you work with the other disciplines?
We step in almost at the end of production. I would say that our work almost concludes the visual of the project. Sometimes, we don’t have too much performance left for us to use, but we try our best to fill the scenes with the best performant effects as possible. We are strongly connected with the Tech Art team, the environment team, and the performance, lighting and animation teams. We also sometimes need some help from design and engineering.
Does VFX work in real-time rendered experiences differ from traditional, pre-rendered VFX? How so?
It depends. In some projects, we do not have enough performance to render everything in real-time, because of the high quality visuals that the project might need. For example, with 4k projects, we would tend to use pre-rendered effects. Real-time rendering is quick, and you can see the changes almost immediately, which is incredibly helpful and makes us, as artists, much more productive. It can sometimes be a struggle to make even the smallest adjustments, because it might take forever before you see the results.
With Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition releasing, what are you the most excited for people to see that you were able to do on the project?
I hope that people who have never played any VR game or experience would be glad to experience it, and those who have played it on Meta Quest will be able to see all the work that our team put in for this version. I am especially proud of Tara’s fight when the barrels are blowing up, and the bridge destruction VFX that happened after the poor creature Ayuu was affected by an electric helmet. I am so excited to see how people will react when they see how epic each story finale is.
What’s your favorite part about being at the studio? Is there anything in particular that makes you excited to come into work each week?
Our teammates are so sweet and I love our work environment. Everyone is friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. I also love the tasks because they are never boring, as well as the extra classes for Photography, Cinematography, Unreal, and Houdini. I feel like I am constantly learning, which is the most amazing opportunity because all our tools are always evolving and it helps to keep your skillset up to date.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever gotten?
I am a big perfectionist and a single player. That is why I have a “Big 3” that I tell myself every single day:
- Don’t be afraid to make a mistake.
- Try stuff and continue trying (all things are difficult before they are easy).
- Sometimes you might not know something and you should not be afraid to ask. You literally cannot know everything, or sometimes you just forget something. There is no shame in asking.
For someone interested in a similar career, is there a program or class that you’d recommend taking, or a skill they should learn?
I love SideFX tutorials for Houdini and Epic Games tutorials for Unreal Engine. For Houdini FX and a bit of Unreal Engine, I would recommend Rebelway, Entagma and CGcircuit. For Unreal Engine, I recommend watching a lot of different YouTube videos.
What’s your favorite Star Wars movie or TV show?
The Mandalorian (Grogu made it for me)
What do you like to do on your days off?
Go outside to see some daylight (hiking, traveling)
What’s your favorite movie genre?
Where’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
Scandinavia and Finland
If you can meet any character in AR, who would it be?