Interview with

Erica Vigilante

Creature FX TD

Hi Erica and thank you for agreeing to tell us a bit about your life 🙂

 

1. Since 2014, you’re working in animation and vfx, what was your training course before?

I started my career path by choosing to graduate in artistic high school, although it was unpopular and very unapproved because considered without job opportunities.
I really did not have the clear idea of what I wanted to be when “I grew up”, (who knows at that age?) I chose the direction I most liked and where I felt more myself.
After finishing high school I studied at IED for three years, learning the most used softwares for computer graphics.
I worked a bit in Italy and then I convinced myself that if I really wanted to live my dream I would have to leave … and here I am!

Erica Vigilante

 

WEBSITE

2. How did you choose to be a Creature FX TD?

It was an unexpected revelation. I had no idea what a Creature FX TD was before turning into one myself.
The truth is that I was born as a Rigger TD, and I was employed in MPC with this role, because that was what I most liked to do.
Half luck, half they needed people, I changed department and became a Creature FX TD.
It was a thunderbolt, I fell in love and I do not want to change anymore 🙂

3. What, specifically, does your job consist of?

My department in terms of workflows, is positioned after Rigging and Animation, and before FX and Lighting.
As the name suggests, we work primarily on Creatures (hence not inanimate objects) and add physics, simulations, and details.
Specifically, a Creature FX TD must:
– Simulate muscles (add muscle dynamics)
– Simulate skin
– Solve problems in shots (arms intersecting the torso and so on)
– Shot sculpting (add details in shot)
– Simulate the clothes
– Simulate hair or hairs
– Automatize the workflow
The work is divided further between the team members, depending on each person’s abilities.

4. What is the workflow for a great project, for example a movie?

In CFX the workflow starts when there’s a first version of the character rig.
CFX artists have to start from this to create their own rigs (yes, yes, ours are rigs!).
The character development work will only cease when the cg supervisor will be happy with both rigs (the first from rigging and the second from cfx).
Once the rig is finalized, we start to work on shots.
Cfx becomes the direct customer of the animation department.
Only once the VFX Supervisor approves the animations and the cfx simulations, the shot is ready to be picked up from lighting and FX.

5. Which software are you using most often?

I use mainly Maya and the company’s proprietary tools.

6. Is your creativity or technique more important in your work?

Perhaps the organization is more important than either, and because CFX is halfway in the pipeline of a major production, a cfx artist must have the head straight on how the system works.
He needs to be able to interact well with other departments and set standards to work best.
Simulations-wise, because of their physics’ nature, I would say that creativity and technique go hand in hand. 🙂

7. Your work environment seems to be purely masculine, was it difficult for you?

Working in such a big business and with so many tools to learn is overwhelming at the beginning so it’s not a gender issue. I believe and I hope that people in our business, having this artistic side, are more open to treat everyone equally. So far no misogyny, girls step forward!

8. What does it mean to work abroad in a major production?

It means having your own parents telling EVERYONE (even the guy who’s walking down the street they’ve never seen before) of their little girl who became famous in the movies (which is absolutely false because we are not actors! -__-).
Aside from the jokes, it really means having the satisfaction of feeling accomplished, of being able to say: I wanted to do this and I did it.

9. Which project do you are more proud of?

The project I’m going to be most proud of is the one I’m working on now, Thor Ragnarok. It is for me the achievement of a lead position after only two and a half years of career in London, it is the opportunity to assert myself as a person and as an artist. In this movie I manage all the characters that will have muscle and skin simulations.

10. How will the computer graphics evolve according to you?

It will certainly be easier to have a precise idea of how the movie will be, directly on the set. The mocap and the VR will affect the future.

11. Do you want to give some advice to the girls who are investing in realizing themselves as artists in vfx?

Invest in what you really like to do, and in what you do best. Once you do this, do not be afraid to prove it to everyone. I will end with a sentence by Katherine Paterson: “A dream without a plan it’s just a wish” to which I add: Fight to achieve it!
Best of luck to everyone!