Impossible VFX Problems Need Stubborn Determination. And Dorkiness

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Get to know Kyle Obley, head of 2D at Glassworks Amsterdam
Impossible VFX Problems Need Stubborn Determination. And Dorkiness
Inspired by Jurassic Park, Glasswork Amsterdam’s head of 2D Kyle Obley has a passion for making the impossible possible and a stubborn determination to find ways to solve seemingly unsolvable problems. We sat down for a chat with Kyle about his creative philosophy.

Q> What drives you creatively to put all those crazy hours into what you do?

Kyle> It’s probably more stubbornness and being a bit OCD to be honest. I’m always determined to find the best solution for the problem and then execute it to the best of my ability and I don’t give up until I’m satisfied. Sometimes the problems are more creative and other times they’re more technical. Often the two go hand in hand. 

Take Nike and FC Barcelona for example and the construct of the grid. Whilst on a technical level everything was laid on the timeline and had to be done in a very meticulous way to be able to easily adjust, reposition and update comps very quickly, there was also a creative element to it. First, we had to come up with a language that made sense to be able to have different levels of complexity within the grid. Secondly, some of the sequences required a lot of design consideration, in particular ’the monster’ where we combined imagery of numerous Barcelona locals along with key FCB players to create a single abstract portrait. 

Both types of challenges are equally exciting and rewarding. It’s a great feeling to see the look on a client’s face when you’ve solved something they didn’t think could work or, better yet, when you give them the creative look they wanted but couldn’t quite find the words to explain. Regardless, it’s the daily challenge and constant experimentation that excites me.


Q> What makes you happy at work?

Kyle> I’m fortunate to work with a pretty amazing group of people so that’s always a great way to start the day. As for work itself, I enjoy the process of helping directors, creatives, etc. realise their vision, particularly if we can be involved early on. When we have that opportunity you really feel that you’re more a part of the creative process than normal. 

On a dorky note, I love playing with new software or features in Flame. Sometimes you can feel like a kid in a candy store figuring how how to use the new tools but, more interestingly, use them in ways that they weren’t designed for which often results in some crazy imagery. Take for example, the new motion vector tracking in Flame. Sometimes after you’ve analysed an image it gets it completely wrong but the result of that ends up being something quite abstract and cool. I can’t wait to find a use for this unique look on a project. 


Q> Why are you still so dedicated to the craft? What stops you from becoming jaded?

Kyle> Because I still love to make the impossible possible. Like many people in our field that are my age, Jurassic Park blew my mind. The idea that you could create something so realistic with a computer, something that no one has ever seen before excited me so much. From then on I got my hands on as much information as I could and never stopped. While I’m aware that we’re not working on projects of such scale, the root is still there. We’re always bringing something impossible to life, from 3D characters to production, having the worst luck where nothing goes as planned and us having to save the day. No day is like the one before it and it’s a constant learning experience.


Q> What do you love about what you do?

Kyle> Beyond what’s mentioned above, I also love to share my love and knowledge of visual effects with the younger generation. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing your juniors rapidly taking on ever increasingly difficult tasks. Turn around for one second and they’ve gone from a runner to running their own sessions. It’s truly remarkable.


Q> How do you make time for this when you're so busy? What's the key to making sure you're giving junior colleagues opportunities to grow?

Kyle> It's understandably difficult to be able to carve out time of everyday, however we have multiple Flames set up side-by-side in the suites so we can have juniors work alongside seniors. This has proven to be invaluable. It’s nice being able to see them work and correct things if we see something and they get to see how we work as well as interact with clients, which is a critical. An added benefit of this is our clients get comfortable and interact with them at a much earlier stage. The result is, when we're presented with a simpler project we can offer up the juniors to run that project far earlier than would have been done in the past. Of course it's not only the juniors who benefit. Personally I find their enthusiasm to be quite infectious, I'm always amazed at the references that they find and share from places I don’t even know how they find. It's inspiring to be around.  


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Genres: Visual VFX

Glassworks Amsterdam, 11 months ago