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Meet the Artist: Tim Davies


VFX supervisor and head of 2D at Big Buoy and Smoke & Mirrors on craft, VFX and his place in the industry

Meet the Artist: Tim Davies

Currently a VFX supervisor and head of 2D at Big Buoy and Smoke & Mirrors, Tim Davies started out in the industry as a VT operator and has tried his hand at just about every job in-between. From ‘hey, look at me!’ moments to the future of advertising, we caught up with Tim to discuss his opinions on craft, VFX and his place in the industry.

Q> Growing up, did you always want to be a Flame artist? Tell us a bit about how you got into the industry?

Tim> I was always good at computers, maths and sciences at school, but the idea of doing a degree in any of them made me feel sick! I loved art and music but wasn’t particularly academic in either so I made a nuisance of myself at the careers office where they eventually got me an interview at Ravensbourne College. That got me into Soho as a VT operator, then edit assistant, offline editor, paintbox artist, online editor, Henry artist, Flame artist, now VFX supervisor and head of 2D.

Q> Who or what are your inspirations?

Tim> It was fascinating to witness the early electronic VFX pioneers in action: seeing analogue cameras, vision mixers, telecines, tape decks all being abused in the name of creativity and leaving me with an indelible passion to think outside the box. Inspiration also comes from the images you have in front of you and the vision of a director who is willing you to see where you go with it. Music videos are a great source for ideas, when directors and artists really let loose, unrestrained and pack-shot free.

Q> Which jobs have you been working on recently, and are there any that have challenged you to work in new ways?

Tim> I recently had to create a 250ft cricket pavilion (circa 1888) for a Fosters ad, all entirely in Flame - something that just wasn’t possible a couple of years ago. We completed a couple of HDR jobs too, which is redefining how we work and we also just finished up a Lexus spot where the script was written entirely by AI. The future really is here… cue Terminator soundtrack…

Q> What are your favourite things to create?

Tim> As a Flame artist, I do a mix of the 'invisible' stuff and the 'hey, look at me' stuff. I really like the former, but it’s very difficult to shout about, because no one knows what you’ve done unless you spend another few days doing a VFX breakdown. My favourites are the big effects stuff that you can see, like the Pegasus, Medusa and Centaurs we created for Mitsubishi or the weird and crazy infinite zooms for Ady Suleiman’s 'So Lost' promo. I enjoy a challenge: give me a rough idea and a bag of random bits and pieces and I’m off! 

Q> What’s your favourite part of your job?

Tim> Being given an idea/shot/sequence and being able to take it to the next level. Flame has a massive toolset these days and it’s easy to throw lots of nodes and processes into the pipeline, but I get the most reward from keeping things lean and flexible, producing elegant solutions that I have pride in. Partaking in a couple of shandies with the team after successfully wrapping a big project is also a highlight!

Q> What advice would you offer to aspiring Flame artists trying to break through into the industry?

Tim> Always see things creatively. Even if you’re doing a pack shot, there’s always a way to make it better and more interesting. Try not to over complicate things - there’s nothing worse than not being able to maintain creative flexibility because you’ve built a setup the size of a small city which takes three days to render. Be open to comments and feedback: sometimes a second or third pair of eyes can be invaluable. Be experimental, maintain quality, never stop learning, have fun and don’t be too precious!

Tim Davies is VFX supervisor and head of 2D at Big Buoy and Smoke & Mirrors

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Genres: Visual VFX

Tag, Tue, 12 Feb 2019 15:27:25 GMT