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The VFX Factor: Staying on Track with Minsang Lee

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Framestore LA’s nuke compositor on the importance of clear technical direction, the excitement of IMAX and missing colleagues

The VFX Factor: Staying on Track with Minsang Lee

Minsang Lee is a nuke compositor based at Framestore’s studio in Los Angeles. After joining as a compositing intern in 2017, he has since worked on advertising projects for household brands including Carfax, Chameleon Coffee, Expedia, Frito Lay, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and Wells Fargo. Lee is a graduate of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.


LBB> There are two ends to the VFX spectrum - the invisible post and the big, glossy 'VFX heavy' shots. What are the challenges that come with each of those?

Minsang> As an artist, I can sometimes focus too much on the details at the beginning stage of a project -- which is not necessarily helpful for posting. Clients expect direction or an outline of shots in the WIP post, not intricate details, so it’s always important for me to remind myself to set details as a low priority at that point in time. 

Heavy VFX shots require a lot of back and forth with the client up until delivery, so it’s vital to keep the script clean and neat, not only to stay on track but also to factor in the chance that someone else may end up taking over my shot (and vice versa). 


LBB> As a VFX person, what should directors be aware of to make sure you do the best possible job for them?

Minsang> Clear artistic and technical direction/feedback. 

  

LBB> VFX is a true craft in the classic sense of the word. Where did you learn your craft?

Minsang> 10% at school, 90% working at Framestore.


LBB> Think about the very, very start of a project. What is your process for that? Do you have a similar starting point for all projects?

Minsang> 

  1. I cross-check my tasks and due date to see if I can keep my weekends.
  2. I check in with my teammates. 
  3. I map out the rough methodology needed to undertake the task.


LBB> We imagine that one of the trickiest things with VFX is, time issues aside, deciding when a project is finished! How do you navigate that?

Minsang> Ultimately, I follow the calendar that our producers and crewing team put together and work up until the designated delivery date. 


LBB> Is there a piece of technology or software that's particularly exciting you in VFX? Why?

Minsang> IMAX. I will never forget my first experience watching Interstellar on IMAX. The massive screen size and spatial sound are simply impactful.  


LBB> Speaking of that, how have you navigated your role during Covid? Was there a big shift to remote? Tell us about your experience.

Minsang> Initially there were some tech issues, but they were quickly solved by our System team -- I always appreciate their help. After the early hurdles, I 100% adopted the new remote working lifestyle. I have found myself reaching out and communicating with people more than I used to do in the office. Plus, I really enjoy the time I’ve saved on commuting.  


LBB> Are there any lessons you've learned / experiences that you've had from working during Covid that you'll be looking to keep with you once things hopefully get back to some form of normality?

Minsang> I miss seeing my Framestore colleagues. I look forward one day to being able to say hello in person with love and passion because they are awesome teammates.   


LBB> How did you first get into the industry? What was your very first job in the industry and what were the biggest lessons that you learned at that time?

Minsang> I have always been inspired by first generation VFX movies like Terminator, Titanic and Starship Troopers (top secret: I still haven’t seen any episodes of Star Wars). Framestore’s compositing internship was my first chance to get into this industry. My first project was an NRJ Mobile commercial as a compositor. I had so much fun working on it and quickly realised how much I loved the job.    


LBB> What was your first creative milestone in the industry – the project you worked on that you were super proud of?

Minsang> I worked on 14 frames of my own shot for a Universal Studios Orlando commercial. One day, when I was at LAX airport returning from vacation, I missed one of my visa documents and was called into a security room to verify my identity.  Sitting in that room was scary, but all of sudden that very commercial popped up on the TV screen and I was overcome with pride.


LBB> From a VFX perspective, which ads have you seen recently that you've been particularly fond of and why?

Minsag> A Japanese Pocari Sweat commercial 2021. Beautiful visuals and background music. Initially I assumed it involved heavy VFX shots, but they actually shot the ad with a practical set. 


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Framestore - LA, Thu, 02 Sep 2021 11:40:04 GMT