Interview With Jack Kilyan, Roto/Paint Lead at Framestore London

Interview With Jack Kilyan, Roto/Paint Lead at Framestore London

Intro and history

Hi! I’m Jack and I’m a Lead Paint and Roto Artist at Framestore. I’ve been here for 3 years now, and started as a runner. Previously to that I studied Visual Effects at Staffordshire University between 2012 and 2015.

2- What Inspired you to step into VFX?
I’ve always been interested in art and when I was at school it was definitely my favorite subject. I started off with learning some Game Design and Concept Art but over time that evolved into Visual Effects. What I love with Visual Effects is having both a creative and technical side to it, making it both creatively fulfilling but also fun to problem solve! 

Christmas decorations at Framestore London

3- challenges and experiences in your early years, and would you like to share some of your memories of your favorite shows?

The biggest challenge in the early years was definitely just getting a foot in the door of a company and getting any experience! I spent a year and a half after graduating trying to get jobs in a company, I ended up joining Framestore as a runner and never looked back! One of my favorite shows to work on was Detective Pikachu, where my Lead at the time and also Head of Department gave me the opportunity to take on some more responsibility and QC work as well as take on some more Lead level roles. It was a fantastic team of people who are some of my best friends as well as fantastic colleagues! I also look fondly back on Thor: Raganrok as this was the first project I got to contribute to and it was a very large and great team. We turned over a lot of shots in a short space of time!

Framestore London paint and roto team

4- resources they had when they started  
 When I started I had just my own personal computer and relied on student and non-commercial versions of the software. There are a lot of fantastic video resources now online so it’s really easy to get access to professional information easily. I was also lucky in that when I joined Framestore as a runner that they really focus on training and building up their employees so I had the chance to be mentored in Paint and Roto and get taught directly the skills required. 

5- what are the role of Rotoscoping and perp in VFX
Roto and Prep (or Paint) is a vital part of the pipeline, not only to get plates ready and prepare things for comp, but also set up degrain profiles and stitch HDRI’s for the lighting department. Over the years I’ve done tasks such as simple environment roto for CG integration all the way to rebuilding most of a plate from scratch as well as some junior comp tasks. It’s a very wide set of skills and tasks we’re required to do.  

Framestore Softball team – fun sports league representing the company

6- how can one become a roto/prep artist?
Most likely people looking to join as a Roto/Prep/Paint artist would want to one day end up as a compositor. Having a really strong set of fundamentals is vital. It’s necessary to have a strong working knowledge of Nuke, Mocha and also Silhouette. For someone wanting to join as a junior, I’d recommend a reel showing various finished Roto shots including both organic and more static objects, full-body roto, including hair details. As well as some marker removal / basic paint out of objects with before/afters. Quality and matching the plate is really the priority over quantity. Matching the color/motion blur/details/grain are all really important.

7- what’s are the typical task or job of a prep artists
Typical tasks include basic Roto of objects/people/sets for CG or DMP integration, for example setting a CG character behind a person in the plate, etc. As well as removing markers, removing stuffies, artifact removal from retiming shots, generally removing anything from the plate which we don’t want in the final composite of the image. 

8- importance and challenges in Roto and prep
As I mentioned previously, it’s a vital part of the pipeline where a lot of other departments rely on our work to get started. Even though most of the time our work is completely invisible in the final comp, without it we wouldn’t be able to get the final result desired. It can be challenging to work in prep when we’re near the start of the pipeline and creative decisions haven’t been finalized yet, it’s not uncommon for us to have to change our briefs and work based on decisions made later down the line.

9- growth in Roto and prep
Roto and Prep is a fantastic department to grow in. You have the ability to go from a junior to a senior level quite quickly if you are willing to take on challenges and always learn. Even at a Lead level we are constantly learning and finding new techniques and ways to solve a problem. Again with such a wide set of skills needed and tasks we can be assigned, there is always more to learn!

10- scope and opportunities with roto and prep in VFX

There are a lot of opportunities with the Prep department, for juniors the focus is mostly on getting solid Roto skills as well as stitching HDRI’s for the lighting department. But this leads into more Mid and Senior level Paint tasks as time goes on, with the ability to work directly with a compositor on a shot delivering them exactly what they need to get the shot to work. Having these strong Paint and Roto skills are essential for moving into Compositing and will overall make you a strong artist with desirable skills! 

11-the future of roto and prep will it be AI originated or will it evolve?
I think as we move forward we may be able to automate some of our pipelines more with AI. However, as is the nature of VFX sometimes we need to turn around shots in a short space of time, or the client can change the brief last minute. Therefore I think there will always be a need for strong manual skills to achieve the desired results. 

12- How can a roto/prep artist can apply for jobs in foreign countries and what do companies expect from artists?
I think the biggest thing for companies when looking at artists from other countries is having their visa organized already. I know that having a visa already in place is a huge bonus for a company and makes the artist a very attractive asset. Other than that the same applies for foreign applicants as local, a strong reel is the main priority. Being able to prove they have the skills and abilities to complete a shot, as well as the mindset on how they work around a difficult problem. The biggest part of our job is problem-solving so being able to show that is great! 

 Framestore London

13- how Brexit will affect VFX industry in London?

Unfortunately Brexit I think might have a negative effect on VFX in London. A large part of the crew in all the companies are from the EU so making it harder for companies to employ people from the EU is really a shame. I am hopeful that there will always be a strong set of houses within London and that a lot of the work will stay here, and hope that Brexit will have a minimal effect as possible. 


14- advice /tips to Young artists how they can grow fast and be more efficient

To all young and aspiring artists, I think the main thing to focus on is quality. It doesn’t matter how fast you achieve a result to start with, its best to make sure its 100% correct and the best it can be. Over time with experience speed will increase as will learning different techniques to be more efficient. There are always new techniques and things to learn, so to approach each challenge with a positive attitude and an open mind is key.

Framestore London artists/leads

 Jack latest Roto and Paint VFX Showreel reel

Vfxexpress prabu – Thank you Jack

Jack – Thank you prabu

2 thoughts on “Interview With Jack Kilyan, Roto/Paint Lead at Framestore London

  1. Hi Jack,
    It’s really great that you share the things that really help full for roto, paint and prep. I already worked on many projects of framestore. I am working in anibrain studio. I had great experience working on vfx projects. It’s wonderful to work on framestore to. Thanks

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