Profile: Jamie Wood - Head of 2D


Jamie Wood is NVIZ’s Head of 2D, he’s also a VFX Supervisor with years of experience in some of the best known VFX studios in the world, such as Industrial Light and Magic, Cinesite and Animal Logic, in his native Australia.  As well as planning better ways to improve communication, building pipelines and worrying about his team, Jamie also travels for long periods of time while on set.  We wanted to catch up with him, and find out more. 

What did you study?

I had a fairly unconventional journey into VFX.  I studied business at college, but I was also in a rock and roll band, toured for years, just four band members and a sound guy in the back of a truck in Australia.  That’s actually how I got into business studies. I decided to study business and marketing to help the band, it was really useful to have a real world thing to apply it to.

Later, I used the business degree to work and got a role as a marketing coordinator in a VFX company.  That’s where I got the visual effects bug.  It was an award winning visual effects company where everyone got stuck in. I was doing Marketing and PR, but I was also in the tape room, dubbing and creating mini showreels to send to clients.

What was your path into the industry?

I went off to join Fuel International as a Junior Compositor / VFX Editor, where I would ingest all the material, prepare dailies and run the projection room.  I’d also run the machine room and was in charge of data I/O.  I took on lots of roles, as it was a start up and we all had to innovate. 

My first couple of years running dailies while at Fuel, meant that I heard every conversation between the client and supervisors.  That kind of exposure helps you develop an intuition about how to present material in the most effective way. I was always interested in compositing, having done loads of Photoshopping for the band, so I got more interested while I was there and learnt some basic After Effects and some roto skills. 

All the experience, working in marketing, production and editorial gave me a real insight into the world of schedules and budgets that really helped me to focus as a compositor.  It’s a very time pressured role and you have to embrace that. During this time I also learned how to see the world as the lens sees it.  I wasn't allowed to touch a proper composite until I’d been doing roto / prep for four years and by then you can paint your way out of anything.  You need that time practising your craft, roto-scoping, tracking and then once you’ve put in the time you get to focus on the fun stuff.

NVIZ Annihilation

Annihilation © Paramount Pictures Corp. All Rights Reserved

What’s a typical day for you?

It’s a mix of creative, technical, people and production.  Usually I turn up and whatever I’ve planned that day completely changes, and I have to tackle the issue that has come to  the forefront that day first and prioritise accordingly.

My first priority is usually to do with a person having a problem to solve - either a client or artist.

My second level concern is is it going to cost the company or client time?  Is someone about to go down the wrong path, is the brief correct or is there a more efficient way of doing it?

Then I get to move into the creative side, working on look dev, stills, shots and then also bidding, pitching, working on pipelines.

I”ve never had two days the same. In Budapest while supervising The Bride, I was on set all day, then going back to the hotel room to download the material to the team, answer questions, give updates etc.  You end up wearing several hats; Head of 2D, VFX supervisor for NVIZ, and also VFX Supervising on the production side.

Who’s your favourite filmmaker/visual artist? Why?

I love Wes Anderson Films, there’s something really relaxing about the pace of watching something like Fantastic Mr Fox! Great on a lazy Sunday.  I also love the quirkiness of a  Michel Gondry music video.  

Recently I really enjoyed Dune and watching Sing 2 with my kids and always like a good classic Steven Speilberg or David Fincher movie.  But I find myself looking at things from a more technical point of view these days to the chagrin of my wife!

What’s your latest project?

I was VFX Supervisor on Peter Kosminsky’s The Undeclared War, streaming on All 4.

What is the most important recent development in VFX

Probably the biggest change recently has been the advent of remote working. We’ve had to work very hard on making this feel as seamless as possible while keeping crew morale high and not losing sight of each other.

Another big thing coming will be the increase in the use of A.I. The tools available now, that were unthinkable 2 years ago, are stunning. Imagine where we’ll be in 10 years.

What’s your work highpoint/achievement/proudest moment?

Careerwise, that would be having one of the shots I worked on become a cover on Cinefex. It was the first ever stereoscopic warp drive on Star Trek.  I was on it for about 8 months at ILM in Singapore.  I remember leaving it to render overnight after I’d spent the whole day getting it right., When we got in the next morning the crew gathered at my desk and we all got to see the Enterprise doing warp drive in stereo. That was a fun day!

What’s special about NVIZ?

I really like the people.  We work across a lot of different parts of the process at NVIZ and the ability to share skills is really helpful; VFX tapping into Previs and vice versa. It lends to a creativity that you might miss out on in other companies, and we’re still small enough that we all talk to each other, so that magic can happen!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received, or would like to give to aspiring visual artists?

See the world as a lens would see it.

Now you know all about Jamie, watch The Undeclared War VFX Breakdown: