Profile: Moti Biran - VFX Supervisor


VFX Supervisor, Moti Biran, has been part of the NVIZ team since 2009, when he joined as a Digital Compositor.  Moti embodies the spirit of NVIZ - confident, competent and lots of fun!  We asked him to tell us what a typical day is like as a VFX Supervisor and what got him interested in the world of VFX.

What do you do?

I am a Visual Effects Supervisor, which makes me the point of contact for the clients for anything creative that needs doing on a show.  I help clients realise their vision and shape it from an idea to the final pixels on the screen.  I oversee the creative aspect of the VFX work we are producing on the show and help steer it in an efficient way, making sure that our work is done to the highest standard.  Apart from that I also wear the hat of the Studio 2D Lead, which means that I also help our Head of 2D, Jamie Wood, to integrate and refine our 2D pipe.

What did you study?

Since childhood I have been an avid photographer lugging around my camera everywhere with me all the time.  That taught me about lenses, perspective, and light.  After finishing my army service, I studied filmmaking at Tel-Aviv University, and later, after moving to London, attended a three months composting course at Escape Studios which gave me a firm understanding of the core concepts of compositing.  If I had a chance to change anything, more art classes would definitely be high, if not first, on my list.

What was your path into the industry?

After finishing at Escape studios I applied for a roto/prep position at Cinesite for The Clash of The Titans film, and luckily got the role and my foot in the door.

What’s a typical day for you? 

My day starts with my kids jumping on my head at 5:30 am.  After I deposit them at our local educational establishment, I rush back home and log in to my office computer for a first look at the status of all the current shots in progress on the show I'm supervising.  After that, we have a short morning call with the show's production staff, to plan the day and check that all is going according to plan, and if not, find solutions to the problem.  Some days I join a dailies session, in which I review the work of our talented artists after they have been approved by the 2D Supe.  If needed, I guide them through the brief on any new shots that need to have work scheduled for.

On days that we have a review with the clients, we present all the work that was done since the last review, discuss notes, and plan for future shots.  Occasionally I am requested to come up with a look for a shot or a sequence, so some days are allocated for me to sit down and to translate the brief into an image using the tools at our disposal. Most of every day is spent answering questions from the various departments about the specific show I'm in charge of.  Some of my time is allocated to setting up the pipeline for new shows that enter the building, making sure they are set up according to the client's specifications, and if there is time left, I liaise with our Head of 2D to discuss any plans or changes in our 2D pipeline.

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

It’s very hard to pinpoint one favourite artist but as a kid, I used to love Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick's work, which I think was what got me into studying filmmaking at uni.  I find the compositions in Peter Greenaway's films mesmerising, and I really like the cinematography of Roger Deakins.  Works by Michel Gondry and, funnily enough, the painter Rene Magritte, got me interested in the compositing side of filmmaking.

Is there a show you are working on right now that you can talk about?

I am currently working on the Netflix film adaptation of Luther, based on the TV series of the same name.

Are you exploring any new workflows, production, personally and company-wide?

I’m really interested in how AI has evolved over the last couple of years, and how it can help us streamline some aspects of the VFX creation process; be it shortening the time in which simple layouts can be made, through creating rough matte paintings, or to some aspects of final pixel work as well.

What do you think is the most important development in VFX recently?

The use of game engines capable of rendering in real time has been progressing in leaps and bounds, that is a huge help for certain aspect of VFX work, from pre-visualisation through on set backgrounds and a fast turnaround on post visualisation projects, to a not too distant future of it being used in the final pixel stages of visual effects.

What do you think the future of VFX will look like?

AI combined with real-time rendering is the belle de jour of the VFX community, so I think that will get a big push in the immediate future.

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

I’ve supervised several shows over the last several years, but one of the most enjoyable moments was on the second project I ever worked on at NVIZ - a shot on a Bond film. It was a bit like a mini on-set private production taking the shot from bare bones to final.  It meant walking through central London trying to shoot a still of a certain type of building, with a certain type of architecture, bringing it into the system, creating the 3D environment to place it in, and adding some elaborate realistic reflections. It turned out pretty good! It was a simple shot but the fact that I have gone and procured the elements, and had a kind of mini adventure with it still lingers with me to this day.

What’s special about NVIZ?

NVIZ is like a second home to me and the team feels like a second family, a family that has your well-being at the top of its priorities, a family that will encourage you to go and achieve what you dream of.

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

Study art and photography. We are trying to recreate something that was originally shot through a lens and should usually look realistic. A knowledge of perspective and how a photo is created is essential in compositing a realistic and convincing VFX shot.