Profile: Mawusi Blewuada - Technical Director


National STEM day is dedicated to celebrating and promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In honour of this, we chatted with our Technical Director Mawusi Blewuada, who explains what her role entails, her inspirations and how she got into the exciting world of VFX!

What do you do? 

I create, develop and manage the software (both commercial and in-house) used by supervisors and artists to complete their production tasks. 

What did you study? 

Before my first pipeline TD role, I studied Computer Science as an undergrad and after some years in the industry I did a masters in 3D Computer Animation. 

What was your path into the industry? 

My first industry job after graduating from CS was a runner position at a large studio in Soho. After that I moved into Data Operations and later became a Matchmover. After studying 3D animation at uni, I worked as a VFX Pipeline TD for a Dublin studio. While working on the final project of my animation degree, I found myself more interested in getting to grips with the under-the-hood workings of Maya and its Python API. That gave me the confidence to move in a more technical career direction after graduating.

What is a typical day for you? 

I start off the day with dropping my kid off at preschool. I’m lucky to live in the west of Ireland and I’ll go for a scenic walk, bike ride or run before my work day starts or during my lunch break. I alternate working at home or at a co-working space in town. 

West Coast of Ireland

Who is your favourite filmmaker or visual artist? 

One of my favourite artists is the animator/game designer David O’Reilly. 

Still from The External World © David O’Reilly

Who is the most inspiring STEM person you look up to? 

I’d struggle to pick one person… I’m really inspired by people with a gift for communicating various science topics to a general audience - such as Carl Sagan, Ted Chiang and Milo Beckman. 

Carl Sagan, Ted Chiang and Milo Beckman

Are you exploring any new workflows?

I’ve been exploring the use of software design techniques for documenting the development process for colleagues. An example of this is describing use cases - a systematic breakdown of the typical user’s applications of the proposed tool. As I’m coming from a solitary and informal coding background, this sort of approach is quite new to me.

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

I think real-time visualisation techniques that allow the use of digital effects during live film shoots are really exciting. I hope they become a common tool to help address the disconnect between traditional filmmaking and the CGI process. 

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

I imagine that eventually a lot of automation of tasks such as animation, effects and modelling will become the norm. Hopefully to the benefit of the artists but we’ll see... 

What’s your work's high point/achievement/proudest moment? 

My NVIZ high point so far was getting a fairly convoluted rendering and publishing tool to work as the final step of a long-running project - it was so satisfying! 

What is special about NVIZ? 

The company is really great at building team connections across the combination of remote and on-site employees. I think this is crucial to producing great work and job satisfaction. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received or would like to give those aspiring to work in the visual effects industry with a STEM background? 

I would suggest that anybody aspiring to work in VFX from a STEM background also extensively explores artistic areas of CG that spark their interest, through study or personal projects. As well as being a lot of fun, anything that gives you perspective from the tech user’s side is invaluable in helping you do your best work.