Category Archives: VFX

Never Work with Animals

Another great mocap talk this time from Stuart Haskayne, Studio Manager at Centroid Motion Capture  in Shepperton Studios. Centroid 3D  boasts one of the industry’s largest and most advanced facilities available today and has worked on many of the top films and games.

This time we learned all about the ins and outs of running a full commercial mocap session both in the studio and on location. At the cutting edge of high-end of motion capture, extraordinary feats of capture are possible including capturing full basketball teams or horses and camels with bespoke portable systems (and made-to-measure camel suits!)

centroid horse

stoo talk

Centroid 3D is one of our industry partners and help us to keep our teaching current as well as providing us with great opportunities like this talk. As part of our Motion Capture Career Route, we are hoping to include a visit to Shepperton Studios to see Centroid’s facilities in our programme for next academic year.

For more information on the Motion Capture Career Route, click the Motion Capture tab at the top of the page.


Mocap with Mocappy

Simon Kay, Mocap Supervisor at Double Negative gave us a great talk today all about his motion capture work on some great films. We learned all about mocap for crowd simulations, facial capture, mocap as a blocking out tool for key frame animation and mocapping camels for the sci-fi film John Carter.

mocappy talk

Our new Motion Capture Career Route will be teaching mocap using up-to-date systems – much of the work done at Double Negative uses the same equipment and techniques we use at theCollegeCGI. We look forward to working closely with Simon and continuing to develop our course to stay at the cutting edge of mocap technology to make our course the go-to place for students who want to enter this exciting field.

Simon (a.k.a. @Mo_Cappy) has his own website with some great tutorials on motion capture. Do visit it – and then come and study with us to get the hands-on experience.

Research and Development

Alex Rothwell from Framestore gave a really interesting and inspiring talk about Research and Development in visual effects (VFX) to our BSc final year students.

AR talk

Alex has 15 years in the industry and has worked on titles including Gravity, The Golden Compass and Black Hawk Down. he is currently working on simulating flesh and muscles in character and creature rigs to make the animation more believable.

As well as technical stuff like stereoscopic render optmisation, FACS shapes for facial capture and flesh simulation, we learned about how R&D departments fit into VFX companies, the different roles they take on and some of the low-down on up and coming developments.

This talk ties in with our BSc Personal Research unit where students must conduct some of their own research to enhance their academic skills and to prove that they have learned how to learn when they stand on their own two feet in industry. It’s good to know the core principles of research at Framestore are much the same as our own: clearly define the problem, set measurable goals, evaluate the results against your goals. Keep an eye on the blog to find out more about this year’s research subjects.

AR mocap

Where are they now? – Josh Chappell

We caught up with ex-student Josh for a bit of Q&A after seeing this great photo on Facebook…

josh chappell

Q: How does it feel to have worked on a multi-award winning film such as Interstellar?
A: It felt pretty good. To be part of a team that won an Oscar and Bafta was an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to the next project. All the pain and hard work feels worth it now.
Q: What role did you have in making Interstellar?
A: I was a matchmove artist, creating and stabilising the cameras from the 2D sequences for the effects to sit nicely within the scene. This also includes animating objects that have interaction and body tracking
Q: Is that typical of the work you do at Double Negative?
It depends on which route in VFX you would like to take, whether it’s a 3D or 2D route. Typically if you want to go into anything 3D you’ll start off in matchmove and get to learn the pipeline and then train in the subject you wish to pursue. The 2D route starts with rotoscope, then paint and then moving on into compositing.
Q: What is your next career step?
A: It’s difficult to say. I’m currently a matchmove TD [Technical Director] and quite enjoy it. I’m training in effects at the moment but it all really depends on the opportunities that may appear.
Q: What is it like working for D-Neg?
A: Working for D-Neg is great, its a really nice working atmosphere and everyone is very friendly, the training they offer is really good and made by the artists so you know your getting all the best tips and secrets.
Q: How did you get your job there?
A: I actually just walked up to them in a presentation at Talbot campus and gave them my CV. It’s definitely worth being prepared with your CV, reel and cover letter, as I think I was the only one and most likely meant they had something to read on the way back to London.
Q: How did your CGI degree help you get to where you are now?
A: I would say the CGI degree is essential as it is a very competitive area to get into. Everyone applying is showing their best work and qualifications. It definitely makes you stand out, but also the employers know that you have the ability to work hard and and complete tasks.
Q: What was the best bit of advice you got from our BSc course?
A: Not sure. I don’t think it was one piece of advice – throughout the years we were always pushed to make great work and this can only be done with hard work, good guidance and good advice through out the years of study.
Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to make the most out of our CGI degree programme?
A: Work as hard as you can, but also work harder than everyone else and more. There is always someone working harder and you want it to be you. The thing with CGI is that it takes a lot of work to make something great but most employers will only hire people that show them something awesome.
Link to Double Negative’s website, click here.

Framestore at theCollegeCGI

Thank you to Ian Fellows of Framestore for the great talk he gave this morning to our CGI students.  Ian inspired us all with show-and-tell breakdowns of the blockbuster films Gravity and Guardians of the Galaxy and also gave a good overview of all the various roles that go to create VFX movies.

Framestore Talk

Ian covered aspects such as concept art, pre-viz, modelling, 3D scanning, animation, motion capture, and lighting.  It’s refreshing to know that the things we teach here are the things that matter in industry, especially with our new teaching unit on 3D scanning and our motion capture work.  Working at Framestore really is an opportunity for students to be involved in some of the biggest films.  Through Framestore, some of our graduates have worked on 47 Ronin, Harry Potter, Paddington Bear and Tale of Desperaux.

Watch below to see the Gravity show and tell breakdown for yourself.

Where Are They Now? – Caspian

Ex student, Caspian Graça Da Silva, has been working for Envy Post-Production since graduating last year.  We caught up with him to find out what he has been up to.

Q. So you are now working at Envy where you also had your placement year.  Firstly, what did you get out of your placement?
A. I had a really good experience with my placement, I think when you leave University you’re not sure what to expect when you go out into the big wide world, but going on placement gave me a good eye opener to how things are in the workplace and allowed me to do a trial run of the job hunt which made it e

Q. Did your placement change your approach to the course when you returned for the final year?
A. Definitely, in the workplace you don’t always have the luxury of time, so I deemed it best to try and learn as much as I possibly could while back for the final year, using all the extra time you have to try new ways of doing things and learning new skills that could be developed later on.

Q. And what projects have you been involved with since you graduated?
A. So far I have helped with the ITV rebranding and done lots of basic experimentation and Previz, whilst on lunch or after work, hopefully I’ll get to work on more substantial things as time goes on..

Q. What software are you using now and did you have to retrain at all?
A. I’m currently learning Maya and Nuke, These two programs are used highly in most post houses, sometimes SoftImage if you’re aiming to work in Broadcast.

Q. What’s the best thing about working at Envy?
A. They have an amazing bar where you can get very elaborate cocktails.

Q. What was the best thing about studying at theCollegeCGI?
A.You’re pushed to be a generalist, making everything yourself which in turn gives you a broader knowledge of every aspect of a project from base concepting to modelling and animating to the final compositing.

Q. What is your five-year career goal?
A. I want to develop my skill sets and see where it takes me, hopefully to work on the next big film..

caspian work 1

Caspian graduated in 2012 and completed his placement year at Envy in 2010/11.  You can see his show reel at

Envy is one of the leading Post Production Houses in the UK. They work on programmes including Factual, Drama, Comedy, Documentaries and Light Entertainment and collaborate on design, branding and commercials.