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Episode 136 — Scanline FX Sup Ivo Klaus
This is Allan McKay. Welcome to Episode 136! I’m speaking with Ivo Klaus, one of the FX Supervisors at Scanline VFX. Ivo has been at Scanline for over 13 years. Scanline has worked on anything from Black Panther, Tomb Raider, Justice League, Avengers, Suicide Squad, Transformers, Game of Thrones. I could go on and on. Most of the biggest films — Scanline has worked on!
This is going to be killer! I’ve been looking to publish this one for a while. Ivo has worked on many amazing projects. This Podcast consists of two parts. This part contains a lot of great industry advice. In a later Episode, we’ll talk about Ivo’s projects.
Let’s dive in!
FIRST THINGS FIRST:
[-29:39] My website will be launching really soon. In conjunction with this, I will be launching an official YouTube Channel. It will be an extension of the Podcast, getting into more career-related subjects and tutorials.
[-28:49] This will inspire me to do more solo Podcast Episodes. There are some great Episodes coming up as well, including some feature film directors.
[-28:19] Finally, the elephant in the room! I decide to get in the past week to do something I’ve been procrastinating: which is get braces. I’ve been reluctant to get them because of my speaking engagements. Today is day one. I feel like I sound Stan’s sister in South Park. But I hope I’ll get a handle on it.
[-26:25] The other big thing is: The 2018 FXTD Mentorship. I will be opening later this month, I hope. I will have more information about it. Coincidentally, in this Episode, a lot of people from my FXTD Mentorship have been going into Scanline (3-4 people, I believe). It’s amazing to see so many artists going out into big studios.
To sign up for updates about the Mentorship, please go to www.allanmckay.com/inside/. You will get early access to registration there, as well as exclusive videos and tutorials.
INTERVIEW WITH IVO KLAUS
Ivo Klaus is a VFX Supervisor who has been working at Scanline VFX in Munich, Germany for over 13 years. He has worked on and supervised such large budget feature films like Tomb Raider, Transformers: The Last Knight, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Snowpiercer, Looper, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, 300 — and many, many more.
In this portion of his interview with Allan McKay *, Ivo gives advise on professional tools for VFX artists, the do’s and don’ts of demo reels and some insider tips for anyone seeking employment at Scanline VFX.
Ivo Klaus on IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2181121/
Scanline VFX: http://scanlinevfx.com/index.html
Scanline VFX on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scanlinevfx/
Scanline VFX on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/scanlinevfx
Scanline on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/scanline-vfx/
* NOTE: The second part of Ivo’s interview — with more valuable information — to be published at a later time!
[-24:34] Allan: A lot of the audience can benefit from your knowledge as a Supervisor. Having looked at a lot of reels, I always find more information in the disinformation. I started looking at information online on what to do with your reel. I feel like most of it is wrong. From a Supervisor’s perspective, it’s beneficial to know what NOT to do on your reel. For you, what are the common things that are red flags on a reel that tend to come up a lot?
Ivo: Obviously, the reel is really important. If you can demonstrate that you can do live action integration and you can do that at a high level: For me, it’s sufficient to show 1, 2, 3 examples of it.
– I get a lot of reels where people fill up the blanks with Fume tests on black. That’s a common thing. That demonstrates to me that that person doesn’t know that whole workflow and is just playing with it. If the same person has some shots with really nice live action integration, it’s fine. But it will affect how I think about it. You’re adding Fume sims on black, it’s impossible to make it look bad. If you don’t realize that, you may need a bit more training or insight.
– Most of the time, I don’t have the proper sound support properly on my machine. So putting music on your reel may be satisfying on a personal level — but it’s unnecessary for me. You aren’t applying as a music artist.
– Also, I think a CV is really necessary to at least show what you’ve been doing before this. References are good. Previous film experience is good as well because it shows that you’ve been working in a pipeline.
– If you’re cross-transitioning from a different job into FX, sometimes it’s a bit dangerous. You have to know how to present yourself. That’s something to be aware of. You can pick it up in your letter that you’ve been jumping around a lot.
[-19:23] Allan: Everything you talk about is so vital. One of the things I’ve talked about extensively is the importance of a cover reel: The more you put on your reel, the more reasons to disqualify you. Quality over quantity. The worst part is that you aren’t there to defend yourself. It’s very easy to disqualify you. You need to think ahead about all of these things. Your cover letter is the perfect chance to diffuse or touch on any issues.
Ivo: I also know that nowadays, FX artists like to travel a lot. There are companies in Europe that will just swap out artists. We are looking for artists who would stay with us a little longer. If we see that a person switches companies after each project, I’m a bit worried. I don’t mind if a person doesn’t want to stay with us forever. If someone wants to work with us, they’ll need to learn Flowline — and that’s an investment from our side and the artist’s side. To take advantage of that investment, staying on for one year only isn’t a good investment. I like to get a couple of projects done with the same people, if possible. That is something that’s unique to Scanline. We need people to learn Flowline. That still means that people and get an introduction — and can start working within two weeks. If you’ve worked with other places, you can include references that can testify that working with you was a blast.
Also, the cover letter is a place where it shows the person has thought about it. I’ve seen so many artists who just send in the CV and a reel, and a snippet of a sentence in an email. If I don’t know you, if that’s all you can go by — that’s all the effort you’ve put it.
[-14:47] Allan: I collect all the job applications that come in to me. I can’t respond to all the emails. I’ve collected all the bad ones. I’ve had emails where I’ve been CC’d with other companies.
Ivo: Oh, no, no, no, you can’t do that!
[-14:12] Allan: It says so much when you aren’t putting in the effort. Your cover letter also sets the tone. In the first two lines of your email, summarize what you’re going to talk about it. The more you think about the person who’s going through your work, the more beneficial to you. With every job application, think about all the things going on. The minute you put on an explosion on black, I tell people to pull that out. All it takes is one shot that makes the person stop and look at your resume, to see if you’re a student. Because of that one shot, your hourly rate goes down. Whereas if you show a couple of shots, it’s better for them to come back and ask to see more.
Ivo: I would also like to say that at the end of the day, if you don’t get approval on your first try, you shouldn’t get deterred. We hire when we need people for a projects. If we can’t take on somebody right now, we’ll keep them on our roster and contact them when we do have a position. It’s a bit of a patience game. You have a good chance of landing where you want to go eventually. You can’t be impatient! The main thing we do is project work. If project work gets busy, we have to get that out of the way first, to be able to look at resumes. If project work becomes too busy, it becomes like a lockdown. We definitely contact people who we think are worthy as soon as we can.
[-09:24] Allan: One thing I wanted to ask: There is a bunch of people from my Mentorship at Scanline. That’s frigging awesome! What has your experience been so far?
Ivo: It’s definitely made an impact. It’s interesting you’ve kicked off that FXTD Course. How long have you been doing that?
[-08:47] Allan: I think [I’ve been doing] the Mentorship for 3 years.
Ivo: And during that time, I’ve seen a rise in reels. Because you have certain material in your Courses, that material is on their reels. Recently, we’ve had two of those people join us. At the moment, I’ve had good experiences. The good thing is your FXTD Course is catering to mainly Houdini-esque ranges and 3DS Max. There are things in 3DS Max that we can do that you obviously can do in other packages — but we’re quite comfortable with 3DS Max. It’s nice to have a Course that caters to our needs. There are more live actions integrations in reels now.
There is also something where the Course is doing exactly the right thing. You just have to be careful as an artist not to show only the Coursework. The individual touch is something you need to sell yourself on. You need to know how to integrate live action but also understand how to be creative. And I’ve seen that with some of the people who come out of your Course. And that’s really awesome! That’s worth a lot when you know the tools of the company you want to work with.
[-05:44] Allan: Thank you for your insight! I’ve thought about what you need the most to get into the industry. The toughest things when going into a studio — is that they’re gambling on you. I wanted to focus on doing a shot start to finish.
Ivo: For example, one of your [students] was showing a reel that had 3 shots on it:
– Live action;
– Full CG;
– Another shot using a wide range of software packages to achieve it (from tracking to comp integration).
That person didn’t have any prior industry experience. It’s really impressive if a person can do that.
[-04:32] Allan: I encourage students to do their own shots. We shoot everything on RED with a Helium Censor. Doing your own shot, you’ll run into way more problems. So taking ownership of the shot, you’re going to have extra growth.
Ivo: Definitely! We are doing post-production on filmed material. If you can train on good material, it will prepare you better.
[-03:19] Allan: Is there any other piece of advice you want to give to someone who wants to do what you do one day?
Ivo: If somebody is thinking about joining Scanline, they should definitely create a reel, a nice CV and contact us. Try to establish a Skype call, so we get to know you better. Very important: We can only work in an English speaking environment. It’s really vital! There are only so many languages this industry speaks. We do need to communicate on a good level. Apart from that, if you have a reel with good live action integration of FX work, that’s great. And on top of that, a nice cover letter goes an extra mile.
[-01:54] Allan: That’s really great advice! Thanks for everything!
Ivo: Thank you for the opportunity and good luck with the FXTD Course this year!
I want to thank Ivo for taking the time to chat. That being said, I will be putting out another Episode with him about the work he’s done (Episode 143).
– Next Episode, I will be talking about Demo Reels. I am working on a new Guide at the moment. It will be fun to get into.
That is it for now.