Episode 328 — Cinesite Lead FX TD — David Adan
Episode 328 — Cinesite Lead FX TD — David Adan
David Adan is an FT TD Lead at Cinesite whose list of credits include Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, American Gods, Mindhunter, Godzilla: King of Monsters, Terminator: Dark Fate, Lost in Space and many more.
David’s journey began in 1994 in Cuernavaca, Mexico, when at the age of 16, he started working as an intern at a local PR film. There, he discovered one of the first 3D softwares for PC and immediately started teaching himself how to use it. The local college didn’t offer any studies in visual effects or animation. There were no internet tutorials either. So while studying Photoshop, editing and illustration in class, David learned animation on his own. Every night after school, he poured over any possible books or manuals he could find.
Three years later, David decided to go seek training in the U.S. He found himself studying at Digital Hollywood in Santa Monica. He came back to Mexico City with a different perspective and began producing for television. In 2004, he sought his AutoDesk certification; and that same year, opened his own studio — Studio 3D — where he began teaching. Right around that time, David came in contact with Allan McKay, at the CG Workshop.
In 2010, David decided to take his family abroad by accepting a contract with an architectural firm in Qatar. In the meanwhile, David started taking the FXTD Mentorship with Allan McKay. During this time, David had a chance to work on a couple of films: an Austrian student film called Herbst and a German low-budget production Timebreakers. It gave him an opportunity to utilize all the techniques he was learning in the Mentorship.
In 2014, David decided to make a change in his career by moving back to Mexico and pursuing visual effects. It took a few months of struggle and a dozen job interviews, including with Sony, before he was offered a full-time position at Flipbook Studio where he would finally get to create visual effects for films and television. In just 3 months at this new job, he’s been involved in 6 television shows.
Most recently, David accepted a position at Cinesite, in Vancouver, where he became an FX TD Lead.
In this Podcast, David talks about his journey as an artist, business owner and a family man; the career changes that took courage — yet led him to his dream job; the skills he gained in other fields but ultimately used as a VFX artist; and the importance of following your passion.
[04:04] David Adan Introduces Himself
[04:42] A Typical Day as a Lead at Cinesite
[12:48] David Talks About Beginnings of His Career
[17:55] Transitioning Into Arch Viz
[33:32] Working Abroad
[46:43] Changing Careers to Pursue Your Dream Job
[1:09:46] The Importance of Utilizing Soft Skills
[1:18:02] Landing That Dream Job
[1:27:32] Take Risks — and Do It Sooner!
EPISODE 328 — CINESITE LEAD FX TD — DAVID ADAN
This is Allan McKay. Welcome to Episode 328!
I’m speaking with David Adan who is the Lead FX TD at Cinesite, whose list of credits include Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, American Gods, Mindhunter, Godzilla: King of Monsters, Terminator: Dark Fate, Lost in Space and many more. David was also a part of my Mentorship and we talk about that too. David has a great story of moving from one career to visual effects at the age of 40, and becoming an amazing artist and family man.
I cannot believe we’re already in December. This Episode, David and I talk about a lot of topics: career changes, leading with courage, the importance of soft skills and how crucial it is to follow your passion.
Let’s dive in!
FIRST THINGS FIRST:
[01:49] Have you ever sent in your reel and wondered why you didn’t get the callback or what the reason was you didn’t get the job? Over the past 20 years of working for studios like ILM, Blur Studio, Ubisoft, I’ve built hundreds of teams and hired hundreds of artists — and reviewed thousands of reels! That’s why I decided to write The Ultimate Demo Reel Guide from the perspective of someone who actually does the hiring. You can get this book for free right now at www.allanmckay.com/myreel!
[1:31:58] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!
INTERVIEW WITH DAVID ADAN
[04:04] Allan: David, thank you so much for taking the time to chat! Do you want to quickly introduce yourself?
David: Sure! I’m currently a Lead FX TD at Cinesite Montreal. I’ve been at Cinesite for a little over a year. Originally, I worked in Mexico. I was born In Cuernavaca (which is south of Mexico City) and lived there for almost 30 years. I got my Bachelors degree there, I got married there, I started my career there. Now, I’m in Montreal with my family.
[04:45] Allan: That’s awesome! For you right now, as an FX Lead for Cinesite, what’s your typical day like (when we’re not working remotely because of COVID-190)?
David: First of all, we receive a brief for the sequences that need effects. We go through those and figure out what kind of effects we need to do. I, of course, look at the time frames. We have a certain amount of shorts in a certain amount of time. We also have certain resources. I try to analyze what shot is more ideal for each artist depending on his or her ability. I assign shots to each of the artists. If something is really complex, I try to create a tool for them to use. Usually, that’s not the case and each artist tries to come up with his or her solution. I also try to imagine what the best way to create a certain effect is, in the most time efficient way. After the shots are assigned, we have the dailies in the morning where I give the first round of notes, as do the heads of departments. Once we think the work is ready to be reviewed, we send them to dailies for VFX Supervisors to review and comment. I’d say, half the day, I’m working on a specific shot. The rest of the day, I’m working on a calendar, helping other artists, and giving notes.
[06:35] Allan: Just to elaborate on that, you do the rounds first, correct? Rather than getting straight to dailies every morning?
David: Yes, they will publish, they will create a slap comp: a really quick composite over a plate. I will analyze the effect and try to give notes if necessary. We can send that to the VFX Supervisor. If something isn’t looking good (like gravity or something that will distract the Supervisor), I create a note for that minor fix. Once we feel we can show this to a Sup, we approve that comp and send that to dailies.
[07:40] Allan: I love that! Most of the time, I’ve found that San Francisco studios did dailies in the morning. Then, they’d do rounds later in the day. But in the morning, we’d get one-on-one time with artists. That way, you’re doing quality control without losing other people’s time.
David: I’m a bit pragmatic. Because I come from small studios, we have a limited time to create an effect, render, make notes, etc. I prefer to go directly with the artist. I ask them if they think we’re ready to show the shot. I like to take the best of the time we have. I sometimes approach the artist. It’s not as common these days. I prefer to be there and speak with an artist. I may be old fashioned that way.
[09:15] Allan: It’s so important to have that bit of a conversation. You can actually discuss their work and it allows for so much more to get done. That’s the critical aspect of production: When you don’t get to talk to people, it slows down drastically. I want to talk about how you got started. But first can you talk about working on Lost in Space?
David: For me, it wasn’t that big of a job. I was just entering Cinesite and the project was ending. The shots I worked on were small, but I really wanted to work on that show! I followed the original show as a kid, there was some nostalgia there. I really wanted to participate [in this remake]. I’ve seen the first season and I expressed my interest. Unfortunately, I joined the show in the last stages. I had some small destruction shots. In the end, the important thing was that it was my very first project at Cinesite. I was still onboarding, learning the pipeline which was so much bigger than what I was used to. That was a bit daunting at first! I had to learn how to render, how to publish. It was complicated but really satisfying. I watched the series with my kids and that was satisfying as well. I got to relive that with my kids.
[11:48] Allan: For you, did you always imagine that you would work in films, as a kid?
David: As a kid, I never consciously thought about working on movies, but I always enjoyed them and watched a lot of them. We went to the cinema with my parents. I remember watching ET, every single Star Wars movie. But I never thought I’d be working in film.
[12:29] Allan: Did you grow up in Mexico City?
David: I was born in Mexico City. Just before the earthquake in ‘95, we moved to Cuernavaca in ‘85. We moved for my mother to be able to be in nature. I lived there for a lot of years.
[12:48] Allan: Early in your career, what did you do for a living?
David: As a teenager, I was very carefree. I never knew what I wanted to do as a grownup. Some kids can tell you. For me, it was difficult. I always loved sports. I wanted to be a professional soccer player. People didn’t think it was possible and I never took it seriously. I played every sport, including martial arts. But I was lost as far as what I wanted to do. I really loved drawing and I had a huge collection of comic books. I really liked art, but I wasn’t extremely good at it. My brother was very talented, but I realized I didn’t have the talent he had. It was more like a hobby. I was interested in advertising. I visited the University of Austin in Texas. That became my plan to study advertising at UT. But things changed, and I decided to start a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in Cuernavaca. It was a temporary thing. I thought I’d move to Austin later. But I really liked graphic design. It was linked to the Communications Bacherlors which has to do with tv and broadcasting. I connected with other students. I was never good at school. If something isn’t completely interesting to me, I won’t get excited about it.
Before really entering my bachelor’s program, I did an internship at an advertising studio. I was still in high school. They needed help with some artistic stuff like storyboarding. I wasn’t sure what they were working on, but it was an opportunity to link what I was studying. I think it was a very important moment at that time. The company got an Omega computer and it had some 3D software. I was there when they were installing the computer. When they ran the demo from LightWave, I was intrigued. Eventually they started creating logos and texts. We started learning the computer together. I remember being blown away by these 3D graphics! That was a key point in my career. I wasn’t sure how I would get to do this, but I got hooked. I grabbed the manual and started to learn because no one knew how to use it. Eventually, I kept working at that studio until I started my Bachelors degree.
[17:55] Allan: I know that you eventually moved more into architecture. How did you bridge over?
David: Well, I think that although I worked with this advertising company for 6 months, I had to start my Bachelors. I started to learn computer graphics packages. I remember when we started learning Photoshop. I remember being able to clone details or composite images together. We created a comic book with Photoshop. It blew my mind how you could create all these details from professional comic books. That was my first link with computers and graphics software. Since we were in a small city, the area of opportunity was very limited. I started working with a very talented graphics designer. We partnered up to create a small studio. My partner was really talented and good with people; and I had talent in drawing and computer graphics. We won a small contest for a logo, for a new restaurant. It was a big victory. They didn’t pay us, but it was our first professional job. We started working straight after finishing our Bachelors. Once we won this contest, other people noticed us. We started getting other jobs related to restaurants and hotely. Then architects started inquiring about us. That’s when I started to put 3D knowledge into a profession. That was my first approach.
Once you start working in a specific area, you will get noticed in that area. I thought, “If I continue this path, I could be the best graphic designer. Is that what I really want?” Of course, the answer was no. My partner was my best friend (and still is) and it was difficult to tell him that I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. I wanted us to expand a bit. I had a chance to start working for a web service company. They asked us to design a webpage but they didn’t have a huge budget. I’ve always liked computers but I’d never programmed. I had some help from my uncle who gave me this HTML book. I finished it and realized it wasn’t that complicated. I thought I could pull it off. It was a big company that was designing pools for hotels. They loved the webpage that we built. I remember doing it with a text editor. They loved it! I told my partner I thought we could attack both niches. There was a huge boom and we started doing a lot of webpages. In less than a year, our business grew. I enjoyed programming, but I wasn’t that great. But I had the drive! I studied a lot and it was worth it. We got a lot of jobs doing multimedia. Then we started doing presentations for companies, or prototypes. We were working for Unilever (???). Their prototypes weren’t fancy, but the paycheck was really good for the company.
[25:17] Allan: Sounds like you’ve built these skills and continued to pivot into different careers. For most people, they think they need to start from scratch. Instead, you’re just building on what you’ve already learned.
David: Whatever you can learn, at some point you can use it. Even if it’s the strangest skill, you will use it. You may use it in a conversation with a client, it will be useful. When and why did I end up in architecture, it was a little bit of luck and also what I’ve created for myself throughout my career. In 2004, I received a certification from Discreet. I started a small company to teach 3DS Max and combustion. The certification process was kind of difficult. I’m sure you’ve done it.
[27:17] Allan: I never did the certification. Autodesk brought it up a bunch of times. They’d tell me to meet so and so. I’d asked my friends if it was helping them to get jobs. A lot of the jobs I get are either from my jobs or relationships. Did you find that doing the certification attracted work for you?
David: It did help. The purpose for me was to teach, not really in production. It helped in giving me a lot of credibility. I had to know the software. I started very well. The first two years, I’d recovered the investment which was huge. I needed to buy computers, rent a place. In the end, it paid off. After a few years, the investment was returned. I ended up traveling to Mexico City, Acapulco and many other places to train people. It helped me get into the industry. Both my parents were teachers, so were my uncles. And I enjoyed teaching. I got an offer to teach at my University. For me to go back to where I started and help others, and it’s been 9 years. It was a side job but it was interesting to get to know so many people. At some point in 2010, I got a call. “Are you David Adan? We’re calling you from Qatar. We’re looking for someone to do arch design for high profile projects.” I had to Google where Qatar was. I was teaching and working at the time. I didn’t have any interest in working abroad, especially in architecture. I responded that I’d look for some graduates. They called me back saying those students weren’t willing to teach or they didn’t have the experience. My kid Santiago was 3 years old at the time. I was happy with where I was living. I wasn’t willing to move. They sent me an offer package. When I got the offer, I thought, “Okay, let me reconsider.” I spoke with my wife. It was nowhere near what I could achieve in a small city, doing something that came easy for me. There was also violence in my city and didn’t want Santiago to be around that. I wanted what was best for my family! They were offering an apartment, a car, one-month paid vacation, a huge salary, tickets for the family. It was one of those moments: It would give us stability and an escape from the violent stuff. It was also hard to maintain my own studio so it was time to move on. It was a huge experience!
[33:32] Allan: Just to touch base for a second, how did they find you? Were you posting your work online?
David: One of my students was a son of a friend of the CEO at that company. They asked me if he knew someone where he was studying. He probably just showed them some of my work.
[34:12] Allan: Obviously, moving to another country is a huge ordeal. For you, it was a chance to do something different while having some security. When you have a family, there is a lot to consider. What was it like moving to Qatar?
David: It’s probably my personality but I’m really not afraid of trying new things. I’m constantly looking for new things to learn, people to get to know. I’m usually confident. It was difficult because it was on the other side of the planet. It was the hardest decision to part from my mom. In the end, it was about our well being. It was going to give us a better life and we wanted to secure something for our kids. (Sofia was born there. It was an unexpected thing!) But it was not difficult. The pay helped but I also had a lot of time to be with my kids and with my wife. While I had my company, I’d work until 3:00 a.m. I had to do that to be responsible and to deliver to the clients. I left home at 8:00 a.m. and came home at 5:00 p.m. I never had to work on the weekends. Qatar is a really calm place to be. In general, people are really respectful. We met people from all over the world. The original plan was to be there for 2 years, but the projects were so huge, they kept growing. When I reached 40, it was time for reflection for me. I was heading the 3D Department at the company and I had no other place to go. At some point, after 6 years, I started to see blurry. It happens to most of us. At 40, I needed to make a decision. I was in a comfort zone which can be a bit of a trap. You can lose control of where you were planning to go.
At that time, I started the FXTD Mentorship with you. It was 2014. I stumbled upon your article Going After the Unattainable (www.allanmckay.com/55). I related so much to that article. You were mentioning important things: You cannot stay in your comfort zone. You need to move forward. You also mentioned that at some point you created a roadmap of what you wanted to do. Then you wrote down all the obstacles that could come your way. I really did that. Usually, I’d be guessing, but you don’t take the time to think about how you’d achieve that. I wrote it down and I started following these steps. I was getting really close to this goal. At this point, I knew what I wanted: to do VFX for films. I had my passion, but the problem was that I’d never been in the industry. Back in 2010, I did a bit of compositing work for a Turkish film produced in Mexico City.
The first thing to do was take your courses. I did the FXTD Transformation and then the Mentorship, then the Live Action Series. Every night, I opened 3DS Max. Internet was really handy. I Googled everything I could. I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to be enough. I started thinking about getting experience. I worked on a film called Herbst. It had no budget for VFX. I started doing some shots with no pay. I talked about it with some people but it was the only way for me to gain experience. Plus, I was putting to practice whatever I was learning in your Mentorship. It was amazing! As soon as I’d learn something, I’d put it into practice. That project was one of my greatest challenges: By myself, I had finished more than 30 shots that included modeling, animation, compositing. I had to streamline the whole process. It was really satisfactory. The Sup was very happy with my work! By the time I finished that project, I had a demo reel. There were a lot of explosions and fire on it!
[43:46] Allan: I remember that! It was really great! Something that’s worth mentioning: I’m completely against working for free. Sometimes, the money isn’t right but you can be the person that listens to that advice. Instead there will be some experiences that will give you a demo reel and help you break into the industry. And the whole career starts because of that moment. You can look back at the one job that led to all the success you’ve had. It’s about looking at the big picture. So it’s cool that you were willing to do that!
David: I agree. There are people who are listening to this and they want to get into the industry. I don’t know of anyone whose first attempt of sending their reel to ILM or Weta is greeted with, “Yeah, yeah! You’re hired!” You need to build from scratch. You may be rejected by the company you want to work for. But for me, it was an interesting project and an opportunity to create a reel, while practicing everything I was learning.
[46:43] Allan: Just to touch on that: It’s fascinating that you were in Mexico and you took a chance to move your whole family to Qatar. You could’ve just stuck to the comfort of it. Once there was no more growth, it would’ve been easier to stay in the same place. What was that spark that made you decide to pursue your passion?
David: In a sense, I’ve always tried. When I started doing multimedia, I tried going into local television. When I reached 40, it was a “now or never” stage. My wife has always been really supportive. I always speak to her first. That helped me a lot. When I turned 40, I knew if I didn’t do it then — it would be harder to do it later. Usually, people who start out in this business are pretty young. It’s a bit scary. You do have to balance your work with family. I had this security but on the other hand, I had to start from scratch. It was a huge risk but the reward was also huge. My kids see me working and they ask me, “Shouldn’t you be done with work by now?” Yeah, but I’m having fun! You spend more than half of your life in an office. Imagine spending that time doing something that you don’t enjoy. My wife saw the hard work I was doing.
We came back to Mexico. I had nothing because I had to rent an office. I knew no one in the industry. The Turkish film was done in 2010 and this was 2018. It was nice to be coming home. It was comforting!
[51:28] Allan: How did you feel at the time, making that leap?
David: There was always the fear of failure. I’ve always been pretty confident. I remember clearly that I Googled every single VFX studio and person I could call. I went through that list. I remember it took a few weeks to go through it. Since I had that plan, I was just following the roadmap. At some point, I was starting to lose hope. We came back with some money, but in the end the company in Qatar let us down. (They wouldn’t pay us the end of service, which was my 6-year savings.) That also pushed me to go the extra mile. That money vanished completely. I was eating into our savings. I started to do math. If I didn’t meet that goal, I decided I would get something temporary at the university. When you work that hard and you put all the work into something, you will get there finally. My final contact on the list was Flipbook Studio in Mexico. They do a lot of interesting things for tv. I spoke with their Founder and told them I needed a job. I’d shown them my reel. By then, I’d started using Houdini. I went to LA to drop off some reels and talk to some people. I think you and I met too.
[55:04] Allan: I was just thinking about this the other day. There is a restaurant we went to and we had dinner. And then, in Montreal too.
David: Nothing in LA came to fruition. But I got a chance to speak with many artists and they mentioned Houdini. I started learning it. Flipbook asked me if I knew Houdini and how to comp. I was doing Nuke by that time and I was comfortable with Houdini. They offered me a lower salary. But I agreed to work for 2-3 months and if I’m able to finish the shots, let’s renegotiate the salary. We did that! I would take the bus really early to Mexico on Monday morning. It was difficult at first, but I was finally doing something I was passionate about! It was one step closer to that final destination. After my contract with Flipbook expired, the Founder and the VFX Sup told us they’d be moving the studio. That was really difficult because I was having my break. Once again, there was nothing certain. I decided to drop off my reel at Ollin VFX and have a chat with them. That’s what I did. I called Armando, or messaged him through LinkedIn. I told him I was looking for VFX work. He told me to come in and speak with the Head of CG. I remember they were working on Jumanji. I showed them my reel and they thought I had some nice work. Unfortunately, they had everyone they needed. I was disappointed. It was a nice opportunity. Armando told me to check with their Comp Sup. They told me to do a test. There was a shot to track the camera, the standard stuff. I breezed through it. It was urgent work. I went back to Flipbook and told them it was a huge opportunity. I finished my shots and I made the move. It was a maximum of 2-3 weeks and I was back in Ollin (which is the biggest studio in Mexico). For me to start working on Jumanji, it was a huge break. Again, I had the security and I was doing what I was passionate about!
[1:02:20] Allan: That’s so cool, man! You touched on something so critical earlier: We do go to work so much of our life. So many of us don’t want to take that risk. When you are willing to take that risk, however, it changes everything: You go do something you’re passionate about. A lot of us tend to dabble with something. But if you risk it, you go home without having to escape your current job. You did that! You did it while making intelligent decisions. I think that’s awesome! You moved pretty quickly, right?
David: I know that I foresaw the amount of VFX work they were going to need. There was always some extra shot. I decided to do my best with comp. It was a way to get near to a project. For me, the projects started growing and my schedule was getting tighter. Some of the tv projects started leaving for Canada and other places. I told Armando I could do some of these VFX shots, something simple. He told me to talk to the VFX Sup and see if I could do both. In the end, I started doing some simple stuff. More TD’s had to leave. By the time we were finishing Jumanji, I was pretty much by myself. We had little time to do a lot. That was my step into VFX. That was part of my reel.
[1:06:32] Allan: And then from there, you moved on to do Godzilla, correct?
David: Before Godzilla, there was Asura which was an epic project (a Chinese production). Our CG team has reduced by then. I remember we had a briefing and we saw some tentacle creatures. Back then, the producer wasn’t sure if we could take on that much to do. They showed me the shots and asked for my opinion. It wasn’t just modeling. We had to do the animation and effects. I was pretty sure I could do it. We decided to take on the task. It was a huge challenge. We had to do everything procedurally. We had to create a proof of concept from rendering to animation: how the character moved, the interactions with talent, the set extensions. It was done in a few week’s time. We got the sequences awarded. We created procedural systems. Then, after that, came Godzilla.
[1:09:12] Allan: By that point, you’d moved into the role of a Lead, is that right?
David: That’s correct. I was Lead on Asura. By the time we took on Godzilla, I was starting to take on some of the roles from the Heads of departments.
[1:08:46] Allan: That’s pretty awesome! Going back to changing careers, do you think having all this previous experience, you were able to leverage some of those skills? For some people, it takes years.
David: I think in the end it looks like I grew really fast. But most of it was because of this previous work I had done. Back in high school, you had to read manuals (we didn’t have internet). All this knowledge that I’ve built, things I never used again, helped me build all this knowledge. With Photoshop, I learned about pixels. With 3D, I had knowledge of space. To me, 3D space was clear. Photography helped me with lighting. All this work we did with the logos and prototypes helped me with creating props for our movies. Even with languages. Right now, I’m learning French. It’s complicated! But because of all the languages I wanted to speak, French was last on my list. I learned Portuguese and Italian. Now, I need to learn French because here in Quebec, most people speak French. I’m forcing myself to do it!
[1:13:06] Allan: I think you’ve nailed it. A lot of people when they’re changing careers, someone who’s older has a lot more life experience like communication skills and assessment skills. There is so much you can take with you! It’s all experience you accumulate. You’re able to leverage everything you’ve learned. You’d mentioned Martial Arts in the beginning. I wanted to ask if they played a big role in your life.
David: For me, it was huge even when I wasn’t aware of that. I always liked sports but Martial Arts gave me a lot of discipline and confidence. I was always the skinny nerdy guy. Martial Arts helped me with confidence. I really needed to put in extra work to be good at it. I was good at sports. But to go into competitions, I needed to put in extra work. One time in Austin, TX, I was training with someone from UT. We went out to grab beers and he mentioned that he was responsible for UT’s computer lab. I wasn’t expecting that! I asked him if they had 3D Studio Max. We visited the lab and he gave me a copy of the demo. I photocopied the manual. It was one of those fortunate things! If I didn’t meet him, I wouldn’t be able to put 3DS Max to practice.
[1:18:02] Allan: When you decided to move to Canada, how did that come to be?
David: That was another unexpected thing. It came when we lost a big project at Ollin. They told us that we may need to look for other work. I really loved what I was doing. But on the other hand, I had this uncertainty. There were no other studios in Mexico. But we received mail from Cinesite that they were coming to interview artists in Mexico. I never thought of moving to Canada. I hate the cold! LA was my first option, but I did the interview with Cinesite. They told me they’d get back to me. I wasn’t sure but I had a good feeling about it. I needed to make a decision with Ollin. I followed up with Cinesite and they told me to interview. They needed people pretty urgently. I spoke with my wife and kids. We knew that Montreal would have a lot of work. Cinesite wasn’t the only option. I’ve only been here for a bit over a year and we love it here. I like the projects we’re doing at Cinesite. It’s not a huge team but I like that part because it gives opportunities to get more involved. We are enjoying Montreal. The kids love the snow. I had a chance to see the seasons. Nature is nice here! The way of life is really calm.
[1:22:24] Allan: What was the visa process like?
David: Everything was really fast and easy. Cinesite took charge of that. It was pretty straight forward.
[1:23:02] Allan: What was your experience coming from smaller studios and going to Cinesite?
David: It’s about the balance between over-specializing and being a Generalist. In smaller studios, you need to be a well rounded artist. At bigger companies, you’re in a better place if you’re best at something. The huge takeaway is that when working at small companies, you have to learn about so many things, you know the whole spectrum. So you know exactly what you want to do as a specialist. I had done a lot of explosions and smoke.
[1:24:48] Allan: What was your first day like? Were there any insecurities you felt?
David: Yeah, it happens to everyone. It did happen to me. It’s inevitable to feel those butterflies. First of all, it was exciting! Montreal is a mecca of VFX. And combined with that fear of being the new guy, I needed to learn the new pipeline and show that I can do this. In the end, I worked on big projects but at smaller companies and in smaller teams. This was completely new for me. There was some little doubt or fear. It’s about putting in that extra work. One of the things I’ve learned is to be able to approach someone and ask a question. Don’t be afraid to look like a fool! That’s really important to have confidence. It’s better to be open.
[1:27:32] Allan: We all have that issue of being afraid to look silly. I was talking to someone earlier about having the mindset of not being able to ask questions when I was younger. As opposed to now, I have no problem admitting I don’t know something. What would you tell your younger self?
David: In the end, one thing leads to another. It’s like a stepping stone. Of course, I would’ve liked to make that decision earlier. I was always so carefree. I would put more attention on what I wanted from my future. But every single thing I’ve done has been a stepping stone. I wouldn’t change anything but I would be more proactive. The more time it takes, the more difficult it is to make that change. For example, when I had to leave my company, I would’ve done that sooner. So to act sooner and to be proactive!
[1:30:10] Allan: This has been so great! What’s next for you?
David: I’m really happy here at Cinesite. I’m having a great time with my family. I love winter here. What’s next? We’ll see. I’d like to stay here at Cinesite. My final goal is to become a VFX Supervisor. It’s not something I want short term. Right now, I love being an artist. For now, we’re really happy here in Quebec.
[1:31:50] Allan: David, it’s been a pleasure to catch up!
David: It’s been a pleasure to be here with you, Allan!
What did you think? I want to thank David for joining the Podcast.
Next week, I’ll be back with a solo Episode about negativity, resistance and fear — and all those things that get in the way of our growth.
Until then —
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“If only there was more time in the day”
“How do you find the time to get so much done”
“I would learn a new skill.. if I had the time”
For many of us, finding time and energy to do more is one of the hardest things we have. Time is finite and we can either be pro-active with our time, or reactive. Meaning – we are constantly running around, jumping from one thing to another, and never really feeling in control.
Allan specifically wrote this guide, after the thousands of responses he received to his contributions on productivity on his Podcast, as well as articles he’s written on the subject, and interviews he’s given.
Allan has interviewed the New York Times Best Selling Authors David Allen (Getting Things Done) and Laura Vanderkam as well as dozens of other experts on the subject – as well as applying many of his best practices.
So how does someone who runs a studio, manages multiple teams, works in production, shoots, runs a hit Podcast, writes articles, multiple courses and a mentorship and more, manage their day?
Find out, and how YOU can apply this to your work and personal life. Grab the guide (It’s FREE).
Whether you’re in games, film or design this guide is focused on giving you the answers and knowledge to confidently seek out the set-up and hardware you need to get the speed and reliability to create the most jaw-dropping visuals you can create. Without being bogged down by slow hardware, or investing in the wrong areas that ‘cost a fortune’ and don’t really make much of an impact on speed and stability.
Allan goes through how to start TODAY applying many unique approaches to building a successful career, and taking control of your year so far.
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From learning to front load your pay raise, to hosting networking events and positioning you as an authority. Allan goes through many tactics and ways to take control, and make this your BEST YEAR YET!
How much should I charge?
If I ask too much, will I scare them off?
What are the key things that I’m doing wrong?
Money, negotiating, probably two words that build the most tension just at the thought of, other than public speaking.
This guide was designed for Artists – whether you’re a Designer, Illustrator, Matte Painter, Animator, FX, whatever! We all need to get hired for productions, and we all need to get what we’re worth.
But, most of are afraid of missing the mark, and scaring away our employers. Or, just not sure how to even start the conversation. Worse, we’re not sure what we’re actually worth, or we just plain don’t want to be in a tense back and forth negotiation.
Realistically – a good negotiator never needs to haggle, they never have a moment of tension, they never are in an uncomfortable situation. It’s actually very seamless, easy and kind of fun. But, it does require understanding many of the fundamentals that this guide covers in-depth. Negotiating your worth the wrong way can cost you tens of thousands of dollars per year, and it’s the most critical thing we all shouldn’t ignore.
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