Questions


How long does a shot take to complete?
Shots can take varying amounts of time to complete depending on the complexity of the imagery. The average amount of time a shot takes to complete is usually a couple of days. But, some can be done in a day others can take more than a month.

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How much do you charge? What is your rate?
We usually charge on a per shot basis. The more complex the shot, the more it costs to do. Our rate is negotiated when we bid on the work.

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How come you are located in Washington State when most of the film industry is in Los Angeles?
Since postproduction moved into the digital age, it no longer became necessary for visual effects houses to be located in Los Angeles. Since 1993, Eric Chauvin has worked for productions in Los Angeles while living and working elsewhere. First in the San Francisco bay area then in his current location in Washington at BlackPool Studios (BPS). Since 1995, BPS has worked on productions from England and Australia to Canada. As well as shows produced here in the States.

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I’m working on a class project and have some questions I would like to ask you. Can you answer them and email them back to me?
In the past we have tried to take the time to respond to email inquiries regarding class projects. Due to the increasing number of requests we have been receiving, we can no longer spend the time to answer these questions on an individual basis. Hopefully, some of the questions posted here will help. We are delighted that so many people have an interest in the work we do but unfortunately we don't have the resources to devote to these inquiries.

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What platform do you use? What applications do you use?
We are a Macintosh based facility. The applications we use are principally;
Photoshop for painting, Modo for modeling, ElectricImage for 3D rendering and animation, After Effects for compositing and 2D animation and Boujou for 3D motion tracking.

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How do I get a job at BlackPool Studios?
BPS is a boutique facility. We are very small and currently have enough effects artists for the amount of work we do. You are welcome to send us a reel of your work, which we will keep on hand just in case we might need more artists in the future.

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Can I get an internship at BPS?
Because of our size and geographic location, BPS is probably not going to provide the kind of emersive experience one would want to gain from an internship at an effects facility. Our recommendation is to pursue an internship at the larger effects facilities who have established internship programs (some of this information may be out of date).

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How do I get a job in the visual effects field?
Most effects houses are looking for only two things; experience and a great demo reel. Your reel is made up of shots that you have either done on your own or contributed to in some meaningful way. It is what you need to show a prospective employer to showcase your skills and areas of expertise. With the more experience you get in the industry, the more shots you obviously have to show on your reel. If you are not responsible for all the work on particular shots on your reel, then you also should provide an annotated description of your contribution to the shots you collaborated on.

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How do I put together a good reel if I don't have any experience?
To be honest, experience in a particular area is very important but it is possible to get that first job without some prior experience. In that case, you want to go to a college that offers courses in the area of visual effects you are pursuing. The best case is to attend a college that has an affiliation with a major effects house. Here are a list of colleges that provide courses in computer and traditional animation and computer graphics: (some of this information may be out of date)

Traditional and Computer Animation

Computer Graphics

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What if I can’t go to one of these colleges?
It isn’t mandatory that you go to one of these colleges or any college for that matter. What’s important is that you are eager, dedicated and of course have a talent for this kind of work. If you are motivated, then you can create shots on your own to put on your demo reel. They can simply be reworking an idea you got from watching a movie with a really great effect in it or developing a concept you thought up on your own. Remember, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to produce a great reel. In fact, if you can produce shots that looked expensive but in fact weren’t, that would really work in your favor.

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Do I need to have a degree in art to become a digital matte artist?
You don’t need to have a degree in art, but having a good fundamental background in art is pretty important. Especially a background in representational art and more importantly landscape painting. Even though most matte painting is being done on computers these days, the ability to create believable images for film or television still relies on having a keen eye for reality, which gets developed with this kind of training. Remember, it’s always easier to teach an artist to use a computer than a computer savvy person to be an artist.

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What books on matte painting do you recommend I read?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive book on digital matte painting. However, there are a number of books in print that cover the basic principals and methods of visual effects.

The Technique of Special Effects Cinematography
Raymond Fielding
ISBN 0240512340

Special Effects - Wire, Tape and Rubber Band Style
L B Abbott
ISBN 0935578064
(This book may be out of print. But if you can find a used copy somewhere it is worth the effort)

Industrial Light & Magic - The Art of Special Effects
Thomas G Smith
ISBN 0345322630

Industrial Light & Magic - Into the Digital Realm
Mark Cotta Vaz and Patricia Rose Duignan
ISBN 0345381521

Special Effects - The History and Technique
Richard Rickitt
ISBN 0823077330

The Invisible Art
Mark Cotta Vaz and Craig Barron
ISBN 0-8118-3136-1
The Art and Science of Digital Compositing
Ron Brinkmann
ISBN 0121339602

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