One of the benefits of the visual effects training program at Rising Sun Pictures is that classes are taught within a working visual effects studio, one that has brought to life extraordinary visuals for such box offices hits as Ford v Ferrari, Spider-Man: Far from Home and Captain Marvel. Students enrolled in these courses receive a first-rate education in visual effects and witness, first-hand, how those skills are put to use by top-level professional artists weaving cinematic magic for the blockbusters of tomorrow.
Huan Luong, a junior paint and roto artist and teaching assistant at the studio, says RSP students enjoy a tremendous advantage in being surrounded by such experienced role models. “I tell students that, if they are serious about becoming professionals, the best thing they can do is go out onto the floor and talk to senior artists,” he explains. “They have the knowledge and experience. They know what the students are going through, because they’ve been through it themselves. They are supportive of younger artists and happy to help.”
Luong ought to know as he trained at RSP himself. While working toward his Bachelor of Media Arts in Film and Television at the University of South Australia, he undertook the studio’s VFX Placement courses comprising Compositing & Tracking and Dynamic Effects & Lighting. Each course was set up to mirror the environment of the professional studio located down the hall and students worked collaboratively to complete tasks as if they were assigned to an actual film.
“We worked with software such as Maya, Nuke and Houdini, the same software used on the floor, and we published assets in an identical pipeline,” he recalls. “We were even using assets from past projects done here at RSP. The experience felt quite real.”
As a teaching assistant, Luong works under the studio’s senior instructors, who are long-time veterans of the visual effects industry with direct, hands-on experience on high-profile film and television projects. His role is to guide students as they work to master complex software and techniques. “I enjoy the one-on-one experience of walking students through difficult shots,” he says. “I like the problem-solving aspect of my work as an artist, but I also like to help students solve their problems. In visual effects, every situation is unique and requires a unique solution. I teach students to think creatively.”
Luong notes that training at RSP goes beyond learning software. Students are taught how to be professionals and how to go about getting launched in the industry. The studio hosts “Day in the Life” sessions where professional artists from different departments talk about their work and career paths. RSP’s HR staff offer insight into building showreels, interview skills and job-search strategies. “Students can use their time here to make connections with their instructors, other artists and fellow students,” he points out. “Those relationships really pay off after they graduate and are embarking on their careers.”
Once again, Luong is speaking from personal experience. Shortly after he completed the VFX Placement coursework and earned his degree from UniSA, an opening arose at RSP. He was offered the position based on the strong impression he made on his instructors and other studio staff. He now splits his time between his assistant teaching responsibilities and work on the floor as a junior artist. “It’s the best of both worlds,” he explains. “I get to work with students while continuing to develop my skills as an artist. When I’m working on the floor, I’m always discovering something new that I can then share with my students.”
Luong says that the students who are self-motivated, work hard and take advantage of the opportunities available at the studio have a clear path before them. “Students leave here well prepared to step into junior artist roles,” he says. “RSP has many success stories to support that claim. Our students are employed at studios all over Australia and internationally. Some are lucky enough to be working here, like me.”
Rising Sun Pictures rsp.com.au