An Interview with a Visual Effects Artist (Part 2)


Photo of Don de Castro by Don de Castro.We’re back with professional VFX artist, Don de Castro. He’s worked on some big-time Hollywood films, including Avatar, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the WardrobeOpen SeasonPolar Express, Real Steel, and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.

Make sure to read part 1 of this blog post for more info on Don de Castro.

Read on for part 2 of our interview!

Please Describe Your Personal Library.

"I don’t have a library room. But I do have a couple of bookshelves filled with books at home mainly [related to] art and photography. My most prized possession is a signed copy of Composing Pictures by Donald Graham. (Donald Graham was one of the best art teachers and taught a lot of the Disney Animators in its heyday.) For a long time Composing Pictures was out of print, but was just recently [re-]published. It is a must read, although at times his wordings are a bit esoteric. Still a lot of good knowledge.

Also, I have beat up and well read copies of books by Andrew Loomis. A great illustrator and also a great writer when it comes to explaining art. His books were for a long time very hard to come by and I had to get my copies by scouring eBay a few years back. Luckily these days they just re-published his most famous book, Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth, although my favorites of his are Successful Drawing and Creative Illustration."

What Do Libraries Mean to You?

"To me the library is a safe haven, a place for me to get away from the outside world and lose myself in research and books. When I was young there was no other place I wanted to be except at the library, just trying to learn about new things and stumbling on to others by accident. Professionally when working at a big studio, such as Blur, they have a whole room of books and videos that are great for reference and inspiration."

What Are You Reading Now?

"I've got a bunch of books I’m reading at the moment. I listen to audiobooks whenever I am in the car alone so right now I am listening to 1Q84 [by Haruki Murakami]. At home for my own reading pleasure I just started Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich [by Mark Kriegel]. And when it's too dark to read when my son is asleep, I fire up my Kindle Fire; I’m currently reading Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide To Inner Excellence [by Gary Mack]."

Do You Have Any Advice for Aspiring Visual FX Artists?

"If you want to break into VFX my biggest advice is to compare yourselves to the images that you are seeing on websites such as The Computer Graphics Society and 3DTotal, or in magazines like 3dWorld and 3d Artist. Once you get to the point where you are confident you can create that type of work it really boils down to your networking skills and getting your foot in the door. But my biggest and most important advice is work hard and be able to work well with people. This is a small industry and once you mess up relations it can be hard for people to take you seriously, much less give you work."

What Has Been the Coolest Experience In Your Career So Far?

"By far the coolest experience is being on set while doing work--whether it was for Polar ExpressAvatar or Real Steel. Most people in the VFX pipeline only see the work as video reference on their monitors after everything has been shot. But as part of the motion capture team for these types of movies, we have the privilege of being on set and seeing it all happen as we are working."

That's All Folks

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to learn more about Don de Castro, you can follow him on Twitter under the handle @dondecastro

And check out his IMDb page for his film credits.

Don’t forget to “like” the Atherton and Brisbane libraries on Facebook to ensure you get all our Insider Access blog updates.

Photo credit: Don de Castro


Author Bio:

Intern Anthony Andora can do really bad sound effects if anyone in Hollywood wants to hire him.

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