Ai LIVE: Tips and Insights into VFX Careers with Crafty Apes’ Chris LeDoux
May 14, 2021
And in this episode of AiLive, Crafty Apes co-founder and Senior VFX Supervisor Chris LeDoux discusses his career beginnings in Alaska and eventual move to California where he’s worked on films including La La Land, The Greatest Showman, Doctor Strange, and Captain America: Civil War. “The rush to production is a bit like a tidal wave,” LeDoux tells host E. Vincent Martinez.
LeDoux started out by fine-tuning his skills in Adobe After Effects for a small company in Alaska. When a friend in California called and asked if he’d want to help with VFX for the movie Sin City, LeDoux packed up his car and made the drive to San Francisco. There, he discovered that the level of skill required to succeed in California was far more advanced than in Alaska. “It was humbling, which in the long run was a good thing,” he says.
His career took a dramatic shift forward when he worked on the 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth. During production, he built a strong professional network that provided opportunities for additional work and growth within the industry.
LeDoux believes that the best way to learn is through direct training—and asserts that VFX is an art of turning someone’s vision into reality. It involves a translation of ideas from concept to screen—requiring a combination of technical and artistic skills. “We are creative craftspeople,” he says.
Through his years of experience, LeDoux has gained an eye for the type of person likely to succeed in the industry. He mentions that these people are motivated, hard-working, and persistent. They also have an understanding of how to communicate ideas and understand psychology—skills needed to tell a compelling story through visuals.
When Martinez asks about current industry-standard technology, LeDoux suggests that students learn Nuke Compositing software. Knowing it is just one piece of working in VFX, he states, because teams must also work within tight budgets in high pressure situations. For him, it’s paid off. Crafty Apes now has multiple offices across North America and his employees are working on everything from CW television shows to Star Trek productions.
“There is a lot of science fiction happening now,” he teases about his future projects.
If you’re interested in learning more about an education that can help to prepare you to pursue employment in VFX, check out the programs offered at The Art Institutes. Our programs in Visual Effects & Motion Graphics can get you started.
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