VFX Supervisor Chris LeDoux shares his journey of filmmaking and storytelling
February 2, 2022
In this episode of Ai LIVE, host E. Vincent Martinez talks with senior VFX Supervisor and founder of Crafty Apes, Chris LeDoux. From the first film LeDoux worked on to understanding the business side of filmmaking, the two discuss it all.
LeDoux named his company after hearing a quote from the HBO show, Carnival, “that crafty ape known as man.” While working at his first job in San Francisco, he was watching the show with friends and afterwards, he turned to them and told them he’d have a company named that.
During the digital film revolution in the early 2000s, LeDoux had a small company up in Alaska. Eventually, he got to be a compositor on a film entitled Sin City, and moved to San Francisco to work on the project. He considered the move very humbling as it forced him to catch up with other aspects of VFX work. In time, he had a choice between working on the VFX for Superman or Pan’s Labyrinth, and LeDoux choose the latter.
From there, LeDoux has had a notable career, working on films like La La Land, Hidden Figures, The Greatest Showman, and even working in the illustrious Marvel Cinematic Universe on Captain America: Civil War and Dr. Strange. Part of working as a VFX artists, LeDoux tells Martinez, is figuring out how to translate the idea in someone’s head into a visual format. It’s important to understand how movies work and how they’re shot, combining a lot of schools of thought. VFX artists can come into the production very early on, or they work on the film later—it all depends on the film.
Having worked in the industry for so long, LeDoux has developed a sense for what he looks for in an entry-level professional, as well as where the VFX industry is headed. For individuals looking to get into the field, LeDoux cautions the importance of maintaining a level head. “If you maintain no sense of entitlement, you’re gonna accomplish a lot more.” He tells Martinez that the times he’s gotten arrogant, it backfired on him. As for the future of VFX in entertainment, LeDoux sees plenty of potential. He notes that there’s now a shift towards focusing on the story rather than stunning visuals, a change from the early days of VFX. While the number of people per project might trend downward due to technology improving, LeDoux is confident that VFX artists will be in demand since those same advancements also increase the speed and turnaround time for various projects. VFX artists are often one of the last people to see a piece of media before its release, so their skills are often essential for adding the final touch.
For LeDoux, an important trait for starting out in the industry is attitude. He can often predict which entry-level individuals will endure based on their attitude. After all, maintaining a good attitude is part of the lessons he’s learned while working in the industry.
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