AiIN Siggraph Hosts Visual Effects Artist James Gaczkowski
Accomplished visual effects artist James Gaczkowski took time away from his busy schedule to meet Media Arts & Animation students at The Art Institute of Indianapolis. AiIN Siggraph hosted James who spent a few hours discussing his career, giving advice, and critiquing student portfolios. He provided perspective on both the film and game industry—having worked in both. Highlights of his career include films like Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Zodiak, My Super Ex Girlfriend and work at EA, especially on the game series "Medal of Honor."
It was easy to see the passion and pride James has for his work and industry. As he explained, it was not easy or glamorous to get where he is today. It is different than other industries. Where you don’t want to jump from one company to another normally, in the gaming or film industry, you do. “Each shop bids on different scripts or projects. You go wherever the work lands. Work at a place for a while, get some credits and skills, then go to the next shop and ask for more money. That is how you move up.”
Besides switching jobs regularly, James suggests learning all the software you can now. “You need to get so good at software that you can learn any software and fast. Most companies end up writing their own software, so stay late learning it. Or talk to the guy that created it. Use the training softwares on your own.” Networking is a given and should be started, if it hasn’t been yet. Go to industry events. Show your interest in their work and even offer to do some work now. But most importantly, don’t interview with the company you really want first. Get a few under your belt and polish your interview skills before you hit your top choice.
James enjoyed many projects, but by far his favorite was the music video "Only," by Nine Inch Nails. His part of the project was the pin cushion effect, which was pretty unreal if you saw it. The Visual Effects Society took notice and awarded him Outstanding Visual Effects in a Music Video.