Visual Effects & Motion Graphics
Lead Instructor, Visual Effects & Motion Graphics
The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
Work hard, be determined, and know that someone else out there is working harder, studying harder, and 'sleeping faster' to compete for the exact same job. Thomas Brecheisen , Lead Instructor, Visual Effects & Motion Graphics , The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
I’ve always been involved in the creative arts—and I always knew I’d be somehow involved in education. I just happened to find a particular love for the cinematic arts, especially visual effects. I put my heart and soul into perfecting my craft, always with the eventual goal of teaching.
How do you help prepare students for a professional career?
Students in my Intro to Visual Effects class don’t create space robots, explosions that level cities, or epic light saber duels. They study the career possibilities in the visual effects and motion graphics industry. And they get a road map to guide their journey through to their Portfolio classes, which add clarity and direction to what they’ve studied. After completing all the classes leading to Portfolio, they’ll have the skills, materials, and experience to create a professional reel that can lead to their dream career.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
I strive to infuse a sense of purpose into each of my students. There’s a purpose behind each class, each assignment, and each friendly chat in the hallway. When students feel they have a goal-centered purpose, nothing can stop them from achieving their potential. I consider it my purpose to mentor students—not only bring them knowledge, but empower them to succeed.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
The visual effects industry is the epitome of collaboration. That’s why I expect students to work with peers from others departments to capture and create their effects. Visual Effects & Motion Graphics students work with Photography, Game Design, Animation, and Digital Film students on most of their projects. If you stay in your seat long enough after a movie, you’ll see that most of the people who worked on that film are visual effects professionals. Everyone has a part to play, and we rely heavily on expertise from other programs to achieve our goals.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Early on, I ask my students what they think employers look for. I usually get the expected answers: talent, passion, dedication, and skill. They’re surprised when I tell them that those things will help, but the real answer is, “Can you make someone else money?” I learned very early in my career that this is show business, not show dedication or show passion. We’re trying to make a product to sell. That’s the bottom line. The two most important things I can help a student develop are craft and confidence. If they come out of school with these two traits, they can be very successful in the film business.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Work hard, be determined, and know that someone else out there is working harder, studying harder, and “sleeping faster” to compete for the exact same job. If I can do one thing for students, it’s to instill in them a work ethic to maximize their chances for success.
Anything else you’d like to share?
My calling is to inspire students to reach their full potential so they can share their amazing talents with the world.