William Maher

Digital Filmmaking & Video Production

VFX for Film & Television Lead Faculty
The Art Institute of Vancouver

William Maher

We expect blockbuster movies like Star Wars or AAA games like Grand Theft Auto to outshine anything that's come before. I think we should set the bar for ourselves just as high. William Maher , VFX for Film & Television Lead Faculty
, The Art Institute of Vancouver

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

When I was about 15, one of my teachers introduced me to a rudimentary version of 3DStudio for MsDOS. That’s when I knew that 3D art would be my vocation. It’s what inspired me to enroll at The Art Institute of Vancouver.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

I think the most important part of any production, whether animation, games or VFX, is having a clear goal to work towards, a structure to work within, and that’s how I structure my classes. In the planning phase there’s plenty of creative spontaneity, and moments of inspiration or technical obstacles can take the project down an unforeseen path. But without structure, 3D projects usually fail, because the development phase spirals out of control.

How would you describe your approach to teaching and mentoring?

While I always try to set my students up for success, I like to really challenge them. I think students learn best when they’re pushed outside of their comfort zone a little and they’re forced to adapt. When they solve a problem on their own, it’s more rewarding.

How do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their perceived limits?

I’ll throw students in the deep end. Why not blow something up on the first day of an FX class or light a stained glass cathedral interior at dawn for your first CG Lighting & Rendering assignment? When they’re pushed, and after they see what they’ve achieved, my students are inspired to go even further next time.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?


This industry’s production pipeline has a very non-linear direction, with many artists working together to constantly tweak and revise features, finding a balance between achieving perfection and time management. Learning to collaborate is crucial for students’ success.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?


I think it comes down to quality of work. We set our expectations rather high for the movies we see and the games we play. We expect blockbuster movies like Star Wars or AAA games like Grand Theft Auto to outshine anything that’s come before. I think we should set the bar for ourselves just as high.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?


Go out there and make the next Millennium Falcon or create the next Skyrim.

Anything else you’d like to share?

For me, there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing a project come together.