View Full Version : Interview with Jason Schleifer of Weta Digital

09 September 2002, 02:04 PM
Yours truly has just posted an interview with Jason Schleifer, Senior Animator/Creature Technical Director, Lord of the Rings, Weta Digital.



09 September 2002, 02:58 PM
I came to the conclusion that while there's a time and a place for festivals which cater to the art of animation (which is extremely important), there hasn't really been a festival that I've seen which just caters to the joy and entertainment of it. I think that most audiences would love to go to an animation festival which was really full of good quality, funny stories which are short, to the point, and make you laugh.

<---likes the way he thinks :D

09 September 2002, 03:09 PM
i will try my best to make my dreams come true.:)

09 September 2002, 06:54 PM
Whoa, I almost broke my neck doing a double-take. For second there I thought that was Beau "Beelzabeau" Cameron. I'm sure we'll be reading about Beau in a similar light some day.

09 September 2002, 07:36 AM
ooo! who's beau beelzabeau cameron? do I look like him? freaky!

gotta appologize for those photos.. my dad took 'em in the harbor here while the america's cup was in town. Goofin around as usual. :)


09 September 2002, 08:21 AM
I can't belive this... I can't believe Im reading this... Wow..
This story is almost excaclty the same as mine, though it didn't come to the happy ending just yet, because Im waiting for my greencard. Here is a story. I moved to states to Santa Barbara and I live here now, I was going to be science major but I was doing 3d for 6 years now, I found there was a Maya cources here in SB and I took those. A close friend of mine thought that I was doing good, grubed me an took me to AW to show them my reel and resume, so in a week I got a call from them that hey want me to work in QA and test Maya3.5 for mac and 4.5, So I worked there for about 6 months and now they are closed. While working there I made alot of friends and met a really good person later Eric Hanson while I was doing some stuff(many of you might seen a thread Moscow 2375) I met with him and he introduced me to a creative director Judos Crow of DD and another guy who is also russian like I am at Weta - Sergey. After a while I met a director of photography for sfx in ILM Vence Piper, but now I dont know if im gonna get a greencard. In case if I will I hope I end up in some fx house... im really working my a%% of to get there but my greencard is in question because of really good lawyers my famaly hired.

jschleifer: I know its alot to ask but I'd really dont want to be throughn out of this field just because of some stupid issues. Im really glad I red that interview and saw some parts of myself there. But I would greatly appreciate any help with Weta. I know they will be looking for reels around Jan2003 but still ... I dont know.... how hard is to get there?

09 September 2002, 08:27 AM

sounds like you joined A|W JUST at the wrong time.. too bad about the SB office.. it was such a beautiful place! I do miss santa barbara... <sigh>

as for getting into Weta, we will indeed most likely be hiring towards the end of film 3.. march.. april.. may.. around that time. Since you already know serge, then it should be a bit easier for you to get in..

for those of you who don't know serge (heh), but still want to work at weta, the best thing I can say is to submit your reel, fill out the online form, and keep your fingers crossed! :)

The great thing about this industry is that you can go from country to country working.. and the more you work, the more people you meet.. and the more people you meet, the easier it is to get a job somewhere else.. where you can meet more people.. and get more work.. you get the idea. :)


09 September 2002, 08:41 AM
Yeah... I just loved that place, all the co-workers became really good friends and now most of the people are spread all over the place, mostly in Dreamworks though.

Also the thing is that .. I dont know if it is a coincidence but everyplace I worked in got closed.. I hope thats not me though=)
There was a really interesting story with AW. SB office sent me to the presentation of XSI 2.0 in LA and I wrote a huge paper on it comparing it with Maya. After the office shot down I got a reference letter from my "boss" Peter Miller which said that my paper led to restructurizing in managment of AW, I dont know if it has something to do with closure of SB office, but after I read the letter I was in total shok for about two day. I was just an intern basically working in QA .. damn I hope I didnt write anything bad .

Santa Barbara got even nicer now. I bet you miss frieday nights on State St. =) or Wild parties at IV that got even wilder now :rolleyes:

09 September 2002, 08:44 AM
Ha! peter as your boss.. why, I remember before that young whipper snapper ever worked at the SB office! (okay, so he's older than me.. but I can still call him whipper snapper! peter.. if you're listening.. :P)

Yep, lots of good folks there in SB.. the developers, qa, and assist were all top notch.

aw poop. :)

09 September 2002, 08:47 AM
LOL.... Even I could call em that way =))) and im 20 now. He is really a fun guy. Ahhh.. CS .. CS =))) He was also making weird animal noises.... lol.... im really loughing hard now.. damn I miss AW.

BTW. why are you hiring after the 3rd film? What will be the next Weta's project. I bet last one is a secret =)))

09 September 2002, 08:53 AM
Nono..we'll be hiring FOR the 3rd film.. as we hit crazy production deadlines, we'll need to ramp up bigtime. thus, we'll be hiring like crazy around that time. :)

09 September 2002, 09:00 AM
Now I have even more insparation to do some good animations for demo reel.. Im gonna work on two project now. Damn I will finish them both before you guys will be hiring =) Finally I will have a team to work with. Gonna be lighting and rendering TD.

BTW please, if you'll have some time look at my last project screenshots. If you can, please tell me does this kind of quality good for demoreel or it has to be something a little more production quality stuff? I just dont know what to show and how to show my work if I never worked in production house before and hence, dont have film quality imagery.

09 September 2002, 09:05 AM
all the sweet stuff is on page 4

09 September 2002, 09:11 AM
This is some really sweet work! I'd follow all the comments given (especially those about dirtying it up... adding variation.. etc).

beautiful stuff!

If you want to get into weta, it'd be really helpful to do some more natural environmental stuff as well.. trees, dirt, mountains, etc. Those are what LOTR's about, and having that type of stuff on your reel will really help..

but seriously nice work. I don't think you should have much of a problem getting a job with things like that on your reel.. render it out to 1 or 2k, make it moving.. add things like papers flying about, make sure it doesn't break down at a really high resolution.. and vavoom. nice! :)


09 September 2002, 11:04 AM
nice, just the kind of interview i like to read:thumbsup:

can't wait to see the towers


09 September 2002, 11:43 PM
I'd give my right eyeball (and possible also a few vital organs) to work on Return Of The King....
What's Sergeys home address? So I can start sending him gratuitous expensive presents.....

09 September 2002, 12:49 AM
Originally posted by Leigh

What's Sergeys home address? So I can start sending him gratuitous expensive presents.....

Jeez Leigh, is that your ANSWER for everything? tsk tsk :shame:

heheh I kid, I kid :p

09 September 2002, 02:15 AM
hey Denny..

just out of curiosity, your work at AW in SB, the XSI2 thing and ur origins remind me a lot of a guy that used to hang out in 3dw on undernet...
is that u ?

if it is... well it's a damn small world :)

09 September 2002, 06:03 AM
hehe.... you mean n3xx or thenexx, then thats me... im in the same chan but on the efnet now =)

damn small world

09 September 2002, 05:44 PM
amazing interview and id just like to say good work! :D
oh and i find a paragraph in your interview esspcially apleasing that i would like to quote :D

Also, study and observe everything. Watch the way people move, the way their clothes bunch and fold, the way light reflects off things. The more you observe and get a critical eye for the way things are, the more you'll be able to achieve the vision that you have in your head for the way you want something to appear.

i cant agree more! thats all i got to say :D oh and ill be applying at weta for sure! keep up the good work



09 September 2002, 07:08 PM
man this is weird. bay told me back in march that weta should be picking up a few people around september..october..

i email weta now and i find out around january the next batch should start.

so ya. send in your reel quickly cuz you never know when they will be hiring :) and different positions at different times ( ie. compositors are usually hired later in the year. )

good stuff on the interview btw :)

09 September 2002, 09:30 PM
Twisted Imperia: thanks very much! :)

ambient-whisper: haha. :) bay was wrong! (but don't tell him I said that :D

the amount of people we hire and what positions we hire for certainly changes over the year.. but you can kind of look at what the production cycle is and make assumptions as to when hiring is going to happen. if the film is showing in december.. and it takes a few months to get the final print and sound and everything together.. then work backwards and you can figure out when the finishing date is for Weta.. given that comp artists are the last to touch a shot, and modeling is often the first thing to happen.. you can sort of figure out that around september we probably won't be interested in hiring any modeling people, but then in January, we probably won't need any new comp artists.. :)

but yeah.. apply apply! :)


10 October 2002, 05:12 PM
yeah it's a very interesting interview, liked to read it

10 October 2002, 01:00 AM
okay guys, be honest, do you have time to find a girl friend and keep a romantic realtionship going, knowing that you are putting in long hours every day, and sometimes on the weekends?

How about marriage?

10 October 2002, 11:37 PM
Jason, in the fine interview you wrote:

Thus, I'm now searching for shorts just like these

You are looking for less than polished but funny .... does this qualify as "funny"? ;)



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