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Old 02-23-2007, 12:26 AM   #1
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Paul Hellard
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Meet the Artist - Kevin Mack

Kevin Mack
Visual Effects Supervisor

Academy Award winner Kevin Mack, visual effects supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, recently completed work on the action adventure, ‘Ghost Rider’ based on the popular comic book and starring Nicolas Cage.

Mack joined Imageworks in 2002 to supervise the visual effects for Tim Burton’s ‘Big Fish,’ which went on to be nominated for a BAFTA Award for Achievement in Visual Effects.

While at Digital Domain, Mack was visual effects supervisor on the Oscar-winning ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ where he was intimately involved with director Ron Howard and writer Akiva Goldsman in pre-production conceptualization of the visual depiction of John Nash’s genius. This creative and collaborative relationship with Howard was formed when Mack supervised the effects on Dr. Seuss’ ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas.’

Mack also worked with director David Fincher on ‘Fight Club’, supervising visual effects and collaborating with Fincher to design the seminal “brain fly-through” opening sequence of the film.

Mack won the Academy Award in 1999 for Achievement in Visual Effects for his work on ‘What Dreams May Come’ as visual effects supervisor.

Mack’s other visual effects supervisor credits include ‘Vanilla Sky’, ‘Red Corner’ and ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’. He also served as digital effects art director on the Academy Award-nominated ‘Apollo 13’.

Previously, Mack had an extensive career as a freelance visual effects artist creating matte paintings and miniatures for films ranging from Airplane 2 to the Oscar-winning ‘The Abyss’.

Feel free to read the CGSociety ‘Ghost Rider’ article, now online, and also have a look at some of the other links as well, then ask Kevin Mack any industry question here, as we have him online in our February ‘Meet the Artist’.

Please make him welcome, Kevin Mack.
For Editor and features writer, CGSociety; Global Artist Liaison, Ballistic Publishing. Freelance writer, media consultant & digital producer.
Old 02-23-2007, 08:16 AM   #2
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Shane Richards
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Hi Kevin, welcome to meet the artists!

I'd like to know which film/project has been your biggest challenge so far and why. Also, could you name 3 big lessons you've learnt so far as an artist in the industry.


Old 02-23-2007, 08:17 AM   #3
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Sean Finnegan
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G'day Kevin, you've done some brilliant work there. Ok, got a few questions:

1. Does your professional career provide much time for personal projects?

2. What are the packages Imageworks uses, and is it "set in stone"?

3. What's the biggest challenge you've been given in your cg history?
Old 02-23-2007, 09:07 AM   #4
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Michael Olszak
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Hey Kev. nice of you to take some time for this. Just wanted to say congrats on all the awesome acheivements in your career. Taking part in creating so many awesome movies must be an awesome feeling man.

good luck with future projects and jobs.


Old 02-23-2007, 09:18 AM   #5
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Hi Kevin....

Thanks for your time... What do you think is the biggest challenge nowdays in visual effects? Is it more technical such as CG water/fur or more managerial such as how to approach a project with resources available??

Thanks again


Last edited by ftaswin : 02-23-2007 at 09:26 AM.
Old 02-23-2007, 09:36 AM   #6
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Gubisha Rodriguez
3d sculptor and designer
Mexico City, MX
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hello kevin.

congratulations for your great carrer.

my first question.
what is the hardest challlenge you have faced in the past?

also what roll do you think is less important in the cg industry?

do you like ghost rider comic book ?

what is your favorite video game?

wich video game producer do you think is the best in the field of video games?

do you like mexican food?

what is your main goal in life?

thx in advance for share some of your time with us.
Old 02-23-2007, 10:49 AM   #7
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Nqobizitha Mlilo
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Ghostrider looks amazing. Can you give us time periods on how long things in the pipeline took? what were the technical challenges and what commercial apps you use if any.
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Old 02-23-2007, 11:58 AM   #8
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Ralph R
Singapore, Singapore
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Hi Kevin. Thanks for your time.

- How does look like a common day as a Visual Effects Supervisor at Imageworks?

- What is the usual background of a visual effects supervisor?

- Does he need to master everything about cg, from bluescreen shots to matchmoving, modelling, lightning, particles, render, composition, etc.?

- How did you start in the industry? What kind of background do you have?

Congratulations on your success! Thank you very much!
Old 02-23-2007, 02:38 PM   #9
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Jan Medina
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What was your biggest chanllance in Ghost Rider when it come to special effect?

how much work do you put into GhostRider?

ok bye,
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Old 02-23-2007, 02:47 PM   #10
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Rami Atrash
Character animator
Moscow, Russia
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Hello Kevin!
I have just one important question for you. What kind of music you prefer to listen while working? Thank you
Old 02-23-2007, 03:21 PM   #11
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Wesley Brown
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Brampton, Canada
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Hey there Kevin! Thanks for "What Dreams May Come"'s Visual effects, i still watch it occaisionally since i really do love the visuals in that movie.

if you don't mind me asking, for someone hoping to break into the industry what words of advise would you be willing to offer someone that has to juggle a 9-5 job and work on a reel? just patience and diligence or is there some other tips in there that you could spare?

and also, as it happens now and again, how do you usually deal with burnout? (something that i know happens to everyone eventually, but isn't often discussed.)

Old 02-23-2007, 05:47 PM   #12
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Mike Rhone
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Hey Kevin. Damn, your credit list reads like my DVD reference library! A couple of questions:

Being that you are the go-between between the set and VFX team, do you have any etiquette tips for artists that are present during shoots? (I've heard that if your cellphone goes off while they are filming, you are 'fined' and your cellphone is smashed on the spot.)

Do you find the film crew pretty knowledgeable about what goes on in post, and what will help/hurt us on our end?

And finally, if you can answer this; With all the credits and experience you have behind you, do you have any interest in your own personal projects or even starting your own studio?
Mike Rhone
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Last edited by MikeRhone : 02-23-2007 at 06:48 PM.
Old 02-23-2007, 06:37 PM   #13
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Alhaitham Jassar
Atlanta, USA
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Hello Kevin, first of all wow! that's a very cool list of movies you've worked on ( I loved A Beautiful Mind..).

Ok, what I want to ask is: we have seen many many movies lately which are visual effects heavy, we have almost seen all the tricks, so are you worried about creating new CG tricks for upcoming projects? Is there anything left?

Thank you very much for your time.


Last edited by Jassar : 02-23-2007 at 07:27 PM.
Old 02-23-2007, 08:04 PM   #14
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Kevin Mack
VFX Supervisor
Sony Pictures Imageworks
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Originally Posted by sphere
Hi Kevin, welcome to meet the artists!

I'd like to know which film/project has been your biggest challenge so far and why. Also, could you name 3 big lessons you've learnt so far as an artist in the industry.


Hey Shane/Sphere,

Good questions! The biggest challenge question seems to be a popular one with many variations. I'm not sure why but it kind of stumped me right off. I think maybe because every challenge seems like the biggest one when you're facing it. And also challenges come in so many flavors. There are the technical challenges of “how are we going to do this really hard thing?”, the creative challenges of designing shots, look development and so on - and there are the social/political challenges of working with artists, directors, producers, film crews, etc. The biggest challenges are often not what you expect. Usually, for me, the most challenging shots on a movie are not the biggest, hardest or coolest shots. It's some minor little comp that wasn't shot right and you don't have the time or resources to fix it properly and you have to get really clever to make it work with the time and resources available.

As far as the movie that was the biggest challenge... Every one is so different I can't seem to pick one. Ghost Rider? Fight Club? The Grinch? What Dreams?

The three big lessons... There are actually 9,874 big lessons, but... Here's three...

  1. No matter what anybody says, they don't want something bad. So you have to figure out how to make the good version of what they are asking for. So often I've seen bad work - and the person who made it says “I know it's bad, but this is what they asked for”. Baloney. They just failed to get what was being asked for. You have to get inside the director/client's head and see what they see in the coolest possible way.
  2. Never lose your cool. No matter what happens. No matter how dire the situation seems, it will work itself out. Not always the way you want. But the more you resist an inevitable situation, the worse it gets. Surf the flow. Be calm and reasonable. Freaking out is never the right response.
  3. Always be yourself. Be honest and straightforward. My motto is - Relax. Breathe. Do your best. And be nice.
Old 02-23-2007, 08:11 PM   #15
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Johanes Kurnia
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Hi Kev, love your work & congratulations on Ghostrider, hot stuff!..
I just want to ask one question, what kind of preparation that you usually need to do before start working on the computer?

Thank you!
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Last edited by johaneskurnia : 02-23-2007 at 08:38 PM.
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