Meet the Artist - Jeff Okun

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  04 April 2007

Originally Posted by ditroi: This is Diana Huang from Tom Leeser's Senior Thesis class at Otis College of Art and Design. Thank you again for coming to my class to talk about this movie. This is really a fantastic movie and the article here is absolutely interesting on all levels. I am so glad your team was able to give some aid to people and help out the community with projects like rebuilding roads and furnishing the schools. It is too sad to think about at times but this stuff needs to be known so people can take action. Well when I have the money I'm going to do a whole bunch of stuff like the micro loan program. Thanks for doing this! Happy to have met you!

Hi Diana!

I so enjoyed seeing you guys and the amazing work you all are doing. You can ask Tom, I was really impressed with what I saw.

And your suggestions on how to help and who to do it with are a great beginning. But just understanding that it all really and truely is out there and needs the help is quite the thing right now.


  04 April 2007

Originally Posted by leova: First, I would like to thank Mr. Jeff Okun for a great article. Best article about vfx and its role. Amazing! Thank you.

I'm a big fan of your work for a long time and your invisible effects/solutions always full of inspiration.

I know you serve as the Chair of the Visual Effects Society, my question is about a future of VFX organization. VFX is a new player in film and TV and its place is not clearly specified. Where is so many unresolved questions like: credits in film, workflow and integration with other departments, who is responsible for what.
In my opinion solid structure/rules will help to establish equal place of VFX in film making process, give artist more freedom and power to create what they best on. Do you think we can create something like ASC, I.A.T.S.E., DGA for VFX? Does Visual Effects Society interested to evolve in this direction? Or we need to start thinking about creating something else? What would be your suggestion/opinion? Is it possible and how?

Thank you again,

VFX Problem Solver

Hi Lev,

First off, the ASC and the VES are both "Honory Professional Societies" as opposed to the DGA & IATSE - which are a guild and a union.

A guild or Union does what you are asking about - they involve themselves in acts of "Collective Bargaining" dealing with salaries, pensions and health benefits for their members.

An Honory Society is not allowed to do those things. They are only for gathering together professions to share, talk, challenge and push forward the barriars of their art. They can set standards, but only as suggestions as they do not have the power to enforce them.

Therefore, yes, we should be thinking of how to become a Union or Guild - however the VES, just like the ASC, can never become one. To do so, by law, they would have to be completely disolved and restart from scratch, following the laws and rules as set forth by both the State and Federal Governments and whichever group theywould be wishing to become.

I will write to you privately and fill you in on my past efforts in this area.

Thanks for asking,

  04 April 2007
Hey man, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions

heres a few more for you :

I don't have the slightest clue how to look for a school for visual effects or even how to research it online to find tutorials so i can learn a little bit at home... how would i go abouts doing this?

also, I love playin around with cg programs (im not good in anyway) but im pretty sure this is what I want to do when I get older as my career (i just turned 18, but i love cg stuff and the idea of visual effects intrigue's me.) what programs do you need to do visual effects ?

last one, what are some of the main skills you need to become a successfull creator of VFX.

Thank you very much for your time
  04 April 2007

Originally Posted by chips__: obvious follow up question how does one come into consideration ? =)

Easy! You send me a real and some info on the company, the artists and the goals!

  04 April 2007
Answer to Gale

Originally Posted by Sixslow:
I don't have the slightest clue how to look for a school for visual effects or even how to research it online to find tutorials so i can learn a little bit at home... how would i go abouts doing this?

also, ... what programs do you need to do visual effects ?

last one, what are some of the main skills you need to become a successfull creator of VFX.

Thank you very much for your time

Hi Gale!

I would contact the Gnomon School of Visual Effects. They are fantastic. Even if you do not choose to join them, you can see what kinds of stuff you should be looking for.

Of course there are the USC and UCLA film schools and their VFX Clubs that could help you as well.

I would also ask around on these forums for advice on what are good schools or ways to learn or get a foot in the doer.

And then there is always that old tested chestnut, working for free at a VFX company when you can spare the time in exchange for some training.

The programs you need to know depend entirely upon what it is you are trying to accomplish. Loads of programs = loads of solutions. I would not worry about that right now though as it changes as you decide what you want to do... you may want to be a shader writer or a compositor or lighter or do it all... so just start talking to people, like in this forum for example, sharing what you want to do and they can guide you to the right programs to use.

And for you last question, well, what a great way to get me to summarize my whole overview!

I feel that you need to learn to see. You need to learn to problem solve. You need to learn how to think on your feet. To not be afraid to experiment. To be able to hold the ideal of the end product in your head so you can see the bits and pieces that you need when they show themselves to you or what you have to create. You need to love what you are doing so that you derive joy from doing it! You need to really be a fan so that you can ask about it, study it, and never stop learning how to do it! Remember: Always be thristing for more because that is growth! The joy is in the jouney...

Those are the tools that I think you need to be a successfull supervisor! Oh, and one more thing: The ability to create! Think large, think where no one has gone before, do not acknowledge the limiations and just do it!


  04 April 2007

Thank you so much for the response to my questions. I think your last post delves at the core of what a VFX artist is all about; from the sacrifices you put in, to the learning of the 'fundamentals.'

I think any profession one chooses will have it's tough goings; but it's loving what you do that gets you through the rough patches.

Continue the great work!
  04 April 2007
Hi Jeff,

First I want to thank you for your time...

Well I entered VFX field almost 2 yrs ago, I work in Lebanon(Middle East).

The field is evolving here but still not as professional as what u guys do. I'm really eager to learn and improve in this field more. I would like to ask you, is it in any way possible for me to do training in one of the post production companies in the US, or is it definitely out of the question? If yes how, if not then what's your advice for me in order to improve and reach the pro level..
  04 April 2007
Thank you.

Its Time, gentlemen.

Thanks Jeff for your valued insights and for bringing your tremendous stories to this quite different feature on CGSociety and CGTalk's 'Meet the Artist'. Your encouraging words will stay here for everyone who passes by in search of career inspirations.

Thanks to everyone who posted their questions. Jeff is travelling at the moment and has been above and beyond the call to come online to answer your questions.
Fmr Editor and features writer, CGSociety; Global Artist Liaison, Ballistic Publishing. Freelance writer, media consultant & digital producer.
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