A three years’ experience that felt like it went by too fast, said Sonia Seow Li Ming, a graduate from the very first batch of the Film Visual Effects (VFX) programme since the course was introduced in 2016. She is now a Junior Character FX Artist, recently landing a job offer from Moving Picture Company (MPC) Montreal. MPC artists have produced award-winning work for films such as Life of Pi, The Jungle Book, The Lion King and 1917.
Growing up in an artistic environment helped spark her interest especially because it was one of the ways she could relate and communicate with her parents who were both artists as well. However, it was her love for cinema that really steered her into this direction.
“Every Friday night was movie night with dad and the excitement of queuing up to buy salted popcorn and sitting in the dark silence of the theatre hall awaiting to be transported to an extremely believable world of someone else’s imagination was everything to me. From then, I knew I wanted to create worlds and realities where people could go and experience,” reminisced Sonia. “With VFX, it was magic – if you could make people think something looked real, then it is real,” she said.
People around her told her that she had to become a professional with no less than a degree to survive these days. Therefore, in trying to please them, she studied architecture for a year and even did an internship. It was going well but her gut feeling told her otherwise. Ultimately, she went to check out The One Academy and searched for careers that she could venture into to convince her family that art was a sustainable choice.
“I enrolled at TOA as an illustration student because I thought I wanted to become a matte painter, so I spent a lot of my first year observing, drawing and trying to get a grasp of the fundamentals as best as I could. Towards the end of my first year, I switched to Film Visual Effects when the course first opened up because I felt like I should push myself into learning more technical skills within art,” shared Sonia.
Always putting in the extra effort, Sonia would try to sneak into other people’s classes, asking the lecturer for extra workshops and learning from other students in different departments. She would seek the digital modelling students for help, animation friends for feedback on poses and fashion students for clothing patterns. She would also often find herself hanging in the back of the digital animation lab after class to listen in on her seniors’ final project feedbacks and found it to be fun.
“A good habit to have is to never stop learning. With every change comes growth and I think being able to adapt to new changes be it learning a new software, new workflow, getting out of our comfort zone and being open to constructive criticisms is a good mindset to have in order to move forward,” she said on the qualities an artist should have to succeed in this field.
“It’s growing fast and things are becoming more optimized with every new update making it easier for artists to focus on the artistic side of VFX. It’s an exciting time to join the industry with more niche roles becoming easily accessible to pick up. I hope to see more Malaysian VFX artists as it’s high in demand too!” Sonia had to say about the flourishing industry.