INVASION shines the light on VFX talent | Page 3 | Sunday Observer

INVASION shines the light on VFX talent

24 January, 2021

The local VFX community is, for the most part, ignored in the scope of the wider media industry in Sri Lanka, but this is not for the lack of talent. Quite evidently, there are many gifted and creative artistes who go largely ignored or do not get the proper opportunity to shine and show just what our local talent is capable of .

Madhuka Gunasekara is one of the few lucky talented artistes who got the chance to truly flex his creativity and develop into a true VFX artiste of international standards. Having worked on VFX work extensively both locally and internationally, Madhuka now works for the Canadian VFX Studio, SPINVFX and has even begun making his own fully CG short film, Invasion.

In a brief interview with him, Madhuka gave us a brief look into Invasion as well as a look back on his career as a VFX artiste.

Madhuka Gunasekara

Q: What can you tell us about your upcoming short film?

A: I have been planning to start a short film of my own for some time. The pandemic and the lockdown, finally gave me an opportunity. Invasion is six minutes long and is inspired by different genres of sci-fi motion pictures. I hope to release the full version in three to four months.

Q: Have you made something like this before?

A: Not really. That being said; I have done a few sequences of one to two minutes while experimenting with film making techniques. Invasion started as the product of such an effort, but I was confident that it had the quality to be made into a lengthier film.

Q: Is it just you working on this?

A:Yes, I am working on all aspects of VFX, story and directing. Character modeling: is done by KLERRYKOT and Ravi Royster does sound design and background score.

Q: What resources have you used in the production of this short film?

A: At the beginning of this project, I had to evaluate my resources, especially in hardware and software. I upgraded my workstation to an ASUS Zenbook Pro while re-calibrating my Dell monitor. In software it is mostly Maya, Arnold and Unreal Engine.

Q: What do you think of VFX as an industry, from the perspective of someone who works in it?

A:The VFX Industry is constantly evolving. Even if I am a Senior VFX Artiste today, I am continuously learning the new trends and applying them to my day-to-day work. We must constantly learn these new techniques to make our work efficient, qualitative and most importantly creative.

Q: From what I understand, there are many important facets to CG and VFX. What is your specialty?

A: My specialty is in compositing and look development. However, I am versatile in other aspects like modeling, texturing, rigging, animating, lighting, FX, rendering and other fields.. But I am always curious to know more about the VFX Industry in general. Right now, I am studying Python Scripting and developing tools for an efficient workflow.

Q: What type of projects are you involved with at SPINVFX?

A: Films, TV series in different mainstream media such as Hollywood, NETFLIX etc.

Q: From what I’ve gathered, SPINVFX has worked on many high-profile works. Have you had any involvement with stuff of that level?

A: My recent projects include TV series like The Umbrella Academy, Altered Carbon, Expanse, The Stand, Siren, SEE and motion pictures such as Chaos Walking, Asteroid Impact (IMAX) and My Spy

Q: What was your history with (Visual Effects) before SPINVFX?

A: Believe it or not, I started my career as a banker at Seylan Bank. VFX was always a hobby which I slowly started to expand into advertising when I was introduced to X10 Productions in 2012 by Umesh Fernando who was the Editor at that time. At X10, Umesh Fernando, Prasanna Kithalagama, Dillon De Silva and Chandana Meeriyagalla were instrumental in laying my foundation as a VFX Artist.

When I joined MPC Shanghai in 2016, it opened the door to an international arena. At MPC Shanghai, I worked on many international brands such as Mercedes Benz, BMW, Coca-Cola, Nike, L'Oréal, Uniqlo, Porsche and Vivo which gave me a world of experience in advertising.

I also had the opportunity to be the Lead Compositor for several projects which enhanced my experience and know-how. As I had always wanted to work inf and TV, in 2019 I joined SPINVFX Canada. So, I believe I do have quite a history with Visual Effects even before SPIN!

Q: I get that you are currently working in Canada, but what do you think of the Sri Lankan Visual Effects industry? Do you think there is a strong community here? What could be better?

A: As I have worked with different nationalities and experts, I am quite confident that the VFX community in Sri Lanka can contend with an international environment. However, the chance to find this opportunity is quite limited. As we all know, the investment and the resources for Sri Lankan media and the film industry are not sufficient. Moreover, in my experience, much of the work is rushed without a standardised evaluation. This makes our industry stagnant and gives insufficient space to develop.

I am quite fortunate that I was introduced to and still work with some incredible people in this industry. Therefore, I have started an initiative in a second short film where I have been able to discover upcoming Sri Lankan talent. I have brought some of them on board and have already introduced them to a few noteworthy international projects. They also have the chance to use these shots in their portfolio. Finally, my goal is to create a platform that connects the global VFX Industry.

Q: What kind of advice would you to give to a local VFX or CG artist?

A: For each artiste the journey of their career is different. There is no perfect right or wrong answer. What worked for me is to remain curious and keep learning every day. Many of those who are getting into this industry think that if you learn the software it is enough. In reality, the software is just a tool. It is important to explore and build different foundations of your creativity, theories in colour, lighting, photography and film making to shape your identity as an artiste.

I did not have the perfect ride, made few mistakes but was quick to learn from them. You should know it will test your patience. So, my advice is not to lose focus, be patient and never give up!