Lighting & Rendering Supervisor Kate Gabriel & FX Artist Hamish Ballingall share their tips and tricks for breaking into the VFX World

Have you ever wondered what it's like to work at The Mill or how to take your first step into the VFX industry? We sat down with Hamish Ballingall, FX Artist and Kate Gabriel, Lighting & Rendering Supervisor at The Mill, to discuss their experiences within this exciting career path and give their advice on making the most out of this exciting journey.
News February 11, 2022

What has been your most exciting/ambitious project to work on and why?

Kate: I’ve been at The Mill for four years, and I have worked on many ambitious and challenging projects. Every project brings you something new, something different, and that’s why I enjoy the advertising world where you have a shorter turnaround of jobs. 

One of my recent favourites was the game cinematic for Battlefield 2042, “What a time to be alive”. We had a fantastic team of artists from all around the world. It was one of the most significant projects I’ve been to as a lead. The cinematic was full CG, and there was a tremendous amount of work we had to do – animation, assets, environments, FX, lighting, comp, design; it was a lot of fun and hardworking hours. I’m proud of what we achieved.  

What skills did you find helped you take your first step into the VFX industry?

Hamish: Personally, for me, it was my teamwork & communication skills. I started as a runner at Framestore, which is a great way to get your foot in the door. I came across the position by chance at a VFX Festival in London; I plucked up the courage to introduce myself to the head of recruitment for Framestore. Later, when I applied for the position, she remembered me and saw potential in my work; I instantly clicked with the team during interviews and ultimately got the job. Once a runner, I got into the Fx team by communicating with the broader teams and expressing my interest. Through perseverance, I was allowed to do elementary tasks for Guardian of the Galaxy 2. I learnt everything I knew whilst on the job.

How do you imagine the VFX industry will evolve over the next ten years?

Kate: In the next ten years, I think we will see great things. There will be more job opportunities not just in VFX (which has boomed, with all these new streaming services), but if we look at it as creating CGI, it touches so many industries. Medical animation apps already help to save lives by training surgeons. In design and architecture, it helps to make constructions of the buildings which are better and safer. Or you can even create simulations that will allow us one day to go in space. We’ve got a great future ahead.

We’re hearing constant discussion surrounding the meta-verse. How do you think VFX will help shape the direction of this upcoming technology?

Kate: Overall, not just thanks to the meta-verse, there will be a considerable shift towards the CG industry in the future because of the constantly evolving technology. You can see that more and more companies want to create interactive experiences AR/VR advertising. This means more artists, producers, and creatives will be needed in our industry to create these unique new projects even worlds and who knows, maybe one day we’ll end up living like in Ready Player One.

Do you have any advice for your younger self on your ambitions to succeed in the VFX industry?

Hamish: Everyone in VFX feels like an imposter, especially at first, but don’t hesitate to ask questions and get stuck in. You’re not expected to have strong technical skills; the team are looking for potential and strong motivation. You can use your showreel to catch people’s eyes and show off your artist flair as an artist. Spend some time getting to know the team and the company; it will be noticed.

Get in touch with our team if you would like to discover more or would like to discuss a potential project.