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Why Rocio Herrero Atienza Is Letting Go of Perfectionism


JAM VFX's junior VFX artist on being self taught, optimistic views on technology and why VFX isn't just about explosions and Hollywood action

Why Rocio Herrero Atienza Is Letting Go of Perfectionism

Rocio is an editor and VFX artist from Spain who started in the film industry working as a runner on music video sets. Being self taught she has worked her way up from the grass roots, touching on a wide range of projects, from hip hop music videos, to sports graphics and commercial work. She's now specialising in VFX compositing while also developing her own experimental VFX projects. 

Credits include Gucci, Pinterest, Dave, Netflix, BBC and many more!

LBB> How long have you worked for JAM VFX?

Rocio> I have been working at JAM VFX since September last year. 

LBB> What’s your position at the company?

Rocio> I’m a junior VFX artist.

LBB> What’s the biggest misconception people have about VFX?

Rocio> That it only involves explosions and Hollywood action movie style effects. Also, people don’t realise how many different areas of knowledge it involves.

LBB> There are two ends to the VFX spectrum - the invisible post and the big, glossy 'VFX heavy' shots. What are the challenges that come with each of those? 

Rocio> When it comes to 'the invisible' editing/compositing side, I think the biggest challenge is getting really good tracks, as well as having the patience to do really small tweaks until the shot looks perfect. As for glossy shots, I think the trickiest part is to integrate the VFX within the style of the film/commercial.

LBB> As a VFX person, what should directors be aware of to make sure you do the best possible job for them? 

Rocio> Directors should always think about the edit before shooting and seek advice from a VFX senior artist or post house to ensure they film in the most efficient way.

LBB> VFX is a true craft in the classic sense of the word. Where did you learn your craft?

Rocio> I am self taught. I started filming music videos with small artists and editing them. I used to watch FIFA and Nike adverts with amazing transitions and VFX and started trying to replicate them following After Effects YouTube tutorials. After a few years doing this, I decided it was time to learn from 'the pros' in the game and applied for a job at JAM VFX. 

LBB> Think about the very, very start of a project. What is your process for that? Do you have a similar starting point for all projects?

Rocio> I always try to start projects by thinking about the main message/emotion the director/client is trying to convey, and keep going back to it throughout the whole process. I also find it useful to create word trees, doing research, and creating mood boards. I always plan how I'm going to tackle a shot before I start working on it. 

LBB> Is there a piece of technology or software that's particularly exciting you in VFX? Why?

Rocio> I think Blender is super exciting and it’s free. The interface is very intuitive and render times really fast. GeoTracker is also an exciting tool I want to start fiddling with. 

LBB> And as real time tech and games engines become ever faster and more sophisticated, how do you see it shaping or changing the role of VFX and its place in the production pipeline (e.g. thinking about things like virtual production)? 

Rocio> I have a rather optimistic view on how technology will affect VFX. I believe a lot of daunting tasks such as roto will be automated and creativity will be more valued. I guess there will be more demand for virtual production visuals and other ways of consuming media which VFX studios will have to adapt to. 

LBB> VFX is a craft that relies on you really looking at nature - how light works, how gravity works, the mannerisms of a kind of creature, how crowds work, skeletons, explosions… whether it's animation or compositing or anything else… So how do you like to approach the research side of your job? What’s the most random or intriguing thing you’ve learned from working on a project?

Rocio> I rely on my intuition and I watch a lot of amazing visual artists. I think the more you learn about any and everything the better you become. I think photography is also a really good way to train the eye and I want to get more into it. 

LBB> When you’re watching a VFX-heavy ad or movie, what are the tells that you look for to figure out how well crafted it is?  

Rocio> It should never look forced and should always be integrated within context and environment. If it doesn’t 'feel right' then it's probably not great. 

LBB> How did you first get into the industry? What was your very first job in the industry and what were the biggest lessons that you learned at that time? 

Rocio> I started shadowing independent music video directors and working as a runner on set. I used to film BTS (behind the scenes) and small videos until I started to get my own clients and was able to go freelance. The biggest lesson would be to not rush and take time to learn. Also, to let go of perfectionism.

LBB> What skills do you think you need to succeed in the industry?

Rocio> I would start with a solid technical foundation in tracking, rotoscoping and compositing basics and expand skills depending on what area you want to specialise in. 

LBB> What advice would you give to other people thinking about working in the industry?

Rocio> Practice, practice practice. I would also advise getting an entry level job in a VFX studio to learn from more experienced artists.

LBB> What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Rocio> Everything in the book ‘Ego is the Enemy’ by Ryan Holiday has helped me in my creative journey. 

LBB> From a VFX perspective, which ads have you seen recently that you've been particularly fond of and why? 

Rocio> Ironically, I don’t watch much tv but recently I’ve been following the work of Kevin Mcgloughlin and AWGE collective. 

LBB> How does JAM VFX support your career progression?

Rocio> JAM VFX has been the perfect place for me to develop my skills. I have been able to decide the direction I go in as an artist and received all the support I need in terms of training and the jobs I'm assigned to. I feel like I have a say and a lot of creative input in my projects. 

LBB> Explain a typical day at the JAM office?

Rocio> A typical day at JAM starts with a nice coffee and a quick catch up with my colleagues which have become friends. One of the producers would brief me on whatever project we’re working on or update me with any client feedback if we have already started. I would then start working in the compositors room with my colleagues and keep communicating with the producer throughout the day to ensure we meet deadlines etc 

LBB> What have you learnt since starting?

Rocio> I’ve solidified my knowledge of basic compositing techniques and massively improved in every area of VFX. I’ve also learned to do things to a much higher standard than when I was freelance. I’ve been lucky enough to take a course in Flame so I’m also in the process of learning a new software .

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JAM VFX, Fri, 21 Apr 2023 10:27:55 GMT