Janeen Elliott first joined Image Engine back in 2007 to contribute her compositing talents to The Incredible Hulk . She has since worked on a number of feature films including Independence Day: Resurgence, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Lost in Space. She has been recognized with a 2010 VES Award for Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture for her work on District 9.
You’ve been at Image Engine for quite a while now, how has the studio changed recently?
Since I started at Image Engine, it’s developed in leaps and bounds. I think that’s thanks to the entire crew at Image Engine, and the variety of projects that have landed here in a relatively short time. The crew sees a gap in pipeline, development, management or whatever area & it seems for the most part efforts are made to fill that gap and make the company better.
What would you say is the work you are most proud of that you completed prior to working at Image Engine?
I think I would say the work that I did on Poseidon. It was very hard work, and the majority of the shots that I had on the show were challenging, all involving water, either real or CG. A handful were extremely complex, multilayered mix CG and live action that kept me very busy. I learned a lot on that show and in the end the shots looked great – always a bonus.
What would you say is the work you are most proud of that you’ve completed at Image Engine?
I would have to say that I’m most proud of the work done on District 9. I was concerned about how the show would turn out, given the parameters that we had to work with. Through the course of the show though you could see the film coming together and I know I’m not the only one who was really proud of the entire crew at Image Engine for pulling together great looking aliens.
Is it important what kind of background visual effects artists come from? Do you feel it is more or less important to come from a mathematics or artist background?
I’ve known talented visual effects artists who’ve come from many different backgrounds. I think the strongest ones were the ones who had both right and left-brain capabilities. I think the way the industry is today, that if you’re an artist, you still need to handle many technical demands; and if you’re technical, you still need the ability to use a discerning eye to create great visuals. Most of these people have a leaning to either the technical or the artistic side though & it’s great when you can work with a nice mix of both to learn and to get support.
How has working in Vancouver been for you? How does it differ from working elsewhere in your experience?
I’m Canadian and had been living in the US for years before deciding to return to Canada & join the Image Engine team. Prior to that I worked in Toronto.
I’ve never lived and worked in Vancouver, and I’m really enjoying it. Professionally, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that there’s a bit of an explosion in VFX work coming to Vancouver. I wasn’t expecting such a frenzy and it’s very exciting to be a part of it.
Personally Vancouver’s such a great city that’s a manageable size, and yet offers so much for my family and I to do on my down time – which of course is also a pleasant surprise.
Looking into the future a little bit, what would you say excites you most creatively or technically that’s on the horizon in film compositing?
I think the thing that excites me the most about the future of compositing is that directors and producers are taking more chances. There’s such a wide scope of what can be accomplished with visual effects now that filmmakers are starting to explore different ways, visually, to help tell their stories.
I feel as though we’re into a new visual age of filmmaking, similar to the progression of traditional visual art from realism, where the visionaries can really push the norm of what’s expected on film.
I’ve always simply enjoyed being a small part of someone’s ability to tell an interesting story and I look forward to being creatively challenged myself through someone else’s vision.
Lastly, the visual effects industry needs more women! Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for women who are thinking of charting their career path in the visual effects industry?
While I don’t think you should make career decisions based on whether or not you’re a woman, there is a definite imbalance in this industry. It has gotten better in recent years, but there is still a larger ratio of men to women.
I think generally, there isn’t an understanding of how many roles there are to play in the film industry and in VFX. Most people that I know who aren’t in the industry have no idea what it is a compositor does, for example.
I think if anyone, not just women, were interested in entering the field of VFX it’d be wise to head to a film school and attend an information session where hopefully they could lay out the differences in the various disciplines. There are also great websites or magazines such as Cinefex that give great insight into behind the scenes production.
More specifically, I’d say that if women knew they wanted to enter the field of VFX after learning of the options, to not be intimidated by the larger ratio of men. More often than not a female presence in the VFX world has been a welcome addition.