Lewie Carson is a junior compositor at Method in Melbourne, where he has worked on several studio films including Men in Black: International, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Tomb Raider, Christopher Robin, Aquaman and A-X-L. Originally from Melbourne, Lewie completed Rising Sun Pictures’ Graduate Certificate Program in Compositing and Tracking in 2016. At RSP, he learned industry standard practices for roto/paint work and compositing, the same skills he employs on the job today.
Lewie Carson recently spoke with RSP about his training, work and plans for the future.
Lewie Carson: I’ve always liked TV shows, movies, animation, all of that. I loved it from a very young age. But I never imagined I’d have a career in visual effects.
RSP: Why not?
LC: It seemed like an American thing. Why would anyone do that in Australia? But then they filmed The Matrix in Sydney. It made me think that maybe there was a possibility for me. I was too young at the time, but it stuck in the back of my mind.
RSP: You attained your undergraduate degree from RMIT in Melbourne?
LC: That’s right. I have an advanced degree in screen and media.
RSP: What made you go from there to RSP’s Graduate Certificate program?
LC: It was short and intensive. It meant working in a studio and learning from people who are actually in the industry, artists working on films. It was a chance to see the ins and outs of a real studio. Get a taste for it. It sounded enticing and I loved it.
RSP: Why did you select the compositing and tracking program?
LC: It seemed a good pathway. I was a bit older than most students—I was 25—and I’d previously dabbled in compositing. I hadn’t dedicated myself to it, but it was something that I enjoyed.
RSP: The course teaches compositing via Nuke, was that new to you?
LC: Yes. I had heard about it, but never opened it.
RSP: Was it hard to get started?
LC: At first, but my instructor was very good at making it not so intimidating and I became comfortable with it quickly. I soon learned the basics, what to do when you get a new shot, how to approach it, how to assess your needs. Those are skills you may not get in a traditional university setting where you are jumping from class to class rather than working with one program for six or eight hours.
RSP: How many students were in your class?
LC: There were eight of us.
RSP: You must have received a lot of hands on support from your instructors?
LC: Yes, I did. That was very good. They teach you many things and share advice that you can’t get anywhere else. Plus, you learn how other departments work, how they fit the studio pipeline. They knew all the tips and tricks, exactly what needs to be done and how it needs to be delivered. If I hadn’t had that knowledge when I started working, I would have been like a deer in headlights.
RSP: So, your training at RSP prepared you for work in the industry?
LC: It was perfect. When I started working at Method, there was no big learning curve. I went straight at it and knew what I was doing and what they expected from me.
RSP: Was it hard to find that first job?
LC: It took some time. I sent out a lot of showreels and resumes, and I pestered people every month. It can be disheartening when you don’t get a response, but you must keep going.
RSP: What type of work are you doing at Method?
LC: Roto and cleanup.
RSP: Is that similar to what you studied at RSP?
LC: It’s exactly what I studied.
RSP: How is it going?
LC: Really good. I’m loving it. I wouldn’t wish for anything else. I’m working on big-budget films, the stuff I dreamed about when I was younger. It’s enjoyable work and a great environment. I really value that.
RSP: Where do you want to go from here?
LC: I’d love to work in Canada, America or even London for a bit. Then, I’ll see where my career takes me.
RSP: You feel confident in your future?
LC: For sure. Films and TV shows are going to have more and more visual effects. It’s a growing market.
RSP: What advice do you have for a young person thinking of a career in visual effects?
LC: Stick to it. Find out about studios around the world. I only looked in Australia and New Zealand, but you can work anywhere. If you want to travel as you work, the opportunity is in your hands. The other thing I’d say about this work is it’s so much fun! People who work in visual effects do it because they love it and because they enjoy movies. No one is dragged into this industry. Everyone who’s here is here because they chose it. Everyone is having a good time.
RSP: So, training at RSP turned out to be a good decision.
LC: Yes. 100 percent