Evermotion.org - Interview with Allan McKay

Interview with Allan McKay

We have a good message for the fans of Allan McKay - we made an interview with him. Are you curious what he told us? Read it necessarily!

First of all - thank you for the opportunity to make this interview :)

1. You are surely very busy person. Do you have any hobbies, which takes your time after work?

I have hobbies, but to be honest outside of work I'm usually finding new places to eat or drink, I love food and cocktail bars, so at least right now that and travel is kind of my thing.
However like anyone I go through my phases, I would love to get more into surfing, as with finding an outlet like wood work to spend my spare time doing.

2. Are you a person who leaves work "at work", or you take it home too, and you think about it all the time?

I usually physically leave my work there, but I'm pretty consistently thinking about shots or how I would approach something. I have my hand in a lot of things so sadly work is pretty much 24/7 for me a lot of the time. I definitely spend a lot of time on business development and just focusing more time in larger more long term plans and how they can all fit together. My brain can be a mess at times...

3. Tracing the development of effects in the cinema in a few years, it can be said that the effects level is getting higher every year. Don't you think that great results are just a cover for a weak plot of the movie?

I think for the most part visual effects have become a necessity of film making, but the challenge has been to make them more seamless/invisible. Rather than people walking out of films with "yeah it had cool FX!" It's become more a requirement that people do not ever identify what was filmed and what was added. At the same time CG has definitely been able to give film makers more freedom in telling their stories and having the production level they're after. But of course there are other films that solely rely on visual effects, and in some cases even the script is very secondary to this (Men in Black 3, Battleship are both great examples). I think these days it really gives the director more freedom to do more and sometimes much more safer. Of course it just takes one bad CG film to them leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth, especially when everyone doesn't spot the good CG because they just assume its' real.

4. When you watch the finished material you worked on, you are 100% satisfied with the work you have done, or sometimes it turns out that something else could be done better?

Rarely, there's plenty of times I'm at a bar and a tv commercial or music video comes on I worked on and I cringe and either the compositor messing up the order of the layers or if I had 'one more iteration of that sim' I would have gotten it right. Or just other limitations on schedule or bad calls, or mistakes on my part. Other films I've worked on I'm proud of them at that time but obviously they become dated quickly as new technology and of course bigger budgets roll in. I've always been fond of Superman, Transfomers and Flight as being great projects, and probably because the teams I worked on were so talented and experienced we were able to work well together and just make excellent work rather than there being any politics or other things holding us back.

5. What is your way of working? After finishing work on the film - do you throw yourself in the next project, or you give yourself time to rest?

I'm very mixed, when I work I like to be stressed so I will take on multiple projects at a time, but then I'll gladly blow off work for a few weeks and party somewhere when the time comes. I definitely absorb myself in my work so there's times I disappear from my friends lives for months at a time, but then I make sure I make up for that when I do see the light of day!

6. You are an artist who specialized in the particular thing. Do you think that in the market for FX artists, specialization is needed in the production? I mean, such specialization as a specialist in the simulation of fire, water or hair specialist only.

I think these days specialization is definitely a good thing. If you can be identified as a specialist in a specific area of visual effects then you will be targeted by employers when those needs are required. Rather than trying to wear too many hats and not really standing out on paper/reel as much because of this. You want people to say "we need fire, you do fire, ok you're hired" rather than "oh I see you do a lot of things.. do you know any fire? well we have someone else that specializes in it.." Jack of all trades, master of none - is sometimes applicable and othertimes not. But it really comes down to just how you brand yourself. And it's better to bring clarity to the areas that you excel in over others..

7. What would you do in your life, if you were not a graphic designer?

That's a scary thought.. I'd like to think I would still be tied to film or a creative area somehow, as well as business. I like putting together companies, marketing and writing etc. I've been doing what I do my whole life so it's hard to think of myself outside of that, if I had my own jet ski business I wouldn't complain ;)

8. You are well-known of your training materials. Do you have special plans for you as a teacher? Are you working currently on some specific training materials? What will they include?

I've taken a step back most of this year to focus more on production, I've recently finished a few movie projects including Denzel Washington's new movie Flight, Dracula 3D, Transformers, also work on the tv show 'The River' and various other things. Later this year I plan to launch a training company which I'll be pushing future workshops of my own through as well as various other support for artists. There's lots I have planned, I'll be holding two pretty intense master classes at Autodesk University in Las Vegas this year as well which should be announced soon. As well as some other things that will be announced soon.

9. Which of the programs give you the most satisfaction from working in them? Are there any programs that you would like to know better?

Personally I want to get my head more into Houdini, as it's long overdue, Maya and Max I'm very familiar with. I also want to look at Naiad, as well as some of the latest crowd simulation packages etc. There's many robust tools coming out, so finding the time to invest in each can be difficult at times. Personally I find for FX - 3D Studio Max, alongside it's powerful plugins such as Fume, Krakatoa etc. really can make for a very powerful package, as is Maya. Nuke definitely for compositing etc.

10. When you were a child, did you ever thought that you''ll be doing the things you're doing now?

I think that I 'DID' and it was a pretty unrealistic goal to think a little kid in Australia would set some pretty challenging goals and hit them all. But I think by having those unrealistic goals was what probably got me here.. that and a LOT of hard work and discipline, and some luck!

11. What can you say to those who wants to do what you're doing? Any advices?

I think it's important to surround yourself with inspirational people, as well as people that are going to motivate and push your quality of work and your work ethic. I've been lucky that I have a lot of amazing and talented people in my life that have helped me grow and improve myself, both an artist, and as a person. Many talented friends such as Desiree Lunsford and other amazing artists. People that inspire you to be better at everything you do, day to day.

I think it's a real key necessity to have, to avoid drama and negativity in your life and always be hungry to better yourself each day with your work. I always have a lot of goals and I'm constantly pushing myself to achieve each and every one of them and if you have others that you're able to feed off of each other, as well as look out of each other - rest assured they'll be there to keep you on track whenever you're struggling. One thing I'm learning lately is to be patience and see goals through. And don't be afraid to take a risk once in a while, you might look back on that moment down the line as a pretty defining moment.

In addition to all of this, I would say spend as much time working on yourself and your career as you do learning new software tools etc. Take some life drawing classes, learn to network and meet others in your industry, both artists and producers, supervisors etc. people that will further your career as well as share similar passions. Spend time experimenting and building up your abilities in other areas that directly affect your work, and try to enjoy your life so you come to work charged and ready to rock every day!

Thanks for the interview. Have a many amazing projects, and more free time - to take a hobby :)
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