Recent RSP Degrees Starting Fast in Brisbane

There’s never been a better time to start a career in visual effects. Film and television production is at an all-time high. Visual effects studios in Australia and worldwide are busier than ever, but many are struggling to keep up due to a lack of talented artists. Graduates of Rising Sun Pictures’ visual effects training program run in conjunction with the University of South Australia (UniSA) are in high demand as they are considered highly skilled and production-ready.

Many graduates of the program have found a job at RSP itself. Four of those young artists now work in RSP’s newly launched Brisbane studio. Ben Cooke, Vanessa Rossi, Jackie Fox and Daniel Carlin have got off to a fast start and their long-term prospects are sky-high.

Let’s meet them:

Ben Cooke
Ben Cooke was one of the first young artists to come on board at RSP’s Brisbane office in June. A graduate of RSP’s training program in 2019, Ben started with Resin in Adelaide, before moving to RSP, Adelaide, where he, among other things the boys and Thor: Love and thunder.

Born in Adelaide, Ben came to train at RSP through UniSA’s Media Arts program. He took courses in Compositing and Tracking and Dynamic Effects and Lighting. He enjoyed both, but the effects course struck a chord. “When I first opened Houdini, I realized that effects and lighting were the path for me,” he recalls. “I found it very interesting how the work went and how you could make beautiful images with the software.”

Ben was hired by Resin shortly after completing his education and it was not long before he took on demanding work. “I did a lot of dynamic explosions – blowing things up – as well as pyro and smoke,” he says. “I was lucky enough to be part of a very small team. I had direct contact with the client and creative control over the work. There was a lot of self-development, which was good because I learned a lot about working independently.”

After nine months with Resin, Ben moved to RSP and a year later he had the opportunity to move to Brisbane as an Effects Artist. The chance to enter on the ground floor was irresistible. “RSP made the transfer process seamless and helped me every step of the way,” he recalls. “Even when I arrived, they made sure everything was right. It’s been great ever since.”

What Ben likes most about his current role is the camaraderie. “When I came to Brisbane there were 12 of us, now we are over 30,” he says. “It’s a good group of people. The senior artists have created an environment where everyone is valued. It sounds like a cliché, but it really is a family atmosphere.”

Ben hopes to test the international visual effects market someday, but for now he is satisfied. “I want to get projects under my belt for years to come, gain experience and learn from the incredibly talented people at RSP, Brisbane,” he says. “Then we’ll see what comes.”

For others envisioning a career in visual effects, Ben has simple, practical advice: “The hardest thing in this business is getting a foot in the door, so when the opportunity arises, grab it.”

Vanessa Rossic
Vanessa Rossi, currently a junior light artist, completed RSP’s training program in 2020 as a third year Media Arts student at UniSA. She took courses in composition as well as tracking and dynamic effects and lighting. She learned about the program when RSP Manager, Training and Education Anna Hodge gave a presentation at the school. “She showed us a slo-mo clip of X-Men: Apocalypse,” she recalls, “and I thought, ‘Can you get a job for that? How cool!'”

Shortly after graduating, Vanessa landed a job as a junior artist at Pixel Zoo in Brisbane and found herself doing lighting work for streaming series and music videos, the former including the Netflix/YouTube children’s series Rainbow high. “I loved it so much,” she says. “My training at RSP prepared me well – I felt like I had been in the industry for a year, so the transition was quite seamless. I was able to get in and out.”

Starting at a smaller studio had its advantages. Vanessa found herself taking on tasks beyond those normally assigned to young artists. “Eventually I became a key artist for lighting,” she says. “I’ve done a lot of look-dev and recording for other artists, sometimes all the way.”

A year and a half later, Vanessa was offered a job at RSP, Brisbane, and seized the opportunity. She became part of a close-knit team and quickly developed new skills. “I work with a senior lighter, which is very good,” she says. “It’s mostly seniors and middle class artists here and the opportunity to learn from them is great.”

She also finds the Brisbane lifestyle attractive, although not without its pitfalls. “The studio is in the heart of the South Bank, which is such a beautiful area,” she says. “But it can be dangerous. There are many great restaurants around here. All my money goes to good food.”

Jackie Fox
Jackie Fox, currently production coordinator at RSP, Brisbane, had a marketing career in mind when covid hit in 2020. Her work as an independent social media manager seemed less promising as many companies were taking their social campaigns in-house, so she explored other options. In an apparent hiatus, she enrolled in UniSA’s Media Arts program. That led her to RSP’s visual effects training program where she completed an effects and lighting degree in 2021.

Even from the beginning, Jackie did not see himself in the role of an artist. She felt she was better suited for the production side, but thought practical experience would help her well in the long run. “I wanted to combine my background in marketing and project management with my love for 3D and the stars aligned,” she says. “My experience in RSP’s training program has helped me understand what artists do and how the pipeline works. This gave me more control over my work.”

RSP also recognized Jackie’s potential. After completing her course work, she was offered a job as a recruitment coordinator in Adelaide. Six months later, the opportunity arose to join the production team in Brisbane. She now heads the composition and preparation departments for an upcoming feature film. “I work with a lot of artists here in Brisbane,” she notes. “I am also in constant contact with a coordinator in Adelaide, where the 3D team is based. The collaboration between studios works very well.”

Working in a studio that is relatively new and growing rapidly is exciting. “I work closely with VFX veterans who have been in the industry for a long time, helping me and other recent graduates settle in,” she notes. “We are small enough to have a team lunch on Friday. I also like the Brisbane lifestyle. There is so much to do with heaps of restaurants and bars. South Bank Parklands is right across the street where many events take place.”

While her career path has been a bit unorthodox, Jackie is happy with her choices and believes that others with similar goals can be successful as long as they work hard and seize opportunities. “I’m very lucky to have experienced so many aspects of visual effects in such a short time,” she says. “I’ve been with RSP for less than a year, but I’ve worked in two studios in two roles. I’m excited to be progressing so well and can’t wait to see where I go from here.”

Daniel Carlin
“RSP’s course was great,” said Daniel Carlin, who completed the program’s Graduate Certificate in Compositing and Tracking in 2021. You learn from working artists and you can apply your skills to your own photos.”

Born in Adelaide, Daniel took advantage of good timing to jump-start his career. RSP was working on several projects at the time of his graduation, and he was offered a five-week contract to work as a Junior Roto Artist on Baz Luhrman’s Elvis. His contract was extended a few times and then rolled out to a permanent position.

“I worked on several streaming series, Cowboy Bebop, Hawkeye and Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, he remembers. “The biggest project was Thor: Love and Thunder. Earning a Marvel credit was amazing, a great achievement for all younger artists.”

Earlier this year, a Junior Compositor position became available at RSP’s Brisbane office. It meant a promotion and a chance to live in sunny Queensland, but it also meant more responsibility. Daniel loves it. “Getting here took a bit of luck and a lot of hard work,” he notes. “Now I am focused on the task and doing my best. I want to improve my skills and hopefully move into a mid-level role. My training at RSP has given me a good start.”

Daniel advises other aspiring artists to take the advice of industry professionals and be resilient. “Communicating with recruiters because they are the key to finding jobs,” he says. “Be open and honest about your work. You need to be able to bounce back if something goes wrong. Accept the feedback, apply it and move on from there.”

A visual effects career path is challenging but offers many options and many rewards. “There aren’t many jobs where you can say you’ve worked on the latest blockbuster,” Daniel notes. “I have to admit that when I got my credit at the end of… ElvisI got a little tears in my eyes. It was a big moment.”

About Rising Sun Photos
Over the past two decades, Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) has delighted and inspired audiences around the world with award-winning visual effects by creating some of Hollywood’s most memorable screen moments.

RSP’s reputation and leadership make it a trusted partner for studios and filmmakers around the world. The studios employ over 230 exceptional crew members who enjoy the benefits of living in some of the world’s most livable cities.

In addition, RSP is committed to developing the next generation of visual effects artists through its unique accredited training program delivered in partnership with the University of South Australia.

Recent work includes: Elvis, Thor: Love & Thunder, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Cowboy Bebop, Hawkeye, Jungle Cruise, Black Widow, Candyman and Mortal Kombat. RSP is a member of The Fuse Group.

About The Fuse Group
The Fuse Group brings together leading visual effects studios, FuseFX, FOLKS, Rising Sun Pictures and now El Ranchito. The company employs more than 1,300 people across twelve studio locations worldwide in Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Atlanta, Montreal, Toronto, Bogotá, Saguenay, Adelaide, Brisbane, Madrid and Barcelona. The Fuse Group is a portfolio company of investment funds managed by EagleTree Capital, a New York City-based private equity firm. For more information, visit www.fusefx.com.

#RSPVFX

Leave a Comment