Welcome back to Milk Mondays…
Where we get to show off our lovely lot and share a little bit of their wisdom, what makes them tick and what they get up to when they’re not making VFX ?
This week, we’re highlighting one of our juniors, Natalie Edwards who is a Lighting TD at Milk. Keep reading for a sneak peek at a junior artist’s day in the life, uni advice, digital painting and Nintendo Switch…
How long have you been working at Milk?
Just over 2 months now, so pretty new still! A few people from my university (Uni of Herts) went on to work at Milk and I’d heard great things so, as soon as a Lighting TD job opened up, I decided to apply and here I am 🙂
What do you like about working here?
The people here at Milk are so lovely and helpful – especially our senior lighting TD, Bastien who’s always around to give me advice when I need it. Also even in my short time being here I’ve had the opportunity to work on some really cool projects. Obviously I can’t reveal any details but I’m lighting a really cool creature at the moment – lots of lovely fur ;)!
Did you always want to be a Lighting Artist ?
Actually no! When I was younger and first starting out at uni I really wanted to be a 2D animator so I could work on the shows I adored as a kid…lots of Disney and Universal films. Shrek was a cult classic that I loved and wanted to be part of making it all come to life.
I did a bit of 3D when I was at college but I couldn’t really get a grip on it there and it put me off at first, but I persevered and it became my passion! Now I get to be part of the projects that inspired me as a kid – very surreal.
How did you get into Lighting?
I’ll be honest I didn’t actually realise lighting was a job role until my 2nd year of uni! We did a module on lighting and compositing and that’s when I first had an ‘ah hah’ moment. My lovely lecturer at Uni of Hertfordshire, Martin, encouraged me to keep on practising and improving my knowledge and skills; and as I saw my work getting better I realised that it was something I would really enjoy doing as a career.
When I got to my final year of uni and started my job search, I loved Milk’s quirky vibe and had a great interview with Neil Roche (Head of 3D) and Dimitris Lekanis (Head of FX) and thankfully got the job – woohoo!
Do you have a favourite kind of Lighting work? (why?) and what’s the best bit of your job?
A bit of a hard question as I enjoy doing all sorts, but I think doing character lighting is my favourite. I love the variety of ways you can go about using light to create different effects and never get bored of playing around in Maya and seeing what magic I can make! Some of it is trial and error, and soaking in lots of advice from more senior artists – they’re great at showing me the ropes and demonstrating how to find solutions.
What does your typical day look like?
I start my day trying to wake myself up with a drink and some breakfast before resuming my tasks of the day. Fiddling with lights, setting up render layers, sending work to the farm to be rendered, getting feedback and taking action on it, and then sending it back onto the farm to be checked in the morning.
The best bit of my day is actually getting my feedback – it’s so important to keep the momentum going and keep making your work better. Everyone says there’s always something more to learn in VFX – no matter what level you’re at and it’s absolutely true! Once I’m finished for the day I’ll most likely play something like Mario Kart on my Nintendo Switch 🙂
Your top 3 key ingredients for creating amazing work?
A good eye, teamwork, and dedication.
What do you love about working in VFX?
I love that no day is ever the same. Every project is a new challenge and the limits on what can be done, how something can be lit, what we can create are endless! It’s the most amazing mix of problem solving and full on creativity to make things look pretty.
I also just think it’s cool seeing things that aren’t ‘real’ look real, my brain is still in awe sometimes haha.
Advice to your younger self (when starting out in the industry)…
Never be afraid to ask questions, even the ones you think are silly as usually they’re not silly at all…it’s also better to find out sooner than to suffer longer for no reason. Keep being willing to learn and to improve your skills, and don’t be afraid to dip your toes into stuff you think you might not be good at. You never know, that one thing you think you’ll be bad at might actually be the thing you’re good at!
What’s the secret of your success?
My determination to keep improving. Despite any possible setbacks I always try to bounce back and get better. Like when I first tried 3D and wasn’t sure I’d be any good – I persevered and thank god I did!
What do you like doing when you’re not rendering?
I really like drawing in my spare time, though I enjoy drawing characters more than environments. Recently, I’ve been especially trying to improve my digital painting skills and making sure I finish each project I’ve started. I always have so many ideas in my head that I find it hard to finish each one before starting another! Artist life, I guess!!
And just for fun..
What’s the one thing you always keep on your desk?
Some cute plushies!
I have a yorkie called Marley, who despite her almost being 12, still has bundles of energy!
Last present you bought yourself?
A DLC for one of my games
What would be your superpower?
I feel like teleportation would be a good superpower to have – public transport is so annoying and I can sometimes be a bit lazy haha.
What are you learning at the moment?
I’m learning how to make pretty digital paintings. I used to do a lot of acrylic painting on canvas when I was younger but I haven’t been able to transfer that style to my digital art. I’m in a fun experimental phase with my art currently!
Tea or coffee ? one sugar or two?
I actually don’t drink either haha – I much prefer a cream soda!
Thank you Natalie ?