Let me introduce, an artist, and a friend of mine who I met back during my time at Academy of Art University, Patrick William Bramley. We first had the chance to work together on some projects such as Aria for a Cow, Crows, and Valiant. More recently I also got to work with him at Ingenuity Studios where he is now currently working as a sequence lead compositor.
Since graduating in 2015, Patrick has worked on many major hit television series, and features such as a Series of Unfortunate Events, Jessica Jones S1, Westworld S1, Daredevil S2, Live by Night, Going in Style Nerve, and HBO’s Confirmation, just to name a few. When not freelance contracting at a studio, he works as an independent visual effects supervisor. He is currently supervising an independent feature film titled “Rightful”.
What is your story?
My name is Patrick Bramley. I’m originally from Ireland and I moved to California in 2008 to visit a friend but I ended up staying longer than expected. I eventually ended up enrolling at Academy of Art University in 2011. Now in LA, I work for various production houses as a compositor and CG lighting artist in the entertainment and motion picture industry.
What are some of the comparisons of VFX studios between Europe and the US?
The world is far more commutable, and digitally connected nowadays so the production of major motion pictures are more accessible now than it was 10+ years ago. Studios in the Europe can easily and efficiently connect with studios on this side of the world. Visual effects production is quite bilingual so there can be artists working on the same project at the same time in their respected time zones.
What got you into the VFX industry?
I wanted to work in film in some measure so that's why I ended up enrolling at AAU. I originally was at City College SF studying graphic design in 2009 but not knowing what I really wanted to do. Since the major at AAU states “animation and visual effects” I originally thought it was all the same thing, not knowing there were many different paths and jobs to be taken within that major. I happened to choose VFX and compositing seemed like the more artistic option so I went with it. I've asked many new to senior compositors on how they themselves got into the field and they usually say the same thing, “I just fell into it”.
What excites you about working in VFX?
I’m amazed how many different parts of the industry there are. Simulations, texturing, lighting, modeling, concept art, compositing, animation, production, and many more! As an artist you constantly get to explore and create. The thing I enjoy about compositing is that you get to trick the human eye and create something surreal and alien to its original environment. If you do a good job, the viewer never really knows what is original or digitally created.
As an artist what are the difficulties you face in the workforce?
Working for a studio, you do have to keep an open mind. Most of the time we are being told what to do. Your supervisor and the director for the show, have a particular vision. You, as a freelance artist have to respect that and abide to those rules.
After graduation you are essentially getting paid to learn so harness that knowledge and use it on your personal projects or freelance independent shows. The training you receive in an professional environment can be priceless.
What are some eye opening experiences you have had so far?
While working at ShadeVFX, I got to do 3D animation for the second season of the Netflix series Daredevil. I had to animate the chain which Daredevil was using to fight the biker gang. That was a surreal experience, since not only was I compositing on the show, I got to animate also. The president of the VFX studio asked me “can you matchmove?” I said "yeah, sure," thinking in my head “I can easily do 3D tracking for this show,” but no, he meant animation. I got handed fifteen shots to be done over a weekend, as they needed them first thing Monday morning.
Where do you see the VFX industry going?
Artistically, the VFX industry will constantly expand and be more diverse as the respect and reputation continues to gradually rise. While many of the actors and entertainers of our industry get most of the credit, most of their work on screen is digitally created or enhanced. VFX artists we don’t have a union, and I don’t see one developing in the immediate future. I think some artists who are stepping outside of VFX and working in other fields, such as directing, like Tim Miller (Deadpool), Gareth Edwards (Rogue One, Godzilla), and Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium), create an umbrella of gratitude and appreciation for the work the VFX industry does as most of their movies wouldn’t be achievable without VFX.
Is there something you wish to create or improve for the VFX industry?
I would like to create a business, or platform, which connects artists cohesively and protectively. We could build a community where artists have more creative control over their work and futures.
Do you find VFX to be a competitive industry to be in?
Yes, it can be quite competitive, sometimes it seems like compositors are a dime a dozen. Since I have been in the industry, I have potentially met over a hundred compositors in LA alone. I feel like you do need to work on other skillsets in order to have an edge in this industry. Knowing other software like Maya, Houdini, or PFTrack, can give you a broader understanding to what it is to be a VFX artist and make you more appealing to other studios upon hiring.
Do you find it difficult adapting to the culture, and industry so far from home?
The grass is always greener on the other side, but home is certainly where the heart is. If you have a purpose while living so far away from home it can be easier than just living somewhere else for the sake of it. The entertainment industry is booming over here on the west coast so I feel at this moment there is no better place to be in order to get the right experience and exposure to work on projects you adore. Ireland is a magical place; I’ll be certainly be moving back there after gaining enough experience while stateside.
What’s the worst and/or funniest mistake you have made when starting out?
I wouldn’t call it the worst, more like a character building experience. For many people who embark on an adventure while moving to a new major city things can get tough. Rent and cost of living can be difficult to manage at first. For myself, when I first got here I just had a suitcase and my dreams. I did have some AAU alumni friends living here but I didn’t want to be a burden on them so I lived and slept in a rental car for two months. That experience gave me time to acknowledge and appreciate some things we may take for granted, like comfort, security, and wealth. However low you may feel at that particular moment in time, things will always get better as long as you keep dreaming and believing.
What are some words of wisdom that you can share for all those young blossoming artists?
Dare to be great, dream big, and don’t hold back. My mother always said “the world is your oyster”.
When you're in school, the group of friends you have, the collaborative projects you are a part of, and mentors you look up to, may be just temporary.
The film industry is global so you never know corner of the world you may be moving to. You most likely will constantly be looking for new mentors, collaborators, and even friends.
Don’t shy away from looking for a new job if your old one gets stale, meeting new people if the ones you know haven’t got the same vision as you, searching for new mentors to help expand your skill set, or even traveling to the other side of the world for new experiences.
If you're not making any mistakes you’re not trying anything new. Take a chance, and grow.
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible”