5 Minutes With… VFX Supervisor Sheen Yap

Interviews

5 Minutes With… VFX Supervisor Sheen Yap

11 May 2022

From our Montreal Studio, VFX Supervisor Sheen Yap discusses her unexpected journey from Lighting to Supervising, being a judge for the Rookie Awards 2022 and her new puppy


Can you give us an overview of how you got into visual effects?

My Head of Sixth Form knew how much I loved Animation, Photography and Anime, and so when I was figuring out applying for university they suggested looking into this VFX company who were working on the Harry Potter movies.

At the time I didn’t know anything about VFX, but I was recommended this BA Computer Visualisation and Animation course at Bournemouth University, so I applied for it and got in! It was a great course and set me on my path in this magical world of VFX.

After University I wasn’t sure which discipline to go down within VFX, but I was very lucky as I got into Lucasfilm on their 3DVFX Jedi Masters Programme. I tried Animation with CFX and found I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought, but I then tried Lighting and loved it. I ended up being a Lighting TD and stayed within that field for my whole VFX career up until becoming a Supervisor!

What route did you take to become a VFX Supervisor? Was it something you aspired to later in your career?

To be honest, I never wanted to be a Supervisor as it looked so stressful! My first lead role came quite abruptly when I was working on the film The Jungle Book, as my lead at the time went on leave to have a child and I was left to do the job. This sudden lead role made me learn incredibly fast and I began enjoying managing others.

I continued to take on Lead roles throughout my career but when I left the studio I was at, a group of colleagues who I loved working with offered me to come back to the same studio but for a VFX Supervisor role. They were the best group of people and friends I’ve worked with, so I decided to go for it and began my first step into supervising.

What brought you to Outpost?

I had my eye on Outpost for a while, as I knew they had a studio in Bournemouth and having done my university course there I was familiar with them.

Ultimately it was the people that brought me here! The same group of colleagues who I enjoyed working with before were also at Outpost Montreal at the time, so they made me aware of an opportunity for VFX Supervisor with them and I snapped it up. There’s nothing like the comradery here at Outpost, we all have a common goal and work hard at achieving that whilst supporting each other.

What part of being a VFX Supervisor do you enjoy most?

I love that I get to see everything from start to finish and bringing together such talented people from different disciplines. Coming from a more CG background, you don’t always get to see the Compositing process of a project, so I loved learning that side of VFX and seeing the whole project come together.

What is your favourite discipline?

I’m biased but Lighting! My favourite thing about it is that it’s the last stop before going into 2D and you’re taking everything CG has done and pushing it through a funnel to come out the other end for Compositing. It’s more technical than people may think.

Can you talk us through your biggest highlight of your career so far?

I think getting into ILM Academy straight after university is a big highlight as it was such a surprise and completely kick started my VFX career.

What would you say the culture is like at Outpost for an artist?

The culture here at Outpost is healthy and has great values. They try not to encourage overtime if they can help it. We have a great team, and you can tell we’re all working towards the same goal of improving not only Outpost, but VFX as an industry.

You’re a judge for the Rookie Awards this year – how important do you think competitions like this are for emerging talent?

I think it's very important and a great opportunity, I’ve seen some amazing work. This competition allows new artists to show off their skills, gain studio experience and have a chance to share their work with peers as well as future colleagues which couldn’t be more vital for those starting out in VFX.

Which project has brought you the most joy to work on?

I would have to say The Jungle Book. Even though it was hard, it challenged and changed me. I learnt a lot and super-fast, so I am very proud of that one.

Finally, some quickfire questions:

What’s the one thing you always keep on your desk?

Hand cream

You can eat one thing for the rest of your life – what is it?

Dumplings

What would be your superpower?

To be able to make people happy and laugh

You’ve got a couple of hours to kill – what do you watch?

Ru Pauls Drag Race or MasterChef

What are you currently learning?

French!

Any pets?

A few weeks ago, I got a mini–Australian Sheppard puppy named Captain Crunch

Favourite way to relax?

Yoga

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Iceland

What irritates you?

Mess! I like to keep things tidy but with a puppy I am learning to relax with that

Guilty pleasures?

I love crisps

Favourite song?

Despacito

Last present you bought yourself?

My dog!

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