ReDefine Centre Stage – Interview with Ferran Domenech

Get ready to give a standing ovation for our new profile series, ReDefine Centre Stage! In this series, we’ll be shining a light on the spectacular individuals who work across our global studios. Every two weeks, a different team member will take the stage to share their experiences, insights and advice.

1. How did you get your start in VFX? What inspired you to choose VFX as a career? 

I have always been interested in Film, TV and CGI, and I was especially fascinated with the video graphics that used to open old 90s video games. Anything involving the visual medium and interactivity was really exciting to me. 

I studied to be a Cameraman, Editor and Director of Photography for film and television, but  after completing this portion of my studies, I still wanted to explore other disciplines before committing fully. 

I then found out that the University of the Balearic Islands in Majorca, Spain had a Masters degree in Computer Graphics and Animation – I applied and got in! 

We were a class of twenty students in this 12-month intensive programme. In the class of 1999, we used Silicon Graphics IRIX workstations, which were prohibitively expensive back then, the kind that you would only see in Hollywood productions. And of course – I just fell in love with computer graphics animation. That’s how I got hooked. 

2. What’s the best thing about being a VFX Supervisor?

The great thing about supervising a show is working with the creatives both in-house and on the client-side team. It’s amazing to come up with new and interesting ways of realising their vision. Also once in a while, you get the rare opportunity to create something completely from scratch. I love giving life to a sequence that began as a simple line of text in a script. It’s fun to discover what the shots will be. The creative process is the beauty of this job!

3. Tell us about a career highlight! 

At the age of nine, I watched Aliens in the theatre and I just fell in love with it! The Space Marines, the Xenos, that future-industrial design! I had no idea how any of that was done, but I knew I wanted to find out. 

So having the privilege of working with Ridley Scott on Prometheus and again later on as a VFX Supervisor for Alien: Covenant, that was a massive highlight for me. Working with Ridley is always very rewarding, he is a real visionary and I mean a literal visionary. He’ll have an image in his head and can put pen to paper and start drawing beautiful storyboards we call ‘Ridleygrams’. As he’s also done a lot of films and commercials over the years both as a director and producer, he knows exactly what it takes to get great images onto the screen. It’s a joy to work with him because you’re not only realising a vision, you’re also working with someone who knows exactly how to get there. Ridley allows for the process to work as intended and get that final quality. 

I also did many Harry Potter movies. I had the rare opportunity to work on each film in different capacities, from On-Set Previs Supervisor to Animation Supervisor. I was lucky to always have a lot of input. And once I became a VFX Supervisor on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I felt the cycle was complete. Over the years I worked on six Potter films, I particularly enjoyed designing the Quidditch match in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I had the idea to film it as a combination of American football contact sport mixed with the cinematography and editing of a Formula One race. We used long lenses and filmed from a Goodyear Blimp and the rafters. We even had cameras on brooms chasing the action, all to get something more real and gritty than the version of Quidditch shown before. It was a style that was better suited to the danger and darker mood of the later movies.

4. Advice for anyone wanting to become a VFX Supervisor?

As a VFX Supervisor, you need to be multidisciplinary. You need to know a little bit of everything, just enough to be able to talk to your team, know the boundaries and the limits of what can be done and ask when you don’t know something, and always be open to try new things and continue learning. 

A big part of the job is putting yourself in the shoes of the editor and director to help them get what they need to finish the project. Our job is not only to produce the final images but also to help the filmmakers tell their story. You need to know how to work in a smart way to make content for every stage so they can make informed choices and get to a place where shots can be approved quickly to ensure the project finishes on-time and on-budget

And be hungry for films! Look at what every discipline is doing at the studio. Don’t get too narrow in your own discipline. For me, it was very useful to go on-set supervising, doing previs, and having conversations with other colleagues and clients to learn as much as possible about every step of the VFX pipeline.

5. What is your favourite movie?

I can’t choose just one! I would say Aliens because it’s one of the movies that has made the biggest impact on me. It’s my jam: spaceships, marines and aliens. Jurassic Park is another favourite. And because I come from the animation side, I have a very soft spot for the original Toy Story.

6. What about your dream project?

I think I’ve been very lucky because working on Prometheus and Alien: Covenant were dream projects. 

But if I could choose, it would be so cool for me to work on a film based on a book or piece of media that I have previously loved.  

I recently read Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir, the same writer as The Martian. I really loved that book! And I know there’s going to be a movie made, so if we get that project, I definitely want to throw my hat in the ring to supervise it!

7. What ReDefine studio would you like to work in for a day?

I would like to visit the Vancouver studio because I have good friends there.

8. Finally, what are 3 words you would use to describe ReDefine?

Friendly, bright and energised!

ReDefine is definitely a great place to be. I have enjoyed every single day here, the work is truly rewarding. The teams share a great bond and that’s what makes it a great place to work.

Shilpa Bhanushali Head of Production (Animation)

We have top-of-line professionals who are not only creative, but also fun to work with. It has created a lot of possibilities for reinventing workflows.

François Schneider Global Creative Supervisor, North America

The people who form ReDefine have come from varied experiences and all have the potential to develop and deliver world-class projects.

Viral Thakkar Creative Director and VFX Supervisor India