Stories From Industry: Moving Picture Company

Irena Smitakova - VFX

We asked Visual Effects and Motion Graphics graduate Irena about her time in Moving Picture Company and Milk VFX since graduating.
What year did you graduate?
How did you find your time on the Visual Effects and Motion Graphics course?
I really liked our friendly lecturers, they were always there for us to help and support in any situation. 
What have you done since graduating?
1 month before my graduation during our final student exhibition I was fortunate enough to be offered a job at Milk VFX in Cardiff, where I spent 5 months as a Digital Matte Painter working on TV series like Thunderbirds, Origin and Good Omens.
Right after my experience at Milk VFX, I started a new position as a 3D Digital Matte Painter at MPC Film London, where I became a part of the amazing environment team on The Lion King.
During my time at MPC, thanks to the motivation I was surrounded by and my desire and passion for creativity and entrepreneurship I decided to start my own Become a Matte Painter guide series, which has spread throughout the industry, which leads to building my personal brand as well as building educational recourses/tutorials and mentorship program presented under the new brand business name Alpha Brush.
I am also honoured to have had the opportunity to create an album cover for Forbidden Society. As well as this, I was one of the top ten finalists in Kitbash3D Utopia Contest and at the beginning of 2019, I was interviewed by Czech visual effects website VFX.CZ.

After finishing my last shots on The Lion King, I moved to Canada to work at MPC Montreal, where I spent 6 months improving my technical skills as a Matte Painter, focusing mainly on Nuke setups for sequences, as well as improving my overall DMP workflow and learning new techniques. After 6 months in Montreal, I returned back to London.
Where are you working now?
Since October 2019 I am back at Milk VFX, where I've reached a new position title Environment Generalist.
As well as this, on the side, I am a freelance Environment Concept Artist for a film.
What is your daily workday like?
Typically I schedule my week every Sunday and then again every day. When I arrive early at the office in the morning, I create my todo list for the day, which is based on the number of shots we are required to accomplish to meet certain deadlines.
After that, I usually go for a coffee with my colleagues and have a talk about the industry, watch new trailers and then we move onto doing our tasks.
What I like about every day at work is the team I get to spend my time with. Plus, every week we have either Beer and Pizza Friday or Krispy Kreme breakfasts.
What projects have you worked on?
So far, I have experienced working for Advertising, TV and Film. The projects I've had the opportunity to be part of are The Lion King, Call of the Wild, Artemis Fowl, Good Omens, Noelle and some other projects which you can see on my IMDB website.
How did the Visual Effects and Motion Graphics course help you get on your career path?
My lecturers certainly gave me some very good advice on how to approach recruiters, how to apply for my first job and how to build my showreel. Thanks to them we also got to meet very well known names from the VFX industry.
We were given some very amazing industry advice from our lecturer Rosie Walker, who did her best to teach us as much she could about Nuke. That was something that helped all of us interested in VFX, as Nuke is the industry standard.
What's the most memorable shot/sequence that you've worked on?
The Lion King, my first shot with Simba and Mufasa which I worked on and I collaborated with Marco Genovesi, the Head of Environments at MPC London.
It was a super challenging task which Marco was willing to help me with and I will never forget those 3 weeks during which we were solving technical issues and had never-ending conversations about Matte Painting and industry in general. Such a great time.
What words of advice would you give anyone just about to start the visual Effects and Motion Graphics course?
The best advice I can give to anyone starting their journey is that if you have a dream or passion for something, just go for it. Do not let anything and mainly anyone to stop you. Be humble, stay focused, set your goals, be curious, read a lot, listen, always seek feedback and be ready to accept failure as part of the learning process. And mainly stay positive and look after your health.