Jessie Amadio is a VFX supervisor who leads the CG team at MPC, a creative production studio specializing in visual effects for film, episodic and advertising. “I oversee visual effects projects from start to finish,” she says. “In addition to leading the CG team and guiding the project through to delivery, I’m involved in bidding and pitching on director treatments, consulting on the VFX approach during pre-production, and attending shoots (these days mostly remotely) where I collect important data and collaborate with the key creatives in capturing the most successful VFX shots.”
At MPC, a Technicolor company, every job has a 3D and a 2D lead, both of whom may technically be VFX supervisors,” she explains. “It’s actually a great way to share responsibility and collaborate in a non-hierarchical way.”
Let’s find out more from Amadio…
What would surprise people the most about what falls under the title of VFX supervisor?
In the context of a smaller commercial studio, being a VFX supervisor does not preclude me from my operating under my original title of lighting TD. While I enjoy the creative freedom that comes with having a higher level of input over the whole of a project, I really love staying on the box as a lighter and staying in touch with my craft in a direct way.
How long have you been working in VFX, and in what kind of roles?
I’ve been working in VFX for a little over a decade. My first role was as a summer intern at a small boutique studio in Toronto. For a while it was only three of us, I was the 3D department. After graduating, I moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles where I started running for MPC. I would run drives around Santa Monica on my rusty trash-picked bicycle. Over the next few years, I transitioned from runner to 3D generalist to lighting TD, moving to Method and the back to MPC, but this time their London office. In London, I started CG leading jobs and eventually started going on shoots as a supervisor.
How has the VFX industry changed in the time you’ve been working? What’s been good? What’s been bad?
The funny thing is that today we do things in CG that 10 years ago were effectively impossible, or too render-intensive to be viable. Most of that stuff is utterly standard now and with the developments in real-time the once impossible is even more of a reality. And yet, our standards have risen with the tech and we are still bemoaning all the same short-comings of speed and quality. Never satisfied!
Why do you like being on set for shots? What are the benefits? And how has that changed during COVID?
Being present on set has some real practical benefits for the project. As an on-set supervisor my goal is to make sure picture is captured in the best possible way to achieve the post and ultimately a final product that everyone will be happy with. While doing this, I also need to stay accountable to my own team back at the studio, making sure I get the data we need to do our best work and protecting us from quality-threatening scope creep as much as possible.
Did a particular film inspire you along this path in entertainment?
I’m sure there are many people my age that share this story, but for me it was The Lord of the Rings. I remember watching the behind-the-scenes content on the extended edition discs and thinking, “People do this?!”
Did you go to film school?
I thought about going to film school but decided I wanted something more grounded in computer art, so I majored in digital media at Drexel University, which covered a broad range of VFX/animation and interactive design.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I love those moments when a project is sailing into delivery with enough time left to fine tune all those could-be-betters. It doesn’t happen too frequently since budgets and schedules seem to be getting smaller and smaller, but it really satisfies the creator in me when I get to polish a shot just the way I like it.
If you didn’t have this job, what would you be doing instead?
I would be doing something that serves society in a meaningly way. I’m inspired by the people working and volunteering on urban farms and other restorative agricultural projects. I dream of a job with a little fresh air and a positive impact on the earth and the community.
Can you name some recent work?
Since joining the MPC NY team last year, I attended the shoot for Dick’s Sporting Goods Night at the Distribution Center with Shawn Levy, and wrapped on Samsung’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics sponsorship spot.
What tools do you use day to day?
Day to day I’m using Maya or Houdini, and I always have a license of Nuke open for slap comping renders. We use ftrack for our pipeline shot management and, while I’m loath to include what is essentially a gantt chart in my toolset, it’s an essential part of a Supervisors daily job.
Where do you find inspiration now?
I find a lot of inspiration in history; whether it’s architecture or historical fashion, some dusty pottery in a museum… I love to explore the design whims of our fellow long-gone humans. Sometimes I’m amazed at how they managed to construct something and other times I laugh at how atrociously modern something from the 1300s feels.
What do you do to de-stress from it all?
Turn the computer off! For me, there is nothing more satisfying than making something functional with my own hands, and fiber crafts are particularly meditative for me. Quilting is the latest hobby I’ve picked up. I love designing the color layouts and find the historical elements of the tradition fascinating.
First Published on Post Perspective.