Working From Home (WFH) In Visual Effects

Working From Home (WFH) In Visual Effects

Kieran is an Effects Supervisor, veteran FX TD , servicing high end content for blockbuster feature film and television. He is also people focused team leader, with a strong drive for image quality. In this article he gives some advice to working from home

Kieran Ogden-Brunell is an Effects Supervisor, veteran FX TD , servicing high end content for blockbuster feature film and television. He is also people focused team leader, with a strong drive for image quality. In this article he gives some advice to working from home

Key Points

  • Creative Engagement ( not creative hiding at home)
  • Productivity ( Make the $)
  • Cabin Fever and how your cat could get you into trouble with HR
  • Using your rut to your advantage
  • Extra Time!

Creative Engagement

  • Resist the urge to be the “creative introvert” stereotype and go into hiding while Working From Home (WFH).
  • Touch base with your team. While this might be a simple thing, it’s critical to remove the feeling of isolation. Check in, catch up regularly. Not all engagement needs to provide immediate results to your current task – it’s about relationships and breaking up your day. Be creative with it- think virtual coffees or Friday virtual drinks.
  • Create and use Work Groups (Pigeon/Jabber) for the team and/or department. Pretty straight forward, but easily forgotten.
  • Share work – fail fast! Frequently showing work and spitballing ideas, is visual progress! As a bonus, it can also build relationships and team bonding, and could result in some funny playlists of the team’s work.
  • Websites of inspiration. Not all creative engagement needs to be collaborative. Having other introspective sources of creativity is just as important. This is very unique to each person, traditional and digital art can be really thought provoking for example. Some may enjoy reading more technical aspects of software we use on forums etc. For others, a Reddit thread can provide creative stimulation. Find what works for you.
Start your day with a to-do list, mental or physical. Plan your day realistically


  • Firstly, remember you’re at work, at home, yes…but it’s still work. Emulate what you can from your office day-to -day as much as possible.
  • An office space. Ultimately, a separate space to work in. If you have this luxury, this would be a go-to! If not, find a space where you can set up and pack it away/ shut down and “go home” for the day.- think of the 10mins to set yourself up properly as a productivity gain payback.
  • Set the room up as an office/study if possible, this is key, as it’s something you can close the door on and “go home” for the day. Separation of work and home is really important to the longevity of WFH.
  • A good chair! This cannot be stressed enough. Doing work on your lounge, dining table, even your bed is terrible for you, a good chair can change the world as far as productivity goes, save your back and neck the pain – keep this in mind when wanting to do work and watch Netflix (for reference of course) at the same time.
  • Routine, Coffee, Coffee, Coffee. Just like your morning routine in the office, have your coffee, cereal or whatever you need to “function” before starting your day!
  • Dress to impress.While this might be to only impress your pet, I’m sure they appreciate you wearing pants :). “Getting ready” in the morning starts your day in a “normal” routine.
  • Food Time! No lunch buddy is sad, but don’t use this as a reason to not take a break, keep as much of the routine from the office as possible.Try where possible to take your lunch away from your work area. This gives you the rest you need, and reduces burnout overall.
  • Distractions. Obviously, remove distractions where possible i.e. Does the TV need to be on? Does Facebook need to be open? Common sense really but limit your time on social media. It’s important when WFH to stay connected to the outside world, just remember these services are designed to take your time. Other distractions could be washing, dishes, vacuuming, cleaning the fish tank. Don’t feel obligated to do these just because you are home, you are working. Try your best to do these in your “home” time (unless you need a break of course). It’ll also make your work day less cluttered with things to do.

Cabin Fever

  • Use time to build structure. While structure for a creative is usually not a go-to, it really helps with making your time working more enjoyable and productive, an example of this is, not checking emails more than 2-3 times daily, refreshing your emails every 3 mins isn’t a good use of your time. If the matter is urgent, you’ll be engaged in a more direct manner.
  • Leverage routine and structure. This is again very unique to each person, but use routine and structure to drive rewards – similar to what you probably do at work through the day – take this with you for WFH.
  • Exercise. It doesn’t need to be the Hemsworth workout – but a walk around the block can keep the anxiety at bay and drive productivity. Use this as a reward for working for a set period of time.
  • Refer to your pets as your new co-worker. This can provide some entertaining moments that would usually require Karen from HR to be involved but instead could make your team’s / your day- “My new co-worker keeps licking themselves on my desk whilst working”.
  • Outside world. Don’t forget there is an outside world. Message friends and family and stay connected as best you can.

I’m in a rut - WHAT TO DO?

  • Accept that ruts happen. Easy to say, but know it’ll occur and don’t beat yourself up over it. Don’t forget, these ruts happen in the office too! You can’t work at 120% and sustain it long term. Naturally you will have slower periods, so embrace them, they could be the calm before the storm! Use these moments to scratch an itch you’ve had for a while (creative or technical), it’s about balance.
  • Getting started and pressure to deliver can be stalling. This can be a deal breaker right out of the gate. Start your day with a to-do list, mental or physical. Plan your day realistically. Start gently if needed but procrastination will hurt. Daily goals and routine help me to get started. It is helpful to remember that everyone WFH has these feelings at some point.
  • Breath! Don’t catastrophize the rut- embrace it. You’re not being judged -have faith your employer believes you are working with the best intentions for yourself, the client and the business.
  • The trigger. Finding your trigger is important, longer periods of work without a break really drives longer term burnout, creating a self feeding loop of un-productivity. Routine and acknowledging how to quash your triggers effectively is important.
  • Find what helps.  Doing 30mins of some personal work, taking a walk, making a coffee – simple things, can put a halt to them pretty quickly.
  • Be open with your boss, use their experience and advice as a guide, an outside perspective can really help.
  • We’re in this all together, at a distance… But all together…. Keep an eye out for co-workers, there’s a good chance they’ll have the same feelings at some point.

The Up-Shot, Extra Time

  • All the time! So you’re now not commuting 30-45mins each way! (Lucky for you if this is less). Perfect time to sleep more, go for that morning run you always promise you’ll do tomorrow, or the breakfast you’ve skipped every day for the last 10 years. That’s 5-8 hours a week over 5 days you just got back! Use this to do something for yourself, a reward to start and end your day with!
  • Flexibility – there are definite up-shots to working from home. Being able to start 30 mins later to have brekki with the family or take a break in the arvo to take your pup for a walk are all big pluses!


  • Be kind to yourself
  • Keep and eye out for your team mates
  • Get a chairFeed your creative mojo
  • Sleep moreDrink water
  • Wear sunscreen