Career Advice: Rookie Awards Finalist to Junior Lighting TD at Cinesite London

Career Advice: Rookie Awards Finalist to Junior Lighting TD at Cinesite London

In this article, Maksym shares his journey and advice to aspiring artists looking for an exciting and challenging start to their careers in the creative industries.

Maksym Osmolovskyi is a Lighting Artist/CG Generalist at Cinesite London. Maksym is a recent graduate of PIXL VISN and Rookie Awards 2022 Finalist in the Visual Effects category.

In this article, Maksym shares his journey and advice to aspiring artists looking for an exciting and challenging start to their careers in the creative industries.

The Journey

What's your current role and what does it involve?

Currently I’m working as a Junior Lighting TD at Cinesite London. I’m responsible for Lighting. In more detail, I’m extracting reference balls, preparing HDRI’s, lighting shots, creating a lot of render layers and checking them in Nuke!

What type of projects is Cinesite involved with?

I’m already on my third show. Usually, all projects are films or TV series. My first project in the industry was 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'.

Image courtesy of Maksym Osmolovskyi

When did you first realise you wanted to work in this industry?

Oh, it's a very interesting question. My story is very long. Everything started almost 10 years ago when my uncle purchased a Canon EOS 60D camera. I started doing some photography, then videography, then I worked a lot as a cameraman, and ultimately started making my first motion design/VFX projects.

How did you get your first big break?

I don’t think that I achieved something big. I’m always saying myself that if you work really hard - it will be always paid off.

Describe the journey you took into your current role?

My journey has been long. After a long journey I can clearly say one thing - I always did everything with a lot of passion and love. I wanted to gain new knowledge every day and to try something new, in new software. These were my goals along the way.

Why did you choose to study at PIXL VISN?

Before I started my studies at PIXL VISN I already had a demo reel. My wish was to expand my knowledge and work on my skills even more, and that is why I decided to take things to the next level at PIXL VISN.

Thanks to my studies, my skills have been broadened and I am so happy that I made this decision.

How does your education complement your work?

I need to say that all basics of VFX I learned before and am still using until today. To this day I am still learning something new and building upon my foundations.

Image courtesy of Maksym Osmolovskyi

Day in the life

Describe a typical day for you and your team?

Each morning we have a short catchup with the whole team. We are checking in with each other, asking questions about projects and just having a friendly talk. After that, we usually have "dailies" twice during the day, where we submit our work to be reviewed by our supervisors.

What third-party and proprietary tools do you use on a daily basis?

At Cinesite we are using Gaffer. Gaffer is a free, open-source, node-based VFX application that enables look developers, lighters, and compositors to easily build, tweak, iterate, and render scenes. Render engine is Arnold. And of course, we are using Nuke to check our renders.

What does your workflow look like?

As you join a show for the first time, you can access a Wikipedia like resources for the show where you can access all the important details around it.

I then get assigned my shots and start working on them. On a daily basis I check in with my leads who help me improve; the goal being to push the shots to the highest quality.

Which departments and key people do you work closely with?

Usually we are working closely with FX, CFX, and Compositing departments.

In terms of lighting I don't think there is anything that significantly changes anything. Usually developers are just trying to optimise a pipeline and make this faster.

Image courtesy of Maksym Osmolovskyi

One thing you’d never change about your job?

My passion and love for VFX overall!

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing changed is?

My biggest dream is very responsive workstations and very quick renders. With Arnold you can forget about that!

Career Advice

Is formal education essential for someone aspiring to do your job?

It all depends on you. If your desire to work in the best companies in the world is accompanied by your hard work on a daily will do this. I personally know many talented self-taught artists.

What tasks would you be typically asked to do as a junior artist?

Extract reference balls from a set and publish them properly according to company pipeline, stitch and prepare HDRI for lighting, light a simple shot, create additional render layers.

What skills do you look for when hiring an artist?

The number of candidates for one junior position is really very big, especially in large and well-known companies, so you need to put your best work forward.

In 2022 you need to stand out. If you don’t show creativity and your specialty,  it will be very difficult for you to get a job in your dream company.

What skills seem to be missing all too often?

First thing: quality over quantity.

Image courtesy of Maksym Osmolovskyi

Second thing: a lot of juniors don’t pay attention to “Overall Presentation” in their demo reels. Just imagine there is some kind of exhibition, where all VFX companies are hunting for skilled artists. You have only 120 sec to impress them and sell yourself. Try to stand out, try to make cool breakdowns for your project, pay attention also to music, fonts, video editing style, maybe try to make CG intro/outro instead of usual contact details....At absolutely every job interview I had, I received positive feedback in favour of the way I presented my demo reel.

Describe your attitude towards your job?

I'm just continuing learning and expand my knowledge. Every day I’m learning something new from my team.

Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you implement it into your work?

My main sources of inspiration is Vimeo Staff Picks, LinkedIn feed, ArtStation and Behance. Now in 2022 we also have AI like a DALL-E 2 or MidJourney, with which we can generate any idea very quickly. It is a real game-changer!

Describe a project brief that you’d recommend artists create for their portfolio?

I have two notes: Simplicity and photorealism. Do not exaggerate. Use AI to generate some cool concepts to start.

If you could give one piece of advice to artists starting out, what would it be?

First of all - work/life balance. Once a week switch off all your devices and make some other things. It’s very important. Secret of success - is passion. If you love what you do, you will get always what you want!

Passion got me through a difficult time. I’m from Ukraine. I was in my country as the war started. When you hear flying rockets and bombs around you, you don't think about education, work etc. You just want to stay alive and you hope that everything will be fine with your family.

On 24th of February I woke up and couldn't believe that this was our reality. You think that this is kind of nightmare, Call of Duty Warzone but in real life. I thought that I would never finish my demo reel and that is was game over for me.

I finished my demo reel thanks to my family. They said that they would not allow me to give up and that I should finish my studies. Thanks to the support of my family, I started working again on my demo reel. As I finished it, I couldn't believe what I accomplished. I spent a lot of time on my demo reel to show my passion for VFX through it, and I think it has paid off.

You can find more of Maksym's work on The Rookies, Vimeo, and ArtStation. You can also reach out via LinkedIn.