How to Build on your VFX Portfolio with an Immersive Project

How to Build on your VFX Portfolio with an Immersive Project

Kim Taekyeong is building his skills for a career in VFX. From YouTube enthusiast to Rookie Awards 2023 finalist, Kim shares details of his highly commended immersive project, 'Freedom'.

Kim Taekyeong started his journey into VFX only a couple of years ago when he watched a YouTube video about CGI Integration. Fast forward two years, studying at SF Film School, Kim is winning accolades for his Rookie Awards 2023 entries, and pushing himself further with new skills. In this article he shares insights into how he built upon his VFX portfolio with his immersive project titled, "Freedom".

Ideation and Narrative

Before creating my VFX portfolio, I wanted to create a piece of work that strongly reflects my thoughts. At first, I thought about the story the artwork carries and how to apply VFX to unfold that narrative. During that time, I had a huge interest in science fiction movies, and I thought it would be fascinating to depict the conflict between a Cyborg and a human.

This concept inspired the following storyline:

“The human desire for immortality has led to the creation of Cloned Brain Cyborgs. With their greed, the war was inevitable and cyborgs were conscripted into the military. Cyborgs who ran away from their order are executed immediately.”

With this storyline and imagination, I began the visualisation work.

Concept & Modeling

Although I found various references, I couldn't find any that fit with my imagination based on the story.

So, I decided to design my own robot that would fit well with the concept and story. I tried to merge different parts of the robot and added some new parts to create a unique vibe.

The images above, comprise the final concept of the robot that I drew by myself to ensure that all components fit well and create a cohesive atmosphere. While drawing it, I considered certain points, such as the LED lights and joint structure of the robot, for example.

After finishing the modeling, I proceeded to texture the robot. First, I selected a colour for each part and then decided on the material. Next, I added dust and dirt scratches to give it a worn and realistic appearance. I used both Substance 3D Painter and Adobe Photoshop in the texture creation process. This is the final render of the robot:


My goal was to provide various perspectives of the scenes throughout the story and immerse the audience into the narrative. I made various attempts to create a tense and exciting atmosphere.

At first, I did the pre-visualisation work with the motion-captured character. I edited some animations and then applied them to the robot. While working on this process, I also set up the camera motions. I considered the directionality when transitioning from one scene to another, given the diverse composition of scenes and the flow of the story. I also made an effort to arrange the main character, the robot's gaze, in accordance with the flow.

Building the Background

When creating the background, I collected references to find a suitable setting for a scenario where the robot is running away. After considering various options, I decided that a back alley in a particular old city would be the perfect fit and arranged the layout accordingly, taking into account the alley's structure.

During this process it was so hard to make an alley to match the references exactly. I had to reorganise all the buildings and props to align with the robot's movement.

Rigging & Animation

Before applying the motion-captured data to the robot, I set up joints for each component. The main joints were based on the human structure, and I added more joints for the wires. I checked all the joint axes to ensure they had the same direction as the motion-captured data, and finally, I baked the simulation.

After baking the animation to the character there were some issues due to different structure and shape. So, I checked all frames of the animation and worked again with key animation.


When setting the lights for the scenes, I considered two important factors: contrast, and the intended meaning of the light. I believed that the primary purpose of my lighting was to emphasise what I wanted to showcase. I think that light has the power to draw the audience's attention, making it easier for them to focus on what I wanted to highlight. To ensure optimal contrast, I did multiple checks using Adobe Photoshop.

Additionally, I wanted to focus on their meanings. Light can be divided into two different aspects: brightness and darkness. I wanted to highlight these two sides and assign a meaning to each atmosphere. The robot frequently passes through the light and shadow sides, with the bright side representing the desire for life and the darkness representing death. To summarize, the bright side symbolises vitality and positivity, while the dark side represents negativity and mortality.

Green-screen Shooting

During the story, I filmed live-action footage to create a scene in which a soldier shoots the robot. I then processed this footage using Nuke and Adobe After Effects. In Nuke, I used keyer, keylight and rotopaint to make a clean alpha.

Putting in live-action footage to 3D space was quite hard but it was a valuable experience for me to understand the work process.

Final Thoughts

I had a challenging journey in creating my first VFX portfolio, and I often found it difficult to understand and figure out the right approach. However, as I continued to have an interest and study diligently every day, I gradually became more captivated by VFX.

I believe that working in VFX is like bringing dreams to life. I have a keen interest in things that cannot happen in reality and I thoroughly enjoy imagining. It seems like VFX is about bringing these unreal elements to life and making them visible in the real world and I hope that I have showed you just that through this project.

Reach out to Kim via his Rookies profile here.