Men’s Day Special Interview – Winrik Haentjens, CG Supervisor, Pixomondo Toronto
November 15, 2019 – International Men’s Day on the 19 November was founded in 1999 by Dr Jerome Teelucksingh a history lecturer at University of the West Indies in Trinidad Tabago. Interestingly calls for an International Men’s Day (IMD) have been going on since at least the 1960’s when it was reported in the New York Times, Feb 24 1969 that “Many men have been agitating privately to make February 23 International Men’s Day, the equivalent of March 8, which is International Women’s day“ This Day for women was first inaugurated in 1909.
International Men’s Day encourages men to teach the boys in their lives the values, character and responsibilities of being a man. Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must become the change we seek.” It is only when we all, both men and women, lead by example that we will create a fair and safe society which allows everyone the opportunity to flourish in their families and communities.
November is an important month for the masculine soul because it celebrates several events that are important to men. So, we encourage you to wish everyone a happy International Men’s Day on 19 November.” For more info, visit at www.internationalmensday.com
Winrik Haentjens has been working in the visual effects industry since graduating from the 4 year animation program at max the mutt in 2007. He uses every aspect of Maya and other software to create visuals for feature films, commercials, and television shows like ‘The Mandalorian,’‘The Walking Dead,’‘Doctor Who,’ and ‘Star Trek Discovery’ among many others. He has a vast background as a 3D Generalist and is currently working as a CG Supervisor at Pixomondo. He was recently nominated for Best Visual Effects by the Canadian Screen Awards for his work on ‘Haven’ as well as being involved with multiple Emmy Award nominated/winning shows. Winrik is also an instructor in the VFX Course at George Brown College in Toronto.
Today, Winrik Haentjens talks to VFX Online about his experience about VFX and Animation Industry.
// From Winrik Haentjens, CG Supervisor, Pixomondo Toronto
How do you describe yourself professionally?
Most of my career has been spent creating episodic TV, feature films, commercials and music videos as a 3D generalist. I am currently working at Pixomondo as a CG Supervisor where I have had the opportunity to collaborate with very talented individuals on some high-profile projects, allowing me to enhance my professional skills and abilities as both an artist and supervisor. I enjoy the challenges this career brings forth, problem solving through projects and determining the most efficient way to achieve high quality effects. However, at the end of the day, I am just an artist whose only desire is to create cool art and inspire others.
What sparked your interest in visual effects?
As far back as I can remember I was the child always drawing, creating comics and doing anything that inspired my creativity. This creativity led me to a 3 year classical animation program that focused on building a core knowledge of anatomy, composition and design. I had always dreamed of being a classical animator working in feature films. It wasn’t until my dad convinced me to take the postgraduate 3D course that I realized the visual effects industry is something that very much interested me. I remember tumbling around my first 3D cube I created in the Maya viewport and my mind exploding with eagerness to learn more.
How did you enter in this industry? What was the key to getting inside?
Shortly after graduating from the 3D course I started an internship as a 3D generalist at a small VFX studio which is unfortunately no longer around. This studio hired me after my internship as larger projects came in. The exposure I received there really set my mind on furthering my career into visual effects. My interest in the industry has only snowballed from there and continues to do so each and every day. I spent most of my spare time working on personal projects which allowed me to learn a lot of disciplines I wasn’t exposed to while working on the projects in the studio. In my experience, the key to getting in is passion, dedication, a lot of hard work and networking. As a junior artist its difficult at first to get solid work to display on your reel and doing my own personal projects really helped me learn the skills to improve on that. The people I met at my internship saw my passion for this industry and started recommending me to their friends looking for artists. That’s how I started landing other jobs. Networking is very important in this industry becase it is very team driven. Showing people you can get along with them, and you work well with others, goes a long way.
What is it like to work as a man in your current place of work?
Pixomondo employs many amazing artists, men and women, from all walks of life. Working in this great diverse environment means we are all equal. We all focus on inclusion and collaboration to build a strong team and support each other when needed.
How do you think the industry could improve?
Forming an environment that focuses on the company’s goals will set an expectation of employment upon hire. Educate yourself and your employees on diverse challenges. Remain open minded and supportive. Be accepting regardless of the situation. Hold a “No Tolerance” policy that will mitigate unacceptable behaviors towards others in the work place.
What’s your favorite shot or sequence of VFX or Animated Films?
There are way too many to choose from. I’m very inspired by anything that pushes the boundaries of the technology at the time the content was created. Movies like Terminator 2, Star Wars, and Avatar are at the top of my list.
Any special achievements in VFX or Animation?
Although every challenge accomplished is a successful achievement, the achievement I am most proud of is being nominated for ‘Best VFX’ category by the Canadian Screen Awards. This nomination was presented for my work in the TV series, Haven.
Any particular artists/professionals that inspire you?
The “Godfathers” of our our industry, Dennis Muren, John Knoll, Phil Tippet etc. to name a few, or classical artists like Simon Lee (spider zero), Carlos Huante, Jordu Shell, and of course H.R. Giger among many others have always been my inspiration. However, anyone who has “pushed the envelope” is an inspiration, whether it be creatively or technically. Thankfully, I have the opportunity to work along side many of these artists, every day.
How has your experience been working at Pixomondo?
Working with Pixomondo has been a great experience. Professional growth is encouraged and supported by the company and my fellow artists. There is a sense of high positive energy in this creative atmosphere. Everyone is eager to inspire each other, and create the best images possible. I feel honoured to be apart of this team.
How the Access VFX, Visual Effects Society and many more Organizations support for that industry?
Organizations like VFX Online, VES etc. are great resources for the visual effects community. When companies and artists share new and upcoming techniques and technology, industry growth, skills and knowledge in individuals expand, bridging the gap between artists around the globe.
What do you think about future of VFX and Animation Industry?
I am fascinated with the direction the visual effects industry is headed in. Since joining the industry, techniques and technology have advanced greatly. The advancement in computing power have positively impacted the industry allowing for effective workflows in our day to day assignments. Industries grow, quality of images increase dramatically and all the advances made regularly by great artists continues to set the bar higher each day.
Other fascinating areas I’m especially eager to see is artificial intelligence and how it will impact our industry. Will this eliminate a lot of the very tedious and time consuming manual labor tasks? And Quantum computing, how will this affect the industry? Will we be focusing on creating beautiful images without being restricted by limitations of our technology? We have all heard the saying “the future is now,” but with the mind-blowing technology continuing to enhance daily, who knows what tomorrow will bring!
What will be your dream project to work on in Animation or VFX?
I can proudly say recently finished CG supervising some of the sequences on my dream project, The Mandalorian, which was just released on Disney+. This was an absolute childhood dream come true. Having been a huge Star Wars fan for many years, to then being part of the team that has now createdpartsof the Star Wars universe, feels so surreal. Working with some of the best talent at ILM was an item on my bucket list that has now been checked off. I can only hope to have this opportunity again in the future.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to get in to this industry?
Work hard, be passionate and enjoy what you do. The VFX world can be challenging at times, but these three things will do nothing but bring you success. I spend most of my spare time doing my own personal projects because I love pushing myself as an artist, exploring new techniques or software, and being creative.The more time you invest in something the higher your accomplishments will be in the long run. Keep working hard and striving to improve as an artist even if at first you don’t succeed, as it’s not a matter of how hard you fall, but a matter of how fast you get back up and try again.
What are your thoughts about International Men’s Day?
I think it’s great to shine a light on all types of achievements brought to our lives, especially the VFX industry. It’s nice to get some recognition, however, I feel VFX is a global achievement that everyone should be proud of. At the end of the day, we are all people trying to create cool art and that is what I will always love about working in this field. As long as that never changes, I will continue to make visual effects my job, hobby and passion.
We would like to thank Winrik Haentjens for the great interview, and if you would like to know more about him, Feel free to check him out on LinkedIn.