Year End Special Interview – Jose Alejandro Enriquez, Pipeline TD, Pixomondo Toronto
December 25, 2019 – With 2019 coming to an end, VFX Online presents a series of Special Interviews that highlight some of the VFX and Animations artists’ favorite works of this past year. These interviews touch on their favorite VFX and Animated shows of 2019, memorable events from the last 12 months and artists’ expectations for 2020 in VFX/Animation.
Jose Alejandro Enriquez is a Pipeline TD at Pixomondo Toronto. His daily work as a TD includes the development/maintenance of tools, show configurations and support for the team of artists and production.
Jose started his career in Ecuador, where he co-founded a Visual Effects company called Glou Digital Art in 2010. There he spent 6 years working as a generalist in commercials and advertisement with a special interest in compositing. His client included The Coca Cola Company, KFC, Nestle, L’Oréal, and more.
In late 2016 he moved to Toronto, Canada where he joined Pixomondo as a Compositor/Compositor TD. His credits include filmssuch as XXX: Return of Xander Cage, Power Rangers, The Fate of the Furious, and the TV series Star Trek Discovery.
Due to his love for Python programming and the development of tools, Jose switched gears within the company to become a Pipeline TD where he has had the opportunity to setup and support many shows including The Mandalorian, Star Trek, The Boys, Goliath and many more.
Today, Jose Alejandro Enriquez talks to VFX Online about his experience about VFX and Animation Industry.
// From Jose Alejandro Enriquez, Pipeline TD, Pixomondo Toronto
How do you describe yourself professionally?
I would describe myself as a proactive professional. I am an artist who is still passionate about all the existing possibilities out there, who gets excited with new technology, workflows and gadgets, and would like to test and find a purpose for them in the pipeline. I like to stay on top of any issues and problems that may occur, or even better, prevent them for happening in the first place.
What sparked your interest in visual effects?
I can say with certainty that it was when Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace came out. That’s when I became fascinated by visual effects. I still remember saying to myself that I want to do this for the rest of my life. After that, I decided to learn all about the different visual effects tools – which I did by myself at home.
How did you enter in this industry? What was the key to getting inside?
I joined the industry while studying at my postgraduate program at Seneca College (of Applied Arts and Technology) in Toronto, Canada. Mahmoud Rahnama, who is Pixomondo Toronto’s Head of Studio and VFX Supervisor, was one of my teachers. He asked me if I would like to join Pixomondo Toronto, initially part-time while studying, and later that became full time.
I think there are some key things that worked together to make it possible. The first one was the leap of faith that I had when I decided to move to Canada and start a new life. The second one was meeting the right people, as I did with Mahmoud and my other teachers at Seneca. Of course, I also consider hard work and having a good portfolio as implicit requirements to get into the industry.
What was your favorite VFX and Animation Film of 2019?
In 2019 my favorite VFX movie was Avengers: Endgame. Aside from being a fun movie to watch, I think the amount and the quality of the VFX work done for this feature was extraordinary.
In animation, hands down it would Spiderman: In to the Spider-Verse. This movie had an amazing script, stunning animation and renewed in me a special feeling about the character. I think up until then, most animated movies were sitting in a comfortable place, where the quality, animation and style was pretty much the same. Then Spider-Verse came out with its renovated style, which was much needed, and it shook other big competitors who were reusing the same formula over and over again.
What was your favorite VFX and Animation Events/Conferences/Festivals of 2019?
My favorites were events organized the VFX Society Toronto which were:
– An Evening with Pioneering VFX Master Jeff Kleiser
– An Evening with VFX Master Jeffrey Okun
– Introduction to USD – Intimate & Interactive – George Elkoura – Pixar.
What do you think will be the evolution of VFX and Animation Industry over the next few years?
Real-time and new open source technologies. There is more demand for realistic real-time solutions. For example, Unreal Engine is moving toward being able to offer high quality images for both visual effects (movies and television) and video games. This is something that other render engines have foreseen and now they are putting all their effort to reduce their render times in a world where the quality of almost all render engines is pretty much the same.
What was the most unusual comments or feedback’s you received in 2019?
Not many! When I became a Pipeline TD, I left behind the front lines as an artist where I used to receive feedback or comments on my shots.
What is your best professional memory or professional experience of 2019?
One of my favorites was when I was sent to support and help the brand new PXO Montreal team with its pipeline. Everyone there was so welcoming, and I had a great time with the staff and my friends who live in the city. I think that when a branch is new, you can feel how excited the place is to grow and create. It’s like fresh clay.
What is your a special achievements or awards for 2019?
The Emmy nomination we got this year for Star Trek: Discovery is one of the best achievements we had this year. I am proud of the work done on that series.
How has your experience been working at Pixomondo?
For me it has been a great experience. I have grown so much since the time I joined, and I have been able to explore new technologies, meet amazing people and be part of a team that really wants to be better every day. I am happy to contribute to Pixomondo’s growth and development.
Which film you’re excited to watch in upcoming years?
I really want to see what James Cameron does with the new Avatar movies. I am excited about the story and the technologies that are being used for the creation of those movies. They are the next big projects worth waiting for.
What are your expectations for 2020?
Professionally, I am excited about all the new technologies I want to test and use in the pipeline. There is so much to learn and explore in this field. I want to focus more on the development of workflows and tools, and a bit less on support, although I also like that too.
In 2019 I have accomplished some of my personal and professional goals, so I want 2020 to come with new ideas and challenges for my life. 2019 has been a great year for me, and I am looking forward to 2020 and whatever it brings.
What will be your ‘dream project’ to work on?
Working on Star Wars was my ‘dream project’ since I was a kid, and now I can say that I did it! The Mandalorian was released this year and I couldn’t be more proud of the work we did on it. Now, my new dream project would be something related to Lord of Rings or Avatar.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to get in to this industry?
The 3 pieces of advice I can give are:
1)Try to meet people, attend VFX events and be social, especially in our industry, which is very small. Who knows when or where you can meet your next manager or coworker.
2) Work more on quality than quantity for your demo reels. Attention to detail is key. For example, one poor roto, or bad paint work can ruin the whole demo if left unattended, even if the rest of the demo reel is good.
3) Always keep working and learning. Keep yourself updated with all the new tools and techniques. This industry evolves constantly, and we need to do the same so as not to become obsolete.
What is your Holiday Greetings Message for Christmas 2019 and New Year 2020?
Wishing that your holidays are filled with fun, happiness and zero overtime. My very best wishes for a prosperous and blessed New Year, with few client notes and lots of “that looks amazing!”