Year End Special Interview – Kristin Patterson, VFX Producer, Pixomondo Toronto
December 29, 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.
Originally from Saskatchewan, Canada, Kristin Patterson moved to LA to study and work in film and television. She worked on several blockbusters, including Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War, before joining Pixomondo LA and dipping her toes into TV production. After working in television on The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead and Agents of Shield, she joined the team for Fast and Furious 8 and headed back up to the Great White North. Since being in the Toronto office, she’s focused mainly on sci-fi TV franchises, producing Star Trek: Discovery as well as Jon Favreau’s new Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian.
Today, Kristin Patterson talks to VFX Online about her experience about VFX and Animation Industry.
// From Kristin Patterson, VFX Producer, Pixomondo Toronto
How do you describe yourself professionally?
I’m a VFX producer at Pixomondo Toronto. I’ve been working in the industry for about 7 years in various capacities and have had a variety of experiences and worked on a wide gamut of different types of projects, from games to television to blockbuster features and found all of them really fascinating.
What sparked your interest in visual effects?
I watched the special features for Star Wars a lot as a kid and was fascinated by the motion capture done for some of the prequels and the VFX techniques used for the space battles. That early interest made it clear that I wanted to go into film, but it was really after rotating through various roles in my undergraduate film degree and continuing to come back to this initial inspiration that I realized that this is what I wanted to do—to be involved in making the kinds of images that captured my imagination at a young age.
How did you enter in this industry?
After I graduated film school, I started out in the camera department and vault at Method Studios and then worked my way up into production. I then transitioned over to PXO LA before moving to my current position at PXO Toronto.
What was the key to getting inside?
I had experience with cameras, as a film major, and Method was looking for someone to help revamp their Camera and equipment department. I was recommended by a friend who worked at the company. My experience in that department and my resume helped open that first door into that company. I think a big part of the key was having a lot of visible experience that made sense on paper. But another big part of it was not just knowing people, but putting myself out there as someone who people not only remember, but remember that they’d like to work with again. It is partly a matter of being good at what you do, but also a matter of being someone who works well with others, and who people feel makes their job easier rather than more difficult.
What was your favorite VFX and Animation Film of 2019?
I loved Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I found it incredibly creative and innovative and the visual style was something completely different than anything I’ve seen before. There’s sort of a recognizable style that CG animated features have generally settled into, and Spider-Verse is one of the few animated films in recent memory that found a new way to step outside of that established look and to do some interesting things with depth and movement. I love movies and television that push the boundaries of what we’ve seen before.
What is your best professional memory or professional experience of 2019?
My favorite experience of 2019 was watching all of our work on Disney’s The Mandalorian finally see the light of day. The clients at ILM are a dream to work with. They had a really established look and have really thought through what they want the final product to look like and how to bring that to screen. Receiving that kind of organized creative direction while still having a lot of leeway to help problem-solve and bring ideas to the table really created an atmosphere of collaboration that I think really gave our artists an opportunity to turn out some really amazing work. It was really exciting to be collaborating on some of the new techniques and processes developed for the show, which is exactly the kind of thing that made me want to get into this business in the first place. Beyond simply the Star Wars name—who could have imagined that I’d get to work on the very same franchise that inspired me to enter the industry!—the opportunity to be part of something that’s really pushing the envelope of what’s possible for VFX, to be involved with something that’s changing what it’s possible to do with images on screen, is exactly the kind of thing that made me interested in VFX in the first place.
How has your experience been working at Pixomondo?
I’ve really enjoyed my time at Pixomondo. I’ve found it to be a really collaborative and creative environment that takes individual ideas and opinions seriously and tries to implement positive changes. It’s incredibly refreshing to work in an environment that respects your life outside of work and tries to support your growth professionally, but also personally.
Which film you’re excited to watch in upcoming years?
I’m very excited to see Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. I’ve really enjoyed his movies in the past, particularly Blade Runner: 2049 and Arrival. I think he’s excellent at world-building and creating a unique visual style for each movie. I also find that he’s really good at marrying visual effects with practical effects and set pieces in a really collaborative way. I always leave his movies in a bit of awe at how gorgeous they are.
What will be your ‘dream project’ to work on?
I’d say that working on the Mandalorian this past year was my dream project. I was over the moon to get to work on Star Wars, which was such a formative piece of my childhood. I was thrilled to get that opportunity and especially thrilled that it was everything I’d dream it would be.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to get in to this industry?
I think the main piece of advice I would have is that people really notice who is willing to be helpful with every part of bringing a film to the table. This is an industry that has a lot of moving pieces and every day can look different. Someone who is willing to learn and roll with the punches and bring creative and new ideas to the table is really going to stand out.
What is your Holiday Greetings Message for Christmas 2019 and New Year 2020?
Happy Holidays! I hope you all get to spend some time with those closest to you and get some rest and encouragement for the year ahead!