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Valuable advice for students

We catch up with Nicki Morris from The Foundry, offering career advice to new practitioners and insights from an educational perspective.

We catch up with Nicki Morris from The Foundry, offering career advice to new practitioners and insights from an educational perspective.

Nicki Morris, education manager at The Foundry, has gathered some of the top names in VFX education, in charge of the students who will shake up our industry and push creativity further than we ever thought possible.

What's best about working in education?

Easily, it's watching how very young, up and coming people take our solutions and create unbelievable work. In some cases, it competes with what's being produced in studios today. The students are so industrious – creating content, securing equipment, creating their own pipelines. And they're untainted by the professional world, in the best possible way. Everything is possible and there are no limitations. Their passion and excitement is contagious.


What bits of wisdom would you share?

Be open. This is the one opportunity where everything is at your fingertips. Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. Push yourself outside your comfort zone. Go wild, but also think about your future while you're doing it.

"Be proud of your work, but don't be precious about it. Some of the most creative people I've met aren't very employable because people have to work around them"

Meaning what?

During the early part of your education, play with creativity. In the second part, think about how employable you are. Find that perfect blend between creativity and business acumen. Make sure you think about not only your craft, but how to establish longevity in your professional path. So make sure you understand the business side of creativity. How will your work fit into the creative process? How will others access and complement your work? And learn to let go – in the real world, you'll almost always have a client. Be proud of your work, but don't be precious about it. Some of the most creative people I've met aren't very employable because people have to work around them. Don't be that guy or gal.

How do tools play into career longevity?

Hey, I'm the EDU manager for The Foundry – of course I'd love to say to everyone "use our stuff.” But more importantly, I want students to gain the solid, practical skills with our types of solutions that could have endless opportunities. It's not about learning NUKE. It's about learning your craft and it's a mechanism to learn your craft. Today, we're seeing traditional VFX technologies applied across broader markets. I know a surgeon who spends time at one of the top VFX studios to explore how to get a better 3D view of the human heart. For those dreaming of creating the next /Gravity/, remember that it was the underlying technology, and the experts with that technology, that enabled that creative vision. It may seem dull to focus on technology. But practice with it. And practice more. Do it particularly in the areas that don't come naturally to you. Who knows where your path will take you – just make sure you're prepared to follow the path on all its twist and turns.


What do you think is unique about The Foundry's education program?

Do you remember when you left uni? You went from having all your meals, housing, access to all the tools you needed and suddenly it came to a screeching halt. We can't help with housing, but we can help make sure you can continue to pursue your career goals, working with our software. Students pay a small fee to secure a license during school and upon graduation, we continue to give students inexpensive access to our tools and support during those challenging years right after school. One hurdle out of the way.

What's one thing you'd love to see?

As an industry, we need a centralized hub where students and the industry converge. Currently, studios tend to look in the same places for talent, and students tend to look at the same big studios for work. But there are some fantastic people and opportunities outside that relatively myopic world. This becomes more pronounced as governments invest more in creative media, creating talent and businesses in unexpected places. Until that time, make an effort to look beyond the big names. Find smaller studios doing interesting things. Introduce yourself. Identify yourself as a student and explain why their work interested you and ask their advice on what they're looking for in their employees. If you're genuinely interested in them, at some point, they'll be genuinely interested in you.

Related links

Visit The Foundry's website
Learn more about The Foundry's education program
Find affordable learning resources in our shop

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