To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.
CINEFEX: How did you get started in the business, Esther?
ESTHER TRILSCH: I was actually more interested in drawing initially, but I realized I wasn’t that great at it. I remember looking at how 3D artists work creatively, and started to experiment with these approaches. Cinema 4D was my starting point, but at the time there weren’t many tutorials available. What I could find was all in Italian so it was kind of a bummy start! That first contact with 3D got me headed in the direction of wider visual effects work. Over the course of my studies, I realized that approaches taken with 3D characters and anatomy are very close to what got me originally into illustrating. It was a natural step heading into a wider visual effects environment where I could learn not only more about my own interests, but also the other necessary components for this field of production.
CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?
ESTHER TRILSCH: Certainly when you reach the point where the character you’ve been working on becomes ‘alive.’ Building something up that will benefit the company and help us grow as a whole. The tools we have created and use in-house, catered to our needs, offer new experiences and continually challenge us to develop further.
CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?
ESTHER TRILSCH: There are always pros and cons. It is a fast-changing industry and a lot of stuff that you develop will soon need to be upgraded or swapped out entirely – that can also be seen as a pro as it keeps you moving and learning. The impact of globalization on the effects industry is something we all might be concerned with. Regarding outsourcing, talent is something I think we should be more mindful of moving forward.
CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?
ESTHER TRILSCH: I feel slightly challenged right now! I’m working on my first project in the role of supervisor, where I am now responsible for other people and their work. Each show has its own set of challenges and, while they may be similar from show to show, they still require strategizing for how we reach our end goals. Of course, bringing any project together towards the end, keeping everything in check, has its expected hurdles.
CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?
ESTHER TRILSCH: As a rigger, you have to take care of the anatomy of the characters and actors which need to be built. So, there are moments when you need to do things that you previously thought would never come across your plate. Funny requests are expected in this line of work!
CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?
ESTHER TRILSCH: One trend that I see the industry moving towards is incorporating machine learning into more day-to-day workflows. Over the last two years, I have heard of increased instances where this type of AI is becoming part of the tools we use daily. This will change a lot of workflows for us – for example, processes like transferring motion capture data into usable animation data is becoming faster.
CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?
ESTHER TRILSCH: I am interested with where machine learning may take this industry, but also cautious – it might drastically reduce the amount of work we get ourselves. It is encouraging to see the increase of women working in visual effects. I would love to see an even more dramatic increase over the coming years. From my perspective, I feel it is fairly easy to be respected in this profession.
CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?
ESTHER TRILSCH: Learn programming as early as possible. You will need it! Try to balance anatomical and mathematical skillsets, as these will aid you tremendously as you begin your own careers. It will save you a lot of trouble further down the road and get you into positions where more responsibilities and possibilities are available to you.
CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?
ESTHER TRILSCH: Blade Runner 2049 – a very good example of a mix of high quality visual effects work with practical effects. The Lord of the Rings trilogy – I remember the first time when I saw Gollum just being completely awestruck that this was possible. Jurassic Park – for the time, those were impressive creature builds.
CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?
ESTHER TRILSCH: Chicago Style Popcorn – caramel and cheese mixed!
CINEFEX: Esther, thanks for your time!