Featured Tutor: Xuan Prada, a Global Citizen

Sometimes sacrifices have to be made when pursuing what you're passionate about in life. For featured visual effects instructor, Xuan Prada, moving from location to location to wherever the job lead him is one of those sacrifices that needed to be made. All of these compromises between his personal and professional lives have paid off in the end and lead to many opportunities with top VFX studios and roles working on high-profile films. Join us as we interview Prada about his experiences within the VFX industry and as he shares some insight into getting your start with this type of profession.

Could you start off by telling our readers a little about yourself and in your own words what kind of work you do?

I’m a Senior Texture Painter & Look-Development Artist at Double Negative in London and have been with them for the past few years. My previous experiences include MPC, Dr. D Studios and other studios around the world. My filmography includes major productions like Iron Man, Godzilla, Prometheus, Exodus Gods and Kings, Dark Shadows, Wrath of the Titans, and Happy Feet among others.

I’m originally from Spain but I’ve been working abroad for many years now so I think I’m more of a global citizen! :)


What was the toughest part of breaking into the FX industry?

The hardest part was definitely the compromise on my personal life and the “forever moving countries” scenario – you gotta be ready for that. There was a lot of sacrifice and adjusting my family and I had to do it in order to make the most of the opportunities that were coming my way but totally worth it. Would do it all over again.




Do you have any tips on creating a demo reel to impress potential employers?

Keep it simple. If you are a student, don’t make it longer than one minute. Include only one good project, something very very good. If you are already a professional don’t bother going over two minutes! You have to go straight to the target, showing your most impressive works first and even cutting minor or older projects. If needed, add explanations about the shot on the footer to make things easier to the person watching.

VFX Supervisors have seen hundreds or thousands of reels, so make it short, high impact and memorable if you want to be remembered…and hired!


How do you stay current or up-to-date with changes and updates in technology and VFX applications?

I study a lot at home and I’m constantly trying new stuff – software, techniques, wherever I feel that I can learn from and find inspiration, I’m there. There’s a lot of online research, Cinefex is always a good reference to see what our colleagues are doing but I try to find knowledge and inspiration in non-FX related sources as well, like exhibitions, every day life, and travel.

I’m always looking for short courses and other kind of training to be enrolled.



Which film was your favorite to work on?

Dark Shadows is a favorite. I’ve always been a big Tim Burton fan and he was very happy with our work, so that made me really proud. There were technically and artistically challenging shots but I can say working on this movie was a joy.


Which film from 2014 had your favorite visual effects and why?

Interstellar blew my mind! Or maybe it was not only the VFX? :) Now seriously, the VFX were extremely complex, it’s so rich that it’s one of those movies you have to watch it again to be sure you didn’t miss anything. I especially like the combination of visual storytelling and science in this movie.


What was your inspiration in starting akromatic and where you see its future?

I realized there was a gap in the market for HDRI photography. There’s not much out there in information and products, that’s how the idea started. Photography has always been a favorite topic and hobby for me so building a business around two things I love – VFX and photos – was a natural thing.

We developed our products a lot during 2014 and now we want to focus on expanding business in 2015. Partnering with studios and schools is our focus for the near future. We want to be the reference for HDRI photography, not only for our products, but we want to be also a knowledge and inspiration source.


What does it take to become successful in this industry?

Be flexible. This profession requires sacrifice, working long hours and willing to relocate to where the next project is. You need to be ready to embrace the lifestyle fully if you want better opportunities and work for the top studios in the world.



What’s your next or current project, if you can say?

I’m currently working on Mission Impossible 5, but I can’t share much with you guys, sorry. But it’s gonna be awesome!


Do you have any final comments or suggestions you would like to leave for our readers?

Never accommodate, guys! This career requires being constantly studying, researching, practicing. You need to dive in! Also, raise your profile among the VFX community – participate in forums, blogs, let your work be known. That will certainly give you a hand for that dream job, and some recognition too!


To learn more about Xuan visit his website, Xuanprada.com and be sure to check out his tutorials Look Development for Visual Effects in Maya and Creating HDRI Environments for 3D Lighting in Photoshop and Maya.