When asked about the unique nature of the L.A. market, the Section leadership is quick to point out what makes this area so special. “Being in the heart of Hollywood, we set an example of quality and integrity for visual effects as the gold standard for the industry,” says Kaitlyn Yang, Section Co-Chair. “And with some of the best film and VFX schools in town, the next generation of filmmakers is watching us. We have the potential to help shape and support these aspiring artists and innovators.”
“There’s something special about creating visual effects in Los Angeles, a city where the art, craft and technology of moviemaking has been coming together for generations,” says McGrail. “Our proximity to Hollywood and Silicon Beach allows us to have access to great minds and entrepreneurs pushing the edges of what’s next.”
There is a hotbed of VFX activity and inspiration at home in L.A. Companies are doing groundbreaking work. Apple, Netflix and Hulu have local production hubs, and there is a huge amount of work being done by local VFX facilities to support them. The L.A. Section Managers point to their members as enormous points of pride, with some of the ‘original heroes of VFX’ among its ranks.
The Section has a robust roster of programming, including film screenings, demos, educational and special events. To grow its ranks, it holds Spring and Fall Membership Drive mixers, and members are encouraged to bring prospects to events year-round to experience firsthand the benefits of VES membership and community.
The Section’s signature events are the Summer BBQ and Holiday Party, which draw hundreds of attendees. Rotomaker serves as this year’s annual Gold Section Sponsor, and the roster of generous sponsors has enabled the Section to significantly amp up its overall programming calendar.
The Vision Committee held a large-scale event, “Light Fields and Google AR” at Google’s Playa Vista headquarters, which featured Academy Award winner Paul Debevec, VES and Ivan Neulander, a Lead Rendering Engineer at Google, along with a special access tour of the Google HQ.
The Third Floor and Picture Shop have provided space for meetups, membership drives and board meetings, and the Section has collaborated with industry organizations including SMPTE, Women in Animation, PGA, DGA and the Art Directors Guild to serve each other’s missions. The Section also worked closely with VES HQ staff to put on last summer’s wildly successful SIGGRAPH party, which attracted VES members and guests from around the globe.
Looking to the year ahead, the Section Managers are focused on several key goals. “We are going to do more to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our members, and to share their artistic and technological innovations with the L.A. Section and the world,” says McGrail.
“Expect to see us highlighting VES’s benefits to members, including health care, networking events and subscriptions to VFX Voice,” adds Yang, “as well as encourage more engagement among members, including joining committees and running for the Board, and continue to develop diversity initiatives to further the movement on this important facet of the VFX industry.”