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October 01
2019

ISSUE

Fall 2019

VES Washington: A Broad Vision of VFX Rises in the Pacific Northwest

By NAOMI GOLDMAN

Now more than two decades strong, the Visual Effects Society is flourishing thanks to its dynamic network of Sections, which reflect and contribute to their communities’ distinctive visual effects landscape. Section members lend their expertise and entrepreneurship to benefit visual effects practitioners in their region while advancing the Society and industry worldwide. Founded in 2016, the vibrant Washington State Section boasts almost 100 members who reflect the unique makeup of the area’s visual effects community.

Members and college students participate in VES Washington’s signature Creative Spotlight Series.

VES Washington members and guests celebrate at the 2018 Holiday Party.

As one of the country’s gaming and tech epicenters, the local visual effects work in Washington is fueled by a roster of leading video game design and visual computing companies including Microsoft Studios, NVIDIA, Valve, Suckerpunch, Blizzard, Bungie and PopCap Games. The locale of those businesses aligns with the membership, which is primarily drawn from Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond, as well as the Seattle hub.

In highlighting the membership, Washington Section Chair Neil Lim Sang proudly proclaims, “Things are different here. At least one quarter of our members are engineers – professionals that don’t immediately come to mind when describing the VES’s membership. But they absolutely should be part of our holistic vision.”

Continues Lim Sang on the Section leadership’s impassioned vision, “Before the creation of our Section, so many professionals would not have been exposed to something like the VES or known about it, because our community was so separated among enclaves of artists, technologists, producers and creatives. But now there is a centerpoint that bridges the separation and binds us together.

“We want to expand the idea of the ‘typical’ VES member with a nontraditional point of view. Without the brilliant technical engineers designing the programs and software, we simply would not have visual effects. Their roles in the industry are essential and we stand for diversity in our membership. Everyone deserves a shot and a collegial place to belong.”

When it comes to serving the membership, the Section’s signature program is the Creative Spotlight Series – which are hybrid educational, career development and networking events. Each event brings together industry practitioners and thought leaders to share their insights and career highlights with fellow VES members and area college students, offering a dynamic introduction to working professionals and the broad field of filmed entertainment. Held at venues such as Bellevue College and the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, the series has featured a diverse lineup of speakers to date, including an architectural video designer, CG supervisor/technical director, VFX supervisor, screenwriter, director, producer, art director, production manager and motion-capture studio executives.

“Through our Creative Spotlight series, we are really working to forge a sense of community that links practitioners and VES members from all across our regional industry. Opening up these events to students in film, visual effects, animation and creative arts programs offers a great opportunity to connect with the next generation of professionals and hopefully inspire them to pursue their dreams,” said Lim Sang.

The Section held their first Summer BBQ last year and hosts an ongoing series of film screenings, panels and pub nights as social and professional gatherings to meet prospective members. Moving forward, the Board of Managers is exploring new programmatic options such as family-friendly events and opportunities to highlight local jobs and support recruitment and career development.

The Washington Section clearly embodies the Society’s commitment to engaging and representing the full breadth of artists and innovators working across the visual effects industry. In summary, Lim Sang reinforces the mantra of the Section. “Opening up to the diversity of deeply talented colleagues all around us can be a game changer. We all benefit from an expanded worldview and the chance to create really interesting and often unexpected relationships. Here at the VES Washington Section, everyone is welcome.”


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