Camden Wright, one of our Master of Design Technology (MDT) graduates, was offered a role at SideFX in Canada so we caught up with him before he left for Toronto. We’d talked to Camden earlier in the year whilst he was still studying with us and dreaming of telling stories in a VFX (Visual Effects) Studio like Weta Digital. Now, just a few short months later, his dream has come true.
The opportunity to work for SideFX came directly from our MDT programme. Camden shared that “we [the students] were wrapping up our final project, our short film Hidden, and Arieto [one of the lecturers] sent an email telling us that SideFX had an internship open. I knew the company, because they created the Houdini software we used in class and past applicants had gone on to work for big studios, so it wasn’t something I could miss.”
SideFX is a world leader in the development of 3D animation and visual effects software for use in film, commercials and video games. They’re most well-known for Houdini which is a procedural generation tool used by major VFX companies, Camden explained that “it [Houdini] initially started as a way to create simulations like water or fire destruction but has developed into large-scale landscape modelling. You can write code, instructions and rules, to create multiple variations of something very quickly.”
There are lots of opportunities for this kind of software, Camden shared, including pushing beyond a screen and into the real-world. Camden’s passionate about tabletop gaming and talked to SideFX in his interview about possible use-cases for 3D printing to create landscapes or miniatures and digital augmentation (like AR or VR) to make the experiences more realistic.
Camden is very excited about his next career steps in another country, “I like to think of it as doors in a hallway, I’ve opened up a new hallway instead of just another door.”
He’s hoping to bring back his experiences to our shores and share with our local industry some day. He believes this opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without our MDT programme because “what we learned was tailored by industry professionals, for example things like Shotgun are industry-standard made for studios rather than for educational purposes. It’s a privilege that we got to work with them.”
Camden would highly recommend going through the academic system, instead of striking out on your own, because “it got me further than others who would be teaching themselves and I wouldn’t have met all these people who were in, or connected to, the industry.” Camden, for example, got to learn from Weta Digital and Workshop artists and meet inspirations like Sir Richard Taylor and Gino Acevedo.
He felt more connected, ambitious, and confident after graduating from our programme. Camden said that, compared to his undergraduate, our Master of Design Technology “had a much more hands-on relationship with the lecturers, it made me feel like my work was more appreciated and I could take confidence in it.”
The short film, Hidden, Camden created for his final capstone project shares messages about conservation and looking after sacred things. He said “the story was a way to tell people to observe because sometimes we get caught up staring at screens and not paying attention to things around us…we might be harming the environment without realising it.”
One of the important things Camden learnt from his studies is how to weave meaningful stories into his work, he’s excited to tell stories that have an uplifting proactive tone instead of the dystopian post-apocalyptic tone that is trendy.
“We should create stories that are less of waiting for a superhero to arrive to save us and more of what kind of society we want to become.”
Now that Camden’s graduated and in the industry he wants to change the types of stories we tell in movies, “I think we might have lost important stories for kids like, for example, The Wizard of Oz. The kinds of stories that teach you how to be kind or share with others. Whereas nowadays most films you watch, as an adult, are more about the spectacle of explosions and effects.”
Some final advice Camden wants to pass onto potential students is the willingness to try different things. He said that it can be easy to get stuck at your desk and burn out, so recommends taking time for yourself and pushing the limits of your comfort zone. Camden’s proud he made the time to do fun activities with his classmates like going to movies or the zoo, he made some good friends and had a work-life balance during his studies.