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An Interview with a Visual Effects Artist (Part 1)


Photo of Don de Castro by Don de Castro.Insider Access

For today’s insider interview, we shift gears and talk to someone in the film industry. I’ve known him for quite a while and have always looked up to his creativity and passion.

Who Are You, Where Are You From and What Do You Do?

"Don de Castro, from Torrance, CA, and I am a VFX Artist."

(NOTE: VFX, or Visual Effects, encompasses the use of models, paintings, live-action effects, digital effects, and digital animation in movies.)

Have You Always Been Creative?

"I always had a passion for drawing when I was young but never really thought much of it. It was more something I liked to do. I fell in love with photography in high school. Both these passions ended up serving me well when I decided to go to art school to eventually do visual effects work.

I carry a camera with me wherever I go, and I always have a sketchbook and pen."

What Are Some of Your Favorite Projects that You’ve Worked On?

"You can never forget the first big project you're on and for me that is Polar Express. It was truly a way of production that has not been done before and it was great to be part of something like that. Speaking [of being] on the forefront of technology, I had the privilege to work on Avatar and [was] able to be part of such a huge blockbuster.

I also worked on the first Narnia movie at Rhythm and Hues, which was significant for me, because they not only hired me to do some motion editing for motion capture, but after that part of the pipeline was done they also trained me to do cloth/fur animation. With that skill set I was able to get on the cloth and hair team for my first fully animated film Open Season. Also, a few years later I worked on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.

I also recently just finished work on Real Steel, which was significant in its own way since they took the Simulcam process which was developed during Avatar and used it successfully to integrate the robots fighting into the real world."

(NOTE: Simulcam refers to the camera they use which allows filmmakers to tape scenes where live action and CGI blend together.)

How Important Is It for You to Consume Ideas and Stories Outside of Your Industry?

"I always try to broaden my horizons. I've read books by Bill Bryson, such as A Short History of Nearly Everything and At Home: A Short History Of Private Life, [as well as] other books like Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell [and] How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker. Consuming ideas outside of work allows me to be a more knowledgeable person and you never when those things can help you out at work -- or even better, just life in general. It is also a way for me to avoid being burnt out, since I am not only consumed by thoughts of work."

Tune In Next Time

That’s all for part 1. Keep an eye out for part 2!

You can follow Don de Castro on Twitter under the handle @dondecastro.

And check out his IMDb page for his film credits.

Don’t forget to “like” the Atherton and Brisbane libraries on Facebook to ensure you get all our Insider Access blog updates.

Photo credit: Don de Castro


Author Bio:

Intern Anthony Andora loves going to the movies.