Posted Mar 04

Inside the world of VFX production coordinators: AI as scheduling assistants?

by Giovanna Borges
Inside the world of VFX production coordinators: AI as scheduling assistants? by Giovanna Borges

This is part two of our feature on VFX production coordinators. Read part one here

The visual effects industry as a whole is benefitting from artificial intelligence and advancements in technology. But how can VFX production, in particular, benefit from technological progress?

The Focus spoke with four production coordinators – Darren Usher (Maleficent 2 - MPC Film); Brittany Amos (Monster Hunter - MR. X) and Izabella Mayumi (Cats - Mill Film) – to get some insights about their positions and the future of VFX production, as well as the possibility of AI as scheduling assistants for the VFX pipeline.


The Focus: Where do you think production is headed in the future?

Darren: I envision shows being produced within the VFX industry with a realistic and appropriate schedule to accomplish. As a production coordinator, the most fascinating thing about my job is being able to see multiple aspects of one or many issues – seeing it from a production standpoint and then also engaging with artists directly. For the next five or 10 years, I’d like to see the industry going through this process of standardization and an understanding of what realistically can be done on the production side of things.

Brittany: I can see it becoming much more global. You have different studios in different places, and I could see things branching off more and more, which I think has its challenges but also has its benefits. There are a lot of talented people all over the world, so it means you get to tap into all of them.

Izabella: I think scheduling work will be better with technology working in our favor. If AI (artificial intelligence) would be implemented in the tools, we would have them doing all the schedules and filling the gaps. Then, the production would be able to focus more on people and how to build a good team. 

Darren Usher
Darren Usher


The Focus: In your point of view, what is the best quality a production coordinator should have?

Darren: Empathy. As the mediator between production and artists, it is important to give the clearest picture possible. It’s one thing chasing up targets established internally, but it’s another thing discussing with leads and artists and gaining a better understanding of what can be realistically done.

Brittany: I think you need to be a solutions-based person. You need to be able to solve problems and ask questions to the right people who will help you find solutions. If you can come back to your team not just with a problem but a potential solution, it helps everything run that much more smoothly. And keeps everyone much saner!

Izabella: Organisation. You need to be organised with your things and pass it all on to the team. If you are doing something, you can’t do it for yourself – you need to do it for the team. Besides that, communication needs to be effective.  


The Focus: Any advice for someone who would like to follow a career path into production? 

Darren: It's a learning process. Don’t be afraid to kind of dive in, get your hands dirty and just do as much as you can.

Brittany: Be prepared for things to change at any moment. You have to be adaptable and ready to just take things as they come.

Izabella: Don’t be shy. Try to learn the VFX language and if you didn’t understand something, speak up! It’s super important be keep track of things, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. —

Editor's note: Izabella Mayumi worked at Mill Film from May 2019 to February 2020.

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