Los Angeles-based Doron Kamara VFX Freelancer gets the Job done fast !

Doron Kamara FX Demo Reel 2017 from Doron Kamara on Vimeo.

Doron Kamara portrait

Cebas : Hi, Doron, we have been talking about featuring you on cebas.com so finally, here we are :) Let's start with a self-intro.

Hello, my name is Doron Kamara and I’ve been in the VFX industry for almost five years now. I have worked on many different platforms from features to TV series to commercials. I’ve always enjoyed all aspects of the movie making process, but effects definitely are my passion. I can watch video references all day with a smile and still want more. Born in Israel, but raised in Los Angeles, I am fortunate to be in the city where movie making is constantly happening everywhere you look. There are lots of studios within the city limits, but you still have to knock on a lot of doors in order to find the opportunities out there. I enjoy working on all types of projects, being challenged, and working with our small tight knit VFX community.

You can find more about Doron Kamara at https://www.doronfx.com/

Doron, why did you decide to enter this field of work ? And was it in high school that you decided to become a FX Artist?

Doron: I’ve been drawing and making art since I was a young boy. I took a few animation courses in high school and was accepted into California Institute of the Arts soon after that. While in school, my FX animation stood out and became an instant obsession. After I graduated, I wanted to follow where the industry was going, so I attended a few Gnomon classes and learned Maya Fluids. After lots of hard work, I was able to get my foot in the industry.

Cebas: It is a bit hard to pinpoint your work, Doron, you have quite a long list of Studios you worked with: Fuse FX, Plastic Wax, Encore VFX, Laundry!, Shade Vfx, Locktix Visual Effects, Zoic Studios and Baked FX … You worked the longest with FuseFX and Encore - and the rest were those gigs that you freelance?

Doron: I’ve jumped from TV Series to Features and back to TV Series work mostly for my full time gigs. I’ve had the pleasure of going into a studio, learning what I can from the artists around me and excelling my skills. I enjoy challenging myself and seeing where else my career could go. So when new opportunities present themselves to work in different environments, I am always open!

And did you decide to go freelance? And what is the difference, in your view, between working as a full time fx artists with an established studio vs freelancing?

There is no difference between freelance and full time in today’s VFX industry. You don’t know whether or not the person sitting next to you is part time or full time. So you have to give your all no matter what. I approach every opportunity as if I will be working with the studio for the rest of my career, because you never know if the projects will short or long term. Working on TV shows, I’ve learned to juggle many shots at the same time; this is the usual workflow for freelancers. A change of environment helps change things up a bit and not get too burnt out by the constant demand of fast approaching deadlines.

Do you normally work on remote when you freelance or you actually move to the city where the studio is located? 

I have had the pleasure of working freelance both at the studio and at home remotely. I enjoy working at a studio and being surrounded by a team of FX Artists because that interaction forces you to grow and learn from others. Working remotely at home, you don’t get to bounce your ideas off with the people around you so you’re forced to dig into your own abilities and skills to produce great FX work. If you have good communication throughout the production and both sides understand the visual goal and language, then all will be awesome! I am not against moving to another city for a job. So far, the right opportunity has not been presented to me yet.

Your career experience is still quite young in the world of VFX : about four years. You also studied at the California Institute of the Arts -- can you touch on this matter of education for being an artist? How much did it helped you? And what did Gnomon offered you that your degree in Fine Arts had not? 

My background in 2D FX animation has helped me have a better sense of timing in my work. Gnomon polished my skills with the appropriate tools. The transition between studios throughout my career pushed my skills higher with every project. Each of those chapters in my life molded me to become the FX Artist that I am today. CalArts was a great time for me as an artist because it opened up my creativity and gave me a peak into the future world of animation. The best overall learning segment for me happens every day on the job, soaking up the little tips here and there by simply talking with coworkers.

Doron, what would you say is the biggest hurdle or difficulty when transferring from VFX training to actual VFX work?

The transition between student work and working on production shots is one of the biggest hurdles all artists have to overcome. It’s hard to find experience to put on your reel so every opportunity needs to be taken advantage of. I was able to overcome that hurdle when I worked on my own shot and asked myself what effects would I want to see on TV that hasn’t been done before? Because ultimately, that is always what the client wants to see, something no one has ever seen before. It may take a long time to get it right and to train your eye, but hard work definitely pays off.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 FX Breakdown from Doron Kamara on Vimeo.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 Trailer from Plastic Wax on Vimeo.

Okay Doron, let’s now dive right into what everyone has been waiting for… please tell us some of the movie as well as TV projects that used thinkingParticles.

I’ve used Thinking Particles on many different projects over the last few years. The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Scorpion, Making History, and Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 Trailer.

On the aforementioned project(s), which were the VFX shots/images in particular that thinkingParticles were used? 

On Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 Trailer, I used Thinking Particles to shoot out debris and sparks for the impact explosions. I used the effect throughout multiple shots within the trailer.

Why did you decide that TP was the best for this vfx creative and did our software help you achieve the desired effects without much hiccups?

I had to stretch the time scale in order to get the slow motion feeling in the beginning of the opening shot and have the elements slowly speed back up into real-time. The accuracy and flexibility that I needed to achieve this look was best and fastest achieved through using TP!

Which one would you say you enjoyed most working on?

I definitely loved working on Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 Trailer with the team at Plastic Wax the most because the action sequences were all extremely entertaining shots to work on. Each shot was one that places you on the edge of your seat. This was my second time working with the studio and they make working remotely much more fun because of their great level of communication.

What are some of the features/ operators in thinkingParticles that you feel are unbeatable and helped you in your creative output ?

I always go to Thinking Particles when I need accurate rigid body collisions. Definitely the SC Operator and the VolumeBreak Operator! This plugin really makes my life easier as an FX artist when I need to punch through a wall or have multiple layers of objects collide with one another.

What do you find usually are the most difficult aspects of 3d/ fx design work - is it getting the software that does the job or getting the artistic inspiration ?

Software is definitely more of a preference thing. If someone is an expert with a certain program, they can make it work in that program no matter what. The challenge for FX Artists leans more towards the artistic side. The manipulation of the effect to making it look the way the client wants it to look like is ultimate task. I think research is always important before stepping into a shot and getting started. I like to have as much reference as possible before starting a shot so both sides of production know what the end goal is.

Doron, you know about 8 plugins for 3dsMax and 10 for Maya, plus Nuke, After Effects, Shotgun, Photoshop: did you actually had learned this all from school, or did you acquire these software skills as you go along working in actual projects?

I only knew Maya fluids and a bit of Nuke when I stepped into the industry. It’s impossible to know all the programs and be great at all of them in the beginning. A majority of the programs and plugins I learned on the job and along with my fellow peers sitting beside me. I still learn new things every day on the job and at home. This keeps you up to date, fresh, and innovative. Every studio will have their go to tools and workflow, it’s up to you to adjust to their pipeline and learn new software.

Doron, would you advise a new trainee to try and learn all these tools during training, before they actually look for a fx artist position ? Is it possible?

My advice would be for students to get hands on experience as fast as they can. Nothing can compare to working on an actual production shot. Students should stick to what their target studios are using and their skills/specialties will change over time once they get more experience.

What do you find usually are the most difficult aspects of 3d/ fx design work - is it technology or artistic inspiration ? - is there an available vfx software that resolves all your technology-to-creativity needs? What is missing?

Technology will always change and there usually isn’t one plugin/program that can achieve all tasks needed for an FX shot. Nor do I think that there necessarily needs to be one. I think each plugin has its useful highs and lows. To get different looking effects, you need to use a bit of everything and weave it all together. The best FX Artists use multiple plugins and make it look simple.

And what projects can we expect from you in the future (if you're able to tell us)?

I can’t talk about the projects I’m working on at the moment, but they are definitely new and exciting! I will be happy to share them with the community once they are released!

What are your professionals and what are your personal hopes and dreams in moving into the future in the art of visual effects and balancing life/work?

My dream is to have a balanced work life with family life. My goal is to lead a team of FX Artists in a show. Leads and Supervisors do a lot in our industry, but the good ones motivate and inspire. I want to be able to build and trust a team of artists to give their best efforts in making awesome VFX… I want to be one of the good ones!

Cebas would like to thank Doron Kamara for sharing his insights into effects work by remote
 and hope to see more great visuals in the near future.