AFRICAN DESIGN BLOG
KOOME MWIREBUA VFX Artist & Co-Founder KEYFRAME

A lot of people still don't understand what VFX is all about. Do you normally struggle trying to explain what you do?.. especially to those with no background in production

 

Yes, It does  take sometime to explain to people. The only way most of the time is by referencing projects, mostly international movies, to try and explain vaguely what visual effects is..

Sometimes i just say, it's like tom and jerry.. Because to some, animation and vfx is the same thing.. lol

 

Hehehe. How is the VFX industry here in Kenya?

There seems to be very few people with that title to their job description from an outsider's perspective

 

I'd say VFX is still at it's infancy stage in Kenya, East and central Africa even.

Some clients don't understand what vfx is, and how it can help in their productions..

Others don't trust it can be done in Kenya, Africa even!

 

Yeah, trying to imagine how a freelance vfx artist would advertise themselves to a client. Seems a bit tricky

 

Well, I choose to take it positively and use the opportunity to educate and show the process. Takes patience and courage sometime

 

A lot of us,.. probably all of us have seen vfx in action but we couldn't identify it. This seems to be a common thing even when it comes to other fields like motion graphics. Is this an indication of a lack of something somewhere? Perhaps in the curriculum or just the culture that "design is a hobby so we don't need to be too concerned about it"?

 

So I'll divide these into two answers.

When vfx is done right, in any given project, the idea is it shouldn't be noticeable. A good example would be wolf of wall street. Some scenes were entirely shot in a studio, green screen. I'm sure up to now, people view it as all being live action.

The second answer i have is yes, people still don't have an understanding of the production and post production world.. Especially this side of the world. We all watch TV, movies etc.. But not many stop and think of what went behind the scenes.

I like to use a theater play/show as an example.. you've got the grips(lighting), make up artist, producers, curtain raisers, stage managers, coaches and then the actors.

The actors represent all of us when they do what they do. Our job is to make them look good,and keep the focus on the story.

So i guess when we bring this back to the real world, no one really wants to be the people behind the curtain, everyone wants to be in the limelight of careers.. It's not a bad thing.. but how about you we be the best at what we do.. Be the best curtain raiser, the best make up artist, the best animator, the best music engineers, the best visual effects artist...etc.

I ramble a lot.. I hope i answered your question somewhere in there.. lol

 

Hehehe, this is very well put. Makes a tone of sense when you put it in that perspective

Working as freelance artist, how has that been? What made you pick that versus getting employed in a studio or agency now that even agencies are employing their own creatives

 

Freelance is interesting. Especially the fact that you have to realize that you yourself are the business, and have to think of things from both the artist sense and business sense..

It's a constant learning process.. You have to be ahead of the game, know new developments in technology and work flows.

I have actually started a post production company called Keyframe.

I have partnered with a phenomenal artist called Jim Karutu, And we taking over the world one project at a time

There's this constant buzz about being freelance.

You have to constantly be thinking, newer faster ways of working, think about positioning in business...

I'm not against employment, i guess it's just not for me right now.

 

Awesome! These are the kind of things that I think will change the culture of design in Africa because we don't have a lot of studios catered to post or pre production. We have a bunch of animation studios of which most are struggling to survive. People haven't really ventured outside of that.

And then we have the other studios that choose to cover the entire spectrum of production

 

Thank you. I'd say one of the biggest lessons I'm learning now is patience, and time management...

Yes that's true. And there is nothing bad about covering the whole process.. I just think it's a really really difficult job to try and do both well.

At KEYFRAME, we only focus on finishing/post production. We rarely even edit!

From visual effects to color and animation

 

Awesome! Speaking of time management, are there jobs you turn down? Was telling a fellow creative how I don't just pick any job even if it's a good paying job. I have to first run it through some key points to assess whether the job is worth the time. The guy thought I must be doing well to turn down a job because of certain things hehe. Is this the same for you?

 

Yes. I like to use a chart which perhaps you could help in redrawing on your blog..

 

Oh yeah this is great, will definitely add it to the blog!

Because at the end of the day you can pick a job and it causes way too much frustration and wasted effort and time that you could have used doing something else. This is how I define employment hehehe

 

I agree.. This is all a learning process.. so we just take it one day at a time, A project at a time.

 

We don't have a lot of schools in Africa that offer programs for people seeking to take a production based course outside of the usual video production and editing short courses. Definitely this is a major contributor towards the number of creatives we have in our industry which again plays a part in the level of skill and talent that we produce. What is it that we can do to change this and get more people not only interested in design but to educate them on at least the basics of design that would really make an impact

 

I agree.

We have to start small.

Perhaps with workshops and small get togethers.. Funny enough, these are one of the things at Keyframe we want to host in our space every so often.

 

Interesting. Do tell us more

 

At Keyframe, we are challenging how things are done in this industry.

From late payments, to talent search and artist collaborations

These are things we want to make more aware and get the industry talking about.

We are starting a creative podcast series for artists in Kenya and Africa as a whole.

This platform will be used to educate aspiring artists as well as showcase the struggles of artists, all forms of art, as well as positive inspiration and achievements.

This i believe will be our small role to play in bringing the industry a little more closer together and to future interesting collaboration.

Man is not an island

 

Cool. Will definitely be looking out for that. Podcasts are something we had thought of doing as well here at Jee Media but then it proved challenging for us so we opted to do the blogs instead. But the feedback we've had so far has been good and I'm sure you guys will do well with the podcasts

 

Thank you! And that's great!

 

Collaborations are also great but we have this culture here.. I don't know if you've noticed it too that artists don't support each other much

Artists don't share other artists work

Everyone is too busy working on their own stuff they don't want to work with another artist unless money is involved..

Or some creatives just put themselves in a class where they wouldn't work with upcoming artists which is just sad

 

It's true. I have noticed that. And yes, it is unfortunate.

You know, it's like they say, If You Want To Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want To Go Far, Go Together

Everyone deserves a chance. There are many artists now and more are to come. The fact that you are hiding your projects/clients and not wanting to share you r skills just shows how vulnerable one is. "Don't focus on being the best, focus on being the best you can be. and share the knowledge. I believe the more you share, the more you learn. Empty your cup and fill it up again with new ideas/concepts and move on

 

Yeah that's true

You've worked on some amazing, big projects as seen on your website. For someone who is still.. I won't say new but rather young in the industry, what has this meant to you?

 

First of all, this is all a blessing, and I'm really grateful for the many opportunities that have come my way.

To be honest, I've barely scratched the surface. There is a lot to be done. People out there are doing some really fantastic work, and have raised the bar really high.

I have a lot of catching up to do.

 

You happen to have experience working "out there" where the competition is high and professionalism is off the roof. What impact did that have on the way you approach work?

 

Yes, that was quite something.

In fact, I'd like to mention my mentor Alvin Seah with whom I had the opportunity to learn from and start Astatica with. Astatica is a Finishing post production house in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We are still good friends, and still learning a lot from him

Work in Asia is definitely in the fast lane. I learnt how to be patient. How to work 14-18hr days 7 days a week for about 2yrs.

I'm not bragging or sulking about this, no. It's just showing what dedication takes to being the best I wanted to be. I was just from University. I loved the work, the hours were long but i didn't think anything of it. This set a pace for me. I learnt that nothing good comes from the first draft. I learnt there is no such thing as 'I cannot do it'. Alvin, my mentor, reminds me of Hayao Miyazaki!

People who are so into the art of what they do, so effortlessly.. Makes me feel extremely humbled by them, and at the same time fueled to be better and strive harder, over and over and over and over, until time runs out and you just have to let it go.

Nothing is ever really done.

Sorry, you'll have to clean up my typos.. lol

 

That's some intense stuff! I think that's something a lot of creatives struggle with.. your never quite satisfied with your work, there's always that thing that you can make better

 

One thing I've seen with artists I've worked with or known is, work ethic is still lacking.

People take time to wait fro inspiration and all.. there is no such thing as waiting for inspiration.

Inspiration has to find you as you are working on something. A great idea will be found in the right conditions.. of hard work, experimentation, lots or trial and error... and somewhere in this process, an idea will arise. One cannot just simply sit back and wait for a 'wave of inspiration' to hit them.

 

Yeah well put. Is there even time to sit back and wait for inspiration to hit you hehehe?

 

Hehe.. never

 

How is the movie scene in Africa from your perspective. Trying to think of a purely African produced film that has some good visual effects work

 

I'd say it's coming up.

I think people are learning that African stories have to be told.

I can really only speak about the Kenyan films

From Nairobi Half life, Kati Kati, Veve to mention a few.

Unfortunately, not whole productions are handled in Kenya. I mean the shoots are done for film, but post production is almost always exported.

 

Yeah that's quite unfortunate. Not only are post production jobs being done elsewhere but we're also seeing a lot of key production roles being given to people who have to be flown in from elsewhere.

I do believe we have the talent to do all these. What we lack I think is the opportunities

But if the opportunities that would allow us to grow are being given to others then that kind of creates a problem

 

As Keyframe is coming up, we are trying to build this connection. Art and technical skills.

People need to believe in themselves more.

 

That's where I think studios like Keyframe and Jee Media come in, to fill in that space by creating opportunities for some of the best talent to work on these "can't be done here" projects and be able to do it to a level that matches up to standards anywhere

Looking forward to seeing what happens with Keyframe

 

This is the longest blog we've done yet and still there's so much more to talk about

I'm hoping we can do this again soon

 

Definately we can do this again.

Maybe even have you on our podcast once we get started!

 

Yeah definitely. Inspiring the next generation of creatives is what I love to do

Any thing you would like to leave the readers with?

And I almost forgot.. Design and Music.. two things that go together. I happen to know that you Dj in your free time.

 

Haha, yes i did Dj last year, it was something I've always wanted to do, and i spent much of last year learning and was able to have my first gig towards the end of last year. It was something to take my mind of work, while keeping creative. I haven't done it much since then, still figuring out something else to learn and keep me interested.

We were in the same band with you as well in Malaysia!

Norman was a bassist and I the drummer. We should get that going again. I still play the drums.. One thing I don't think I can let go

I am thankful for every new lesson I’ve learned, both good and bad.

If you made it this far in reading through this entire article, I sincerely appreciate you, for allowing me to share my honest thoughts and experiences. I wish for you to choose your happiness and to make the most amazing journey of your time ahead.

 

 

Awesome! We need to jam soon!

 

CHECK OUT MY LINKS:

Website: http://www.mwirebua.com

 

Can I post a song of inspiration..

 

Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles (NYC Rooftop)Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles (NYC Rooftop)

 

This song has too much style, layers, and just keeps me jamming with my work!

Cory henry and tall black guy are my artists for the past 3 months

 

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