November 18th, 2014

When he’s not leading a team of CG artists or on set supervising a shoot, Felix Urquiza frequently visits his alma mater, The Art Institute of California (“AI”) – Orange County, to share his experience in the VFX industry with students aiming to take similar routes in their careers. With almost a decade's worth of experience, we asked Felix to share his insight and top advice for any student looking to enter and excel in the industry.

Lead CG artist and model & texture supervisor Felix Urquiza has visited AI several times over the years, speaking to classes through a former teacher with whom he’s kept in touch. His most recent appearance reaped the largest showing of students yet, a testament to increasing public interest in his specialties and the industry as a whole.

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What he wasn’t expecting was the attendee’s profound interest in such a wide array of topics. “It caught me a little off-guard!” he admits. “Students from every area of AI ended up showing up – animators, lighters, compositors, film and general VFX students – so I ended up switching gears and covered every area I could. One girl, for example, wanted to be a DP, so I explained different routes on how to get there. Another student wanted to be a matte painter. We broke down almost every area of the industry in what ended up being a big combined classroom. Ultimately it was a pretty cool event.”

The most common curiosity of the evening? “They all wanted to know how everything comes together,” Urquiza says. “They usually don’t get straightforward answers to questions like this. A lot of people like myself never got that kind of insight in school. As a student, you have no clue how it is out there – no idea what you’re getting yourself into. Plus, every studio works a little differently.”

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Using The Mill as a guide, Urquiza showcased several of our showreels. Beyond explaining the creation of the work itself, it was important to illustrate the distinctive atmosphere behind the technical aspects – what makes The Mill uniquely The Mill. We take pride in our work and the quality – not only of the work, but of our culture. You can come to The Mill and have a blast while creating something truly amazing. We’re always growing, but at the same time, it still feels like family. And that’s something I really needed to convey.”

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As stunning VFX work continues to increase (and the technological innovations that support it), so has students' interest in entering the industry. For insight into his sessions, we asked Felix to share his top tips for making it in the VFX industry:

Always try to be better than the artist next to you.
Maintaining a great positive and humble attitude will take you much further in your career than negativity and ego.
Always strive to learn more and keep the knowledge growing.
It's a very competitive industry, making sure your quality stays up to standard is extremely important to getting into the industry.
Always remember you have to work extremely hard and love this type of work because there is always someone that wants this more than you.

You can find more information on The Art Institute's website and visit our Careers page to learn more about working at The Mill.