Mariana Acuña currently works for The Foundry, where she travels globally training studios in Nuke and working with them to find solutions to streamline their post production workflows. She has over 10 years of professional experience in the motion picture industry where she worked as a senior compositor for Sony Imageworks, ICO FX and LOOK FX, amongst others. CGSociety sat down with her to find out more.
Please describe what you do.
I have two job titles Development Manager for Australia-New Zealand and Media & Production Creative Manager for the Americas. It means I do anything from training, tutorials, videos, demos, software testing, conferences and live presentations at shows like NAB / SIGGRAPH, and also manage a team of Creatives.
Where are you from? Where are you now?
I am from Mexico City but I live in Los Angeles CA, though a lot of people think I live in Australia.
What are some of the projects you have worked on / clients or studios you’ve worked with?
I've worked in a lot of different projects with a lot of different studios. Training wise I've trained folks at Pixar, Dreamworks, Blizzard, Rising Sun Pictures, and Rainmaker. Production wise, I've been at Sony, Furious FX, LookFX, CIS Hollywood, Legend Films, Ollin VFX, among others working on shows like Alice in Wonderland, Green Lantern, The Rum Diaries, Surrogates, Invictus, Lost, Bones, to name a few.
What’s the most indispensable tool in your software arsenal?
NUKE of course, our love affair goes way back before joining The Foundry. I started using NUKE at the end of 2005; I've been a great fan ever since, especially when doing stereoscopic compositing.
Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting, that you can tell us about?
I am pretty excited about working on compositing workflows for Virtual Reality projects, testing the tools that will help artists jumping on board. VR has taken off so much and so rapidly, especially here in LA. To be part of something that will change the entertainment landscape so much from the very beginning is absolutely thrilling.
When not creating world beating compositing, what do you like to do? What are you currently reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
I am currently listening to Ginger & The Ghost, they are from Australia, and are not only musicians but also visual artists. They absolutely blew my mind, not only to listen to them but also to see them performing live, is one of the few shows I've seen lately that I feel are quite original and have something new to say. Reading wise I just finished reading “The Circle” is a futuristic novel where all of us have one account for everything, where big brother is watching you at all times, is very freaky, great beach read. Otherwise I like to read Time magazine and MIT's Technology review on planes.
What would be your #1 advice to other creatives?
Be part of the solution not part of the problem, solve problems don't create them, don't take things personally, our line of work is very subjective. Attitude is everything, I much rather work with a mid-level skilled artist with a great attitude, who is positive and willing to learn, than with the super skilled senior artist who knows better than anyone yet is not willing to go the extra mile for the team or the project.
Do you have a motto?
I do: Learn to balance work / life, work defines us and I am a workaholic but without enough time to spend in leisure activities or with your family and friends you will get burned out.
What is one secret technical tip that you can give us?
Use the pixel analyzer in full frame mode to get the fastest matching of darks and brights, you'll probably need to tweak afterwards but great for speeding up and pumping out a WIP version.
What do you cover in your CGWorkshop?
I will cover the use of NukeStudio in commercials, conform, transcoding, folder structure, export structures, some comp techniques and how to use Modo for quick and easy asset creation.
What do you most hope that people will get from your class?
How to easily manage a commercial all on your own from start to finish, specially great for freelancers or small facilities that don’t have an implemented pipeline.