From Ludwigsburg to LA: In 1993 VFX Supervisor Volker Engel graduated from the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg with his diploma film Recreation. A few years later he followed the call of his mentor Roland Emmerich and dared to take the step across the big pond - with success. In 1997 he received the Oscar for the visual effects in Independence Day. Find out how he got into VFX and what he particularly appreciates about his job.
How did you choose to specialized in visual effects?
When the first "Star Wars" movie was released in German cinemas in the late seventies, I was 13 years old and already interested in filmmaking. It was immediately clear to me that I also wanted to create worlds like the ones in the movies. When I bought my first Super-8 camera at the age of 14, I immediately started experimenting with visual effects such as multiple exposures, rear projection, model tricks etc. So the course for me was set early.
In addition to an understanding of the technology, an enthusiasm for storytelling is important.Volker Engel
What do you enjoy most about your job? On the other hand: What challenges are part of your daily routine as a VFX Supervisor?
The constantly new challenges are exactly what inspires me. They are not necessarily always of a creative/technical nature. Part of your daily routine is good planning during the whole production, quick reactions on the set, a confident manner and dealing with people from different professions in the film business. Early on I made it my motto to share as much information as possible with my staff. I love teamwork with talented artists.
Which tip do you have for students who want to gain a foothold in the VFX industry?
In addition to an understanding of the technology, an enthusiasm for storytelling is important. After all, VFX is ultimately nothing more than visual storytelling. VFX also means teamwork. Above all, one should not forget that the industry is a people's business. It helps if it's easy to approach people and if you master the art of communicating well.