Success stories:
RAFA ZABALA

Modeler in Weta Digital.

"Everything works but Going to UA School, not only gave me knowledge but also opened the possibility to relate with people working in the field of 3D animation for the first time and thanks to this I was able to go to Mundos Digitales that I did not know existed with people from UA School. This opened the door for me with The Mill, which was my first job, I will never forget this first experience :)"


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"Everything works but Going to UA School, not only gave me knowledge but also opened the possibility to relate with people working in the field of 3D animation for the first time and thanks to this I was able to go to Mundos Digitales that I did not know existed with people from UA School. This opened the door for me with The Mill, which was my first job, I will never forget this first experience :)"

 

AU: What is your position and where do you work at this time?

I am currently working as a modeler at Weta Digital in New Zealand. I specialized in modeling characters and creatures.

UA: What do you think is the process to enter a renown studio like Weta Digital?

Life itself takes you everywhere through your work, willpower and enthusiasm for what you are doing. If one believes in oneself and does not deviate, perseverance will take you forward in your career by opening one door after another. All this is reflected towards others who recognize it and give you opportunities ... You also have to be realistic and know that what we pursue is possible and within our reach and also that everything takes time. 

UA: What got you first interested in the world of CG?

My attention was drawn to films that began to revolutionize 3D more than ever, such as Avatar, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, ... I was a traditional sculptor back then and had no idea what 3D was and my workshop was in the middle of the mountains in Serra (Valencia). One day a person stopped by my workshop to see what I was doing, and at the time we became friends. He worked in 3D and it was that event that got me into this world, that once I discovered it, I was hooked and it has led me to where I am today.

UA: What has been your journey as a professional?

Almost always artistic and very long, but I will remove everything before 3D which is most of my professional experience to summarize and talk about the last 3 years that is my experience in 3D. My first job as a CG modeler was at The Mill in London, ... there I also did some work for another company called Taylor James and from there I went directly to work for Weta Digital. Right now I just accepted an offer to work in Psyop in Los Angeles, at the beginning of this next year, where I will have a creative role in character design which is what I really like.

UA: For you, what is the most difficult and the what is the easiest thing in this sector?

The most difficult thing is to stop doing things with my hands, having always worked in a workshop, and the easiest thing is the comfort of an office, and the economic regularity in comparison with the traditional world today which is in a tougher place.

UA: What do you like most to do in your work?

Always anything that is organic, preferably human anatomy, animal or creatures, which has always been my passion. The Rafa Zabala site: http://www.rafazabaladigital.com/

UA: Describe to us what work you did in The Mill, Weta Digital, etc.

In The Mill they were mainly commercial for big brands and some cinematic for videogames, and in Weta everything related to film. In fact it is practically the same, putting aside certain technical details ... the character will be in a movie or in a television ad, but the software is the same and the knowledge is applied in the same way. Obviously it is not the same to say that one of the characters that I modeled in the Hobbit was Azog that is seen in movie theaters all over the world as opposed to say that I have modeled a character for a television ad that is only seen in certain countries. In the end, everything will depend on which path we want to take, ... not always the big studios have the best working conditions, ... sometimes some small ones offer you better conditions in general, and you trade the glamour for having a more relaxed lifestyle

UA: What is the work environment in these type of studios?

As I say everywhere, it is tough. From the outside people tend to idealize it, but it does not stop being an office full of people working, ... with some you'll get along well and with others not so much, that's why you have to know how to work in a team, a fundamental question you get asked at interviews. Usually people are very polite and collaborative and full of creativity, as it is full of artists, and some of them quite famous. Working in a place full of artists is not always easy since there is an obvious problem of egos and competitiveness, but if you know how to find your place and manage to adapt and work well within the pipeline, it can be a relaxed, even easy and very comforting job when you see the final result and your name in the credits.

UA: What has been your most difficult job? And the simplest?

The most difficult was getting used to Weta Digital's huge and complex pipeline, not having had a similar previous experience and being practically a rookie in 3D. After having become accustomed to the pipeline almost all the jobs are easy for me because you already know the techniques and you simply put on music and work throughout the day, planning everything well to finish each task assigned meeting the deadline they give you.

UA: What kind of salaries you can expect at these kind of studios?

It varies a lot and depends on what function you perform and the experience you have and also what company, but to give a number you can expect that a modeler could be from 20 to 50 euros an hour, a big difference between them, .... depending on whether props, characters, etc ... are modeled so that on average we could say 30/35 euros per hour.

UA: We know that personal effort is the basis of success, but did UA School help you get where you are now?

Everything works but Going to UA School, not only gave me knowledge but also opened the possibility to relate with people working in the field of 3D animation for the first time and thanks to this I was able to go to Mundos Digitales that I did not know existed with people from UA School. This opened the door for me with The Mill, which was my first job, I will never forget this first experience :) 

UA: What advice would you give to those who want to get started in this field? Any advice at this time of economic crisis?

I have always been in economic crisis while there was no economic crisis for others, and I was wondering if I should do something different even if I did not like it and change course. Now that there is economic crisis for others for me is the opposite, with which my advice is clear, ... do not deviate from the path you want to take in life, do not let you influence what you see around. What you do with conviction and because you know that it is the best you can do. Working in what you like is to live a full and happy life from Monday to Sunday. I have done everything in this life to survive and pull to the front, but always in my mind and around me I had a drawing or a sculpture and I knew that only that was real and that everything else were means to achieve what I really wanted.

UA: Something you would like to add or comment on?

I would like to help guide students by telling them that in the 3D world there are many disciplines. Animation, modeling, rigging, programming, ... etc. We have a wide range of possibilities that represents the many facets of human beings, ... since it goes from the most technical to the most artistic, all equally necessary. It is one of the only work environments in which we can see so different people working together to put a project in motion. There is always something we can do or learn within this vast world that is beginning to dominate over everything previously known, and branching out equally to all known branches, not just movies, video games, advertising and architecture that are the most known, if not many others, such as military, aerospace, automobile, medical, and many more ... This is a future assured, because you look at it as you look at everything is being linked to the same point, and everything that we see around us comes from the imagination of the human being, who today uses this tool to create. You have to be versatile in this world and understand that it is a race that will never end, since it will always be changing and we will have to continue learning to be prepared.








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