It would be no surprise to most of you, that I am a computer geek. After all my profession is managing websites & the servers they run on. Yet, I often find myself envious of those who have an artistic eye. Frequently it feels like my artistic eye is still in Kindergarten. That certainly is not true for our next guest.
Many of you probably have never heard of Brian DeMetz, but I am certain you are have seen some of the movies he had a role in creating. Brian, is an amazing visual effects artist who has helped with films like Last Christmas, The Mummy, Deadpool, Fantastic Four, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Thor, The Green Hornet, Fury Vengeance, G.i. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, The Pink Panther 2, Charlotte’s Web, and many more. Look him up on IMDB for the full list.
As a youth Brian was a Scout, with memories of going to summer camp and earning a few merit badges. Without farther ado lets roll out the red carpet, which he morphs into an exploding volcano, and ask him some questions.
How did you get started with visual effects? Did you go to college or teach yourself? Do you have any stories of landing an early gig for a movie?
Hi, and thanks for having me here. I actually started back when CAD was introduced in my workplace where we previously were hand drawing engineering design layouts. As CAD flourished, we were introduced to 3D Studio, a 3d animation program that opened up a world of possibilities showcasing the products the company created. As the years passed, I ended up leaving the tech company and started a business with a partner called An-amaze-tion in Simi Valley, California. Eventually I dissolved that company and went to work for the VFX studios. In essence, I was self-taught, born out of the tech industry. It took years, but ultimately, once I was involved with the studios, I had found what I felt was the perfect vocation for me. It was a chance to be both artistic while retaining a technical skillset required for high-end VFX.
What equipment and software do you like using, to create the visual effects, and why?
This often is mostly driven by either preference, born-into-it, project-required, or a combination of all. In my case, since 3D Studio Max became a top choice for many VFX houses and clients, and I had deep experience with the program, I stayed primarily with it for most projects. Just about anything can be created with it, as long as one is open to add plugins for specific needs. I was also born and raised on PC’s so I stayed in that world to this day. The machines are powerful enough and can be decorated with additional hardware and ram to get demanding tasks done.
Please tell us more about your experiences in scouting, what did you do at camp, and what happened while hanging your pack up. (do you have a photo I could include here related to you scouting)
Back when I was involved in scouting, we went on scores of campouts, and other meets. I’m not sure what it was called back then, but they were all great experiences. One campout that stands apart was when I learned about yellowjackets – the hard way. I hung my pack on a low hanging branch, like I have always done, but in the leaves below, there was a yellow jackets nest, which I quickly found out as my ankles started being stung repeatedly, even while still running away, limbs flailing. Those things hang on and send home a message. It was received loud and clear. Check your surroundings – even a flat forest floor.
Why did you drop out of scouting? What could have made the program better for you?
It was primarily due to moving from the East coast to the West coast. I lived in a smaller town when living in Maryland, but moved fairly close to Los Angeles and no one I encountered was involved in scouting. Then life happened and as I got older I became encumbered with responsibilities. The program was great as I remember it living back East.
Do you think scouting shaped or affected your path in special effects in anyway? Did you remember if you earned the Moviemaking merit badge? Did your experience in scouting help you in your professional life?
I didn't earn any merit badges related to what I do now for a living, but I do think it shaped my life overall in a positive way. Some perhaps in ways I'm not consciously aware of.
If you can find time in your busy schedule, would you be willing to assist us in putting on a virtual Moviemaking merit badge course? (https://www.scouting.org/merit-badges/moviemaking/)
It's possible. It would depend on what is involved and how specific it would need to be. It all comes down to hours. Video and VFX can be tedious. I once taught a CAD class for a tech company some years back. It took a lot of planning. The actual teaching doesn't require much time. VFX is a specific aspect of movie making overall.
Do you have any examples of your work that you can share with us? (thinking like youtube videos, etc that could be included here)
Sure. My work can be seen at: www.vfxfactory.com
Would you be interested in creating a cool video to support Scouting and aid with recruiting? Could you describe what such a clip might look like? (maybe something with my robo eagle logo)
I would under the right circumstances and time available. There are many ways of going about it. It could be primarily cuts of stock footage or I could mix in some past work. We'd need to start with a storyboard of how the video would flow.
Did you ever get to meet any famous actors, directors, producers, etc.? Who and what were they like?
I was always in the studios with my face buried in a screen, so I never met anyone famous there, though I did once work on set and was around Steven Spielberg all day. I was representing another VFX client and they would have frowned upon me attemping to make contact ;D You just step in when asked and otherwise stay out of the way - shooting is a fast paced day of structure.
Can you tell us about a project you were working on, that was just one problem after another, nothing seemed to be going right?
Every project - haha. That's VFX for you. Some mind-boggling. Some fairly simple.
What are your favorite visual effects to create and why?
Atmospheric effects like: fire, smoke, explosions - plus anything based on particles. I like natural effects that occur in nature and recreating them is visually rewarding - when they turn out well that is.
Do you have any cool projects in the pipeline currently?
Currently I'm working on a website that makes use of some of my VFX knowledge for relaxation videos, though there are no explosions involved ;D
How can people learn more about you? Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I'm a believer, and now, a 'knower'. Signs follow those who believe. Try it. You'll find out.
Thank your for taking the time to answer my questions today. We wish your the best in all your future endeavors.