Australian-born and Singapore based Kosta Lagis is a VFX supervisor at leading visual effects and design house Fin Design+Effects, with offices around the globe including Singapore, Shanghai, Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles.
Campaign Brief Asia caught up with Lagis to find out more from the man who has not only worked with some major commercial brands, but has also been involved with some huge movies, including ‘Man of Steel’, ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Fury Road’.
1. What inspired you and what is your favourite part of the job?
I started in 1997 as an illustrator, but a few years earlier I saw Jurassic Park it completely blew my mind – I decided it try to do “whatever that was.”
2. What training courses did you do?
I started a degree in communication design but wasn’t terribly interested in web development.
So I found a company that had an SGI and a copy of Softimage that I could rent on weekends –followed by a lot of trial and error and manual reading.
3. Who has been your greatest mentors along the way?
Mark Toia gave me a chance back in the late 90s, and that taught me a lot about how the ball rolls on actual productions – prior to that I thought it was just passion and wealth. Laurent Hugueniot taught me an enormous amount about longform when he came over to Sydney for Fury Road, and has remained a source of wise counsel.
4. What do you believe are your greatest strength’s?
I have a solid background in traditional art, and have a great understanding of anatomy and composition. I also really like to pull things apart and put them back together again, and that’s led to a solid grasp on practical film production.
5. What have been some of your career highlights?
I spent a year on Man of Steel, and while people have very mixed feelings about that film – I’m quite proud about what was achieved on those sequences and some of the techniques that were developed around working with anamorphic film scans.
6. What has been one of the most challenging projects you have worked on and how has this been meaningful and impacting on your career?
The trend around 10 years ago of working in stereography was (and remains) incredibly tricky to deal with. I had very little interest in cameras and layout prior to pre-production on Fury Road, however the sheer complexity of stereo production led to a very solid grasp of those often taken for granted disciplines.
7. What sort of projects do you enjoy the most?
Anything where the director and client is open to creative input from the artists, I really enjoy collaborating with energy. My favorite projects are short form, and often involve a single idea executed really well.
8. What do you believe are the greatest attributes needed as a successful VFX supervisor?
A solid understanding of what you are asking for from your crew, and the ability to articulate complex matters in simple terms to clients. I also think stepping back and looking at the bigger picture instead of fixating on small areas is essential.
9. What are the trends you are seeing from clients briefs and how is this impacting the evolution of VFX, creatively and technically?
Main trend is wanting more, and wanting it faster. I feel the film industry pumping out blockbusters has led to more focus on “good enough” – there is still a slow and steady rate of impressive VFX being made with appropriate care that thankfully stands apart.
10. What are you looking forward to in your ‘new’ role with FIN Singapore?
The crew here are great to work with, and the city is overflowing with potential, I’m really looking forward to helping establish us even further.
11. What do you believe set’s FIN apart and what is FIN’s edge?
Attention to detail and a higher standard across the board – not just with output, but the entire creative process. FIN is a place to do things that require experienced hands and brains, and not just a room full of pixel pushers.
12. When someone who is starting out asks what they should learn, what do you recommend?
Learn how to draw from life and take photographs and then find a mentor who is brutally honest with you about your ability. The technical side of visual effects has never been more accessible, but the artistic side is often taken for granted. If you develop traditional foundations, you will become valuable to the entire creative process rather than just clicking buttons!