Jeffrey Okun on finding your passion at FMX 2012
The VES chair and effects veteran helps the new generation tap into their motivations as Europe’s biggest CG conference continues
Today and tomorrow, 3D World is at FMX 2012 in Stuttgart. Visit 3dworldmag.com to stay in touch with the conference as it unfolds, with coverage of presentations from the industry’s key figures and a flavour of what it’s like to visit Europe’s leading CG conference.
I dropped into the Animation Production Day, which is focusing on boosting the German animation industry by seeing what can be learned from other European countries. It’s a lengthy strand that was really still unfolding in its first hour, so I’ve moved on.
The Visual Effects Society is hosting a series of talks in the Gloria, a two-screen cinema. Lovely seats, but very dark, so forgive the way-overexposed photo.
Jeffrey Okun, who chairs the VES, is here to talk about passion and what it actually means in the CG industry.
He’s looking at various definitions of passion from Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Michelangelo and Einstein.
Okun’s talking about the defining passions in his life and how they led him to where he is. At a young age, he wanted to be a comedian. Or an astronaut. The latter got him interested in photography, the former extended his interest into trick photography.
A neighbour introduced Okun to Saul Bass, for whom he gophered: “The word ‘settle’ was not in his vocabulary,” he says. Okun developed into video editing for Bass, which led him to get involved with camera optical houses to solve issues with the videos.
Solving problems with the optical houses led to contacts from feature films – essentially a Mr Fixit job that evolved into visual effects supervision. Okun got to work with Dykstra, Trumbull and others. And all because he wanted to be a comedian or an astronaut.
“When you think you’re at a dead end and I don’t know where to go, you need to dive back into your passion… The thing that makes your head explode, that makes you put one foot in front of the other.”
He says it shouldn’t be about the money. “The chances of getting rich are this big” – he makes the smallest finger pinch possible – “but the chances of leading a rich, fulfilling life…”
Okun moves on to talk about the state of cinema and its future. “We’re trapped by the vision of our own reality,” he says. He argues that the movie business is holding development back because it’s the motion picture industry, not the the creative storytelling industry. But the people in the audience can use their passions and new technologies like open-source and the internet to create a new future.
How do you get passion? You don’t get it, you find it. The fear of making a mistake holds us back, he says, “but mistakes are a shortcut to learning”.
If you have a talent for something, it doesn’t mean you have a passion for it. Passion can groom your talent, he says, “but I don’t know many people where talent groomed their passion”.
He ends by talking about how history is shaped: “A few people created the future that the rest of mankind followed.”
on Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 at 12:17 pm under Events.
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