Wednesday, January 30, 2008

From Comics to Film

In the Visual Effects industry, I’ve been pretty blessed. The decision to get into it was hard. The fact was at that time I made the decision to make a change, I was getting the most work I’ve ever had in comics. In 2006, I had work offers from DC, Marvel, Udon, IDW etc. However in March, I was sitting down working on three different projects, stressed out of my mind, and my wife asks me if I would consider going back to school.

I didn’t want to at first. I’ve never been this wanted in my life, and I was going to throw that away to go back to school??? I had to think about it. I thought about my time working in comics, the amount of money I made and how hard I worked to achieve it. Then I looked at the three projects I was working on, stressed at how I’m going to finish it all. Then I went upstairs to look at my daughter sleeping – it was 4:30 in the morning. I’ve been working so hard seven days a week. I was stressed and always thinking about work. I was working overtime without getting paid for overtime. Right then it hit me that what my wife said made sense. We needed change.

I was not the only one thinking about it. I heard my old Dreamwave buddies like Alan Wang, Ramil Sunga, Arnold Tsang all went back to school and were doing well in the video game industry. They were working 9-5 jobs with weekends. What!!! That was a mirage to me. After six years of working in the comic trenches, a regular paid job looked like a dream.

My Megatron Model. Check it out here:

Most of my friends were in the video game field. I however am not much of a gamer. I loved movies, and I've always wanted to work on a huge blockbuster movie. I decided to go to Sheridan College, to take computer animation. I knew it was going to be hard. I knew this was my one and only chance to succeed. The fact is, if I took Computer Animation right when I finished college in 2000, most likely I would have failed or dropped out. In 2006, my priorities changed, and my motivation was at its peak. The years of working under a deadline helped immensely. Without that experience, I wouldn’t have been able to produce the quality of work that I did. I graduated with a demo reel and a short film that I’m very proud of.

Stills from my short film entitled "Upgrade"

Graduating from Computer Animation in April of 2007, I had two job offers. One was a technical director position at Nelvana working on Backyardigans (my daughter’s favorite show), and the other was a visual effects artist at MGM working on Stargate. The only problem with that was that the Stargate job is in Vancouver BC. I lived in Toronto, and no relocation was offered. Also, in taking the Stargate job, I would be leaving my wife and daughter for a few months. My friends in the industry told me I should take the Nelvana job – that Vancouver was way too expensive and that it wasn’t worth going.

I had to think to myself what did I really want to do? I did not want to leave my family. However I also knew I wanted to work on movies and visual effects so much more than children shows. The chances of working on a big blockbuster movie was very slim if I was coming from a children’s show background. In the end, I decided to sacrifice and go to Vancouver. I am not glad that I had to leave my wife and daughter in Toronto for months. However Stargate and my move to Vancouver opened up so many doors. This door was big enough that my whole family can walk through. I've decided to go all in, move my family here and go for it. Oh yeah, and I start working on that big blockbuster movie on Monday.

I know I'm posting this on Wednesday night, but this is meant to be my Thursday post - have a ton of things to do. On friday I'll be talking about how I first got into Wildstorm, and why that didn't last long....

James Anthony Raiz
Stand-Up Joke of the Day
“…Everyone’s falling for this magician David Blane. What is this? Are we so desperate for entertainment that we fall for a trick-less magician? Where’s the trick? Cut a lady in half. Pull a rabbit out of a hat. What’s his last trick – I’m in a box and I ain’t gonna eat. I’m in a box and I ain’t gonna eat? That’s no trick, that’s called living in the projects….” –Chris Rock


Kris Carter said...

More fascinating stuff James... as someone who's finally starting to get some work in colouring comics, it's a great read!

Psychomud said...


Well I hope you never fully walk away from Comics - I enjoy your work! How cool would it be to work on Transformers #2! (Or 3! - you KNOW there will be a trilogy!)

Even Kris Carter is reading this site! I feel like a dwarf amung GIANTS! Thanx for letting me hang out and read your tidbits of wisdom James!

Side note - prior to moving to Korea, I lived in the Seattle Area. Vancouver BC ain't too expensive a place (compaired to Seattle!). Get acustomed to the location, enjoy the outdoors (GREAT inspiration for drawing from life!), and breathe the clean air!

Jeff Witty
aka PsychoMUD

Richard Evans said...

If you ever want to do some pin-ups, I've created a team of Canadian heroes that are right here in Ontario.

Great art, best of luck!

Ruchi said...

It is awesome..I completely agreed with you. Thanks man ! It is great read and I enjoyed it..Good Work ! Keep It up !
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