What does a prep artist do?
Prep artists clean up the backgrounds of live action-footage ready for the effects to be layered onto it by the compositor. The shots they work on, known as plates, either moving or still, don’t have foreground action or players included.
Prep artists use specialist VFX software to clean plates. There are many processes used to do this cleaning. They remove any unwanted dust and scratches from the frame. They sort out dropped frames, where a camera has been unable to capture all the frames in a given time resulting in little jerks in the action. They remove any unwanted items such a boom microphones or electric pylons.
They are typically employed by VFX studios but can also operate as freelancers.
What's a prep artist good at?
- Art: be skilled at drawing and painting using a graphics tablet, have a high level of accuracy with the pen or stylus
- A keen eye: recognise when and where images need to be cleaned, even in the minutest detail, make your work invisible
- Patience: be methodical and thorough
- Knowledge of VFX programs: be adept at using relevant programs such as Maya, Photoshop and, particularly, Nuke
- Organisation: work well with strict deadlines, be able to complete work under pressure