TITLE:  Climbing the ladder to great success.

  BRIEF: Photorealistic visual effects artist Trevor Cawood is constantly pushing the boundaries and trying new techniques to develop cutting edge graphics. Cawood advises visual artists-to-be to start working on their careers from the first day they set foot in school. "Start setting up as many contacts as you can with both students and people in the industry."

Just like a fingerprint, a demo reel is mark of individuality. The information contained with says more about you than you might think. It is a showcase of your talents and abilities, and is your calling card for industry.

Even before graduating in 1996 from The Art Institute of Vancouver’s Visual Effects program, Trevor Cawood started working on his demo reel. He knew a career in visual effects was his future and he wanted to make sure he got a head start on the competition. Cawood credits his demo reel as the major reason for landing his first job at Rainmaker Entertainment Group in Vancouver. “It was the only thing they knew about me,” he says. “Once they knew my qualifications and saw what I could do, the interview was just to see how I would interact with people.”

Time spent at Rainmaker, Western Canada’s leading post production and visual effects company, garnered him several nominations and awards, from a Leo Award for the television show, Smallville, an Emmy nomination for James Cameron television series, Dark Angel, as well as one for the ABC movie of the week 'Max Q' produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

As a Technical Director, Trevor completed work on the Matrix: Reloaded, and Matrix: Revolutions. With an emphasis on CG lighting and surfacing, Cawood's role was to compose a variety of effects shots which take place inside the Matrix itself. That includes shot layout, rough modeling, camera set up, lighting/TD'ing, and rendering. Making things look just right and creating solutions through trial and error took as much as 90 hours a week to produce. “It’s really stressful, but it has huge rewards at the end when you see the finished product,” admits Cawood.

Cawood believes his education gave him a good foundation, and acted as a gateway to his career. “It is like climbing up a ladder. Education helps you up the first two rungs and the rest of it is up to you. There is a long way to go and a lot more learning to do before you reach the top.” Today, Cawood is co-owner of the Vancouver-based production company JTF and is a founding member of The Embassy VFX – whose client list includes names like Electronic Arts, CNN and Nike. In 2004 he directed his first film “The Dream,” – a short musical piece about a toy robot. The film’s look and feel is inspired by the architecture and aesthetics of the 1970s.

Almost 10 years after his graduation, Cawood’s career is on an upwards trajectory. In 2005 he was part of the team presented with the award for Outstanding Visual Effects In A Commercial at the 3rd Annual Visual Effects Awards. Their commercial for the Citreon – “Alive with Technology – dramatizes the transformation of the popular European compact car into a break-dancing robot.

Cawood advises visual artists-to-be to start working on their careers from the first day they set foot in school. “Start setting up as many contacts as you can with both students and people in the industry, especially those whose skills you respect. Learn from these people, I actually attribute about 80 percent of what I learned early-on to one or two specific artists” he says. “Get feedback while you are making your reel, don't wait until it's finished because then it's too late. Use this feedback to eliminate any weaknesses. Really focus on demonstrating your marketable skills that can be utilized in a production pipeline. You want your educational investment to pay off, and your reel is the only ticket to employment.”

Cawood also adds, “Knowing what position in the industry you want to fill, and tailoring your demo reel to fit that position are exactly what companies love to see. Plus, this knowledge will allow you focus quickly, and give you an edge over your competition."

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