April 2021 - Member Spotlight
Lázaro Hernández, Director / VFX Artist
I’m very honored to be interviewed by Latinx in Animation (LXIA). My name is Lazaro Hernandez; I’m a 3D visualization artist and Director. I have been working in the film industry since 2017. Prior to that, I worked as a director and VFX artist in Central America mostly doing TV commercials in Costa Rica
We’re very excited to feature Lázaro Hernández this month! Lázaro, please tell us what it is you do as a 3D Visualization Artist and Director.
I’m basically like a superhero with two identities: Director for a lot of projects and a Visualization Artist in the film industry. I have been directing short films, music videos, and TV commercials since 2010. I love being on set, rehearsing with actors, developing the look and feel of a video, and because of my CG background, I get the chance to be very involved in every part of the process.
As a Visualization Artist, we basically do a 3D animated storyboard for live action complex scenes. 3D visualization is an art form that blends the skills of animation and cinematography.
To break it down: the studio gives the artist references which could be storyboards, concept art, part of the script or even a verbal idea. From there the asset builders create the characters, environments and everything the sequence needs. Finally, we animate the characters, props, and camera movement, we render out a shot with all the specific information, helping Filmmakers to visualize the film even before they shoot.
Under this role, I have been working in two positions:
Previs artist: considers real physics, scale, and camera movements to create the entire shot in 3D before filming, so the production can shoot the same shot on a real set. During this process Shot creators are often given a lot of freedom to design shots and to be an important part of the storytelling process. Previs teams work closely with the Director and Cinematographer, which is pretty cool because you can make a real impact on the movie.
Postvis artist: once the production delivers the footage, artists create the very first pass of the visual effects, such as: explosions, lasers, background replacements, adding 3D assets, comping multiple plates in one, etcetera. This team works closely with the VFX supervisor and the editor. Helping with the rhythm of a sequence and most importantly to clarify story moments.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the story of how you got into your current career?
I was born in El Salvador and even though we don’t have a film industry over there my dad bought a Hi8 camcorder (an analog videotape format that uses 8mm cassettes), which he allowed me to play with and that was how I first discovered filmmaking. Later I went on to study Advertising in the Dr. José Matías Delgado University. I made a “stop motion” short film and won in the most important Film Festival in Central America: The Festival Icaro 2008. That’s where everything started. I fell in love with animation, started to do a bunch of short films and studied film on my own.
Eventually, I earned a scholarship to study 3D Animation at Veritas University in Costa Rica. I remember my parents did not understand completely what was the Degree about, but they support me all the way with no hesitation and they still do, I own everything to them and my sisters. Veritas was where I realized how huge the 3D animation field really was, how I could make use of my animation skills and what could be achieved.
In 2014, towards the end of my B.A. I was working in Costa Rica and realized that my biggest dream was to work in “the big industry”. I remember having dinner at my place and my goals seem so far away, but I made a plan and stuck to it. In 2016 I started a Film Directing Certificate at UCLA, then after putting my demo reel together (showcasing mostly Central America work) I got my foot in the door and started working as a Postvis Artist at Halon Entertainment.
According to your experience, what does it take for someone to not only get into this field, but to achieve success in it?
I’m still pretty far from where I want to be. Dedication and hard work are key, everybody knows that, however I believe that there are a few other equally important factors: know what you want, make a plan, and focus.
Maybe knowing exactly what you want will be the most difficult thing to discover, but this would allow you to make better decisions, to take action, shortcuts in life, and put your energy in the right direction. Making a plan would give you the method step by step on how to achieve the things you desire, and focus is about being locked on a target.
Where have we seen your work and what’s next for you?
Working at the biggest visualization studio The Third Floor, has allowed me to get my hands on a huge variety of films such as: Captain Marvel, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, Jumanji: The Next Level, Terminator: Dark Fate, Dolittle, Men in Black: International, and many more undisclosed projects.
I love Sci Fi stories and right now I am in the process of working and finishing a short film on this genre that I directed, kind of a “Black Mirror” type of story. I also started to teach a few workshops on VFX and How I Got in The Film Industry in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Honduras. I would love to see more of my fellow countrymen not only pursuing their dreams, but also achieving them and living it out. Therefore, whatever I can do to help, I am in.
Thank you for interviewing with us, Lázaro!
Follow Lázaro Hernández on social media!