A Day in the Life of an ETC Compositor

By Alex Grey

A day in the life of a compositor. Well, maybe I should start by saying that there is no typical day in the life of a compositor. Everyday is completely different, which is why I love it so much.

My day normally starts off with a 9am coffee and breakfast in the kitchen area (you don’t want to see me without my coffee!). This then follows into a daily review with the job supervisor, who will work out a plan of attack for the day ahead.

I then get to work, and try and decide what I’m going to tackle first. Whether it be comping some CG creature into a forest, or maybe removing some spots on an actors face, each day brings lots of different creative challenges.

As a compositor in the world of advertising, we work very closely with the clients. At Electric Theatre the compositors are situated in suites, which normally house 3-4 compositors. In each suite there is a sofa and a GIANT TV so the clients can come in and review our work. It’s normally job dependent, but it’s not unheard of for a client to be in the suite every other day. It’s important that we know how to present ourselves in a professional manor in front of the clients. Now don’t worry if this isn’t for you, as it’s normally the supervisors job to schmooze the clients, so you can get on with your work in the back.

My favourite time of day……… lunch time! Normally I run out with my colleagues for a quick walk around Soho and the local food stalls. We quite often eat all together in the kitchen area.

Back to work and with a full belly I can really start getting stuck into some real compositing. This could be anything from creating a digital matte painting using images found on google, to building a whole 3D particle system in Nuke (yes compositors can do this too!).

It’s mid afternoon, and normally I need a little break from my work. I normally make a cup of tea and check into the other suites to annoy the other compositors and see what other brilliant work is going on. It also helps me clear my head a little so I can come back with a fresh pair of eyes, especially when its quite a difficult shot.

On to finishing the day, this normally comes around at about 6pm or just after (dependant on delivery dates). I pack up my things and say my goodbyes, all ready to do it again in the morning.

I have been a compositor for over 5 years now, and have spent most of my time at Electric Theatre Collective. I have been very lucky to have worked on some of the biggest and most exciting jobs around. It’s great working in a small company which over the years have become more like family rather than colleagues.

Now don’t get me wrong, compositing isn’t always glamorous. I have done some very long and stressful hours, but its all worth it when the final product looks great. There is no better job satisfaction than seeing some of the work you have been working on for months, suddenly pop up on the TV in the gym whilst you’re on the treadmill.

If anyone reading this is thinking of going into compositing, I would say follow your gut and take a risk I promise you it will pay off.

Not that I’m biased.

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