How the team used Mocha Pro and Silhouette together on 3 of the 5 films nominated for an Academy Award for Visual Effects Achievement.
Inside Boris FX: Elizabeth Postol, Product Specialist
8 minute read
Meet your new resource on Mocha Pro and Silhouette — tracking, roto, compositing & digital paint.
We’re excited to introduce you to Elizabeth Postol, our newest team member! Elizabeth is based in Ukraine and is a former video editor/freelance VFX artist mainly focused on compositing. Her credits include music videos, commercials, and shorts. Earlier this year, she earned her first feature film credit (comp lead) on Land of Gold.
As our Mocha and Silhouette product specialist, she'll be creating tutorials for you, available to answer questions in the forums, and demoing on our live streams. Make sure to follow her on Instagram for behind-the-scenes, making of, and before & afters.
Where are you from? How did you get your start in the industry?
Originally I’m from the south of Ukraine but had to relocate to the west due to recent events in the world. I’ve been passionate about making videos for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I always carried an old miniDV camera and just loved creating simple silly videos with my friends. Over time that hobby slowly transitioned into a real job. My main focus was shooting and editing, but in the back of my mind, I was also interested in how movie visual effects were made. I just had no clue how people got started.
I attended a conference dedicated to CG and VFX that opened my eyes. I visited a few lectures and gained a better understanding of how the industry works. Before that, I didn’t even know there were separate professions like compositing artist, FX artist, matchmove, etc. I dug more into it, watched tons of available tutorials, took a few courses, and ended up becoming a freelance VFX artist with a focus on compositing.
You’re the new product specialist for Mocha Pro and Silhouette. What are you most looking forward to in this position?
I know learning new software can be a struggle. My first steps with Mocha were scary because of the number of new buttons and tools, but EVERY shot starts from a good track. I’m excited to help others master the process.
It’s an honor to be a part of the team that develops software that has had such a huge impact on the industry. I hope my experience will add value to the team, help make the software even better, and help new users work more smoothly.
What’s your best insider tip/trick for artists new to Mocha Pro/Silhouette?
My best tip if you’re just starting to learn Mocha is to understand that your shape is not your actual tracking result. This may be confusing to beginners because to see what data you're getting, you have to enable visibility on the surface tool (which is turned off by default). It's a good habit to develop — periodically turning that on and off — to check how the track is going.
What project are you most proud of and why?
There are a few short films that were made in collaboration with Director CameraGirlHelena (i.e. Helena Gudkova). I’m proud of them because the projects were made purely with enthusiasm. I used techniques that were new to me at the time, and that was good practice. The shorts ended up getting multiple awards at short film festivals.
Warning: This short could be considered NSFW. Please watch it at home.
Another project I'm proud of is being a part of the video production team on the “Atlas Weekend” music festival, one of the biggest festivals in Europe. I was responsible for making everyday videos the same day, a few hours after the artist’s performance. It was a very tight schedule, but you never know your limits until you jump into something you’ve never done before.
How do you prep before a big project?
Preparation is very important, no matter if you're working alone or if there is a group of people working together. Before doing any work, I make a spreadsheet and think about what folder structure works best for the project to ensure everybody follows the same naming convention and understands where everything is. That way, everyone is on the same page. Without this, even if the team is very small, everything can get lost and become a mess extremely quickly.
What's a keyboard shortcut you can't live without?
I am a big fan of shortcuts. Sure one of the most obvious ones is Ctrl+S — the save command. Even if I have the Autosave turned on, I continue to obsessively hit that combination every few minutes. This is already somewhere in the subcortex of my brain and has saved me and my projects multiple times.
I love "Fit to comp" or "Fit to screen" commands. I generally set it up to the same key on every software I use. Often you may be working on a specific part of the image or constantly zooming in & out and panning around. And then you just hit one button, and you can see your full image at once to check how it looks. That’s handy.
How do you keep yourself fueled/your favorite snack when you're in an epic session?
Honestly, when I'm in a flow, I sometimes might forget to eat. Or even if I'm feeling hungry, it's very hard to stand up and get away from the computer because I feel the spark can get lost. But the thing that is always on my table is a bunch of empty glasses and cups of water and coffee. Sometimes there are more cups on my table than in the kitchen. Remember to stay hydrated!
Where do find artistic inspiration?
The thing that inspires me is seeing some other people's work. Nothing comes from nowhere. Everything humans create is a mix of things already seen, experienced, and processed by a specific person. And I'm not talking about copying. Sometimes I look at other people’s work, which will spark an idea of how the same technique may be applied in different scenarios. Or how the mix of two things can become something completely new.
What do you do when you start feeling artistic burnout?
It's better to prevent it than to cure it. The best advice I heard, and agree with, is that even if you enjoy what you're doing, you need to switch activities. Sports and physical stuff work best, but even a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood can be enough to clear your mind. As for me, I like riding a bike with my headphones and good music.
What's your favorite film and/or TV series?
I'm not sure if I can say that this is my favorite, but it made one of the biggest impacts. I remember going and watching the first Harry Potter movies when they came out.
The story, directing, and visuals! It was all great, and not a surprise that so many people loved it. But for me, the real magic was behind the scenes. The real wizards were the artists who created the talking paintings, moving stairs, and other magic we see in Harry's world. That was my first impression of visual effects. I could have never imagined at that moment that I would ever have a chance to get to know how visual effects are made.
If you could collaborate with any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I don’t have any favorite director, but Wes Anderson is the one who comes to mind.
Grand Hotel Budapest is well known for its unique look. It would be an interesting experience to comp one of his films and have a few shots like that in my portfolio.
What career and/or life advice would you give your younger self?
Don't be scared of trying something new. Say "yes" to opportunities, but remember to stay balanced and not sacrifice your health over any project. This is something that I'm still continuing to implement in my life.