Singapore Polytechnic (SP) student Zaidi Hussain’s passion and determination has gotten him the opportunity of a lifetime. He now works as a 2D rotoscope artist at Double Negative and his job involves the preparation of visual effects elements such as green screen and live action footage before they get composited in the film.

Double Negative is an international visual effects company which has worked on visual effects for blockbusters such as Sherlock Holmes, Inception and Captain America.

Mr Zaidi graduated with a diploma in digital media in computer generated effects option (now known visual effects and motion graphics) from the Singapore Polytechnic’s School of Digital Media and Infocomm Technology (DMIT).

He credits the nurturing environment at SP for enabling him to clinch several awards — two of which were top prizes — which eventually gave him the credentials needed to join Double Negative.

“The poly courses and the lecturers gave me the confidence to believe in myself,” he says. “It’s as though I have not left poly,” he said. “In SP, I had fun learning and I am learning a lot in Double Negative while still having fun.”

The digital entertainment effects industry has grown the fastest in the Asia-Pacific region, with spending expected to increase from the current US$86 billion (S$111 billion) to US$115 billion in 2015.

One industry leader is Lucasfilm, which has worked on international blockbusters such as Transformers 3, Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, Star Trek and Iron Man 2.

To ride on this wave and to meet the growing industry needs, SP students are trained to work closely with industry partners such as Double Negative and Black Magic Design in the post-production and visual effects field.

All about motion graphics

The curriculum for the visual effects and motion graphics course is continually updated and finetuned. Projects for these industry partners involve using state-of-the-art facilities such as a Vicon motion capture system, a sound stage, home-based classrooms, a visual effects studio and 3D stereoscopic cameras, and inspire, engage and motivate students.

The course is designed to create opportunities for students of visual effects and motion graphics to connect with renowned international visual effects companies through mentorship, seminars and real-life projects.

Students pursing the diploma in visual effects and motion graphics get to work on real-life projects, which have included storm-chasing and documenting storm footage in Stereoscopic 3D in extreme weather conditions in Tucson, Arizona, in the United States. They have also filmed a cooking demonstration in a green screen studio with virtual set integration.

Each year, Singapore’s polytechnics produce an estimated 40 graduates to meet the demand for visual effects and motion graphics talent.

For those who are keen to enter the visual effects business, says Mr Zaidi: “Do something you are passionate about. Work hard on it, and you will progress.”