The Lola Limelight - Mara Killpack — Lola
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The Lola Limelight – Mara Killpack



Where are you from?

I am from the Midlands, but I was lucky enough to live in Cornwall for 3 years while at university (although I no longer live there it still feels like home!).


How long have you worked at Lola?  

I have worked at Lola for around 3 months.


How did you get into VFX?  

I have always loved art of all forms, growing up I spent hours drawing, crafting, painting, sewing, crocheting anything really! I would always watch films and TV shows in the background. I discovered 3D modeling in sixth form as I built a piano as a part of my product design class. This was the first thing I modeled (Although this was CAD rather than CG). I loved working on it,  it wasn’t a ‘pretty’ model it was fun to make! I looked into courses that would enable me to mix art and film (my 2 favourite things so a dream come true!). I studied animation and VFX at Falmouth University specialising in the 3D pipeline – would recommend this to anyone.


What’s the best part of your job? 

Being mainly an asset artist, I love seeing the final shots. When working on an asset, it is very much in its own world. But when it’s all comped together and everyone else has worked their magic, it is so rewarding and great to have been a part of.

I also really love learning. There are some days I know what I am doing and others where I have no idea and I spend the day problem solving and learning. This is always so rewarding and there are always people who help and answer my many, many questions…


Biggest career highlight(s)? 

A film I worked on during university, Middle Watch, was nominated for a BAFTA! This was a bit of a shock, I worked as an asset artist and learned a lot about stylized modeling as well as learning how to rig and model creatures. This was such a proud moment as not only was my name on the credits of a film, but this film had been nationally recognised and praised for all of the hard work that went into it!


Advice to anyone starting out in the industry?  

It’s so easy to get disheartened when you receive either rejections or hear nothing back from an application, but your time will come.

Keep your head up and apply for all roles! Lola offered me a junior role after applying for an office assistant one. Even if you don’t hear anything, remember you are good enough but the right people haven’t seen you yet and given you a chance.

When you get a job make sure to ask questions! You’re learning and so is everyone else working at the studio, no one will be bothered if you ask a few questions and often the people working love their jobs and love talking about it.


What does your typical day look like?

This depends whether i am commuting or not! When I commute I get up early, tend to and check my many, many plants and get ready for the day at work. I jump on the train, listen to music, read a book and crochet (normally jumpers that I wear to work). When I arrive at work I complete my tasks for the day and head home.


What are you learning at the moment?  

I learn something new every day but in the past week I have been learning a lot about Houdini. This is a software I had never used before working at Lola – I am doing some lighting and rendering. I am also learning how to create HDRIs and calibrate them to a plate to light a scene. This is very different to anything I have done, but it’s really interesting and quite relaxing and satisfying trying to make them match.


What’s your most prized possession on your desk at work?

I bring crystals to work every day to keep on my desk for good vibes, they are a little good luck charm. At my desk at home I have many plants and want to bring one to work. I just need to find one that can survive the heat of the render farm…


What are your hobbies outside of work?

I do aerial acrobatics, specifically hoop. I was a committee member at university and continued this since leaving. Basically it’s just pretty ways to hang in a hoop. I love it because it makes me feel strong and allows me to push myself to become more flexible and try new, more complex moves.

Art is also another hobby, as I mentioned earlier this is something I have always enjoyed. As I grew up my ‘skill’ improved and I was able to use this while looking for a job in the VFX industry. I worked as a freelance realism artist, I produced portraits (mostly of pets in coloured pencil). I love sketching and really enjoy life drawing, not only realistic study drawings. I love the challenge of trying to make something look ‘real’ and this is something that helps my VFX work.


Do you have any pets?

I have a beautiful border collie called Koda (named after the character from brother bear).