Jaime Fok is a visual effects trailblazer

Contributed by
Jan 5, 2018

Post-production, like the rest of the entertainment business, is dominated by hiring practices that benefit men. That makes highlighting the contributions of women in the field even more important.

SYFY WIRE recently spoke with a true multi-hyphenate: visual effects editor, web developer, dancer, and model, Jaime Fok. What started out as a love for editing turned into a model career path, from editing independent music videos to providing VFX editorial for Guillermo del Toro's gorgeous The Shape of Water.

We discussed how Jaime finds a balance between her many talents and passions, her work on and experiences with The Shape of Water and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, and her favorite visual effects moments in film.

You’re a web developer, visual [effects] editor, dancer, and model. How do you balance all of your interests?

Jaime: It definitely gets difficult trying to maintain a fine balance between my different interests. It's all a matter of finding time for everything... because it's there. The hard part is convincing yourself to do something during your rare moments of free time rather than collapsing into bed and lazing around, which I do give into... A LOT.

Generally, I try to get to my physical activity in the mornings, maybe around 7AM, before I go into the VFX studio to work for the remainder of the day and evening, because that's usually the only time I can make it to my yoga classes, etc. During crunch time for any films or shows I'm working on, my free time and energy for dancing and yoga definitely take a hit, but maintaining physical exercise and movement in my life is very important to me.

You were a dancer before a VFX editor. Does that help with your work now?

Yeah, definitely. I actually find my dance background really helps in editing because I'm really in tune to beats and timing. I guess the same thing could be said for anyone in film who also has a music background.

Also, a lot of visual aesthetics, or rules if you will, in dance also compare to film methods. Like, making formations in dance kind of acted as practice for my compositional eye in film. Dance also always creeps into everything else I do. I LOVE working on any film or video that has anything to do with dance or movement. The majority of my passion projects are dance-based.

How did you get started as a visual [effects] editor?

I actually never really thought I'd get into VFX, but always knew I was going to be an editor. I was working at a post-production house, and the company I'm currently at contacted me for an interview. I decided to go for it because I remember as a kid, I always loved watching the bonus features on DVDs where they showed how they created the creatures and things in Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. I did not have any VFX experience or knowledge before this job so it's been a huge learning experience for sure!

Was Resident Evil: The Final Chapter your first gig?

I've had a bunch of smaller, freelance gigs before... editing for independent music videos, etc. But Resident Evil: The Final Chapter was the first large feature film I worked on, and also the first film I worked on in VFX editorial.

 

What was your experience like working on that project?

It was great! Very hectic since it's a very fast-cutting movie, so we had somewhere around 2,000 VFX shots to handle. I was working as an assistant editor at the time and had a great VFX editor who was training me and guiding me along. Also, I had actually never seen any of the previous Resident Evil films, so I was introduced to this series by working on this final chapter.

There was one shot at the beginning of the film that shows a mosaic of maybe thousands of shots from all the previous movies. I actually had to go through the previous films and select what clips we'd be using for that so that kind of acted as a Resident Evil crash course for me.

Are there any visual effects or CG moments in film or television that stand out to you or stick with you over time?

Everything we work on is awesome and stands out, but it's really cool seeing a shot go from start to finish, and comparing what the original footage looked like to the final product. Full CG shots and large environments and creatures that we build from blocking, to animation, to lighting and texturing, to compositing are always the coolest to see for me, personally.

In current news, a film that we worked on and are very proud about is The Shape of Water, which has recently gotten into the top 10 for Academy Award considerations in Best Visual Effects, which is unreal! If we're talking about VFX moments in film that I did not work on, it would be me as a small child, watching the Lord of the Rings bonus features and watching Andy Serkis in the mocap suit, performing as Gollum. Then watching them transform him into the creature- it was mind-blowing and has definitely stuck with me throughout the years.

 

What are you working on now?

Jaime: We're generally not supposed to talk about the projects we're working on until they come out, but I've got some films and a Netflix series on the go!