Sequence Supervisor

  • Sequence Supervisor

A single visual effects sequence is often the work of dozens of artists, all contributing assets through processes of motion tracking, match moving, compositing, lighting, and animation. It is the role of the sequence supervisor to ensure that the work of each artist comes together seamlessly, producing a polished, finished product.


Duties

The sequence supervisor is a member of the visual effects team, responsible for ensuring consistency and continuity across a designated sequence of VFX shots within a film, television show, or commercial. Working under the direction of the studio visual effects supervisor, the sequence supervisor is assigned a team of artists whose in-progress work he or she will review on a daily basis. The sequence supervisor provides technical and artistic guidance in the execution of VFX assets and ensures that those assets are properly passed through the production pipeline.

In collaboration with the VFX supervisor during the initial planning phase, the sequence supervisor prepares a script breakdown (an outline of necessary VFX shots) and establishes a production schedule for his or her team. According to that schedule, he or she sets deadlines for each stage of the sequence and then provides the visual effects supervisor with regular updates and samples of the completed work.

Depending on the needs of the production, the sequence supervisor may participate in the production process as an advisor to the cinematographer during principal photography and second unit filming. Because plates, frames of footage into which visual effects will be inserted, must be precisely shot, a plate supervisor or sequence supervisor is a valuable asset on set. He or she provides guidance to the cinematographer concerning angles, perspective, distance, and lighting.

Skills & Education

As a supervisor who oversees artists in multiple specialties, the sequence supervisor must have a thorough knowledge of each discipline in the visual effects production pipeline. Further experience necessary in this career includes photography or cinematography, video editing, and lighting techniques. A college degree in film and television production, computer animation, or related area can provide the relevant training in artistic theory, as well as technical knowledge. A mastery of industry standard software like PF Track, Maya, Nuke, or similar software is a requirement for employment. An individual pursuing this career path must have a good eye for detail and the ability to offer constructive criticism and useful instruction to subordinates. Strong communication skills are highly valuable in this career field; the sequence supervisor must be able to articulate abstract creative concepts to artists.

What to Expect

The role of the sequence supervisor is a fulltime position that is typically considered middle management within a visual effects studio. In the studio, schedules fluctuate widely, depending on the volume of projects in progress; it is common that crews put in 10- to 12-hour days to ensure deadlines are met. The tales you’ve heard of supervisors sleeping on their office couches are not exaggerated. One benefit, however, is that you can be comfortable while you’re pounding down Red Bulls; most VFX studios have a casual dress code, so T-shirts and jeans are acceptable attire. Why would anyone endure such a schedule? Passion. Studios look to hire artists and technical specialists that are talented but also exude a dedication to the craft.

To land a gig as a sequence supervisor, the place to start is as a compositor, match mover, or other entry-level artist at a visual effects studio. In most cases, management positions are given to those who have put in several years with the company and have proven the advancement of their skills on several feature projects. When scouting for a studio where you may want to apply, take a close look at their websites to see what type of work they specialize in; in addition to visual effects for film and television, there are those that are specifically known for feature title sequences, commercials, music videos, and other short-format projects.

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