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Meet Melis Aksoy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melis Aksoy.

Melis, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Born in Istanbul, Turkey, I have majored in Industrial Engineering at one of Turkey’s most influential Universities, Sabanci University. Thanks to the art education I have received during my study alongside my major, I discovered my true passion and slowly steered away from engineering. I had some unsparing passion for art, but prior to college, I’ve never given myself a chance to grow in that area. Taking art courses made me realize what I’m capable of if I direct my attention to an area I’m passionate about. People thought it was illogical for me to take art courses while maintaining my main major. However, you could say I was blinded by my passion. I was aware of the challenges in front of me, but rather than focusing on the negative, I shifted my attention to all the possibilities and finally gave myself the room to explore and discover myself.

Shortly after my graduation, I stumbled upon Dvein Studio’s video called Magma and finally realized what I want to do in life; which is creating a bridge between real and imaginative worlds. However, there weren’t many opportunities for the type of growth I was seeking in Turkey, so I pushed my limits, prepared a portfolio for a year to get into a college in the United States and finally got the opportunity to move to San Francisco to get higher education in Visual Effects at Academy of Art. After getting my MFA, I moved to Minneapolis to work at MAKE where I learned new software and developed unique skills that helped me move back to California, which has always been where I wanted to be. The heart of the industry.

I started working at Fuse FX as one of the Visual Effects Artist and got the opportunity to work on many successful shows like 13 Reasons Why, The Outsiders, American Horror Story, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Normally people who seek opportunities in the VFX industry move to Los Angeles hoping to find a gig that will start their career. That was not the case for me at all. After my graduation, I got a proposal from a studio called MAKE which is a commercial based studio in Minneapolis that uses motion graphics, visual effects, and animation as a tool in the storytelling. That’s how I started my journey.

It was very challenging in so many ways. Moving to a new city, leaving everything and everyone you know behind is a tough decision to make for many people, but I knew that it was essential for me to evolve as an artist and set myself apart from others. When you move to a new city, you are forced to do things differently, and get outside of your comfort zone. You are forced into scenarios where you are forced to master how you deal with uncomfortable situations in unfamiliar environments. These really helped me to grow both as an artist and as a person.

I also realized that nothing really happens when you don’t take risks. Every step you take serves your cause, and even small jobs can make a huge difference in your career. It was also challenging for me to shift from Houdini to 3dsMax which is a software that the studio was using most of the time for the FX animation, dynamic simulation, and particle and fluid systems. I dedicated myself to learning every aspect of it, knowing that this would be a tool to take me one step further.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m an FX Artist, who designs and recreates the behavior of real-world elements such as realistic smoke, fire, destructions, and water as well as other particle-based effects for the tv shows, commercials, and movies. Building and maintaining photo-real FX rigs of varying complexity is a task that demands a solid knowledge of the field and great organization skills cause handling hundreds of millions of particles, high-resolution volumetrics, and instancing with complicated geometries require you to optimize every step of your work. I was responsible for creating so many blood & gore simulations for American Horror Story under short deadlines that I realized this line of work not only requires strong skills but also requires you to be completely organized.

While I was in MAKE, I got the chance to work in the development of tyflow software that allows you to build effects with easier and simpler setups, yet still helps you to achieve an industry-standard quality of work. It was a huge development for the industry because one of the most important rules of the post-production is being able to deliver shots on time and with good quality. Using the plugin before it was released, and becoming an expert in multiple software, have distinguished me from others in terms of skill set and ability to solve problems in the process of making effects for the shows. You gain another perspective when you know the strength and limitations of numerous software that helps you truly understand the creative and technical challenges that lay ahead. The success of the plugin made me more recognized in the industry and lead my path to FuseFX where I worked on award-winning shows with an amazing team.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I will keep working on tv shows and a short film called Four which is I am very excited about but this year, I have also started focusing on a couple of side projects. Overall what excites me the most about the upcoming projects is the usage of AI in Visual Effects. Combinations of physics simulation with AI/ML generated results that have already started making a revolution in the movie industry, and it has rapidly become a demand for Visual Effects.

This industry is evolving every day with new innovative technologies and software. Going forward, it will be challenging to constantly try to adapt, but also I am sure it would be very fulfilling to use new methods.

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