COMPOSITOR DOUBLE NEGATIVE BSc Hons Computing 2003
Guy Penwill was a key member of the team that brought home the Oscar for Best VFX – or visual effects – for Ex Machina in 2016, and Interstellar the year before. Interstellar took the VFX BAFTA too.
Guy is a compositor, the person responsible for creating the final image by combining layers of film, animation and effects, or even digitally painting an effect frame by frame.
Anyone who saw Ex Machina, where a robot woman ‘wears’ a face over her machine body, will have wondered how they did it. The film won against the lavishly funded Star Wars. “We were ecstatic,” Guy says. “We were a small team on a limited budget. The Academy obviously saw something different in Ex Machina and deemed it the best.
“Shots are like snowflakes, alike but never the same, so making them join seamlessly throws up constant challenges.”
Guy, a keen cyclist, worked at the university as post-production tutor and IT support officer after graduating in 2003, building a thorough knowledge of VFX. He quit in 2012 to enter the VFX industry. “I started with emails and online applications but didn’t get very far. Then I realised I needed to go knocking on doors.
“I turned up at The Senate, my first VFX employer, with a CV in one hand and show reel in the other. We had a chat. Two months later they gave me a job.” Within months he was working at leading visual effects company, Double Negative, on the award-winning films.
“The degree I took at the University of Greenwich has absolutely helped me get where I am today.”
“Programming knowledge assists in solving visual effects problems and the good maths foundation is always helpful: a compositor’s day is made up of mathematical operations.”