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December 2020

Chris is wearing a black hoodie and a black baseball cap that both have a white heart outline logo. He is staring into the distance and smiling.

Chris Cook

BSc (Hons) Computer Aided Visualisation 2009

1. Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in Chelmsford, one of the homes of ARU. I actually had a really bad time at school and hated every single moment of primary and secondary school. I could not wait to leave and head off to work, and at 16 I left school and went into a long string of menial jobs. It was not until my early 20s that I decided I wanted to pursue a career in Visual Effects. Having not attended college I did not have any UCAS points to be able to apply to university. I spent a year learning 3D in every spare moment I could, creating a portfolio of work, which I then took to an open day to show the lecturers, who invited me for an interview and subsequently offered me a position on to the course.

Upon graduating, I landed a low level position at one of the biggest VFX companies in the world, where I made it my mission to begin climbing the ladder. I started my career working on Gravity, which was a huge success and I feel lucky that my career has gone from strength to strength ever since. After a few years I rose to a leadership role in the company, where I became one of the companies ‘go-to’ leads for Marvel films, in particular overseeing the creation of some of their most iconic characters. To date, the work my teams have created have been nominated for 5 visual effects Oscars, an achievement I am really proud of.

In mid-2019, I moved to Vancouver, where I work as a CG build Supervisor for another of the biggest VFX companies in the world. I look after large teams of VFX artists producing CGI for some of the biggest films coming out of Hollywood. I was also recently voted on to the board of managers for the Visual Effects Society. In this role, I get to help educate, celebrate, and advance our industry on a global scale.

Outside of work I am a keen photographer, and living here in Canada, I get to adventure to some fantastic scenery to take photos. I really love the outdoors, and being away from my computer when I am not at work. 

2. What is your fondest memory at Anglia Ruskin University?

Some of my fondest memories are the times spent sitting in the computer labs after class with my classmates. We would all be working on our projects, and just having a laugh and joke between us, while helping each other with any problems, and working together to help everyone improve their work. Those times built a real strong comradery between us all, working together to complete individual assignments. 

3. What has been your favourite job?

While I have enjoyed every job that I have done since graduating, my favourite is the one I am doing now as a CG Build Supervisor. I have been in my current role for around 16 months now, and I find it really interesting. For me, my main passion and drive is about continuing to learn and advance my knowledge in my industry. In this role, I can have a direct influence on how the whole global visual effects industry advances. I get to work with the key players in the industry to define new tools, software and working practices that everyone uses to make the stunning Visual Effects you see in today's film and TV programmes.

One thing I also really enjoy, that is not technically my actual job, is that I get to travel the world and speak at VFX festivals (pre-COVID anyway). I get to share my knowledge with those looking to join the industry or those just starting their careers. To date, I have spoken at some of the biggest VFX festivals in the world, to crowds of 800+, and I find that super rewarding to be able to share my knowledge with future generations of talented artists. 

4. In one word, how would you describe ARU? 


5. How did your time at Anglia Ruskin help you?

Studying at ARU did not just teach me software and theories relevant to my course. My time at ARU helped me learn how I could turn my hobby and love of visual effects into a successful career. I learned how to work with others in the industry, and advance my skills to the level required to start my career. 

6. What did you love about your chosen course?

My course was quite a small group of like-minded, dedicated people. I loved that I got to meet others that had the same interests as myself and that we could all learn and grow together. 

7. What advice would you give to current students as they're preparing to graduate? 

The prospect of graduating and looking to advance into your chosen career path can be quite daunting. Knowing that it is time to put your skills in to practice in a real world job can seem like a huge step from where you are now. Those were but a few of the apprehensive thoughts I had when it came time for me to graduate. My advice would be to not worry and overthink it right now, if you were dedicated to your chosen course, and you remain dedicated to continue the process of growing and learning post graduation, it will all come together. Continue to do what it is about your chosen career and you will do well. 

8. What do you know now that you wish you had known whilst studying? 

A good night's sleep is worth way more than an extra few hours working. It can be very tempting to try and pull 'all-nighters' to get the task at hand done. However, I see now in not only myself but my crew too, that working tired often hinders more than it progresses. I have pulled more than my fair share of late nights trying to get work done, but lately I see that had I gone to sleep and picked it up in the morning, I would have actually got it done quicker and to a much higher standard, with less of a redo. 

9. Who was the biggest influence on your career? 

Randomly, I think the film composer John Williams was the biggest single influencer of my career. When watching his films I would see how music would play such a huge part in helping directors convey the message they wished to for any given scene. As I began my career, I realised that it is not just the music, but every part of a production that all play their own part in telling the story, Visual Effects included. From this I draw on my desire to do my small part to help the story be told as best as we possibly can. I continue to listen to film scores on those days when I need a little inspirational boost. 

10. What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Seriously dude, don’t stress about the future, it will be ok, just enjoy the here and now. 

11. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know. 

When I started university, I was worried that my older age would put me at a disadvantage over other students. In a move that I cannot quite explain, I decided that I would always do my work while listening to the hardest EDM that I could find. My theory was that if I could learn to do it under those conditions, I could do it with absolute ease in any environment.

Little did I know that I should have not been so concerned about my age, it was not a factor at all, and I actually ended up graduating second highest in my class (by 0.4%, not gutted about that at all haha!). However, to this day, when I have a challenging task to complete, I find I get it done quicker listening to the same music I trained myself in. 

12. What’s next? 

Onward and upward. I am really enjoying my career, and I hope to be able to climb the ladder, learning and teaching as I go. So far in my career I have largely been based in VFX studios during post production. I would love a move to the onset side of CG supervision during the actual shooting part of the process.