If Sarah Bromley (’14, Entertainment Arts) does her job well, you’ll never know she was there. She came to CCS from South Africa as a Fine Arts major in 2010 but changed majors after watching a professor doing CGI (computer-generated imagery) on a screen. Bromley now works in London as a Build TD — Technical Director — for Double Negative VFX (DNEG). The first film she worked on was DC Films’ Justice League (2017) and, recently, she did work on the global blockbuster Black Panther (2018).
What is a Build TD?
We construct anything in a film that has to be made. I could be doing anything from trees and rocks to actual characters. The build department needs to be really spot on – a lot of clothing, any assets like rings, watches, the lot. A LOT of clothing! When we do our job right, people can’t tell. If it’s going to be too expensive to shoot something, it’s up to us to replicate it on the CG side, especially in the fantasy genre. Sometimes, if something is not realistic, or there’s no way to get to that location, or the location doesn’t exist or, with actors, a stunt person can’t perform the action or if it’s a difficult scene, then we do that as well.
When Do Build TDs Come Into The Process?
The number of people involved in one show or one shot is a lot. Build happens early on, and nothing else can happen until we're done. So DNEG gets all the raw footage from the film. Then someone sits down and looks at what we need to do and how much, then they tell us, "This shot, this scene. This is what’s happening, here’s the footage, and we need you to make this object."
Can You Spill The Tea About Films You've Worked On?
I'm allowed to say that I worked on the films, but I can't go into specifics. On Justice League, I was lucky enough to build some assets, do some environment stuff, which I love. I do modeling, texturing and what we call look development. I can do all three, but I’m strongest in modeling. I do a lot of technical work, which was a lot of what I did on Black Panther.
Sooo...Black Panther. Did You See That Coming?
When Black Panther came down, I was super excited because I knew it was going to be a really big film. I want to work on a film that’s cool, but I also don’t, in a way, because I don’t want to ruin it for myself. Films still have magic for me, and I want to keep the surprise.