FX Artist, The Mill Los Angeles | Age: 26
Daniel Soo was born to be an FX artist. Growing up in Singapore, he was “always on the computer, whether playing games, setting up my own server or tinkering with parts, which always excites me,” he remembers. “I knew early on that working with computers would be a huge part of my life.” At high school he took a games programming course and was chosen for a three-month internship with Houdini creators SideFX in Santa Monica. “It was a key moment in my life,” he recalls “It taught me a different kind of mindset for working, and getting into the procedural mindset and applying the fundamentals of CG in an open sandbox really laid a strong foundation for me. The experience of being in Los Angeles was eye-opening too.”
Promising himself he’d return to California “to pursue my goal to be a VFX artist,” he enrolled at Savannah College of Art and Design, majoring in VFX. While there, he took on multiple internships, including a stint at Side Effects Software, where he worked closely with supervisors and mentors to strengthen his skills with Houdini and Nuke. Upon graduating, he worked at the Development Authority of Singapore where he set up SideFX’s Bling Server using Python and HScript. As a CG intern at MAKE, Soo refined his expertise in modelling, effects, texturing, shading and compositing for various commercial projects and clients including The Walking Dead.
Since joining The Mill in 2016, he has worked on high-profile campaigns for Doritos, Marvel, Audi and Samsung, including researching and creating the goosebump-worthy ‘freezing’ effect of Morgan Freeman in Doritos’ 2018 Super Bowl spot, Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice. Recently, Soo developed and ran detailed muscle, skin and hair simulations for the hare that stars in Eastbay’s award-winning Be The Hunted, while on Propel As Active As You, he mastered the shape of water, from dynamic air bubbles inside a bottle, to condensation and rivulets running over the exterior. “Being a VFX artist we have both creative and technical challenges. For the technical, I always try to solve problems in a logical and coordinated fashion. For the creative, I always fall back to looking at references at my core; analysing and understanding how real-world phenomena happen.” He stresses the power of “the Houdini community. It is very active both locally in LA and through online channels such as forums, discord, Vimeo, Instagram; we are everywhere just wanting to share our art.”