We had the good fortune of connecting with Prasad Narse and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Prasad, what’s the end goal, career-wise?
I think goals change as we move further in our career path. Seven years ago my life goal was to become a successful animator and to be able to contribute to the animation industry, now I feel fortunate to become a Visualization artist and able to contribute not only to animation but to visual effects society. As a Visualization artist, I provide many ideas/ options to the directors to visualize a shoot beforehand the filming schedule. On every production, we are constantly involved in a creative decision-making process. I would like to take this experience into directing my own stories. In recent years I started developing multiple concepts/ film scripts. Eventually, my objective is to continue to learn and excel professionally, but further, than that, when it comes down to my personal end goal I hope that I can make an impact and empower others through my own stories.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others:
I was born and raised in Mumbai and moved to States 11 years ago. I have always wanted to learn animation. After I received my Master of Fine Arts degree in Computer Animation from SCAD, I started working on projects as a previs artist in the visual effect industry. I have worked as a Senior Visualization Artist on locations at Marvel Headquarters in Burbank and at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta; as well as at Fox Studios in Sydney, Australia. We work in Pre-visualization production. It starts before the principal photography begins. As a Visualization artist, I work with VFX supervisors and film directors to shape their vision into an animated chain of events or sequences which tells the story in its early format. It is good enough to understand any script in the earlier stages where you can also alter or modify certain aspects or events in it. The production is very helpful in mapping out CG elements, CG characters, and CG backgrounds and gives directors more freedom to play with the script without increasing the budget. Our production also helps on-set art departments to prepare for an actual film shoot. We provide “Techvis” which gives an exact idea of where the action is taking place on the set, where the camera is capturing the action, and how far production has to cover background sets with green screens or blue screens for the post-production process. Our production helps the camera department to develop unique camera rigs on-set.
Visualization art has unique importance. The visualization production is a quicker way of blocking out feature sequences. Previs also allows freedom to artists and an opportunity to pitch our own ideas when necessary. Other animation productions only follow the directors. Here we are constantly involved in a creative decision-making process. I think that sets us apart from others.
What you are most proud of or excited about:
The ability to entertain the audience through my work makes me happy all the time. The best examples are the portal opening scene in Endgame and Spiderman’s halo jump off of the jet diving down to fight with Mysterio in ‘Spiderman: Far from home’, where I was able to develop previs and give solutions to directors in a short time. Portal opening scene from Endgame turned out to be the favorite moment among most Marvel fans and I feel proud to be able to develop these shots which laid the foundation of what we see in the movie.
How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome challenges?
Back in India, it is hard to find a good school to learn animation. I began with Advertising design in my undergrad at Sir J J Institute of Applied Arts in Mumbai. Soon after I graduated I did a year-long course in animation with Supinfocom college in India. That course didn’t really give me enough exposure to 3D animation. In the year 2010, I joined Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah GA. My mother indeed took a brave decision after my father’s demise. Having only one child it was difficult for her to stay away from me but she supported my decision to go abroad for further study. At SCAD I graduated with MFA in 3D animation and I animated and directed a thesis short film ” I M Possible” which received 10 worldwide wins including a Student Emmy Award, a Silver Telly Award, and several nominations internationally. Considering my animation skills portrayed in my short film LAIKA/ House (now known as House Special) took a chance on me in 2014 and invited me to work in Portland OR. I was there for 3 months animating on a short film called ‘The Alchemist’s Letter’. It was my first job in the animation industry. Around that time recession was at its peak. I remember I applied for 50 plus studios in the US but only heard rejections. Then I decided to move to Los Angeles in September 2014. I worked with Halon Ent. for a couple of weeks but didn’t really found a much promising deal to stay longer with any studios. I always considered myself wondering about Marvel features and their amazing productions and always wanted to put my hands on few shots. Luma Pictures set up in Santa Monica introduced me to Marvel as a shot designer on the Ant-man franchise. As I was a contractor I had to leave in a couple of months.
Since then I worked with The Third Floor inc. I had a chance to work on Marvel production on ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2′ at Disney studios’ Marvel headquarters. First time in my career I felt successful. I worked for our supervisor Jim Baker and constantly were able to hear James Gunn’s reviews about our work. I learned a lot from Jim and James as to how to think in terms of shots and sequences or even be prepared to alter shot choices. The process is more creative and every day at work feels new discoveries waiting for us to imagine. Since then I become a Marvel artist to be rolling constantly on Marvel features. Till now I was fortunate enough to work on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity Wars, Avengers: Endgame, Spiderman: Far From Home, and an upcoming Marvel franchise. As visualization artists, we give solutions, variety of ideas to directors for developing the script and giving audiences an eye-opening sequence.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
It wasn’t easy! before joining The Third Floor Inc. I had to send out at least 5 emails every day to 5 different studios and then follow up letters or reminders but it was difficult to know the reason for rejection or silence. If there is a connection in the industry it does help artists to put their foot in the industry. I had none. plus being an international candidate makes things difficult. Employers do think about visa support and honestly, no one wants to support visas. I was on OPT status for 2 and a half years and then I have to obtain a visa in order to stay in the US to gain further experience. For the last six years, I haven’t really applied for jobs but other studios approached me directly considering my work profile. It does feel way better compare to my situation 6 years ago. So definitely the struggle was real.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I think to be successful in a career, it is important to let go of self-judging; labeling, comparing, and criticizing yourself. Instead, try to solve challenges at work; it boosts our confidence. It reduces mental stress and prepares us to face any challenges. I always focus on finding answers at work technically or conceptually, I firmly believe that this is one of the reasons behind my success and happiness.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
During current unprecedented times, it is a bit tricky. In the normal world, I would like to hang out with my friends in an Indian or a Mexican restaurant, Star of India and India’s Grill among my favorite Indian restaurants, and Baja Fresh near La Brea Tar Pits, and Chipotle among my favorite Mexican Grills. Apart from these places hanging out at any Starbucks or Coffee Bean shop with a Chai Latte would also be very relaxing! Additionally, I like to spend a lot of time at Santa Monia and Venis beaches or on some hikes. I would love to take my friends to visit The Broad Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art; ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood; LA Opera; Griffith Park, and Botanical Gardens. I would also try and invite them over to my place for some home-cooked food on Potluck weekends, I enjoy cooking delicious Indian dishes. And lastly, I love playing ping-pong, there are many clubs around town, Gilbert Table Tennis Center would be that final fun spot to visit along with my buddies. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The list is huge! I would say, I learned a lot from every person I had a chance to work with and from my professors at schools and colleges, and are some way or another helped me became who I am at present. But above all, I want to dedicate this shoutout to my parents! My parents encouraged me to pursue my passion and always supported my career choice. My father left us in the year 2002, his passion for playing cricket inspiring me even today to pursue my career. After my father, my mother backed me up emotionally and financially in every step. My mother is the biggest fan of my work even if she never enjoys watching any Marvel action pack movies. Without her support, I would not be where I am today. Secondly, I feel lucky to learn animation and cinematography from my professors Scott Wright, Jan Carlee, and Dr. Charles daCosta, their guidance has always been the driving force behind my fierce work ethic. And lastly, the audience, for whom I spend my time at work, without the audience and their response an artist is meaningless!