0 – 100: Reel Them in Series

We’re launching our 0-100 blog series to showcase our talented crew throughout all of our departments and how they got started at Luma.

Don’t get us wrong (we love Drake), but our meaning of 0-100 is just a tad bit different. At Luma, you have the opportunity to “start from the bottom” and quickly form a growth path if you have the talent and the ambition to match.

To kick it off, we present the Reel Them in Series.

We know that it can be a pretty daunting experience to submit your application and reel to a studio for the first time. To help diminish that fear , we introduce you to three artists based in our Melbourne studio that started off as juniors and the tips they have after working at Luma. For all three of these artists, Luma was either their very first job in the industry or their first job working on feature films. Read through to learn more about why they applied to Luma, what their first project was, and what their advice is to students or anyone trying to land their first gig! Check out the reels they applied to Luma with!

 wen zhao


animation artist

Why did you apply to Luma?

I wanted to get into the film/VFX industry and work on some kick-ass projects. It has always been my dream. When I checked out what projects Luma worked on in the past, I was amazed at how awesome they were and I wanted to be a part of it.

What was the first project you worked on at Luma?

My first project at Luma was The New Adventures of Figaro Pho. My main responsibility was to animate the characters. It was quite challenging as there were no dialogues and mainly just body movements and facial expressions to convey  the characters’ emotions. And yet, I had a lot of fun working on it.

What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on at Luma so far?

Ant-Man has been my favorite project so far. It was my first feature film I worked on as a Character Animator and it was truly a special experience. It involved working with mocap data as well as hand keyed animation–two of my favourite things to do.

What advice would you give to an animation/vfx student applying for their first job?

Be confident – both in your work and yourself. Practice makes perfect: go outside of your comfort zone and do something you’ve never done before, do it well, and make it count. There was a lot I had to go through to get to this point. Apart from university, I also spent 18 months studying animation in Animation Mentor and I spent one year studying an Honors Degree (in research) in animation. You don’t have to do the same to land your first job, but what I am saying is I didn’t just watch the online tutorials or read university books about animation, I practiced a lot and felt confident in my work.

Luma application reel:


billy dao


animation artist

Why did you apply to Luma?

At the time, I was working on commercials and whilst it was decent pay, I always wondered what it would be like to work on feature films. I knew little about Luma at the time because they only just opened the Melbourne office. I saw the listing on DLF and did a little bit of research. What I saw on Luma’s credits list was like a greatest hits album so I applied.

What was the first project you worked on and what were your main responsibilities?

It was Captain America: Winter Soldier. I was hired as a Junior Animator and did mostly match-moves on Winter Soldier’s arm. There was some occasional animation for props and Winter Soldier’s fingers.

What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on at Luma so far?

Even though it was the toughest one I’ve worked on and the one that I had to work the most hours on, it would have to be Doctor Strange. It’s the project I feel the most invested in and most proud of.

What advice would you give to an Animation/VFX student applying for their first job?

Make sure you actually apply. I’ve known many people who haven’t had the courage to apply to places with their current reels even though they had the skills. Let the studios decide whether or not you’re ready. Not all studios are always hiring. So many places will put you on file, but it’s always handy to keep an eye out for job listings. Also don’t stop learning! Just because you’ve finished studies doesn’t mean there isn’t more to learn.

Luma application reel:

nicholas hodgson


jr. model / texture artist

Why did you apply to Luma?

I applied to Luma because it has been my dream to work on movies for as long as I can remember. After checking out Luma’s portfolio, I knew it was the kind of work I would love (that and the fact that at the time the main page of the Luma website was two people dressed up drinking beer). I had just finished university and was at the very end of my interview process with Luma and Weta. I decided to go with Luma in the end. I thought working at a smaller studio would accelerate my growth as an artist rather than diving into a position at Weta, which would have been very specialised. At Luma, I can frequently jump between concepting, modelling, texturing, and lookdev among many other tasks. In the span of a year I have worked on a stylized cartoon, a Super Bowl commercial, and three major films.

What was the first project you worked on at Luma?

The first project I worked on was the Coke Super Bowl commercial featuring Ant-Man and the Hulk. The first asset I worked on was a billboard. Since it was my first asset, I went OCD on it and modelled literally every single nut and bolt on it because I wanted to show what I was capable of. When it finally was introduced into the shots it was mostly covered by a tree! It is still one of the proudest moments of my life seeing it poke out from behind the tree in the final shot. Other responsibilities included modeling and texturing a road and making some other background elements in the lab scene.

What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on at Luma so far?

My favorite project so far has been Underworld: Blood Wars because I have been able to do a lot of character modeling and texturing for digi doubles which is one of my favorite things to do.

What advice would you give to a VFX student applying for their first job?

I would say only show your best work in your reel. As a general rule, your reel is only as good as the worst piece in it. Look at what kind of work the studio produces and try and create that kind of art style. And lastly, don’t ever stop trying to develop yourself as an artist–always work on projects in your spare time and constantly try to improve.

Luma application reel:

Stay tuned for our next feature of Luma employees next month!


  1. Adam Moder Jan 22, 2017 - 08:51 AM

    Nice touch Luma – some great advice and awesome reels!

  2. C.J. May 08, 2017 - 12:31 AM

    Cool feature! I faithfully watch end credits of films and have noticed your company’s name come up often. Would be curious to learn more about slightly more senior staff who have named credits on movies like Deadpool, AntMan, Dr. Strange, etc.


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