MDIA alumna Cyndi Ochs recently had great success working for Marvel Studios as the Visual Effects Producer for Thor: Ragnarok. Prior to this, Ochs had worked on a long list of notable films, including Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and X-Men: The Last Stand, to name just a few. She recently spoke with MDIA about her work on Thor, her time spent at Ohio University, and her advice for current and future students.
MDIA: As Visual Effects Producer for Thor, what did your work entail? Can you describe some of your favorite visual effects in the film?
Ochs: As VFX Producer, I was responsible for the overall budget and schedule for the film’s visual effects shots. I worked closely with VFX Supervisor, Jake Morrison, who steered the creative component of the VFX shots. Together we managed a team of 14 internal crew and 26 global vendors to create the 2600 VFX shots. The most challenging aspect is helping to keep the 2600 balls in the air while allowing the filmmakers the ability to make changes and explore creatively for as long as possible. The Hulk vs Thor arena fight is one of my favorites. We started pre-visualizing that sequence nearly 2 years before the movie came out. It’s a labor of love watching these sequences evolve then waiting to see what the world thinks of the movie.
MDIA: What did you study while attending OU, and how did it impact your career?
Ochs: I set out to be a Graphic Design major in the School of Fine Art. Sadly I was not chosen to go forward in Graphic Design at the end of my sophomore year. I then switched to Informational Graphics as I was lost and felt my options were limited. I was involved with the Athens International Film Festival and helped many of the graduate students on their films in my spare time. As such a couple of the film professors suggested I seek permission to take their classes as electives for my BFA. The proposal was accepted and my love for film grew stronger.
MDIA: Following your graduation from OU, what was post-grad life like? How did your path lead to working on Thor?
Ochs: The summer after graduating college, I packed up my car and drove west to California where I knew I had better chances to find work in film. After about 2 months a small animatronic shop gave me a chance and hired me as a Production Assistant. I started out getting coffee and making daily runs for the company. After a month, I was moved into the studio to help with mold making and finishing. I was using skills I learned at OU! After 2 years in animatronics I learned of Visual Effects and knew it was going to be the future. I then took a step back and started as a PA again getting coffee and doing runs for Sony Pictures Imageworks. I knew I had found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and have kept at it ever since with a lot of hard work and persistence.
MDIA: What advice would you give to those aspiring to be visual effects producers, or those desiring careers in media in general?
Ochs: What advice would you give to those aspiring to be visual effects producers, or those desiring careers in media in general? Be prepared to stay persistent and be willing to start in any role. Once you land what will most likely be an assistant role… absorb like a sponge. Show good work ethic and a willingness to help with whatever is needed. Make people want to work with you again… you’re only as good as your last job and everyone in the industry talks.
MDIA: What projects are you working on now?
Ochs: I’m currently working on the Untitled Spider-Man Homecoming Sequel. We are currently on a month-long Director’s Location scout of London, UK, Prague, Italy, Spain and New York. In mid-March, we will go back to film in all of those locations until end of October. We will then return to LA for post-production until the film releases in July of next year.
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