/News 19.11.21


When Industrial Light & Magic’s Jedi Academy launched in Sydney early this year, aspiring artist Natasha Perrett was one of the very first people to join its ranks. Almost a year later, Natasha is still busy at the Sydney studio, working as a Junior Roto/Paint artist on shows. We talked to her about her Jedi Academy experience and what the last year has taught her.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born and grew up in Sydney, and have had an interest in filmmaking and movies since the age of 8. At 14, my interest in films developed into a love for visual effects as I was fascinated by how they were done in movies and the process involved in making something look so realistic.

After graduating high school I attended the Academy of Information Technology to study filmmaking, and soon after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, ILM’s Sydney studio was opening up for their first Jedi Academy.

What is your role at ILM?

At ILM, I am a Junior Roto and Paint Artist. In this role, I am responsible for either removing objects or rigging from a shot, doing plate reconstruction, or rotoscoping characters or sets, which will be passed onto a compositor to use later, to integrate easier with CG elements. An example of the kind of paintwork we do is, if an actor is doing a stunt on wires, we’d be responsible for removing the wires.

What inspired you to get into VFX?

I’ve always loved the process of filmmaking growing up and knew I wanted to pursue a career in VFX as it was my main passion and favourite pastime during school. I also loved seeing the VFX breakdowns online and wanted to have a hand in creating them myself.

How did you get in the door at ILM?

During my time at university, I was building my skills and portfolio up and preparing myself for the industry. Additionally, I’d made a road map for my career goals so I knew what I was working towards, and ILM was always my end goal, so when I heard about this opportunity with the Jedi Academy, I jumped for it.

How was the Jedi Academy training structured?

The Jedi Academy was structured in a way that prepared us for transitioning onto shows after the 8 weeks of training. This included getting briefs of what the ‘client’ wants for the shot, getting feedback from our supervisor, hitting targeted deadlines and reviewing our shots in dailies in front of the group.

Can you sum up your Jedi Academy experience in 3 words?

Invaluable. Encouraging. Collaborative. 

What, in your opinion, makes ILM special?

The legacy and the culture of ILM are what makes it so special to be part of. ILM has always been the pioneer in visual effects and is continuing to pave the way with new technologies such as Stagecraft, and it’s incredible to be part of it.

ILM Jedi Academy Minister Visit. Photo credit: Stephen Kadlec

What is the work culture like at ILM?

I feel like the culture at ILM is one of the best things about working here. When starting in the Jedi Academy, everyone we met was so welcoming and willing to help if we had any questions, and that’s continued through my time here. When working for ILM, you really feel like you’re part of a team and everyone is here to help each other which is an amazing quality in the workplace.

What excites you the most about the VFX industry?

How quickly new technologies are being created to push the limits of visual effects and filmmaking.

What is your favourite part of your job?

Every shot is a new challenge and has something to learn from, it’s never the same thing twice, which keeps the job exciting.

Your proudest career moment?

My proudest career moments so far are getting into ILM and working for a studio that I really admire, as well as during my first year at university winning an award for Best Editing on my short film animation.

Your biggest passion outside work?

My two biggest passions outside of work are rowing and photography. I did competitive rowing during high school and loved the camaraderie of the sport, and I really enjoy being behind the camera and finding beauty in my surroundings.

Natasha Perrett Photography

Who has been your biggest mentor/inspiration during your time at ILM?

Firstly, I’d say our Paint & Roto Supervisor Naren Naidoo is a great mentor. He taught us a lot of new skills and prepared us for tackling the harder shots we’ll encounter on the job, as well as encouraged us to explore our potential in this career. Recently, we’ve also had Katie Morris move from the San Francisco studio to Sydney, and it’s been amazing being on the receiving end of her well of experiences and her friendly approach to providing feedback. I already feel like I’ve learned so much from her.

Best practical advice you can give to someone who wants to become a Roto/Paint Artist?

Go out and use and develop your skills to any piece of footage you can find, don’t be afraid to experiment with new techniques or software. The world is your canvas.

Any last advice you want to give to other young (wo)men who are considering entering the world of VFX?

To not only the young women who want to get into VFX, but any young person wanting to enter the world of VFX, follow your passion. Find what it is about this industry that you love and just go for it!

About the Jedi Academy

The Jedi Academy is a unified, global, junior talent program for Industrial Light & Magic and Lucasfilm that focuses on developing the next generation of local and diverse visual effects talent.

Participants gain valuable experience through training and mentorship using practical real-world examples of production methodology at ILM. The program consists of internally delivered, discipline-specific, proprietary training so that a cohort of junior talent can be prepared for production work by the time they conclude the program.

ILM is committed to improving the diversity of all their teams. Training programs like the Jedi Academy help ILM provide opportunities for a broad range of applicants at the start of their careers.

The ILM’s Sydney studio’s next Jedi Academy will launch in January 2022 and it focuses on animation. For more information about the Jedi Academy, click here.

Head over to ILM’s YouTube channel to see their skills in action!


Luke Hetherington
Executive in Charge, Singapore & Sydney ILM Studios
[email protected]