Interview with Sky Kovac – Previs / Postvis / Animator

Interview with Sky Kovac – Previs / Postvis / Animator

Meet Sky Kovac, a Previs, Postvis and Animator. Sky has worked on films like “Blue Beetle,” “Murder Mystery 2,” and “TMNT: Mutant Mayhem.” to name a few.


Let’s find out more about Sky’s amazing career and how he makes movies even more exciting with his art.

What motivated you to delve into the world of animation and VFX?


Ever since I was a little kid I have been passionate about art. I was drawing a lot and watching a lot of cartoons, my favorites were Robin Hood and The Sword In The Stone. It wasn’t until I saw the first Toy Story in 1995 that I knew I wanted to be an animator. Back then I didn’t know what the job was of course but I knew I wanted to make movies like that.
The movie creates a different world than our own and allows people the opportunity to escape from our own world for just a couple of hours and provides us inspiration. I wanted to be able to create that inspiration for other people like it was given to me.

Reflecting on your experience in both live-action and animated film projects, could you share which of these experiences resonated with you the most and why?


Working on Previs for live action was a lot of fun because you get to see how the film is going to look and you also get to put your own little spin on things which might make it into the film.
Postvis was less fun for me but still exciting. Tracking shots then lining up the shots in Maya with CG assets with the original plates was really cool. I would also remove the backgrounds and replace it with those CG assets and then color match to make it look like it belongs there.
But my favorite was working on a feature animated film. That is where I truly want to be. I love working in stylized animation because it brings out the kid in me. It doesn’t feel like work, it’s more like I get to play around all day.

Can you describe your experience while working on ‘TMNT: Mutant Mayhem’ in comparison to your other projects, and what valuable lessons did you gain from your involvement in this particular production?


TMNT Mutant Mayhem was so much fun to work on. We worked alongside the super talented Paramount Pictures team. This was my favorite project that I worked on so far because it was a feature animation film. Even though I was just in previs and not in polish animation I still had a blast. I got to animate on characters I grew up watching on tv!
I learned how to adapt to a new pipeline and system software since Paramount was using linux at the time. The first week was learning the linux system and catching up on the project. I think the biggest thing I took away from that project is to keep up to date on the project, watch the progress reel and read all the documentation, including the storyboards.
Ask questions about the characters like what is their backstory, personality, drive, emotional state from shot to shot. Most importantly check the shots before and after your shot so you understand the situation and maintain continuity.

What key skill sets are essential for individuals aspiring to pursue a career as a Previs artist?


For previs you need to know the following skills:
Learn about cameras, differences from 17mm to 250mm and when to use them, different angles and camera shots, such as wide angle to close up, dutch angle, high angle, low angle. When should you use each shot? There is so much to learn about cameras but it is essential. Start animating the camera as soon as you can, at first it is terrifying, but after you start animating the camera it becomes an essential part of animation and adds so much to your portfolio.
Don’t worry about polishing if you are pursuing a career in previs. Yes, you should have one or two shots in your portfolio that are polished so studios can see that you can polish if needed. Sometimes the Director or VFX Supervisor wants to see a polished version of the shot.
You need to understand the basics of lighting and vfx cards. Most of the time the vfx cards are already created in a library for you to choose from so you can add bullets, sparks, smoke, fire, etc. Just download some stuff online and test it in a simple shot like a shootout.

Could you describe the responsibilities and contributions of a Postvis artist, and provide insights into some of the projects you’ve been involved with in this role?


With postvis you need to be a jack of all trades. Most of the time at my company Day For Nite they will have the shots broken up so you work on tracking, lining up the shot in maya, implementing CG assets, possible animation, exporting to after effects, removing the background, green screen or blue screen, rotoscoping, adding your background or animation to the scene, color matching, adding blur, adding grain to match the original plates, matching the lighting.
So many things go into postvis and you need to know it all. Start with watching videos, then either record your own video or take an original plate from online and practice while following along to a tutorial.
On some projects we had to add a lot of fog so you could barely see the actors in the original plate to make it feel more eerie and dangerous. But the fog had to look believable and there were many layers so it was a challenge to make it feel right. Other times you just needed to add a CG character to the original plates like TinkerBell from Peter Pan and Wendy. Or you might have to work on background replacement using the dreaded rotoscope, but don’t worry! Rotoscoping has been revolutionized and many companies use special tools like rotopaint or something similar. Be sure to ask a colleague before you spend 6 hours roto-ing half your shot just to be told there’s a better way. (Yes, this happened to me!)

Can you discuss your role in the production of ‘Blue Beetle’ and highlight some of the memorable shots or scenes you were directly involved with in the film?


In Blue Beetle I was a postvis artist. I worked on the fight scene with Carapax in what appeared to be a nuclear reactor. I remember the complexity of the energy orb from the collision of the two energy beams. I also worked on a shot where BB throws his energy discs at Carapax and it went from right side up to upside down and followed the discs until they made contact with Carapax. That was a fun shot to work on.

What are your insights on the growing use of AI in the film industry, and what steps do you recommend individuals take to prepare themselves for a future that’s increasingly intertwined with AI?


AI will never replace true artists. AI can produce art, that is true enough, but there are always flaws. For instance, I recently saw an AI generated picture of what was supposed to be Dwayne Johnson and Emma Stone. It resembles Dwane Johnson but looks nothing like Emma Stone, lastly, Dwayne Johnson had three arms.
In all seriousness, AI is supposed to be used as a tool for artists to make their process easier. To get through the tasks that take up too much of our time that can be fixed with a simple tool. AI should never be used to replace artists, voice actors, writers, or live action actors.

What is your perspective on the current strikes by actors and writers in the industry, and what strategies do you believe the VFX and animation community can employ to come together and navigate these challenging times effectively?


That is a tricky question where a lot of politics take place. My personal beliefs are that the executives need to take into consideration how different today’s media is from thirty years ago. Residuals are how writers make the most of their money and with streaming they hardly get any compared to television standards so they are actually making less than they were back then. Plus the actors that are on strike are the B and C list actors that are trying to get their start in Hollywood. They are usually working at least two jobs and are living paycheck to paycheck.
I have heard a lot of talk about the VFX community unionizing to protect us in the future but what is to stop the studios from exclusively using artists from other countries to spare themselves the conflict?

What guidance would you offer to the younger generation of artists who are enthusiastic about pursuing a career in the dynamic fields of animation and VFX?


I would say, keep trying. Animate or experiment in the software daily. Watch tutorials and follow along. Try to find a free version of whatever software you think is too expensive. For instance, maya has student versions and if that has expired, they also have an indie version for around $300 a year. There is no reason to buy the commercial version which is over a thousand dollars.
If you are bad at something, keep doing it until you are good at it. Find yourself a mentor or ask for feedback on your work from anyone that can look at it. And most importantly, surround yourself with people in your field, network until you can’t find anyone you haven’t connected with and always, always help those around you, you have no idea where your next opportunity will be coming from.

Thank you Sky Kovac for sharing your experience with our readers. 


You can get in touch with Sky on the following links: 





About the author

  • Mohammad Khalikh

    Based in India. Khalikh is a Previs and Cinematic Designer with over 6 years of experience in the Indian Film Industry. His passion for films and animation led him to the city of dreams, Mumbai, and he found the world of filmmaking. He loves to share knowledge and he believes what J.M. Cornwell has rightly said "“Knowledge is wasted when it isn't shared.”

Post a Comment