Visual effects: I worked on the VFX for Fantastic Beasts

Meet Christian Manz, the Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor who helped bring the magical world of the Fantastic Beasts films to life. Part of our Making the Magic collection.

There are not many jobs where you get to see your work plastered all over a cinema screen and all around the world by millions of people. So you do get a lot of satisfaction out of it.

What does your role involve?

As a visual effects supervisor, I head up the visual effects (VFX) team. There can be a lot of people involved in the creation of VFX for a film – we have around 1,500 people for a film like Fantastic Beasts! I keep across all of those different parties, collaborating with them to make sure we have everything we need to bring our vision to life.

When I get a film script, I break it down and work out with the producers what VFX we need. We agree on a budget and then work with storyboard artists and the director to start visualising it. We also begin collaborating with other facilities we've chosen to work on the film. This pre-production stage is very creative – we're creating what you're hopefully going to pull off in filming and production.

Special effects = "physical effects in front of the camera", visual effects = computer-generated effects.

What have you worked on?

I worked on some of the Harry Potter films and have gone on to work on the first two Fantastic Beasts films and now the third. Outside the Wizarding World, I've worked on a range of projects, from Dr Who to Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang.

On the Fantastic Beasts films, I worked closely with production designer, Stuart Craig, and concept artist, Dermot Power, to work out how to bring Newt Scamander's magical suitcase to life. Newt has to be able to walk down stairs into the suitcase and enter a magical world concealed within so there was a lot to figure out about how to make that a reality!

How did you get your job?

There was no direct path. In studying Illustration at uni, I was exposed to animation and, via my tutors, began to see a possible path into the world of post-production. Getting my job as a runner at Framestore creative studio was the start to my career. Since then, hard work and the willingness to take on challenges has seen me progress to where I am today.

How have you tackled challenges you've faced?

Life in the VFX and film business is all about challenges and setbacks – much like lots of jobs. I tend to overcome them by collaborating with the teams I’m working with, never being afraid to ask questions and working hard.

Fantastic Beasts' Newt Scamander with his magical suitcase.

What's your career highlight?

As a closet Dr Who nerd, designing the Matt Smith title sequence was pretty cool. Also getting the VFX supervisor gig alongside Tim Burke on the first Fantastic Beasts film – having a creative hand in the start of a new franchise was a fun challenge.

Christian's top tips

  • Have a passion for the area of film you want to work in
  • Be prepared to learn every day
  • Work hard
  • Listen lots
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions

I'm a firm believer that you really want to get somewhere, you'll get there.

YearProject
PresentFantastic Beasts 3
2016-2018Fantastic Beasts 1&2
2014Dracula Untold
201347 Ronin
2010Doctor Who
2010Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang
2007-2009Primeval series 1-3
2004-2010Harry Potter 3, 4 & 7

Starting out

So how do you get your foot in the door?

Some qualities Christian thinks interviewers will be looking out for are: enthusiasm, willingness to learn, ability to communicate and a love of film and VFX.

We caught up with Christian's colleague, Brooke, to find out how she got into the industry and what she's learnt so far.

Click to hear Brooke's story
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