Bueno’s journey as a lighting and compositing artist has taken her from Mexico to London, Canada to now Los Angeles. She currently works at DreamWorks Feature Animation and is also a growing, active member of the Animation Guild, serving on the Communications Committee. Here, she talks about both her professional and personal work.
Tell us about your professional journey.
It all started in Mexico. During my first semester at college, a teacher saw potential and offered me a position as a Director’s Assistant at the studio where he worked. I took advantage of the opportunity and learned from all the artists at the studio, then began helping out as a 3D generalist. I quickly found out that lighting and compositing were my passion and I decided to specialize in that area. For six years, I worked in Mexico at different advertising studios and on one feature film. Soon after finishing school, I moved to London for six months to study compositing for VFX. While there, I worked on various independent short films. This helped me get a job in Canada at Rainmaker, where I worked on a made-for-TV feature project. Shortly after finishing the project at Rainmaker, I got an opportunity at Walt Disney Animation Studios as a lighting apprentice, where I worked on Zootopia. For the past three years, I’ve worked for DreamWorks on exciting projects such as Trolls, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, and many others.
How did you adapt to the working culture in the U.S.?
Fortunately, it wasn’t hard to adapt. I was born and raised in border cities so the city culture is similar. Studios are more experienced, organized and better structured in the U.S. However, one of the biggest challenges of working in a different country is the language, but I have been lucky to be surrounded by a lot of understanding international and local artists
You are in a male dominated field. What’s your advice to other women who want to purse a career in CG?
Be patient and strong, never give up, and be the best artist you can be, always. It is a challenging industry anywhere in the world. Many of us have experienced situations that demotivate us, and sometimes we need to prove to ourselves more often than our male colleagues. Fortunately things are changing, and I’m hoping it will be easier for future generations to find equality. The desire for change is in all of us, we just need to make it happen.
Tell us about Optical Forest and your light painting?
The Optical Forest is a collection of photographs that explores light using handmade filters and in-camera effects, focusing mainly on diffraction. It started as one of those “mini projects” that fortunately has become a bigger one. In 2017, my feature work slowed down a little bit, so in my spare time I started to photograph light diffraction as a science reference. What started as just snaps evolved into something more artistic and creative. It has been really fun to learn how to paint with light and discover different kinds of diffracted lighting effects. I’m excited to see how this work evolves and improves over time.