Hello. I’m Bryan Ray, a visual effects artist at Muse VFX in Hollywood, California. The primary purpose of this site, at the moment, is to offer advice and guidance to artists interested in or just entering the field of visual effects compositing. I also offer some custom tools and insights into building your own extensions (macros, fuses and scripts) for Blackmagic Fusion. And on rare occasions, I post an article about my general philosophy, a life hack, or financial wellness.

If you should encounter me out in the wilds of the Internet, I may be using the alias Midgardsormr, although it’s getting harder and harder to monopolize that identity thanks to Square Enix (I was there first, dangit!) I am one of the voices of the Geek at Arms and Woolheads podcasts and the web administrator for the Christian Gamers Guild.

And in the unlikely event that you’re interested in finding me elsewhere, I have been an occasional guest on the City on a Hill podcast:
The Unknown Shores, part 1
The Unknown Shores, part 2
The Unknown Shores, part 3
The World’s Largest Grocery Store, part 1
The World’s Largest Grocery Store, part 2
A Very Tiny Trip to the World’s Largest Grocery Store
How Many Frag Grenades Did You Say I Have? part 1
How Many Frag Grenades Did You Say I Have? part 2
A New Beginning, an audio drama
MtGDnD, episode 1
MtGDnD, episode 2
Lake Geneva ’75, part 1
Lake Geneva ’75, part 2

And also Retro Rewind. Rather than linking to individual episodes, here’s my profile on their page. So far, I’ve reviewed The Fifth Element, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Cowboy Bebop.

And finally, the Min/Max Podcast episode VFX Sharks vs VFX Jets


  1. hey! i dont know if its the right place to ask, but i was wondering if you still support multimerge, feels like its behaving weirdly lately. might be just me tho =/

    youtube: wR7uEfqhAhs

    multimerge vs regular merge.

    1. It isn’t DoD-aware, nor does it concatenate Transforms. Those things are on the planned improvements list, but I have no idea when or if I’ll ever get around to making an update.

      In the meantime, you can get the behavior you expect if you crop your foreground layer(s) to the same dimensions as the background. It was designed to quickly merge CG passes, which will usually all be the same size, so I never put any thought into what might happen if you give it images with two different sizes.

      Two better places to ask questions about it, though, would be the development thread at We Suck Less:

      Or the MultiMerge page on this very blog:

  2. Hi 🙂
    My name is Madison and I am a student looking for advice from someone with knowledge and experience in the Visual Effects Industry.
    I have a strong passion for sculpture and character design, and really want to move into 3d modeling and visual effects as a career. I just don’t know what the right path is to take.
    I don’t want to default to a four year degree in hopes that it alone will help me, but I don’t know what exactly I should be investing myself in otherwise.
    I was hoping you would have some insight for a young student like me; on what you did to become who you are today, and what led you here, and if you would do anything differently.

    Thank you so much for your time Bryan, really any insight would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Madison! First off, when a VFX house is evaluating a candidate, the reel/portfolio is the most important thing they consider. The kind of schooling you have is quite low in their priorities. I’ve known many artists with no higher education, or with degrees in completely unrelated fields. I know an even larger number of people with CG degrees that are now financial advisors or real estate agents. So choose your path based on what works for you personally rather than what anyone (especially a college recruiter) tells you is necessary.

      When I first went to college, I was a lousy student. High school had been very easy for me, and that had made me undisciplined. So I flunked out on my first attempt. Once I had matured a bit, I buckled down and got my Associate’s degree quickly. With that in hand, I enrolled in the Art Institute of Colorado (which no longer exists, having been shut down a few years ago). I’d wanted to go to the Savanna College of Art and Design (SCAD), but my wife (who wanted to study graphic design) did not want to live in Atlanta. Since my existing degree covered most of the general education courses, I wound up taking only studio classes for two years. This was grueling, as art classes require at least twice the effort of most other courses. At the end of the program, my portfolio wasn’t anything to be terribly proud of, but it was complete.

      The curriculum was of middling value, and the instructors at the Art Institute varied widely in their usefulness. A few were real experts in their areas that provided good information, but only a couple were also sufficiently interested in their students’ success. And a handful were just worthless (like the one who answered questions with “Google it.” I tried my hardest to get that guy fired.) In considering my classmates, it is clear that we got out of the program what we put into it. Those who directed their own study and spent a lot of energy became good artists. Those who just wanted information served to them may have gotten good grades and graduated, but I don’t think they were employable in the end. I graduated along with perhaps a dozen other visual effects and animation students. Of those, four are still in media-related careers, but I’m the only one still in CG (although to be fair, I’m now working on the software development side instead of production, so maybe I don’t count, either!) I can’t say whether other schools have more or less value in that regard, but I think it’s safe to say that there was little inherent good in mine.

      After completing my degree, I moved immediately to Los Angeles and looked for either an entry-level job or an internship. I was accepted into Zoic Studios’ internship program (they have a very good one, though it’s unpaid) and spent three months there splitting my time between learning how the studio and its artists worked and serving as a runner—mostly driving around town delivering hard drives, emptying trash bins, and helping the facilities manager go grocery shopping. At the end of the internship, Zoic hired me for a few short-term rotoscoping jobs, which helped me get some actual production shots onto my reel. And that, in turn, helped me get more short gigs as a rotoscoper until I wound up at a company called Blue Hemisphere, a startup that thought they had technology that could automatically convert movies into stereoscopic 3D. They didn’t, but it didn’t stop them from quickly promoting me to “Director of Technology” and spending 8 months burning money. I didn’t care much for either the company nor its owners, but it did afford me the opportunity to learn a lot about stereo conversion and pipeline, which solidly established me in my career. EdenFX hired me as a stereo conversion specialist for a big project, and when that was done, they kept me on as a 2d generalist.

      That company closed soon after, but the senior producer and all the artists just rebranded as Muse VFX and continued doing the same work for the same clients, except they didn’t have to split the profits with a parent company any more. I came along for the ride since I already knew the work and they trusted me. Since it was a brand new company with limited clientele and a variable income stream, when a hiatus came along they had to lay people off. I’d seen it coming a few weeks in advance, though, so whenever I’d had any free time I had been writing scripts and automation tools. That paid off in spades. Instead of laying me off, they kept me around to develop the pipeline during the downtime.

      As for what I might do differently, it’s hard to say. I think I should have looked for opportunities outside of Muse sooner than I did. It was a very comfortable and stable job, but my salary didn’t rise as quickly as it might have if I’d been braver, and my skills grew relatively slowly since I was always around the same people for almost 10 years. On the other hand, I might have burnt out if I’d been subjected to the kind of jobs I’ve heard about from colleagues. I’m quite happy that 60 hour weeks were the exception rather than the rule, and I’ve never had a breakdown. As for my schooling, I did need the structure of a college program in order to be successful. I’m too much of a procrastinator to have gotten anything done with independent study. If I’d tried to go that route, I’m pretty sure I’d have wound up as a mid-level broadcast engineer in Kansas.

      I hope that’s helpful!

      1. Wow – that was quite an answer…! I’m very impressed. Thanks for taking the time to write all that down!

        Just a quick note of appreciation by a humble post production instructor from Berlin, Germany (who stumbled onto your page by chance when looking for an answer to the issue of noise introduced by the DaVinci Fusion Delta Keyer.)

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