Interview with Freelance Motion Designer and Graphics Artist Justin Kohse

Written by Nick Workman January 18, 2012

Justin Kohse is freelance motion designer and graphics artist. He has worked on both smaller personal projects ( stunt unicycle videos) and large scale projects (the television series Stargate Universe). He currently lives in Vancouver, Canada and is working on a large project for Rainmaker Entertainment. Check out the interview and his personal website below.

Justin: Has the time come?

Nick: I am ready if you are.

Justin: Ready.

Nick: First, I would like to thank you for the interview. Second, I would like to ask what your current job is in the film industry.

Justin: Well thanks for wanting to interview me!

Technically I’m a Motion Graphics Artist, but my current title within the film industry is playback or FUI designer.

Nick: And what exactly does that entail?

Justin: FUI stands for “Fake User Interface” I have also heard “Fantasy User Interface.” There are a lot of different titles that get thrown around. I think it’s for that reason that not too many people are working in this field, or even know the job exists

Nick: How long have you been involved in the industry, specifically working as a FUI?

Justin: I started in 2009. I found an ad on craigslist for a “motion designer/ playback artist”

Nick: And the rest is history?

Justin: Turned out the gig was for Stargate Universe [laughs].

Nick: It is a shame that show got cancelled. It was too soon.

Justin: I agree. I honestly was not a huge Stargate fan and I said so in the interview, it was kind of funny.
But the whole Stargate Universe series really changed it up.

Nick: Changed the Stargate series or changed your career?

Justin: Both

Nick: Well, since the series has been cancelled, are you more a free agent or do you work for a company?
And did you find it hard to get another job so soon after the series ended .

Justin: I do work more as a freelance designer. Currently I have been working full time for Rainmaker Entertainment on a movie for the past six months. It’s kind of nice in sense because you get the chance to work on so many different projects in a year but on the other end you never really know what you’ll be doing next.

And yes it did take me a while to figure out what I wanted to do after SGU, I really didn’t think that the show would tank so hard.

Nick: Is that something that attracted you when you were first thinking of going into the film industry, especially on the production side?

Justin: I really didn’t even know what a “playback artist” was. I graduate from the Vancouver Film School as a Motion and Graphic Designer. But when I found out that its people who design screens on space ships, I just had to sign up

Nick: Anything to be part of the sci-fi genre?

Justin: I do love a bit of sci-fi every now and then.

Nick: What was your decision to go to VFS?

Justin: It’s weird to say but do you remember how I use to unicycle?

Nick: Of course.

Justin: That’s the reason

Nick: [Laughs] VFS have a unicycle team?

Justin: [Laughs] I wish!

Nick: So I take it you still unicycle?

Justin: I use to unicycle with a few friends around Shawnigan lake, my hometown. We use to film our crazy adventures and it got me into video editing.

I learned a bit about art and design through my mother, she’s a painter and a graphic designer. Add the unicycle videos to that and I decided to look into something more advanced.

I do still unicycle. I am headed off to London in December for a street competition.

Nick: Congratulations.

Did VFS teach you a lot?

Justin: A ton. They introduced me to a lot

Nick: Or, on the flip side, would you say that school is useless in this industry. That people can teach themselves, especially since of today’s computers programs

Justin: Well in my case it was necessary.

Nick: Did they help beyond the academic side, such as helping getting you connections?

Justin: They did, I took the Digital Design program. So they teach you a lot about networking.
I learned a lot about being a designer and the technical side of things as well

Nick: Do you find, especially since you have stayed in the Vancouver, that you are working with plenty of VFS graduates?

Justin: I do work with a few VFS grads, but a lot have moved away since. Everybody keeps in touch though and we’re always passing each other jobs, it’s all about networking.

Nick: Is there a temptation to leave Vancouver for another city?

Justin: Always. I see so many good jobs all over the world (it’s kind of a huge advantage to working in this industry), but it’s only recently that I have started to realize I’m getting to know the right people here on the west coast. So I don’t want move away…..yet

Nick: Before Stargate, was it hard to break into the industry?

Justin: A little bit, I really had to be motivated. I was working two part time jobs and freelancing in between that back in ’08. So the SGU job changed it all.

Nick: Do you want to advance in the industry beyond what you are doing? Say taking on a team, or creating your own television or film project?

Justin: I really do. The big plan is to open my own studio one day, but I’m really liking this whole playback/ FUI thing and now that I have branched into the film industry and got to know some of the big players I might just see where it takes me. I still freelance on the side all the time, keeps my mind fresh and that way I’m not always bogged down by one massive project.

Nick: What would you recommend to someone who is considering getting into the industry?

Justin: Hang in there, something will come along. It’s all about the people you meet in this industry, these are the people that will think of you when that big project comes down the road.

Nick: Actually, could you say anything about that? That big project you are working on for Rainmaker Entertainment?

Justin: It will be awesome. Not too much else I can say unfortunately. I have to be professional now. [laughs]



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About Nick Workman

Nick Workman: Co-host of Nerd Alert, editor of news, writer of reviews, and lover of all that involves imagination. If he is not on his computer working on We Eat Films or Nerd Alert, you can probably find him in a big comfy chair, sipping a cup of coffee, with his nose deep in a book.

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