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Sheila Wickens - BU graduate creating visual effects on Doctor Who

As Doctor Who fans eagerly await the release of the new series in 2020, BU graduate Sheila Wickens is part of a team busy putting the final touches to the show’s visual effects.

Sheila is a VFX Supervisor at DNEG – one of the world’s leading digital visual effects providers – and has been working on season 12 of the hit BBC show for most of the last year.

The computer visualisation graduate said: “Our work on this series of Doctor Who began with pre-production last December.  We were regularly on set over the course of the 10-month shoot, to ensure that we acquired all the data required for the vfx work, which includes creating digital environments, CG creatures and lots of spaceships! We worked closely with the client team and the show runner, who has the final say on how everything looks. It’s a fantastic show to work on because it has such a dedicated fan base. To see the trailers released and hit 25,000 shares on Twitter within 24 hours is a great feeling. At the same time, it’s a real challenge, because each episode is almost a movie in its own right, with its own theme and environments to create.”

Sheila has been working in the visual effects industry for 20 years, having graduated from BU in the late 90s. Reflecting on her decision to study in Bournemouth, she said: “I originally thought that I would pursue a career in graphic design. I did an art foundation course after finishing school and soon realised that I wanted something that incorporated more of the technical and scientific aspects which I enjoyed. At that time, computer visualisation was a relatively new discipline and had only been running as a degree at Bournemouth for two years. It gave me exactly what I wanted, enabling me to combine my creative and STEM skills.”

As a VFX Supervisor, Sheila co-ordinates teams working on projects for television and film, including concept artists, matte painters, compositors and 3D artists. Her advice to others looking to enter the industry is to keep an open mind. She said: “Sometimes people come out of university with a fully formed idea of the role they want to do. While it’s good to have focus, I would encourage people to take any opportunity to get their foot in the door. It’s a competitive industry and relevant experience, coupled with genuine enthusiasm for the work, counts for a lot. It’s also good to build your networks. The visual effects industry is a small world and I am often working alongside other BU graduates. I am proud of the fact that the university’s alumni are still so sought after.”

Watch the latest Doctor Who trailer to see some of the work produced by the team at DNEG.