Visual Effects Instructor Seth Lickiss Discusses the DAVE School experience and How it Prepared Him for the Visual Effects Industry

Visual Effects Instructor Seth Lickiss has truly come full circle with his experience at The DAVE School. Seth is a 2008 Visual Effects Graduate and has over 85 industry projects under his belt from over the years. Seth brings vast industry knowledge and experience and is now teaching our students to take the torch. We sat down with him to ask him about what he learned during his time here and in the Visual Effects industry, and what it feels like being back in his old stomping grounds.

Why did you choose to attend The DAVE School as a student? 

I’ve always been interested in working with movies and effects. I was in the Orlando area after leaving my last school and I reached out to a family friend who worked in Austin on video games looking for good colleges to go to. He had heard I was in Orlando and recommended the DAVE School saying that the junior artists he had seen come out of there were pretty good. I arranged a tour and it was love at first sight for me. I submitted my application right after the tour.

What did you learn that stuck with you the most throughout your career?

To be honest color correction techniques, tools and programs may upgrade and get better over the years but those setups pretty much are the same from when I first went to DAVE until now. The fundamentals are a lot more important than I expected as a student.

What is your favorite memory from your time as a student at The DAVE School?

Getting to be on set with Kerry Ellis to film our class's final project: Defying Gravity. While the video itself didn't turn out exactly as we hoped it was great to be on the set and working with her. She was very friendly and it was fun to be there and see it all filmed.

What was your first job after completing your program?

I started working as a compositor at Digital Domain Florida when they opened up a studio in Port St. Lucie.

What key takeaway have you taken away from your career in Visual Effects and working in the industry?

How many talented and creative people it really takes to make these movies and shows happen. It’s one thing to see the giant list of names in the credits and another to be sitting in the studio with hundreds of people all working together to make a project happen and knowing that there are hundreds if not thousands more in other studios working on it at the same time.

How many projects have you worked on over the course of your career?

I have worked on 85 projects so far over the course of my career. Notable projects include The Mandalorian, Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker, Spider-Man: Far from Home, Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, and many more.

What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on to date?

That’s like trying to pick a favorite child! My all-time favorite projects to work on to date were Avenger’s Infinity War and Endgame. My favorite movie I’ve worked on that I loved watching after the fact was Mad Max Fury Road.

Can you provide an example of a shot you’ve worked on and what your responsibilities were for that particular shot?

Well, one of my recent favorites was while I was working on Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 6 (the one on the prison ship). I had the shot where Mando is sneaking up behind Bill Burr and the lights are flashing and he’s disappearing and reappearing at different flashes. When they filmed it they just had him walking normally down the hallway while the lights were going off. I got notes from the director telling me essentially “On this flash, he’s gone, on this flash he’s here, at this flash he’s gone again” and I had to edit out around 5ish seconds worth of time and rebuild the hallway behind Bill Burr. Once I had that, I just replaced Mando to where the director wanted him to be each flash to finish the shot.

Now you’ve come full circle and are teaching Visual Effects at The DAVE School. What is your favorite thing about teaching?

Getting to see that spark of clarity in a student when a concept or a lesson really clicks for them is one of my favorite things about teaching. Coming into this industry a lot of students have great ideas but don’t necessarily know how to make those ideas happen. Once they start to really understand different tools or techniques, it’s so much fun to see that creativity and their ideas start to come to life.

What would you say to someone who is considering The DAVE School as their education institution?

I would say that this is not always an easy industry to work in, it’s something you get into for the love of the game more than anything else. However, if your passion is in movies and games like it is for me, then it is extremely satisfying and worth it to put in the work and effort you need to be successful. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I would like to add that it’s very exciting for me to be back at DAVE School and working to train the next generation of VFX artists going into the industry. A lot of the changes we’re making and renovations we’re doing here are going to be awesome so stay tuned!

Visual Effects Diploma Program

Visual Effects (VFX) is the essence of a movie or TV show once the filming is complete, the explosions, the falling helicopters, fabulous visual effects, or the transformation from 21st century New York into 1920’s New York. Scenes that are too hard or dangerous to film, such as smoke, water, and oceans, or worlds and environments come to life through Visual Effects.

The DAVE School Visual Effects Diploma program spans 12-months and offers scheduled starts each Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Its uniquely flexible, hybrid format combines nine months of live, online classes with three months of in-person learning here at our Orlando, Florida campus. Students get to refine their visual effects skills in an immersive combination of project-based workflows and applied studio skills, preparing them for their advancement into the Visual Effects workplace.

About The DAVE School

The DAVE School was founded on June 8, 2000 by two Industry executives looking to create #CareerReady artists with a practical animation school. Today, The DAVE School offers specialized training in Visual Effects and Game Production with extensive practice under industry level supervision.

Located on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida®, The DAVE School has an 18,000 square foot facility that includes learning and interactive labs, a dedicated Virtual and Real-Time production stage, a Vicon motion capture system, 3D printing and VR/AR labs and secure student access 7 days a week.

NUC University (NUC) is an accredited institution and a member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) NUC’s NUC University – IBC Technical Division (NUC-IBC), NUC University – Florida Technical College (NUC-FTC), and The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School) is included in this accreditation. NUC’s accreditation status is Accreditation Reaffirmed. The Commission’s most recent action on the institution’s accreditation status on 2019 was to reaffirm accreditation. MSCHE is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)