British born, LA based James Knight is the Virtual Production Director at AMD, specifically its Radeon Technologies Group, where he has lent his unique vision, experience, and expertise toward the creation of fully immersive virtual reality experiences. Prior to joining AMD, Mr. Knight established a reputation as one of the film industry’s most innovative talents, and his previous efforts include credits as the Performance Capture Specialist for visually transcendent films such as Avatar, I Am Legend, and Hulk, among countless others. He also currently serves on the BAFTA VR Advisory Group.
1. What inspired the creation of AMD?
A number of my colleagues from Avatar’s virtual production and visual effects team expressed a serious interest in working together in the goal of pushing the industry forward through the development of new and innovative practices, particularly with regard to the future use of virtual reality and motion capture.
2. Are there any particular industry trends that pique your interest the most? Why?
The trend toward immersive virtual reality is most interesting and most exciting to me personally, mostly because there are so many possible directions virtual reality might take us. The possibilities are so limitless that it is difficult not to be creatively inspired.
3. What specific traits or qualities do you believe are most necessary for achieving success in your industry?
The ability to think on your feet well enough to adapt to a particular situation or circumstance is especially necessary, but I believe professionals in our industry must be almost obsessively detail-oriented. Additionally, it is absolutely critical to possess a uniquely creative mindset accompanied by the willingness to take calculated risks or to otherwise experiment with new ideas.
4. How do you remain productive while managing your professional responsibilities for a particularly demanding project and/or client?
Going into any new project, I develop a basic plan that is flexible enough to account for all the unpredictable developments that are sure to arise at some point or another when working on a demanding project for a client. My colleagues and I are deeply invested in each project we take on, and it is of the utmost importance that we are productive in a way that ensures we are always able to exceed expectations in every way possible.
5. Prior to assuming your role with AMD, what was the most challenging project you’ve ever worked on?
Avatar was easily the most challenging and most enjoyable project I’ve ever had the opportunity to work on, and it is a project that continues to provide a sense of reward since it is ultimately what made the creation of AMD possible.
And just for fun…
6. What is your favourite quote?
My favourite quote is from Winston Churchill: “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
7. Who would you most like to meet (dead or alive)?
There are so many inspiring figures I’d like to meet, but of them all, Winston Churchill would likely provide the most informative and entertaining conversation.
8. What is the nicest compliment you have ever received?
Quite a bit of my professional work has been the subject of near-universal praise, and I am indeed proud of all the work I have produced with the help of so many talented colleagues.
9. What is your favourite sport?
I enjoy watching and participating in quite a few sports, but football (or soccer, as it is called in the US) is the sport I enjoy most.
10. When was the last time you felt nervous?
I’m not sure if nervous is the most accurate term, but every project my colleagues and I take on induces a state of excitement that includes a healthy mix of anxiety, anticipation, and elation over the unpredictable challenges we are sure to encounter along the way.