Careers: VFX artist Lautaro Monardo
Lautaro Monardo
January 12, 2024

Careers: VFX artist Lautaro Monardo

I was born in Argentina, and when I was little, my parents took my sister and I to the cinema quite often. I remember it being one of my favorite things to do, along with going to the video-rental store and picking a movie to watch with the family. 

My earliest memory of visual effects was while watching E.T. with my mom. The iconic scene where the bike flies in front of the moon — I was in such awe, and I couldn’t wrap my head around how they achieved such a shot. My mom tried to explain that it was a special effect, and from there I fell in love with that magic that visual and special effects can create. From a young age I was very interested in technology, computers, video games and almost everything multimedia. However, my other passion would be the one that took me to where I am today. 

I started playing tennis when I was five years old, and when I was around 12, I told my parents I wanted to get an athletic scholarship and go to college in the US. In 2016, I packed my bags from Argentina to play college tennis in America. After three semesters at Kansas Community College, SCAD offered a full ride. Despite art school's shift from tennis, it was an incredible chance to shape my future. 

Moving to Atlanta, I embarked on a visual effects major. As a student-athlete, life was challenging yet enlightening, instilling lessons for a lifetime. The pandemic hit during my senior year in 2020, stopping extracurriculars and shifting classes online. Opting to stay in the US due to instability, I faced the challenge of finding purpose without tennis. In a stroke of luck, having left VFX 101, the entry-level class, for my senior year, I found a unique opportunity. 

Ester, an industry alum, connected me with Mod Creations ( in Atlanta, leading to a swift job offer. With the call lasting under a minute, I was thrown into the industry, navigating its challenges and embracing a new-found passion for visual effects.

The first day at the studio, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew I wanted to be a compositor, but my Nuke experience was close to null. Gratefully, Brad, a fellow SCAD alum, served as my mentor, teaching me almost everything I needed to know. Kicking off with a Drake music video - Laugh Now, Cry Later - I began from scratch, spending endless hours rotoscoping and aiding senior artists, primarily Brad. My aim? Meticulously performing simple tasks, and focusing on being an asset, rather than a liability. Prioritizing quality over speed, this initial project immersed me in the unfamiliar realm of invisible VFX, an eye-opener given the surprising extent of hidden effects in a major music video. 

Despite the exhaustive hours and nights, the overwhelmingly-positive audience response to the video made it all worthwhile. Every artist seeks pride in their work, and such good reception turns those long nights into meaningful accomplishments. 

We continued doing music videos with the biggest artists. In 2020, we did Franchise by Travis Scott, Positions by Ariana Grande and Back to the Streets by Saweetie. We did a political commercial too, as it was an election year, and that was definitely an interesting project. We also did some commercials for high fashion brands, such as Yves Saint Laurent and the Victoria Beckham line for Reebok, and even graphics for DMX’s funeral. During this first year, I tried to absorb as much as possible from my fellow artists, and slowly started to gain some trust from our supervisor, Les. He is quite a perfectionist, and getting him to approve my shots took quite some time. 

I started with rotoscoping, then paint-outs and clean-ups during my first year. In my second year at Mod Creations, we got some really big projects that would test all of us. We had done some jobs with The Weeknd, and in 2021, he was performing for the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show. We were chosen to help with the first minute of the show, where it starts with a video and then transitions to the live performance. This was a huge responsibility because we knew that the whole country - and the world - would be watching. 

This project also had many parties involved, like the NFL, Pepsi, directors and the artist himself. It was a very different project and had an unmovable deadline. On top of this, we had two commercials with The Weeknd promoting the Halftime Show. It was the most difficult project I’ve done while working at the studio, but watching it live with the other 96.4 million viewers was an indescribable feeling. We were extremely proud of the work we were able to produce in our small studio. 

That same year, we did the music video for a song called Way 2 Sexy by Drake, Future and Young Thug. This was my favorite project because it paid tribute to other music videos by the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince and Boys II Men. It was quite a smooth project, where we had some creative freedom, and I was able to do a full comp by myself. What I liked about this project is that it didn’t take itself very seriously. It had many comedic aspects to it that are quite rare in the genre. The response was very positive, to the point where people stated that the video changed their opinion about the song. 

Some of the more recent projects we worked on are Shivers by Ed Sheeran, Let Somebody Go by Coldplay and Selena Gomez, Bam Bam by Camila Cabello and Ed Sheeran, Jump by Ciara, and three Acura commercials featuring Vince Staples. We’ve also been busy with a huge project that pushed me to do some of my best work. I am very excited about it. 

Being a VFX artist in the music video industry has been a wild ride. The perk of short videos means we can really dive into the details, tweak stuff and check everything thoroughly. However, the deadlines are tight, and it means pulling some seriously long hours. The upside is we don't get stuck with the same frames for months. There's always something new. 

Seeing our work out there just weeks after sweating over it is pretty rewarding. But, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Recognition is a bit of an issue. Artists often shy away from giving credit for VFX work, while the film industry does a much better job at it. Plus, some artists don't get how VFX works, so meeting their demands can be a real puzzle. It takes time, and what might seem like a small tweak can turn into a week's worth of work. Handling communication with big stars is a whole art on its own. I have worked for some of my personal favorite artists that I never thought would be possible, and for that I’m very proud. There is much more to learn, and my journey is just getting started.