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Tampere, Finland — a place to put down roots

Nowadays Amin Bakht is a real Tampere person. He loves the city and works in a Tampere-based VFX production house Troll VFX. That gave him the opportunity to leave his mark in the epic film The Unknown Soldier celebrating the centenary of Finnish independence.

To meet Lighting Artist Amin Bakht, you need to find your way into the old red brick industrial heart of Tampere. The Troll VFX Tampere office is in the Finlayson area which once housed the largest cotton mill in Finland and is now populated with offices and restaurants, cinemas and museums.

‘We quite love our building and its historical significance. It is also a cozy place and everything you need is close,‘ Amin explains.

Troll VFX is a Tampere-based VFX production house creating digital special effects and animations for advertisements, corporate videos and film. Especially ads have kept Amin and his coworkers busy towards the end of the year.

‘There is the Black Friday and Christmas time is coming, so this is a season with a lot of work, good and busy,‘ Amin tells.

Amin Bakht, a real Tampere person.

Amin has had quite a nomadic life: born in a Pakistani family in Tehran, then lived in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Dubai, Helsinki… and in all of them he always felt that he was there somehow temporarily. Until he came to Tampere.

‘It clicked for me, and for my wife as well. We immediately felt that this is a nice city, we want to put down roots and grow a family here. So my son was born in Tampere,‘ Amin says.

When asked, what makes Tampere so comfortable, here is what Amin has to say: It is a safe environment, people are nice, facilities are good, and there is an abundance of nature all around. It is the small things in the daily life that make you feel at home, like the bus drivers he observed on his way to and from work at the very beginning of his life in Tampere.

‘Bus drivers greeted people who entered the bus. That’s really nice, somebody smiles and greets you first thing in the morning!‘

Sometimes it is a bigger thing that makes you feel welcome. Amin was happy to receive a letter from the City of Tampere informing that he had the right to vote in the upcoming municipal elections. He says it made him feel he is part of the community–to have the right to vote and the fact that the City encouraged him to do so.

‘Did I vote? Yes, of course I did.‘

Troll VFX is ultimately the reason why Amin came to Tampere. He had known about the company for a long time and followed what it did with great interest. Amin has a background in computer sciences. He started to do 3D as a hobby, educated himself into it and made it his job around year 2006.

Amin has been employed by Troll VFX since October 2015 and thinks that the company is quite an unique one and a perfect fit for him. It is the combination of creative freedom and enjoying work, shared interests and matching sense of humor.

‘And food, it is important. We scout out for good restaurants and try them together on our lunch breaks,‘ Amin says.

"Copyright: Stink"
Click for Video: Daloc the Robot is Amin’s favorite project so far. He says it was quite a challenge for him and he was trusted with more responsibilities during this project, which allowed him to grow as an artist and as an individual. Also, who doesn't love giant robots and explosions! (Copyright: Stink.)

The film Unknown Soldier is one of the recent big projects in Troll VFX. It is the latest filmatisation of a novel that has been central for the Finnish national identity. Troll VFX was involved in the film project for several years, starting with providing assistance with film design and shooting, and ending with creating the actual effects.

As a lighting artist Amin has left his mark in the film. You probably have to be his colleague to point out what he’s done exactly. Lighting artist deals with the texture of things and how it reacts to light in 3D. For Amin, the Unknown Soldier was a really important project, and he likes the new film very much.

‘Usually war movies glorify war but this one doesn’t. When you watch The Unknown Soldier you can really feel and understand the pain and the chaos that the soldiers are going through,‘ Amin says.

When Amin was working on the film effects of The Unknown Soldier, he tried to save the magic until the premiere: he worked on certain scenes but tried not to piece the film together too much. He says seeing the entire movie for the first time and meeting all its makers was a great experience, and an emotional ride, as well.

‘And think that moving to Tampere gave me the chance to be part of something this big!‘

Although it is the busy season for a VFX production house, it’s not all work for Amin and his coworkers. After the interview Amin heads for a movie night with the others: they gather at someone’s house, they’ll have pizza, a couple of movies (this time it’s Re-Animator and The Lawnmower Man) and lots of fun. Although not too late, next day is a working day again.

Another time they might go to Rauhaniemi for the public sauna and ice-swimming (avanto). Amin admits that he was sceptical about the idea of sauna and dipping into the icy lake–until he tried it. Now it is something to enjoy.

‘Like the local delicacy mustamakkara, black sausage. The guys here told me that I should give it a try. So I did: black sausage, potato mash and lingonberry jam.‘

Enjoying mustamakkara is a sure sign of a real Tampere person, and Amin has passed this test with flying colours. But what about the long, dark and sometimes very cold winters in Finland? Amin’s best advice is to see how the natives deal with them and do things that seem to keep them happy.

‘Sauna and avanto, walking on the frozen lake and ice-fishing… these are things that make me look forward to the wintertime.‘

Further reading:

Troll VFX: Modern craftsmanship from Tampere, Finland

Troll VFX website

 The Unknown Soldier, the film

Daloc the Robot, the video: 
Director Misko Iho
Agency: Ingo
Production: Stink
Visual effects: Troll VFX
Cinematographer: Simon Duggan, ACS
Editor: Antti Kulmala
Colorist: Henri Pulla
Sound design: Marko Nyberg, Akseli Soini / El Camino Helsinki
Music: Marko Nyberg / El Camino Helsinki