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Posted 19.07.19

Animation student helps secure industry-standard Pixar software for the college

By Phillip Buchan

Animation and Game Arts students at FMX 2019

19-year-old BA (Hons) Animation student Oliver Hughes, from Wimborne, has helped to secure Pixar’s RenderMan software for students at Plymouth College of Art, after meeting with technical artists from the incredibly successful animation studios at FMX 2019.

BA (Hons) Animation and BA (Hons) Game Arts students visited the international FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Immersive Media in Stuttgart, Germany, to network with industry professionals and find out about cutting-edge developments in visual effects.

Students attended workshops and masterclasses with representatives of world-class organisations including Weta Digital, Framestore, The Mill and Blue Zoo.

Toy Story 4 (Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)

Following up from a demonstration of the latest version of Pixar’s RenderMan software, used this year on feature films including Toy Story 4 and Spider-Man: Far From Home, Oliver and a group of students approached Dylan Sisson, Pixar’s RenderMan Specialist, to ask how they could use RenderMan to improve their own animations.

As a result, all students at Plymouth College of Art now have access to this cutting-edge software to render animations and special effects in non-commercial projects, working with the same tools that have been used on feature films in the Marvel, Star Wars and Fantastic Beasts series.

Oliver said: “Attending FMX in my first year at Plymouth College of Art was an incredible experience and one I’d recommend to everyone that comes to study here. It can be nerve-wracking meeting industry professionals, and the best way to learn is through meeting people like Pixar’s Dylan Sisson face-to-face at an event like FMX. I’m incredibly grateful to him for helping us secure the license to use RenderMan in the college.

“Ultimately I want to go on to work in the film industry on visual effects. RenderMan is being used on some of the biggest budget movies of all time, so I’m happy that I can now use it to improve my own 3D animations and prepare myself to work in a way that’s ready to transfer directly into my chosen industry.”

Following up from FMX, Oliver has been working with BA (Hons) Animation staff to assist in the set-up and testing of new internal and external render farms at the college to work alongside the RenderMan software and help all students get the best possible results in their final rendered films.

Spider-Man: Far From Home (Marvel Studios)

Tim Pattinson, BA (Hons) Animation Programme Leader, said: “Whenever you create a 3D animation using animation software, ultimately you’ll need to export the frames you’ve created into a final film - rendering. This involves testing lighting, texturing, lots of elements that can be very time consuming and use a lot of processing power.

“With RenderMan and our new internal and external render farms, this process is going to get a lot quicker for students. Oliver has been instrumental in helping this happen. By working with us to implement these new systems Oliver has picked up technical skills that will set him up well for what I’m confident will be a bright career in the visual effects industry.”