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Animation Spotlight: Hollywood

Animation Spotlight: Hollywood

By Allan Hoffman | Monster Tech Jobs Expert

April 13, 2010

Even techies win Oscars. In 2003, Toronto-based Alias received a statuette for the development of its Maya animation and digital effects software.

Given Hollywood’s reliance on technology today, Maya’s Oscar was no fluke. The film industry now depends on the expertise of technology professionals for special effects, screenings and more.

Your Code on the Big Screen

Consider Jason Waltman, an FX artist/developer for PDI/DreamWorks — the company behind Shrek. His position entails working with animators to write programming code for use in special effects and film production. “I love this job,” Waltman writes in an email. “The code that I write gets used almost immediately by my peers to make frames of a movie that will eventually be shown on the big screen.”

Is there a more glamorous coding job on the planet? Probably not. “I like the fact that I’m able to use my ”">artistic/creative skills, that my code literally ‘makes pictures,’" Waltman continues, “and that I’m not working in databases or operating systems, etc. — things that most CS grads find themselves doing.”

Waltman’s not alone. Industry experts say plenty of opportunities await tech pros in Hollywood, ranging from work at tech-support call centers to troubleshooting problems with the digital displays used for viewing the day’s footage, known as “dailies.”

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Going Digital

A number of trends have created opportunities for techies to break into pictures:

  • New film distribution methods, from the Internet to on-demand viewing.
  • Increasing use of digital displays and projectors for production and exhibition.
  • Filmmaking processes requiring digital tools for everything from editing to sound production.
  • Widespread use of animation and 3D effects, even outside of the realm of fantasy and sci-fi flicks.
  • Movie distribution beyond theaters and TV to smaller screens.
  • “The digital aspects of making a movie are more prevalent than ever,” says Jim Robinson, CEO of Cinema Electric, a producer of short movies for mobile phones and a former director whose company tackles issues like the small file sizes for movies on mobile phones.

    CinemaNow and Movielink distribute movies online — an entirely new model still in its infancy. “It’s very, very early,” says Bruce David Eisen, executive vice president of CinemaNow. The company employs tech professionals with skills in HTML, .NET, SQL and other technologies. “I see great growth there.”

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