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Animation Spotlight: Hollywood

Animation Spotlight: Hollywood

By Allan Hoffman | Monster Tech Jobs Expert

April 13, 2010

Complex tools like Maya are generating some of the most exciting opportunities. Alias operates a custom development center in Santa Barbara, working with key customers to extend Maya’s ability with plug-ins and other tools, says Chris Ruffo, industry market manager for Alias, specializing in feature films and digital content creation.

“Developers want to work on the neatest stuff,” says Ruffo. “We have those challenges on a daily basis.” Maya’s own developers often have advanced degrees in computer science or math. “They’re all highly ”">creative people," he says. Studios also have their own internal development teams who write plug-ins and other proprietary code.

A Visual Sense

As one might expect, techies with a visual sense have an advantage.

“Everything we do is about images and sound,” says Sean James, senior manager of technical services for Christie, a maker of digital cinema solutions and displays used in production and theaters. “People have to have the ability to critique those things.”

Christie employs a wide range of technology professionals, from electrical engineers and programmers, who work on the innards and interfaces of the company’s products, to customer-service engineers and field-application engineers who may have to remedy display issues for directors eager to examine dailies.

A Technical Audition

There’s no single route into the industry. Some techies work through Hollywood’s traditional apprentice systems, while others leverage their programming prowess.

“CS grads with artistic abilities, and especially knowledge of computer graphics and rendering, are obviously going to be in higher demand — for the movie industry — than CS grads who don’t know anything about graphics,” Waltman says.

Waltman was a computer science major at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, with a double-minor in art and mathematics. He later received a master’s degree in computer science with a graphics emphasis. His art background helped him stand out.

Perhaps there’s a movie in this: Mr. Geek Goes to Hollywood.

This article first appeared on Monster

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