The University of Bolton’s special effects students got a taste of Hollywood recently when Oscar winners, Double Negative, delivered a special guest lecture.
The Academy Award-winning visual effects company was responsible for the mind-bending special effects in last year’s stand-out blockbuster film, Inception. The company, which has also won a BAFTA for the groundbreaking work in this film, came to Bolton to speak about the industry to the University’s special effects students.
This was part of an exceptional day’s events for the students who were also treated to a lecture by Adrian Woolard, the BBC’s Project Lead at its Research and Development North Lab. The day ended with the students showing off their own work to the industry professionals.
Speaking at the student showcase, Jon, a third-year student, who works on both the physical and computer generated sections of the Special Effects course, said: ‘Today has been really interesting. It’s great to see behind the scenes and the process that goes into making such a film. Plus, it has been a really good way to meet contacts and build bridges. I’ve got two business cards already.’
Double Negative started as a boutique studio in 1998 with just 15 staff, it now employs more than 900 people and has worked on some of the biggest films of the past decade. Karen Joseph, from the award-winning studio, spoke about employment opportunities in the industry. She said: ‘The UK is a growing player in this market and there are around 5,000 people employed in the visual effects industry across the UK and EU. There are plenty of opportunities to succeed.’
Her co-worker Julian Foddy, CG Supervisor on the recent hit movie Paul, played students the Inception show-reel the Academy would have seen. He then went through several scenes from the film, including the now-famous ‘city-folding’ image, explaining how each one was crafted. Third-year student Claire Ritchie was also impressed with the Inception presentation. She said: ‘Finding out some of the secrets and techniques used to make Inception was fascinating, especially as I’m focusing on the CGI side of special effects.’
But for all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, one key message was apparent throughout: you have to work hard. Adrian Woolard said: ‘The industry is very competitive. You have to think about that and be motivated to succeed. If I had to make one brutal observation about the industry, it would be… be prepared to work really hard.’