Saturday, November 9, 2013

jim rygiel/uwm

Peck School of the Arts hosted 3x Academy Award Winner and UWM Alum Jim Rygiel ('77 BFA Painting & Drawing) yesterday. Mr. Rygiel stopped by the Digital Craft Research Lab for a tour. It was good to talk to him and to learn of his interest in Arduino and Rasberry Pi technology and his appreciation for computing, design, creativity and making. Later in the day, Jim Rygiel spoke about his career and showed a highlight reel. He was  the most humble and down to earth person and I thought that the advice he gave to students was some of the best I have heard since coming to UWM. This is the kind of person that we should be educating our students to aspire to be.

Visual effects artist Jim Rygiel is recognized globally for his innovative visual effects work on films including “Night at the Museum,” “The Amazing Spiderman” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which earned him three Academy Awards. Born in Kenosha, he began his career at Pacific Electric Pictures, one of the first companies to use computer animation in ads and films. In 1983 he moved to Digital Productions, where his commercial work won numerous awards, including a CLIO for the ad introducing the Sony Walkman. Rygiel supervised projects at Pacific Data and Metrolight before being asked, in 1989, to establish a computer animation department at Boss Film Studios. The one-person department grew to 175 animators and support staff in a little more than a year. Before Boss closed, Rygiel supervised visual and digital effects for a long list of films, including “Air Force One,” “Batman Returns” and “The Last Action Hero.”

Rygiel spent three years in New Zealand working on “The Lord of the Rings.” Over the course of the trilogy, 23,000 people worked on the movies. Of those, about 800 directly or indirectly reported to Rygiel. He is currently supervising the visual effects for "Godzilla."

It was an honor to meet Jim Rygiel.

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