Tuesday 25 June 2019

Movie magic: course teaches students how to bring fantasy to life

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys in a scence from 'Game of Thrones'. Photo: HBO
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys in a scence from 'Game of Thrones'. Photo: HBO
Scene from ‘Avatar’
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

A new film industry course is going where none in Ireland has gone before.

It will teach students the sort of skills behind the spectacular visual effects in movies as diverse as 'Star Wars', 'Titanic' and 'Forrest Gump', and the fantasy television series, 'Game of Thrones'.

Dublin's Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE), already famous for nurturing talent for a wide range of movie industry roles, will open Ireland's first dedicated VFX and 3D Technology course in September. VFX is the industry shorthand for visual effects, which brings fantastical imaginings to life in the movies.

Course co-ordinator Gareth Lee said VFX involves combining live action and digitally created images to create everything from placing real actors into digital environments through to adding fire into a fireplace scene in a TV commercial.

A number of years ago, BCFE graduate Richie Baneham won both an Oscar and a Bafta for VFX for his work on the film 'Avatar'. In the same year that he won the Oscar, 2010, a raft of other Ballyfermot graduates were nominated for awards in the related field of animation.

Mr Lee said that there was no dedicated course in VFX in the further or higher education sectors and the closest offerings were in animation or 3D graphics, but neither area addressed the specific needs of VFX training.

The course is a two-year programme and 24 places are on offer for September.

According to Mr Lee, it would appeal to people who have an interest in creativity and technology.

The staff at BCFE put together the programme in consultation with employers in Ireland. Mr Lee said the VFX industry was a growing sector in Ireland and graduates could seek employment and a career, either locally or internationally.

Well-known companies in this field in Ireland are Brown Bag Films, Giant Animation, Windmill Lane VFX, Egg Post Production, Screen Scene VFX, Piranha bar VFX and GLUE VFX.

Mr Lee said there was significant evidence that the sector would continue to grow.

The course will use industry-standard software and hardware to take students through everything from learning how to light and shoot the live action elements to creating and combining digital backgrounds and characters into footage to create a final scene.

Irish Independent

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