Grad Earns Third Emmy Nom

Big congrats to 3D Animation & Visual Effects grad Daniel Osaki for picking up his third Primetime Emmy nomination!

Daniel’s role as Lead Model Maker on Stargate Atlantis puts him in contention for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series. He was nominated for the same award in 2005 and 2006 for Battlestar Galactica (fellow VFS grad Alec McClymont took home an Emmy in 2007, also for BSG).

A number of VFS grads worked on the Sci Fi miniseries Tin Man – also up for a slew of awards. And two VFS Advisory Board Members – Digital Design‘s Matthew Mulder (The Company) and Sound Design‘s Paul Sharpe (Tin Man) – are also nominated.

You can peruse the complete list of nominees here.

To the Center of the Earth

Seems every major blockbuster this summer has VFS grads involved — including today’s big release Journey to the Center of the Earth!

Graduates from 3 programs (3D Animation & Visual Effects, Classical Animation, and Sound Design for Visual Media) played their part in the production, including Aaron Gilman – Animation Supervisor, Julianna Kolakis – Concept Artist and Modeler, Geeta Basantani – Matte Painter and Senior Compositor, Jelmer Boskma – Lead Creature Modeler, Christopher Downs – Lighting Technical Director, Jeremy Elzinga – Technical Support: Sound, Yann Tremblay – Animator, and Giorgio Bertolone – Character Technical Director.

The movie promises to be the summer’s perfect kid-friendly popcorn flick… especially since it’s playing in 3D in select IMAX theatres. Read about star Brendan Fraser‘s feelings about the technology here.

Guadalajara to Blizzard

When last we wrote about Alvaro Buendia, we were celebrating his horrible monster fetus.

Since then the 3D Animation & Visual Effects graduate, who was born in Mexico City and raised in Guadalajara, has worked at The Orphanage and now for Blizzard Entertainment as a cinematic artist. We all know what Blizzard’s best known for, but Alvaro has to remain cagey about his current projects. Still, we wanted to check in and find out what makes him tick.

“I’ve been drawing and painting all my life,” he says, “So when I discovered [3D] I felt like it was a way to take my art to the next level.”

He eventually arrived at the decision to take the long road from Mexico to VFS. “I was learning 3D by myself at first, and then I took a 3D course in another school for a short time but felt pretty unsatisfied. I remembered that while looking for reference I was watching a bunch of reels that were really good and many were from VFS, so I applied and the rest is history.”

He entertained a few options after graduation and settled on The Orphanage, where he gained valuable experience. “When I graduated, I had a few interviews in some studios in Canada and a few phone interviews. One of them was Blizzard, but I decided to take a four-month gig at The Orphanage as a creature modeler for Pirates of the Caribbean 3, modeling dead people floating on the sea.”

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Horton Hears Some Grads

Horton Hears a Who!Since Horton Hears a Who! has been met with resounding praise, we should probably beat our chests a little too. For one thing, 3D grads Brent Wong and Arun Ram-Mohan both worked on the film -Arun was a lighting TD while Brent was primarily a modeler. And Horton also hears a foley editor – that’d be Sound Design graduate Jeremy Bowker over at Skywalker Sound.

Arun had worked at Blue Sky (New York) on Robots and Ice Age 2, then Weta Digital (New Zealand) on Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and The Water Horse. After that, it was back to Blue Sky for four months on Horton, and in May he’s returning to Weta. Arun’s taking the back-and-forth in stride: “It’s actually pretty sweet except that I’m getting three winters in a row right now!”

As often happens ‘out in the world’ with VFS alumni, Arun and Brent crossed paths on the production. “We actually were lighters on one sequence together in Horton, when Lighting had borrowed him from the Modeling Department,” Arun says. “He’s a man of many talents.”

Moving on to new projects doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm for this one now that it’s been released. “I knew it would be fun to work on. Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss? But the fact that people seem to like the finished product a lot is definitely a bonus.”

“You know you’ve been part of something great when you go to the theatre to see a movie you worked on, and all the young kids in the audience are going nuts for 90 straight minutes.”

Lucasfilm By Way of India


Animation is a global game – you have to be a world traveller when the big players are on pretty much every continent. Few know this better than Seema Gopalakrishnan, a Digital Character Animation grad who hails from Chennai, India. After parlaying her time in Vancouver into steady work in Mumbai, she’s now moved to Singapore to work for Lucasfilm‘s animation division there.


Seema’s enthusiasm is infectious, even over email and half a world away. “It feels awesome,” she told us. “I know there’s still a long way to go, but this step was huge for me.” And who can blame her? But we wanted to know more.

What did you do after graduating from VFS?

I had got a very good offer to work with Prana Studios in Mumbai. I joined there as a Rigging Artist and grew to be one of the lead rigging/pipeline artists. Besides rigging, I was involved in developing tools for the artists, setting up the pipeline, writing scripts to automate various tasks, and so on. It was a great place to apply my skill sets.

How did you come to be hired at Lucasfilm Animation Singapore, and what are you doing there?

I had applied through their website, and then we took it from there. I am working here as a CG Software Developer. It’s been great so far and I am looking forward to more.

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