Succeeding in Hollywood with a Technical Degree
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Julie Anne Mayfield is from Dreamworks
Computer generated special effects have been around for 30 years, but the road to a career in this field is still rocky. Specialized knowledge and passion are the necessary tools to land such coveted positions. Traditional education in graphics has increased tremendously, but it still does not encompass all of the technology used in Hollywood today.
The best way to prepare yourself is to study your area of interest feverishly. An overview of a general pipeline will help define which area is best for you. Dissecting a shot created at Dreamworks SKG will further your understanding of the process where the role of the engineer and of the artist coexist. These roles converge to push a shot through the pipeline smoothly.
Although this will show you the excitement of the job, there are drawbacks that must be thoughtfully evaluated before a career is pursued. The volatility of the industry and its job security issues will be explored.
Getting your foot in the door is the essential first step. For the engineers, there are many different resources to investigate the stage of the pipeline that interests you most. For the artists, examples of demo reels will demonstrate the format and how to sell your skill sets.
Julie Mayfield came to the University of Michigan with dreams of computer
graphics in feature film. She declared her major in computer engineering her
freshman year, and set out to learn as much as she could about the field. She
found other students who were equally intrigued by the booming new field of
computer graphics in entertainment. This lead her to colaborate with faculty
to begin new courses to quench the students thirst for graphics. During this
process, Julie united with these other students and started the first UofM
student Siggraph Chapter. While working on the foundation of Siggraph, she
also worked with Professor John Laird to create a distinguished lecture series.
For this lecture series, she was able to invite 7 professionals from prominent
effects houses such as Digital Domain, Dreamworks, and Manex. Upon completion
of the lecture series, Julie graduated from University of Michigan with her
B.S. in Computer Science and accepted a position with the Research and
Development group at Dreamworks S.K.G. Her first film credit is as a
software technical director for the film "sinbad" which will be released
July 2, 2003. Currently she is a software technical director for Dreamworks'
next film, a fully 3D animated feature film, "sharkslayer" , due out in 2004.