Unpredictable, rewarding profession

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Chris O'Connell

Scott Vosbury ’04 turned a quiet street in Boston into a giant disaster scene, with cars falling out of the sky and an eight-story parking garage collapsing in R.I.P.D.

In Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, he was one of the artists who helped make the octopus come alive and cover Ben Stiller in goop. And in X-Men: First Class, he was responsible for digitally transforming Jennifer Lawrence into Mystique.

Vosbury did this as a digital compositor at Rhythm & Hues and was one of several RIT graduates who worked there before the company filed for bankruptcy last year. While at Rhythm & Hues, he, Jen Stratton ’05 and Rich Enders ’02 worked on Life of Pi, which won an Academy Award for best visual effects in 2013.

The film and animation world is unpredictable, but RIT graduates are drawn to the profession because they are passionate about sharing their work with people around the world.

Stratton started at Rhythm & Hues in 2006 as a texture painter. Texture painters get gray computer models of the characters, props and environments from the modelers and add color and texture to them. Stratton was a texture painter on Evan Almighty, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Incredible Hulk, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Yogi Bear. In Life of Pi, she was a texture lead and was involved with developing the look of the meerkats. Now, she works at Disney Animation Studios as a look development artist and is working on Zootopia.

“I just enjoy creating things and seeing them come to life,” she said.

Former Rhythm & Hues employee Chris O’Connell ’00 also works at Disney as an environment modeler, which means he creates the environments the artists design.

O’Connell has moved around in the industry, working at a game company in Los Angeles, the film company ImageMovers Digital in San Francisco working on A Christmas Carol and Mars Needs Moms, MPC Moving Picture Co. in Vancouver and Sony Imageworks.

He has been at Disney for about two years and worked on the main castle and trading post in Frozen, among other environments. “I feel lucky to be a part of it, to be able to work on it,” he said.

He also worked on the environments in the soon-to-be-released action-comedy adventure Big Hero 6.

As for Vosbury, he is now freelancing. He hopes to take his visual effects experience, which also includes work on Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers and Hot Tub Time Machine (to name a few), and one day be a visual effects supervisor.

“I love working on movies,” he said. “It’s rewarding to have your friends, family and peers be able to easily experience what you have poured your life into the last six months to a year.”