Imageworks Adds Schools to IPAX Program

Seven new educational institutions have been accepted into Sony Pictures Imageworks’ Professional Academic Excellence (IPAX) program.

After a rigorous review process, Brigham Young University, California State University Northridge, Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg, Linkopings Universitet, New York University, School of Visual Arts and Texas A&M University were added to the list, which now includes international institutions. The program aims to prepare the next generation of visual effects artists, software engineers and animators to join the workforce.

Imageworks created the IPAX program in 2004 to connect teaching faculty with industry professionals and guide curricula at the country’s leading academic institutions in an effort to further develop talent that will contribute to the overall growth of the visual effects and animation industry. Faculty of IPAX member schools attend in-house training programs and participate in a working production environment on-site at Imageworks so they can return to the classroom with real-world production experience and the ability to identify, inspire and recommend future talent for the industry.

The new schools join Animation Mentor, Carnegie Mellon University, DePaul University, Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Otis College of Art and Design, Pratt Institute, Ringling College of Art + Design, Stanford University, University of New Mexico and University of Southern California Arts in the growing IPAX program.

‘With the addition of these seven new schools, we are excited that the IPAX program continues to follow its original goal of helping educate the educators which in turn helps students excel,’ says SPI president Tim Sarnoff.

‘We are very proud to have initiated the program just three years ago, and have already seen a lot of interest worldwide. These new schools have proven themselves through their educational programs to consistently produce some of the most respected artists in our field. We are looking forward to continuing to add schools to the IPAX program and to expand its offerings.’

IPAX continues to evolve as a key component of Imageworks’ global production, artist development and artist retention strategy. Spearheading the program’s initiatives is Imageworks’ executive director of training and artist development, and IPAX chair Sande Scoredos. Barry Weiss, senior VP of animation and artist development, and chair of the IPAX Collaboration Initiative, continues to explore how these diverse IPAX schools can work together to develop cooperative and collaborative programs.

‘Interest in IPAX has been extraordinary from both the domestic and international academic communities, and we were honored to receive a record number of submissions this year from the best institutions in the world,’ Scoredos comments. ‘Our two new international institutions, in addition to our five additional domestic schools, expand our vision to create a unique global program to bring together the strongest programs in animation, visual effects, technology, computer science and production management.”

Sony Pictures Imageworks’ production environment facilitates four diverse pipelines including live-action visual effects and character work, Imagemotion performance capture, all CG animation and Imageworks 3D stereoscopic.

The company has received Oscars for its work on Spider-Man 2 and the CG-animated short film The Chubbchubbs!. The company’s latest big-screen effort, Surf’s Up, was nominated for this year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Other Oscar-nominated projects include The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Spider-Man, Hollow Man, Stuart Little and Starship Troopers. Recently complete projects include Speed Racer, Beowulf and I Am Legend.