Sony Pictures Imageworks, the Academy Award-winning visual effects and character animation studio behind Spider-Man 2 and other blockbusters, is helping to train the next generation of vfx wizards with the establishment of the Imageworks Professional Academic Excellence (IPAX) program. Created to educate faculty and structure curricula at the country’s leading academic institutions, IPAX will allow instructors to experience a working production environment on-site at Imageworks and share acquired knowledge with students.
"Imageworks has experienced tremendous growth and accolades over the past year, triggering an internal evaluation of how we could give back to both the academic and visual effects communities," explains Imageworks president Tim Sarnoff. "We are very excited by the idea of working with educators to create specialized curriculum-based programs which will ensure that the heart of our industry–the future artists, designers and engineers–continues to grow, learn and prosper."
Imageworks has so far admitted six schools into the program. Those that passed the rigorous preliminary acceptance process are DePaul University Computer Graphics and Animation Program, Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Otis College of Art + Design, Pratt Institute School of Art & Design, Ringling School of Art & Design and University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television.
The IPAX program will offer a yearly review of curricula to ensure that students are exposed to the latest developments in technology and techniques used not only at Imageworks, but throughout the visual effects and digital animation industries. In addition, Imageworks will offer fellowships to IPAX members that integrate faculty into the Imageworks production environment and allow them to attend guest lectures, training sessions and more.
Spearheading the IPAX initiatives are Imageworks execs Mae Turner Moody, VP of digital production and administration, and Sande Scoredos, exec director of training and development. Scoredos heads Imageworks’ dedicated training center, which is integrated directly with production and allows instructors to train new hires, conduct continuing education for crew members, teach third-party and proprietary software and techniques, provide career development opportunities and offer special events and screenings. The training program offers more than 30 courses, including life drawing, sculpting, acting and special lectures, as well as specialized task-oriented classes for such skills as rotoscoping, matchmoving, animation, particle effects, compositing, color and lighting.