Outlook Magazine - Fall 2021



The intersection of art and technology

orking at DreamWorks Animation in sunny Glendale, Calif., or remotely from their homes in the

Pease joined DreamWorks as a technical director in 2015, and Rigotti, in 2018. They’ve worked on films like “Abominable” and “Trolls.” With minors in computer science, Pease and Rigotti act as intermediaries between artists and research and design teams, design artistic workflows, maintain software and update custom tools. “I like that no two days are the same,” Pease said. “While we encounter some recurring tasks or problems in programming, most days bring fresh ones for us to tackle. Involving co- workers in discussions is helpful for both motivation and inspiration.” “The intersection of art and technology has always been interesting to me,” Rigotti added. “There’s always new technology to learn and integrate. I enjoy the constant collaboration with artists and the fact that I get to do something different almost every day.”

Hollywood hills, four School of Art and Design alums are helping to create some of the highest profile animated productions on the planet. The “Dream Team” members are Chris Grun, graphic design, 1995; Benjamin Pease, game design and development, 2015; Margaret Rigotti, game design and development, 2018; and Hue Vang, master’s in design, 2018. Falling into the dream As the field of animation surged in the 1990s, graphic artists were in high demand, and Grun wanted to be part of it. He joined DreamWorks as a matte painter in 2013, creating environments like the Capitol City in “The Hunger Games” and computer-generated dinosaurs in “Land of the Lost.” Now, as head of locations, Grun facilitates communication, environments and props through different departments. He thinks what makes DreamWorks special is its sense of humor, helping people feel connected even during the pandemic. “That always goes a long way in times of need. Nothing like a good belly laugh to bring your spirits up,” said Grun, who received UW-Stout’s Outstanding Alumni Award in 2016. Grun was instrumental in bringing Vang onboard at DreamWorks in 2018. Vang grew up developing animations, comics, and games and dreamed of working on animated feature films. As a matte painter, he creates 2D assets like skies, clouds, mountains, rocks and vegetation in films like “The Croods: A New Age” and “Spirit Riding Free.” He also created Barb’s map in “Trolls World Tour.” “3D animation is a digitally and financially expensive process. So, instead of rendering the entire environment in 3D, areas that extend into the background are created to match the overall feel for the sequence,” Vang explained.

From left, Margaret Rigotti, Chris Grun, Benjamin Pease and Hue Vang.



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