Jim Rygiel

visual effects pioneer

Global Creativity
30 minutes, 13.8mb, recorded 2004-10-21
He's the creative genius behind the digital effects of Lord of the Rings, and although Jim's presentation from Pop!Tech 2004 contained many film clips, if you've seen any of the LoTR films we think the audio alone still makes for a great listen.

LoTR was a truly global project with over 23,000 people brought down to New Zealand for all three films. Even so, Jim created a lot of digital hobbits and digi doubles. Will digital replace real actors over time? Jim says no.

Starting his career in 1980, Jim joined Pacific Electric Pictures, one of the earliest companies to employ computer animation for the advertising and film markets. In 1983, Jim's work took him to Digital Productions where he began work on The Last Starfighter (1984), a film notable for its pioneering use of digital imaging in place of models. While at Digital Productions, Jim's commercial work was nominated for numerous awards, winning a prestigious CLIO award for the introduction of the Sony Walkman. From 1987 to 1989, Jim supervised numerous projects while at visual effects companies Pacific Data Images (PDI) and Metrolight.

In 1989 Jim was asked to form and head a computer animation department at Boss Film Studios. This department of one grew to over 75 animators and 100 support staff within a little more than a year, winning several awards, including a CLIO Award for the Geo Prism automobile commercial. While at Boss, Jim supervised many feature films, both as Digital Effects Supervisor and Visual Effects Supervisor. His credits there include Starship Troopers, Species, Outbreak, Air Force One, The Scout, The Last Action Hero, Cliffhanger, Batman Returns, Alien III, and Ghost. After Boss Films closure he went on to supervise The Parent Trap, Star Trek: Insurrection, Anna and the King, and 102 Dalmatians.

In 2002, Jim received the American Film Institute's first AFI Digital Effects Artist of the Year award, the Academy Award and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for Best Visual Effects for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Jim is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and The British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Facilitation graphics by Peter Durand of Alphachimp Studio
Renee Blodgett's blog
David Weinberger's blog

This presentation is one of many from the IT Conversations archives of Pop!Tech 2004 held in Camden, Maine, October 21-23, 2004.

This free podcast is from our Pop!Tech series.