Sony Pictures Imageworks officially announced the establishment of the Imageworks Professional Academic Excellence (IPAX) program, created to educate faculty and structure curricula at the countrys leading academic institutions in an effort to develop future talent who will contribute to the overall growth of the visual effects industry.
After a rigorous preliminary acceptance process, Sony Pictures Imageworks also announced that six schools have been admitted into the program: DePaul University, 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.
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, said Imageworks president Tim Sarnoff. As a leader in this industry, we know that we have a responsibility to develop the next generation of talent. 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.
IPAX is a program designed to share, extend and expand the Imageworks knowledge base. By providing the faculty of IPAX member schools the opportunity to attend in-house training programs and experience a working production environment on-site at Imageworks, instructors can return valuable knowledge and skills to the classroom.
The program will also 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 also throughout the visual effects and digital animation industries. In addition, Imageworks will offer fellowships to IPAX members to provide the opportunity to integrate faculty into the Imageworks production environment, attend guest lectures and training sessions and advise member schools on course content.
Spearheading the IPAX initiatives are Imageworks executives Mae Turner Moody, vp of digital production and administration, and Sande Scoredos, exec director of training and development.
The art and science of computer graphics continues to evolve on a daily basis so we are not alone in constantly facing challenges in attracting and retaining the best and the brightest from the top institutions, said Turner Moody. There is an ever-growing demand for production ready talent. IPAX will allow us to develop standards in education and techniques that will prepare students for a professional, large-scale production environment such as Imageworks. We are dedicated to building partnerships for the future with those who share our vision of creating quality imagery.
The IPAX program developed out of the growing trend of academic environments attempting to simulate complex proprietary pipelines, only to be faced with the dilemma of the tools and techniques constantly evolving to accommodate real-world production requirements. Additionally, since most of the extraordinary technical advancements developed internally are rarely released to industry or educational institutions, it has been difficult for academia to get exposure to such technical achievements.
After Imageworks initial workshop last year with educators, which focused on the challenges that many academic institutions face in responding to the industrys ever-changing needs, the importance of maintaining an active connection between the education community and a production environment through a program like IPAX became very clear.
"Ringling School of Art & Design is incredibly excited to have been chosen as an IPAX partner, said Jim McCampbell, head of the Computer Animation Department at Ringling School of Art & Design. We applaud Imageworks for their understanding of the importance of high-quality education in the visual arts, and for being willing to work with us in preparing the next generation of artists for the entertainment world."
Under the leadership of Scoredos, Imageworks is currently home to one of the visual effects industrys most respected in-house training and artist development programs in the world. Designed to maintain a well-educated and competitive workforce capable of creating world-class imagery and animation, the facility has a dedicated training center integrated directly with production where instructors train new hires, conduct continuing education for crew members to prepare for all phases of production, teach third party and proprietary software and techniques, provide career development and career path opportunities, and offer special events and screenings.
The training program at Imageworks offers more than 30 courses, including life drawing, sculpting, acting and special lectures, as well as specialized task-oriented classes for rotoscoping, matchmoving, animation, particle effects, color and lighting, compositing and various production methods.
Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. (www.imageworks.com) is an Academy Award-winning, state-of-the-art visual effects and character animation company dedicated to the art and artistry of digital production and character creation.