On a snowy night in 2003, a Netflix-delivered DVD of “Finding Nemo” changed my life. I had just finished college and was working as a photographer, but felt lost and without a career path. That night, I made the decision that would change everything. I was too comfortable to get up to eject the DVD after the movie had finished and I just let it continue to roll through the credits. This caused the bonus content to begin playing — and I was never so grateful for my lethargy.
I saw artists scuba diving off the coast of Australia gathering references for the film. They analyzed the ocean’s color far from shore versus how green and murky it became as they approached Sydney. They watched the broken rays of light dance in the water and the patterns formed by the caustic effects. It was then up to someone called the Lighting Artist to translate these visual phenomena onto the screen. I was blown away.
After that night, I made it my mission to work as a Lighting Artist in animated films; I dedicated myself to learning 3D software and set a goal to start graduate school the following year. I was accepted to SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) and spent my days honing my craft and my nights bartending to make ends meet.
After graduating from SCAD, I was given a chance by Blue Sky Studios to start at the bottom as a Render Wrangler. My days were filled studying the work of the Lighting Artists and my evenings debugging failed frames and optimizing renders. Eventually, I was given the chance to start lighting shots and I have never looked back.
For over the past decade, I’ve brought the same passion that thrust me into this industry into every shot and everything that I do. Whether it is lighting shots, training artists, writing my book, or leading a team, I still bring the energy of someone that is grateful to work his dream career every single day.
Although I still have yet to go scuba diving, this job has been a dream come true.