EMU Simulation, Animation and Gaming Program to host visual effects workshops

by Debra Johnson, Published November 16, 2010

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University graduate Mark Welser isn’t just another face in the crowd. He is the guy who creates the crowds…for Oscar-winning Ryhthm & Hues Studios in California.

Welser, the digital crowd supervisor, shared his knowledge in a series of free workshops Nov. 22-23 at EMU’s College of Technology.

“Having really enjoyed my college experience at EMU, it had hovered in the back of my mind for many years that I would like to find a way to reconnect and contribute something back to the university,” said Welser, who graduated in 1985 with a degree in graphic design.  “I also took a long winding path to my dream career, and there were several people within the film industry that educated and supported me along the way.  Because of that, I promised myself that I would try to do the same for others.  When I was made aware of the new Simulation Animation and Gaming (SAG) Program at EMU, it seemed like a great fit and I'm excited to share my industry knowledge and experience with the students.”

 “This was an opportunity for anyone interested in entertainment to see how visual effects are put into films prior to production,” said Pamela Speelman, professor and coordinator of the SAG program at EMU. “Mark is an alum of EMU who has more than 10 years of experience in the film industry working with a global leader in visual effects. Rhythm & Hues has won two Oscar for their visual effects, one for The Golden Compass and another for Babe."

Among Welser’s film credits are: The Chronicles of Narnia, Night at the Museum, Evan Almightly, Land of the Lost, Marmaduke, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Elf, The Ring and Stuart Little.

“This is a rare opportunity to have such a talented individual as Mark visit EMU and share his expertise with the community,” said Speelman.

Welser hosted sessions on the following topics:

Visual Effects: A brief overview of visual effects and the talent and tools companies like Rhythm & Hues Studios utilize in the creating them.

2D Post Production. Examples of the 2D aspects of visual effects production.

The 3D Camera. This segment will look at 3D camera requirements for visual effects, along with a few tips and tricks for students to consider in their own projects.

Character Rigging. Review of simple and complex rigs used to control 3D characters.

Digital Crowds.
Welser’s specialty. A look at how Massive (software) and other tools are used to add 3D crowds into shots.

Scene Lighting/Open Forum. This final segment looked at surface and lighting issues.


Debra Johnson

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