Northern Ireland

Special effects experts say young people needed in the industry

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Media captionSpecial effects experts say young people needed in the industry

It is one of the UK's most exciting and fastest growing industries.

It also employs more than 10,000 people.

Now the industry creating special effects for film and TV is encouraging young people in Northern Ireland to think about it as a career.

Schoolchildren attending an event organised by Into Film, an educational charity, at Ormeau Baths in Belfast had the chance to get advice from some special effects experts.

Catherine Mullan, who is originally from Dungiven and is now a senior animator at an Oscar-winning company, was there.

Image caption Catherine Mullan, originally from Dungiven, works for the company that won the Academy Award for best visual effects for its work on The Jungle Book

Ms Mullan works for the Moving Picture Company (MPC) who produce visual effects for TV and film.

In 2017, MPC won the Academy Award for best visual effects for its work on The Jungle Book.

'A digital movie'

Ms Mullan said that the visual effects production on the film was extensive.

"About 800 artists worked on it across the globe, and it was a huge success for the company as the images were beautiful," she said.

"The live action elements for the movie were shot in Los Angeles, but the live action element was mainly just one boy.

Image caption Catherine Mullan, originally from Dungiven, works for the company that won the Academy Award for best visual effects for its work on The Jungle Book

"Everything else in the movie was created digitally, on the computer, and most of that work was done in our Bangalore and London offices.

"So all of the environments that you see - all of the water, the skies and all of the talking animals - were created and animated in our London office."

The accidental animator

Ms Mullan said that she got into working in special effects "quite by accident".

"I discovered a university degree in Bournemouth in England, so I went across there in 1998 and studied computer animation for three years," she said.

"After that I moved to London where I've been working ever since as an animator and now an animation supervisor."

'We need young people with different perspectives'

A number of Northern Irish companies who produce special effects were also at the event, showing their work to local schoolchildren.

The event was organised by Into Film, which promotes film education in schools.

According to its figures, over 80% of those working in special effects in the UK have a university degree.

However, Into Film's careers manager Yen Yau said that young people did not need to specialise in media or film at university.

Image caption The event was organised by Into Film, which promotes film education in schools

"We need young people coming into the industry with different perspectives, different voices and different ideas," she said.

"What we want to get away from is that it's about having a film or media degree.

"In our industry being good at computer science, maths or drawing is just as relevant, as for every job role there's a different set of skills."

Among the other companies working with schoolchildren at the Belfast event were The Third Floor, which has produced special effects for Game of Thrones, The Mill which has provided effects for Nike and Audi adverts and Belfast- based animation studio Jam Media.

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