Visual effects expert returns to Kent to inspire students

Kent alumnus Hannes Ricklefs returned to campus on Tuesday 19 March to share his experiences of the visual effects industry with students from the School of Computing and the School of Engineering and Digital Arts. Hannes graduated with a BSc in Computer Science with a Year in Industry and a Master’s in Animation. He has worked for MPC (The Moving Picture Company) for eight years.

MPC produces visual effects for feature films such as Skyfall, Prometheus and Life of Pi, for which it won an Oscar for the Best VFX. They are currently working on  forthcoming blockbusters including The Lone Ranger, Maleficent and World War Z.

Hannes showcased the techniques employed to produce crowds and complex effects like splintering wood and plumes of smoke. He also shared the details of the programming needed to produce the effects and the ‘pipeline’; the organisation of the work needed to produce an effect from first concepts to the cinema screen.

Hannes said: “When I started work at MPC there were 200 of us based in London. Now we employ over 1000 people in five locations worldwide. There are lots of jobs in the visual effects industry for Computing graduates. We need people who have a range of skills, a clear focus of where they want their career to go and who are prepared to travel the world. ”

Peter Kenny, a senior lecturer in the School of Computing said: “We were delighted to welcome Hannes back and see the amazing work he’s had a hand in.  It was interesting to discover how computer scientists interact with artists and animators to create world-class visual effects. Many of our students were inspired to consider a career in this dynamic industry.”