RENCI Distinguished Lecture to feature Oscar-winning filmmaker

CHAPEL HILL, NC –  An Oscar winning independent filmmaker who began his career in fluid mechanics and worked his way into animated filmmaking will speak about his experiences at the second 2007 Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) Distinguished Lecture.

Toronto Filmmaker Chris Landreth will speak at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at the Talley Student Center Grand Ballroom on the North Carolina State University campus. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Design in the NC State College of Design.

Landreth followed a somewhat circuitous path to become an Oscar-winning animated filmmaker. After receiving a degree in theoretical and applied mechanics from the University of Illinois, he worked as an experimental researcher at the university and as a scientific visualization specialist at the North Carolina Supercomputer Center before making the transition into the world of computer animation.

In 1994, Landreth joined Alias Inc., where his job was to define, test and, in his words, abuse animation software products, including the well-known animation package Maya. That job led to the production of the animated short filmsBingo, a wildly surrealistic story of a young man psychologically brutalized by circus characters, and the end, a work that satirizes animation festivals, which earned an Academy Award nomination in 1996.

Landreth’s most recent film is the 2004 Academy Award winning production Ryan, about the life and career of Canadian animator Ryan Larkin, a one-time celebrated and Oscar nominated filmmaker whose downward spiral led him to a life as a panhandler on the streets of Montreal. In addition to winning the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film, Ryan received more than 60 international awards, including three prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, the Special Jury Prize at SIGGRAPH 2004 and the Grand Prize at the 2004 Ottawa International Animation Festival.

Landreth’s current works in production are The Spine, a short film with the National Film Board of Canada; and Lovecraft, an animated feature based on the life of the early 20th century American writer H.P. Lovecraft.

”Chris Landreth’s story is proof that computing technologies permeate all walks of life and that work in a computing-related field can open up opportunities in the arts as well as in science and technology,” said RENCI Director Dan Reed. “He is a great example of someone who uses technology to take risks, to communicate new ideas, and to push his art form to a new level. In the process, he inspires a new generation of filmmakers.”

The one-hour lecture will be followed by a question and answer session and refreshments. It is free and open to the general public, but attendees must register on the RENCI website.

RENCI Distinguished Lectures are held three times a year, with the last 2007 lecture scheduled for October. Check the RENCI website for the most up-to-date information on the lectures.