/News 31.08.23

Rising Sun Pictures Expands Training Opportunities for Aspiring VFX Artists

New Bachelor of Visual Effects degree and Graduate Certificates in 3D Animation and Creature Effects will include onsite training at Rising Sun Pictures’ (RSP) facility in Adelaide.

The University of South Australia, in partnership with RSP, have announced the expansion of their highly regarded visual effects qualifications for aspiring visual effects artists.

UniSA will offer a new, standalone Bachelor of Visual Effects degree at the University’s campus and onsite at RSP’s Adelaide facility from next year. New Graduate Certificate programs in 3D Animation and Creature Effects, will also be taught at RSP’s Adelaide studio, delivering a broad range of core skills required by industry.

The expansion of the visual effects offerings responds to overwhelming interest from future students, matched with unprecedented industry demand.

“Off the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, the worldwide visual effects industry experienced unprecedented growth, and that drove a record demand for talent; we anticipate further growth in early 2024 as projects accelerate back into production off the back of the US industrial action,” says RSP president Jennie Zeiher.

“This is one of the only university-delivered programs where students train onsite at a world-class studio and not only gain practical skills but also receive the mentoring and career advice they need to begin and sustain rewarding, lifelong careers.”

Jennie Zeiher, President, RSP

The new Bachelor of Visual Effects will include instruction in compositing, tracking, dynamic effects, lighting, creature FX, 3D animation, 3D modelling and look development. The two new 12-week Graduate Certificate programs will be offered alongside established Graduate Certificates in Dynamic Effects and Lighting and Compositing and Tracking.

UniSA and RSP have also offered visual effects training through the longstanding Bachelor of Film and Television degree since 2015.

UniSA Senior Lecturer Dr Josh McCarthy says the teaching team worked with local and national industry to identify growth areas and skill shortages.

“3D animation and creature effects were two disciplines of need,” he says. “The new standalone degree in visual effects is similarly designed to accommodate student demands and industry requirements. We want to produce graduates with multidisciplinary skills and the flexibility to move between specialisations within the visual effects industry. It’s a comprehensive approach toward training.”

To accommodate the expected influx of students, RSP constructed additional, purpose-built classroom space in its new production facility. Instructors for the new courses will be drawn from the studio’s staff of working artists.

RSP’s purpose built classroom

Launched in 2015, the UniSA and RSP partnership has been a huge success, with nearly 200 of its graduates currently working in the industry, including 70 at RSP alone.

“We’ve proven that we do visual effects training very well. Visual effects studios and recruiters are constantly contacting us, eager to interview our graduates. We’ve developed a winning formula, which we continually refine in response to industry, staff and student feedback. UniSA has been a wonderful partner, and together we are continuing to produce amazing results for the global industry.”

Anna Hodge, Training and Education Manager, RSP

The Bachelor of Visual Effects degree is open to school leavers, non-school leavers and anyone wanting to undertake a degree pathway from vocational studies. Graduate Certificate programs are open to graduates of UniSA, other universities and vocational education graduates. “They are also aimed at established industry professionals who want to expand their skill sets and move from one discipline to another,” noted McCarthy. “These courses bridge that gap in knowledge.”

Kurt Debens was among the first graduates of UniSA’s Graduate Certificate in Dynamic Effects and Lighting. He was subsequently hired by RSP as a junior artist and is now a lead artist at the studio with credits on more than a dozen Hollywood blockbusters, including Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Jungle Cruise, and Captain Marvel. He was also part of a team nominated for a 2023 Visual Effects Society (VES) Award for the Amazon series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Debens stated, “Learning in a studio environment under the guidance of artists with a wealth of experience and knowledge was an amazing experience. I wouldn’t be here without it.” He adds that he feels especially lucky to have had the opportunity to develop industry-ready skills without leaving South Australia. “Ten years ago, I would have thought it crazy to imagine working on studio movies in my home state.”