14 December 2018

From designing ships to movies

Linley Boniface

Rhys Deacon realised his dream to work in the film industry later in life.

“I’m originally from Australia but I’d been a citizen of the world for a while living in London and San Francisco. Travel with work finally brought me to New Zealand, and I knew it was time for a change in career path.

“I had some experience in design – mostly on the engineering side with ships. But I’d always been interested in animation and loved the storytelling in bringing characters to life, so I was looking for a course in animation and mo-cap [motion capture].”

Although there were some similarities in the work he’d been doing before, Rhys decided the best approach to get the skills he needed was to study.

Rhys enrolled in a Bachelor of Digital Design at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

“I chose AUT because it had a really good technical base. They had a mo-cap suite that students could use – and I used it a lot! They also had great lecturers who were very enthusiastic about the industry. They were very progressive in teaching style and letting you find what you needed. But they were also very progressive on the technical side of things, getting the latest technology into the campus so that we could learn how to use it.”

The diversity amongst the local and international students enrolled on the course was also hugely helpful.

“Being around people who thought differently to me and having access to their points of view was really valuable. We did a lot of self-motivated research and the way people approached these in very different manners, depending on their diverse backgrounds, the different countries they came from, different cultural backgrounds; seeing how people approached problems and solved them differently was massively beneficial.”

Rhys’ degree set him up perfectly for his dream job as a Junior Animator at Weta Digital, working on a major new feature film Mortal Engines.

“I think the job is mostly about your attitude and how you work with other people. And it’s about the attitude of ‘We’re going to find a solution to this issue’. So, learning how to learn is very important in university. Acknowledging how much you don’t know, and that other people probably know more than you. And if you tap into those resources, you can together find a solution!”

And does Rhys ever regret his change of career?

“Never! I’m working at Weta Digital! I’m working on some of the greatest films coming out in cinemas and even on TV now. There’s not a day that goes by where we’re not working on some incredible thing that we’re going to be very proud to see in the movies and to tell our friends about. And have on our showreels as well. It’s exciting!”

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About the contributors
Linley Boniface

Linley Boniface is a contract writer for Education New Zealand. She is based in Wellington, her favourite city in New Zealand. A former journalist, Linley spent a year in Montreal, Canada, as a secondary school student.