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Chief Technology Officer of Dreamworks, Jeff Wike, Speaks to NYFA Animation Students

Chief Technology Officer of Dreamworks, Jeff Wike, Speaks to NYFA Animation Students

July 24, 2017 The New York Film Academy Los Angeles recently welcomed Jeff Wike, Chief Technology Officer of DreamWorks, for a Q&A with NYFA animation students and summer campers. The event was hosted by Chair of 3D Animation Craig Caton, who is also a former colleague of Wike’s at DreamWorks.

Wike explained that he has been with DreamWorks for many years, before the company ventured into the world of 3D animation. He has seen it grow and flourish and attributed some of this success to company policies that foster a sense of community among coworkers.

"One thing that's unique about DreamWorks is the artists and technicians work together," said Wike. "We work together, we eat together; breakfast and lunch everyday. Which is brilliant, by the way. Let me talk about free lunch. If you think about it, it cost about $10 a day to feed an employee. You're sitting with the people you work with. I eat lunch every day with my director of boards. Not just because I like them, but also I get to catch up with them. Yeah, we talk about what we did last night or this and that, but a lot of what we talk about is work."

"It's kind of a village and building a family," agreed Caton.

As part of the Q&A, one student inquired about operating systems – specifically which ones an aspiring animator or industry professional should become proficient in to make themselves competitive in the industry.

Guest Speaker Jeffrey Wike with Craig Caton at NYFA Guest Speaker Jeffrey Wike speaking with Chair of 3D Animation Craig Caton at NYFA

"We do use Maya for layouts," said Wike in response. Maya is industry-standard software that has been employed in Oscar-winning films, and as such is taught in NYFA 3D animation programs. Wike continued, "We have a system we built on top of it called the Tiber. It allows us to do really interactive set dressing. It does a lot of lazy coding. We do use it in some character effect systems. Mostly we've been migrating a lot of that stuff to Houdini over the past six or seven years."

He went on to explain that DreamWorks has created their own rendering software for feature films, Moonray, whose name is inspired by the company’s logo. For TV, the company employs Vray, while Maya is a go-to tool for a variety of other projects.

Wike explained that the most important thing to keep in mind is that animators need to know a little bit of everything -- and every type of software. "You want to constantly explore," Wike said, as he explained that DreamWorks has a license for nearly every type of animation software available.

The New York Film Academy would like to thank Jeff Wike for taking the time to speak to our students and the kids participating in teen and tween camps.

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