‘Amplifying Black Voices in Hollywood: Diversity Matters: The Value of Inclusion in Visual Effects’ sees Chris White speak about his time in Hollywood

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The University of Connecticut’s Department of Digital Media and Design sponsored an event titled ‘‘Amplifying Black Voices in Hollywood” in partnership with the Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts and The H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center on Friday.  

The event was split into multiple sections throughout the day featuring various Black speakers talking about different aspects of working in Hollywood. One of those speakers was Chris White, an award-winning visual effects artist, who spoke over Zoom.  

He is best known for working on movies such as “King Kong,” “District 9” and “Avatar.” He has been nominated for two academy awards for visual effects for “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”  

“As a kid, I was always interested in art and really interested in computers, and my father got me and my brother involved in computers pretty young,” White said when asked about his background. 

In addition to working on movies, White has also spent time working at the Electronic Visualization Lab located at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

“They were doing ground-breaking work with virtual reality, but it was a mix of artists and scientists and I think that combination has helped throughout my career because to this day, we [visual effects artists] work along with scientists and programmers in visual effects,” White explained while going over his time with the lab. 

“With visual effects, a lot of what we (visual effects artists) have to do involves aesthetic and technical and story problems, there are just some things that will be brought to us to try and find solutions to work with the director and work with the studio,”

Chris White, award-winning visual effects artist

Later in the conversation, White spoke about the diversity of the visual effects industry. 

“With visual effects, a lot of what we (visual effects artists) have to do involves aesthetic and technical and story problems, there are just some things that will be brought to us to try and find solutions to work with the director and work with the studio,” White said on his role in the visual effects industry. 

As the conversation came to a close, White talked about people entering the visual effects industry at entry-level positions and the technology available to them. 

“That’s actually pretty amazing these days is that the programs are so advanced that the students actually do have a lot of experience in the same applications that we use. But the thing that I would encourage with students is if there is any position, even if it is production assistant, I would say take it,” said White when talking about young professionals getting opportunities in the visual effects industry. 

White is currently employed as a visual effects supervisor at Weta Digital and was previously employed at Industrial Light + Magic. Some of the movies that he is currently working on are the upcoming “Avatar” sequels. 

If you are interested in attending a future The Diverse Perspectives in Digital Media & Design 2021 Speaker Series, there will be an event streamed over YouTube tonight, Monday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. titled “Bl(x)ck  Rhizomes: A Digital Public History Praxis” with guest speaker Dr. Aleia M. Brown, the assistant director of the African American History, Culture and Digital Humanities at the University of Maryland. 

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