Justin Rotolo

Justin Rotolo

Pathway Coordinator (Animation and VFX), Lecturer, and Course Coordinator, Te Rewa o Puanga - The School of Music and Creative Media Production

Justin has been working in the animation, visual effects, and post-production industry since the late 1990’s. He started his career in feature film at Blue Sky Studios working as a junior animator for Ice Age (2002) and most recently worked as a character setup artist at Sony Pictures Imageworks and as a compositor at The Molecule.

Justin’s artistic practice employs traditional multi-media, computer graphics, and virtual / augmented reality. His research projects leverage skills learned throughout a 20-year career in the field of visual effects, animation, and fine art practice. Justin’s artworks often combine traditional fine art with digital production techniques to create augmentations that speak to the potential or limitations of devices and technologies, while exploring notions of self, presence, and tangibility. Justin has produced artworks for solo and group exhibitions in New Zealand and abroad.

  • Expertise

    3D computer graphics, animation, visual effects and compositing, pre-production, production, post-production, fine art.

  • Research Highlights

    Gravity (2013)

    Justin was one of a small number of contractors hired by Framestore to form a new “technical layout” department, which was established to solve the unique technical challenges presented by this Academy Award-winning film. Justin’s work helped establish new workflows for achieving novel visual effects, namely the large scale and seamless integration of weightless actors in photorealistic digital space environments.

    The Angry Birds Movie (2016)

    Justin worked with the character setup team at Sony Pictures Imageworks to transfer the client vision and their immediately recognisable 2D character aesthetic, to an elaborate 3D world. Justin brought years of character setup experience to a team of engineers and artists, helping create novel frameworks for the production of digital character assets that met the demands of a world-renowned animation team. Justin liaised with research and development to engineer new tools that facilitated the game’s aesthetic integrity when re-constructed in 3D for major motion picture.

    World War Z (2013)

    Using proprietary crowd simulation software, Justin simulated digital zombies using motion capture animation. However, this film required an innovative, physically accurate dynamic element that was impossible to motion capture. Liaising with engineers in research and development, Justin worked with the crowd team at London’s MPC to establish new simulation frameworks that led to the creation of physically accurate human (zombie) motion on a very large scale.

    Consternation and Applause (2013)

    Informed by the horror theatre of the Victorian era in which apparitions appeared to inhabit the same tangible space as the spectator, Justin’s digitally enhanced photographs “resurrect” memories forgotten or erased in the context of the fast-moving, fleeting temporality that defines contemporary life. The photo series, collectively titled “Consternation and Applause”, combined long shutter speeds with Adobe Photoshop techniques to create and exploit visual abstractions that play with ideas around subconscious memory, time and space. Leveraging Justin’s experience as a digital artist for film and television, his informed technical approach makes use of digital layers to construct stories and memories from the pedestrian, using the transient streets of New York City as the world in which these narratives are found. The exhibition reflects Justin’s iterative approach to making art using innovative digital tools to create structure and narrative through process rather than the meticulously planned approach with analogue mediums.

  • Qualifications

    BFA, Computer Art, 2001 (The School of Visual Arts)

    MFA, Fine Art, 2016 - present (Massey University)

  • Professional Affiliations

    Visual Effects Society