In real life, he’s a cowboy. Dressed in dapper blue jeans, white shirt, buckled belt and ash blonde hair — unassumingly you’ll miss him for an actor. But cutting his convention, Jim Rygiel is Hollywood’s special effects wizard.
The man, whose paintbrush and software layers got him the Academy Award three years in a row for Peter Jackson’s fantastical adaptation, Lord Of The Rings, is now claiming to be smitten by Bollywood.
“It excites me. I always wanted an opportunity to work with studios here. And this seems to be my chance,” he says, as he signs up with the Mumbai-based VFX outfit, Geon Studios, that works on the special effects for Sahara One Motion Pictures.
Rygiel, has signed on as an advisor and will oversee the special effects for Sahara’s movie releases besides other work the studio takes up. “When Madhusudan, CEO, Geon Studios, approached me for the association, I researched on Bollywood and felt it had huge potential for me to spice it up,” Rygiel states.
In Hollywood, the man is known to recreate animate objects, people and fantasial elements. His expertise lies mostly in sci-fi projects. From making alien critters wage a war in Starship Troopers to creating an iconic paranormal scare in Alien and giving the superhero his dark side antics in Batman Returns, Rygiel’s works have given imagination images that have become a part of pop culture.
Gollum, once more
But his recreation of JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings that got him his epic win. “Working with Peter (Jackson, director) on putting Tollekin’s world in image was deeply overwhelming and more so by Peter’s scale of imagination,” Rygiel says, as he recalls Speagol (Gollum), as the most challenging aspect of the movie.
“Gollum was more alien-looking than his real self. We created him from scratch. We did rotomaton which is a process where you bend the digital character to match frame by frame with the real (played byAndy),” Rygiel explains. He is currently working on recreating Lilliput in Rob Letterman’s spectacle Gulliver’s Travels.
The SFX wizard, however, feels that Bollywood special effects are still in their nascent stage. “The industry is in a transition phase and there is a lot of stress on recreating major action sequences on digital. That’s what I am here for,” he informs.
With Geon, Rygiel will be working on a couple of animation projects. “It’s too early to disclose the details right now, but there are few animation projects that we have been discussing,” he smiles.
From Rygiel’s Desktop
The Day The Earth Stood Still
Night At The Museum
Lord of the Rings : Return of the King, The Two Towers, Fellowship Of The King
Star Trek: Insurrection