Perthshire Advertiser

Pupils step into Star Wars-like world of hi-tech

A school workshop of Lights and Magic

- CLARE DAMODARAN

A group of Blairgowri­e High School pupils spent a week immersed in the world of science fiction and visual effects recently thanks to a ground-breaking collaborat­ion with one of the world’s leading visual effects companies.

London-based Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) worked with Melissa Lawrence, the school’s developing young workforce officer, to create a bespoke work experience opportunit­y which took place virtually as a result of COVID-19 restrictio­ns.

The collaborat­ion with the Beeches Road school is the first of its kind and saw 15 third-year pupils enjoy a glimpse behind the scenes of some of the world’s biggest movies.

ILM was founded by George Lucas in 1975 to create the special effects for the legendary Star Wars films and has gone on to work on numerous bigname blockbuste­rs, including the Jurassic World series and the Marvel Cinemative Universe.

Pupils took part in a range of live streams and workshops throughout the week and worked in teams on a project which they presented to ILM.

Some of the areas they looked at included story-telling, production, animation, modelling, lighting, research and developmen­t.

Pupils also had the opportunit­y to meet with junior talent at ILM, including graduates and runners, and hear about their career pathways.

Blairgowri­e High School head teacher Bev Leslie said: “We were excited at the prospect of the ILM virtual work experience but reality exceeded our expectatio­ns.”

Amy Backwell, emerging talent specialist at ILM, said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Melissa and the fabulous students at Blairgowri­e High School.

“The level of dedication and energy of the pupils involved was just outstandin­g and the variety of interests from arts all the way through to maths and physics allowed for a really diverse mix of talent and personalit­ies.

“The one-week virtual programme we offered was designed to be jampacked full of artist demos, talks, Q&As and interactiv­e challenges so that the students could really immerse themselves in all areas of the VFX pipeline.

“We understand how important it is that students have access to our industry as early as possible so they know that a career in our industry is for anyone who wants it and works hard in a team environmen­t.

“Teamwork was a big part of our programme and each team was encouraged to come up with final storyboard­s, character designs and a moodboard to present on Friday.

“The quality of the students’ moodboards was amazing and we’re really looking forward to seeing what these students go on to do beyond their studies.”

Melissa added: “It was a real pleasure to partner with ILM on this exciting project.

“There was a huge amount of preparatio­n and work involved in developing our bespoke programme and I want to thank Amy, Davi and the many talented speakers from the ILM team for providing our pupils with such an amazing and unforgetta­ble experience.

“I would also like to extend my thanks to Escape Studios, London, for the excellent Python coding workshop.

“The week of presentati­ons and project work has had such a huge impact on our pupils that some are now interested in a pursuing a career in the visual effects industry and we are looking forward to continuing working with ILM on future projects.”

Blairgowri­e and the Glens ward councillor Caroline Shiers convener of Perth and Kinross Council’s lifelong learning committee, said: “I am constantly impressed by the partnershi­ps developed between our schools and the private sector to look at opportunit­ies to explore the careers which may be available to young people and what an amazing opportunit­y for young people at Blairgowri­e High School working with ILM.

“Congratula­tions to Melissa Lawrence and those involved in bringing this work experience – and what exciting experience – to local young people.”

• Images from Star Wars and The Mandaloria­n courtesy of Industrial Light and Magic.

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First of its kind The work experience took place over the course of a week
Learning new skills ILM is one of the world’s leading visual effects companies First of its kind The work experience took place over the course of a week

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