A 15-year veteran of film, animation, and games, I create cutting-edge visuals for some of the best entertainment studios in the world including Walt Disney Animation Studios, Microsoft Studios, Weta Digital, Blizzard Entertainment, and DreamWorks Animation. My experience has left me versed in a wide range of styles—from the fantastic to the photorealistic.
Whether delivering shots for an Academy Award-winning VFX film like Avatar or solving challenges to increase image fidelity for the Forza franchise, I’m grateful for the privilege to contribute my creative and technical skills to the types of projects that have fascinated me since I was young. It’s especially satisfying when I get to balance those skills equally.
A proven art lead, I excel at creating teams that can adapt quickly to handle changes in production priorities. Providing artistic direction, inspiration, and education, I enjoy helping artists improve their skills and confidence. Mentoring also allows me create workflows that fit individuals’ strengths and limitations.
David Lesperance - Principal Modeler, Riot Games
Jason Barnes - Senior Product Manager, Topps Digital
Jason Hill - Project Director, Blizzard Entertainment
Matt Wright - Senior Artist, Amazon Game Studios
Brian La France - Senior Vista Artist, High Moon Studios
On every title, prototype, and incubation iteration I use my visual effects and animation background to bring the refined aesthetic of film to sophisticated real-time experiences. I direct and craft lighting, look, color, and atmosphere to create stunning visuals that enhance gameplay and cinematics.
As Lighting Supervisor for Turn 10 Studios, I shaped the lighting for Forza Motorsport 5 and Forza Motorsport 6. Leading teams that tackled challenging day, night, and wet scenarios for dozens of environments, I achieved a high-quality, consistent aesthetic across the games.
Working closely with Playground Games, I created the foundational lighting for Horizon 2 and was part of the team that refined it to polish.
In my Look/Lighting Development Lead role on Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo franchises, I developed lighting and materials for cinematic characters and environments. Alongside Project and Art Directors, I helped forge a cohesive visual language.
Coupled with my feature film experience, these roles have given me a unique understanding of the perks and perils of offline dependencies for real-time titles and pre-rendered cinematics. I design pipelines that maximize a studio’s bandwidth and minimize the pitfalls.
My roles have also given me an understanding of the importance that physically-based rendering plays in today’s real-time visuals. More importantly, they've lent me the insight to create PBR lighting workflows upon which consistent foundations can be built but to which art direction need not be chained. Algorithms can indeed compromise with aesthetic, and vice-versa.
When the need arises, I write tools that lead to better workflows and higher-quality visuals. From feature-rich turntables to asset analysis stages, I create working prototypes that demonstrate clear intent and collaborate with Tools teams to integrate them.
As a child, I was fascinated by visual effects films. I devoured any source I could find that described how visual effects were created, and as I learned more that fascination became passion. By college I was determined to work in film and worked obsessively toward that goal. When the opportunity arrived, I leapt.
I’ve worked on small VFX films, animated features, and summer blockbusters that literally transformed the cinematic landscape. Privileged to be part of the revolution that saw the line between visual effect and cinematic substance blur to nothing, the passion to create impossible, amazing visuals remains.
As a Senior Lighting Technical Director for Weta Digital working on Avatar, I lit and composited the Na’vi on the alien world Pandora. On The Adventures of Tintin, I was part of a team responsible for defining the look of sequence lighting during early production.
I was a Lighting Lead on Meet the Robinsons, Walt Disney Animation Studios' second 3D animated feature. Directing a team of Lighting Artists, I established key lighting, assisted with visual development, and refined character and environment workflows.
I cut my teeth as a Lighting Artist and Compositor on Kangaroo Jack, Reign of Fire, Shark Tale, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. I learned the fundamentals of creating light rigs, the importance of understanding the character of light, the flexibility of compositing, and the need for sound look development workflows.
Each film added to my experience, showing me how different disciplines worked in step to overcome a seemingly endless series of production challenges. It became clear that there was something to learn from every department, every team, every person. And that—occasionally—you needed to write your own tools.
A student at Kent State University, I was fortunate to have both a great boss and student adviser named Donna Carlton. Donna understood what other faculty didn’t: that we were a bunch of barely-adults who for the most part didn’t know what the hell we were doing but were doing our best at it. She gave us freedom and support far beyond the definition of her role, and we were all the better for it.
In 2002, Donna lost her 15-year-old son Dylan to complications from a congenital heart defect. Many of us hoped to memorialize Dylan where Donna had given so much. Delta Upsilon, the KSU fraternity she advised for many years, established the Delta Upsilon Dylan Fitzgerald Carlton Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2006.
An endowment fund was not a scholarship, though. To become viable, the fund would need to cross a $25,000 threshold. To get things rolling, I donated $10,000 but was bothered that it wasn't enough.
The Tour de France Challenge was created to inspire others to help make the scholarship a reality. The fundraiser centered on one simple thing: riding Stage 14 of the 2007 Tour de France and allowing donors to challenge my performance.
Stage 14 was chosen because it was arguably the most difficult of the 2007 TDF: a mountainous 122-miles with more than 12,000 ft of climbing. I was determined to earn the donations.
To make things interesting, I offered ‘Performance Contracts’. With a Performance Contract, the donor set a goal for me (finish the stage, lose a certain amount of weight, etc). If I succeeded, the donor had to double their donation.
And I added a twist: if I failed to meet a donor's challenge, I had to donate the additional funds. That guaranteed the endowment would get the maximum possible donation.
I trained for 6 months in the mountains of southern California, spending up to 7 hours a day on the bike and shedding 30 lbs in the process.
When I started pedaling there was more than $3,000 in performance contract donations that would come out of my pocket if I didn’t finish.
Nearly 8 hours later, battered and exhausted after two crushing mountain climbs but with the encouraging shouts of French cycling fans ringing out around me (“Allez! Allez!”), I crested the summit of the Plateau-de-Beille.
I completed the stage and raised more than $15,000 in additional funds for the endowment, making it a fully realized scholarship.
The scholarship is awarded yearly to a Kent State University student who has demonstrated exemplary leadership and community service.
Your passion is why I love my job. I have not come across a donor who would literally go the extra mile like you have. Bridgett Ford, Senior Development Associate, Kent State University Foundation