Computer animator Nigel is nominated for Bafta

Nigel Sumner, who has been nominated for a Bafta for special visual effects for Pacific Rim.
Photo courtesy of Industrial Light & Magic

Nigel Sumner, who has been nominated for a Bafta for special visual effects for Pacific Rim. Photo courtesy of Industrial Light & Magic

A former Stamford College student has been nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for his work on the blockbuster movie Pacific Rim.

Computer animator Nigel Sumner has been nominated for the best Special Visual Effects category of the Baftaswhich will be announced at a glittering ceremony to be held at the Royal Opera House in London on February 16.

The 38-year-old, who grew up in Uppingham, where his family still live, said: “It’s really nice to be recognised for something that I’m passionate about.”

Nigel, who was 21 when his 56-year-old dad Robin, a self employed businessman, died from complications arising from a ruptured ulcer, said he owed his “hard-work ethic and the desire to be the best that I can be” to his dad.

“He will be in my thoughts at the awards,” said the former Leighfield Primary, Uppingham Community College and Stamford College pupil.

“I wish he could have been there, but I’m sure he would have been proud.”

His mum Maureen, retired proprietor of the Clutter Antiques, in Uppingham, echoed the sentiment.

“I wish Nigel’s dad was alive to share the moment,” she said. “I know he would have been very proud of his son, just as I am.”

Nigel’s love affair with technology and animation began at an early age.

“I used to love building things with Lego and Meccano, then when we got our first home computer it opened up new ways of being creative,” he said.

With an aptitude for pure maths, physics and art, a degree in computer visualisation and animation seemed the natural choice after A-levels at Stamford College.

Nigel said: “When I was looking at university courses I found it hard to find what I wanted.

“It was around the time when Jurassic Park was released. That was the deciding factor, when I knew ‘this is what I wanted to do’.

“I thought, if you can bring dinosaurs to life then there is no end to what you can do.”

In 1997 while studying at Bournmouth University Nigel and three fellow graduates worked on a project to create a Mars simulator ride called Mission on Mars for the Nasa space centre.

He was teaching part-time at the university and studying for his Masters at the time.

Nigel said: “At the same time I also applied to Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) a Lucasfilm Company for a job.”

A brief spell at The Computer Film Company in London was followed by a successful interview at ILM in California, working initially on commercials then feature films.

His first film project was on The Perfect Storm in 2000 when as technical director of computer generated image sequences he created water sprays and splashes along with the team working on special effects,

In 2007 Nigel relocated to Singapore, to help set up ILM’s first international studio with a team of 20 artist, which has since grown to 300.

Nigel said: “During this time we have worked on movies such as Transformers 1,2,3 (and now 4), Marvels the Avengers, JJ Abrahm’s Star Trek, Iron Man 1 and 2, Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and 4, as well as a host of other projects.”

It was his role here in creating visual effects for Pacific Rim that culminated in the Bafta nomination.

Nigel admitted that the early days were anything but plain sailing.

He said: “It involved a lot of hard work, especially as a student. Certainly there was also an element of good fortune - a lot of what you know and a little of who you know. I was fortunate to work with like minded individuals.”




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