Animex news

Teesside graduate lands job with Pixar

Teesside University School of Computing graduate Phil Shoebottom won’t be experiencing the UK’s harsh winter, as he has clinched a top job in sunny San Francisco.

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Phil Shoebottom

Phil Shoebottom

Phil has been hired as a lighting technical director (TD) for the multi-Oscar winning Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar's prolific output includes the worldwide box office hits Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up and the Toy Story trilogy.

As a lighting TD Phil will take animated characters or set models, and place computer graphics lighting in the scene to simulate real-world lighting conditions or set a mood and atmosphere for the shot. The lighting is mainly done at the later stages of the movie after all the models have been built and animated.

Phil, 28, is originally from a small village near Wakefield. He graduated from Teesside University seven years ago with a BA (Hons) Creative Visualisation and then gained his first post with the Blackpool-based computer graphics animation studio RealtimeUK.

The degree helped me get my first job
He said: 'The most enjoyable part of studying at Teesside was getting to learn about all of the different aspects of computer graphics and discovering which areas I was most interested in. The degree helped me get my first job with RealtimeUK, and gave me the knowledge I needed for working in the industry. I still had a lot to learn once in the workplace, but I had all of the necessary skills needed to make a good foundation.'

During his seven years with RealtimeUK Phil progressed to the role of senior lead artist and also discovered a passion for photography and lighting, and concentrated his efforts on furthering his skills and knowledge in this area.

Phil added: 'I'd always wanted to work for Pixar and applied at least three or four times before I landed the job there. So far living and working in the US has been a dream come true. The work is great, but it has been the people and the experiences that have made it such a great decision to come here. There are so many great things to see and do on the doorstep; I look forward to spending more time here and exploring what the area has to offer.

'There is so much talent and experience at Pixar that I am looking forward to learning from the greats and improving my knowledge and skill level. It's been such a whirlwind so far, there's so much to take in, and so much to explore.

'It might end up taking me 20 years to get there, but my ultimate ambition is to be a director of photography, but I have a lot of experience to gain yet, and there are a number of steps to take to reach that level. At the moment, I'm just happy to be learning and enjoying the challenge.'

Earlier this year, Phil was a guest speaker at Animex, Teesside University’s International Festival of Animation and Computer Games. He said: 'I was quite nervous coming back as a guest speaker but I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without my time at Teesside.'

Chris Williams, Animex Festival Director and one of Phil's tutors while he was at Teesside said: 'It's wonderful to see Phil achieve his ambition and end up working for the world's most famous animation studio. It proves that with the right work ethic and attitude that it is possible to reach your goals, regardless of where you come from, and we are extremely proud to have played a part in helping him. It would be fantastic to welcome Phil back again in a few years, hopefully with an Oscar or two under his belt!"

Next year’s Animex will take place at Teesside University from 7-11 February 2011. For more details email, call 01642 342653, or check the Animex web site at

16 December 2010

In the News

USA and beyond
Sunday Sun (Newcastle), 19/12/2010, p.25; Sunday Sun (Web), 19/12/2010
Phil Shoebottom, a Teesside University graduate, has landed his dream job working for Pixar as a lighting technical director. Phil graduated with a BA in creative visualisation from the University's S

Phil's a Pixar star
Evening Gazette, 17/12/2010, p.21; Gazettelive (Web), 17/12/2010
Teesside University graduate Phil Shoebottom has clinched his dream job at the multi-award winning Pixar Animation Studios.

Animation success for Teesside graduate
BBC Radio Tees, 16/12/2010
Teesside University School of Computing's Chris Williams tells of a former student who has gone on to work for Pixar Animation.

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