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Life of Pi a dream project for Visual Effects Artist

February 14, 2013

Mary Lynn Machado is part of the team of visual effects artists that worked on Life Of Pi, which is nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Visual Effects.

A veteran in the Computer Animation industry who has worked on over 20 feature films, Mary Lynn is particularly delighted by the success of Life of Pi, which has garnered 11 Oscar™ nominations and one Golden Globe Award. “I am so proud to be part of this movie, particularly as a Canadian. It was a dream project.” The film, set partly in Montreal, is based on the award winning book by Canadian author Yann Martel.

The 1987 Computer Animation graduate is no stranger to the thrill of an Oscar™ nod. She was on the team that won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for the film The Golden Compass in 2008. She was also nominated for a 2013 Annie Award, animation’s highest honour.

Mary Lynn has been creating visual magic at Rhythm and Hues in L.A. since 1995. A fur expert at the studio which specializes in creating computer-generated animals on screen, Mary Lynn worked on the highly intricate orangutan character in Life of Pi. “The human-like elements of the orangutan, including facial features which register emotion, were particularly challenging to create,” she says.

Mary Lynn took a non-traditional route to the world of computer graphics. Growing up in Georgetown, Ontario, she was that rare breed who excelled at both art and math. Math won out initially and she studied the subject at the University of Waterloo. In her second year, Mary Lynn saw The Making of Tron, and her life changed. Made in 1982, Tron was the first movie to implement computer graphics. “The light bulb went off in my head. This was the way to combine computers and art!” recalls Mary Lynn. Three years later, she walked through Sheridan’s doors armed with a BMath and a minor in Fine Arts.

After graduation, Mary Lynn worked for several years at various design companies in Toronto before joining the animation and entertainment industry hotbed of California.

Computer Animation has become a global industry since she joined Rhythm and Hues but the qualities needed to remain successful in the field today haven’t changed, says Mary Lynn. “You can’t burn yourself out; you need to have outside interests to feed your creativity.” For her part, Mary Lynn is an avid breeder and exhibitor of champion Smooth Fox Terriers, and her dogs have been exhibited at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club show in New York.

No matter what fuels your creativity, she adds, “Be flexible, be a team player and create the best work you can in this wonderful industry.”

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The creation of the orangutan