Expert’s words: Alwyn Hunt, co-founder of The Rookies Awards

Alwyn Hunt has a background in fine arts and has been in the industry for over ten years. He has been working for some of the most prestigious VFX studios worldwide (including Sony Imageworks, Double Negative or Weta Digital) and has also launched The Rookies International Awards for young designers in 2009, with Andrew McDonald. His main film credits include Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Watchmen, The Wolfman, Alice in Wonderland, John Carter, Superman: Man of Steel, Ironman 3, The Hobbit 1 and 2.

What was the idea behind the creation of The Rookies Awards?

There is a few reason why we created The Rookies. One of the main reasons was that we felt that a lot of students are lost after graduating. They struggle to get their ‘foot in the door’ or have no idea what to do next to make themselves more employable. We encourage all students to enter, it’s not about winning it’s about getting the confidence to get your work online and seen for the first time. Every person that enters gets a ranking from our industry professional.

How big is it now in terms of participants, projects, categories, international recognition…?

The Rookies attracted close to three thousand students last year and we’re expecting that number to increase again this year. It’s amazing to see so many people from around the world entering, there are people entering from countries I’ve never heard of before 😉

This year we have categories that you can enter as an individual – Feature Animation, Visual Effects, Game Development, Digital Illustration, Virtual Reality, Architectural Visualisation, Product Visualisation, 3D Motion Graphics

Or for team-based projects: Film of the Year (Visual Effect, 2D Animation, 3D Animation) and Game of the Year (PC & Console, VR/AR, Mobile).

During the running of The Rookies (March-June), there are a lot of recruiters and industry looking at the site. It’s a great way to get exposure and see how you rank against your peers overseas.

Next year is the 10th Anniversary. What big changes did you see in the past ten years, and what do you think will be the next ones in the forthcoming 10 years?

An obvious one is with the new technologies being developed. We only introduced VR & AR two years ago and are only now starting to see courses mature. We’re looking forward to seeing the content for this category this year.

Looking forward 10 yrs. The level of complexity in student demo reels will be unbelievable. Each year we are amazed at the high level that is coming out of some schools. On the flip side of that though, we still see a lot of students making the same mistakes that were made ten years ago.

Software used for industries like VFX, Games, VR, AR and Arch-viz will merge. This will give a greater range of opportunities for students to be content creators studying in these fields.

Cloud-based rendering will become more popular with the increase in internet speeds.

‘The Uncanny Valley’ will be no longer. We won’t be able to tell what’s real and what is CG with digital doubles.

Credits: Joakim Englander (top left), Dovydas Budrys (top, middle), Sudhan Lakshmanan (right), Angela Matinong (bottom left), Jean-Philippe Lyber (bottom, middle), Rotem Talker (bottom right).