Fantastic Film Effects
Special Effects Artist
Where Are They Now?
Where Are They Now?
Brett Ellis has come a long way from playing video games while growing up in Hartville, Mo. He has become a top-rated video animator for a prestigious Los Angeles digital production company.
But if it wasn't for Ozarks Technical Community College, his journey to the West Coast might have never begun. While Brett was attending classes at OTC in 2000, he enjoyed his first taste of computer programming and animation.
"There weren't too many places a kid could work in a town of 600 people. I played sports, video games, and taught myself to draw and play guitar," he said.
Today, Brett has taken what he learned at OTC to become a top special effects artist for a visual effects studio, Digital Domain, in LA.
Brett has worked on such movies as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "The A-Team," "2012" and "Transformers 3."
After high school, he came to OTC to earn his Associate of Arts degree before transferring to the Savannah College of Art & Design.
"Taking classes at OTC helped me to decide that pursuing animation/visual effects was something that I would definitely like to try. I do still have those programming basics I learned at OTC that I dust off from time to time," Ellis said in an interview from Vancouver, B.C., where he is working on a yet-to-be-announced film.
As a special effects artist, Ellis tweaks films with specialized animation of characters and vehicles. Using the technology, he can add or enhance smoke, weather, destruction elements, fire, roaring seas or steaming lava to a film.
"It can be very intense work. One week, I worked 99 hours. If you are thinking about going into the industry, you need to make sure you really love doing the work or you won't last," he said, but added that there's a tremendous upside, too.
"I think it's one of the few careers that allows you to be both technical and creative. Another attraction was that the possibility for traveling the world was there. One film took me to Australia, which remains one of my favorites."