Carnegie Mellon University

"Avatar" Asset


"Avatar" Visual Effects Manager Shares Story With Students

AvatarHeidi Walbaum, production manager for visual effects for the hit movie "Avatar," spoke to students on Wednesday Feb. 3 at the Entertainment Technology Center. Walbaum has Pittsburgh roots and worked with Neil Spisak (A'78) on "Spiderman" 1, 2 and 3. Walbaum explained to the students that working on the set of "Avatar" was like stepping into a whole new world, literally. She was responsible for taking the real visual "assets" — costumes, props and set pieces — and transform them into the digital story.

Walbaum worked closely with the visual effects company WETA in New Zealand. She explained the immense detail and time the artists and the animators spent creating the "Avatar" world and how the real time actors were transformed into digital characters.

Pictured at left are David Teot, a Master of Entertainment and Technology Degree candidate; Heidi Walbaum; Ian Matthews, who worked at WETA during "Avatar;" and Mark Piszczor, a Master of Entertainment and Technology Degree candidate. Matthews now works at the Disney Lab in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Eric Sloss