AUSTIN (KXAN) - Greg Omelchuck is one of three partners in a small Austinanimation and special effects group called MoontowerVFX.
You would think a guy like that would be a SXSW veteran, andOmelchuck has been to the film festival, just more or less, for thefun of it. This year, though, he and fellow Moontower owners RayPena and Raina James agreed to take the proverbial poison.
"It's hard to get people to go to your Web site and look at yourdemo reel; I don't know why, but it is difficult," said James. "Andso when you can kind of come up and, 'Here's my demo, right here;you have to watch it because I'm standing in front of you.' Andthen they go, 'Oh, that's good.'"
The trio hit the festival hard, working potential contacts atparties, in halls of the convention center headquarters, whereverthey could find people willing to listen. When they did discoversomeone with time and interest enough to stop, that demo reel was apotent force.
"We've been growing with the industry and we've got our skillset high enough now that we feel that we can compete with the bigboys," said Omelchuck.
In fact, Pena has worked shoulder to shoulder with the big boys.Through informal networking with friends, he landed a gig in LosAngeles, working on the animation crew for the newly-released Alicein Wonderland.
"You know, Tim Burton, it was nice to see that he hand-pickedsome of my shots to be used in the film," said Pena.
So when the demo reel appeared on an iTouch at a SXSW party,eyes widened.
"When we show someone our reel, their first reaction is, 'Youworked on Alice,' you know, 'you worked on that but I'm talking toyou. How is that possible?" said James.
Moontower also worked on a "bumper" that was featured beforemost of the movies screened in the SXSW Film Festival. The shortchronicles the adventures of a young woman who disregards theadvice of her mother and goes for a walk, only to be attacked byall manner of beasts, zombies and unruly whatevers. Just as she isabout to be swallowed by a shark, the words, "Stay home; watchmovies," appear on the screen. The bumper brought even moreattention to Moontower.
The goal is to land bigger and bigger jobs with the "big boys,"until Pena, Omelchuck and James become "big boys (and girl)."Already Pena's name appears "at the end" of the Alice credits, atestimony to Moontower's growing heft in the computer graphicsworld.
"When you do see large films like Avatar and Alice inWonderland," said James, "you forget that it's not computers makingthese things; it's people making them."
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