The Canal Winchester Times

Oscar-winning artist got his start in central Ohio

Animator Steve Hubbard says teachers at Reynoldsburg High School, CCAD inspired his choice of career

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Former Reynoldsburg resident Steve Hubbard (center) with Rhythm & Hues Studios visual effects supervisors Bill Westenhoffer (left) and Erik De Boer holding the Oscar the team won for the film "Life of Pi."

Animator Steve Hubbard credits his student days at Reynoldsburg High School and Columbus College of Art and Design with giving him a background that led to Academy Award-winning work.

The 1992 Reynoldsburg graduate and 2010 CCAD graduate was a member of the Rhythm & Hues Studios team that won an Oscar last month for visual effects used in the film Life of Pi.

Hubbard, who now lives in Malibu, said he was "incredibly excited" to win the Oscar.

"It was wonderful to know that all the hard work and long hours by hundreds of artists that worked on the film had paid off," he said. "It was a great feeling to see all of our work recognized by the Academy and our peers."

Life of Pi, a film about a teenage Indian boy named Pi set adrift at sea with a Bengal tiger, won several Oscars Feb. 24, including best director, Ang Lee, and awards for cinematography, visual effects and original musical score.

Hubbard said he worked on about 20 shots throughout the film, including fur and muscle simulations for the tiger, a hyena and a zebra.

He said he also worked on a tarp's interactions with the animals and Pi, the ropes on the boat and the movements of fish.

The movie is based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, about Pi Patel, the son of a zookeeper, who ends up adrift on the Pacific Ocean in a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, hyena, orangutan and a 450-pound tiger named Richard Parker.

Other films Hubbard has worked on include Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and Black Sky, as a matte-painting artist; and R.I.P.D, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, X-Men: First Class and Hop, as technical animator.

Hubbard said he developed an interest in film and computer graphics while working for Reynoldsburg High School's student newspaper, The Compass, and the student television broadcast.

"I spent any free time I had in the computer lab or in the TV studio at RHS, learning about computer graphics and filmmaking," he said.

At CCAD, he majored in time-based media studies. He has worked at Rhythm & Hues since November 2010.

Hubbard's son, Devin, and his grandmother, Dianne Hubbard, still live in Reynoldsburg. He also has a twin brother, Jeff, who lives in Westerville.

"One thing I would like to stress is a big thank you to all the educators at CCAD and RHS," Hubbard said. "Their support and inspiration over the years has helped get me to where I am. Arts education is so important and I don't think it is stressed enough.

"Artists are very valuable to our society and people need to recognize that," he said. "Without arts education, who will be there in 20 years to make more wonderful art like Life of Pi? The visual effects in movies today aren't done by just pushing buttons. They are achieved through the hard work of many artists."