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Todd Liddiard

Senior/Lead Compositor, Industrial Light and Magic (VFX and Animation Studio)
Graduate of Electronics Engineering Technology, Class of 1997
From Iron Man to Star Wars, this NC Electronics Engineering Technology alumnus creates visual effects for the same blockbuster films that sparked his interest in the industry.

Current job

As a compositor, I am responsible for combining all of the various elements and pieces of a visual effects shot into the final image as it appears in a film. This would include putting together footage of actors shot on set with computer-generate elements and making it all work together.

Career path

I started my visual effects career in 2000 in Vancouver working on mostly television and commercial projects. I focused specifically on compositing during my career with my eye always on the visual effects blockbusters I dreamed of working on. I worked at a few different studios over several years as the industry in Vancouver grew and I began to work on more high profile feature films.

A major step was working on the first Iron Man movie, the film that launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That led to a job offer to work for Industrial Light and Magic in San Francisco, the visual effects facility that George Lucas started for the original Star Wars films. This was my dream come true, what I had been working towards all my career.

As the visual effects industry continued to expand Industrial light and Magic opened a studio in Vancouver. I joined the Vancouver studio in 2013 and have been there ever since. It has given me the opportunity to do the work I always dreamed of, particularly the new Star Wars films. It has been incredible to work on the series of films that inspired me to get into visual effects in the first place.

Influence and inspiration

The original Star Wars films inspired me to pursue a career in visual effects. I think I found an area with digital compositing where I could really specialize and apply my own particular skills and passions. I feel lucky that the work I’ve done is on the projects I always wanted to be a part of.

Standout NC experience

Niagara College gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to learn and master new disciplines. Through the Niagara College curriculum, I was exposed to many new areas of study where I had no previous knowledge and had to learn something completely new. This skill of learning how to learn has been key to developing my career in visual effects.

I think the hands-on lab sessions at Niagara College where we were building and testing in the real world really stand out as tremendous learning experiences. It took all the textbook theory and grounded it in something tangible.

Career words of wisdom

The advice I would give someone wanting to start a new career in visual effects would be to attend a college program that exposes students to all aspects of visual effects production. This gives the student an opportunity to discover what area they are most interested in and then specialize. When I was going to college, there were very few, if any, specific programs in visual effects so I tried to find a program that gave me a broad foundation to build from.

It has been incredible to work on the series of films that inspired me to get into visual effects in the first place.

I think the Electronics Engineering Technology program at Niagara College really taught me how to problem solve and think critically. Those skills are applied every day in visual effects. They are foundational skills that you need regardless of the software or hardware you end up working with. As technology changes and techniques evolve, the strong technical backing from Niagara College gives me the ability to adapt and grow with it.