CalArts wins SGI tech support

Silicon Graphics said Thursday it would donate hardware and software to California Institute of the Arts to facilitate training of artists for the visual effects and animation fields. The equipment is valued at almost $4 million.

Twentieth Century Fox, the Roy Disney Foundation and the Ahmanson Foundation are making financial contributions to cover costs of the technology.

Cal Arts plans to station the SGI gear in three areas: the Computer Animation Laboratory, the School of Music’s composition/new music laboratory and a new Interdisciplinary Lab for students in the school’s various departments.

The move was made in response to a shortage of trained digital artists throughout the entertainment industry.

For more than a year, execs at Hollywood post and effects houses have bemoaned the labor shortage. Companies routinely recruit outside the state of California, and it’s becoming increasingly common for visual effects shops to look toward other countries for trained artists.

Earlier this year, California Gov. Pete Wilson announced his support for the Cal Grant Digital Arts & Multimedia Initiative. Wilson proposed 500 new scholarships for students in the digital imaging field, one of California’s fastest-growing industries.

According to the governor’s office, demand for digital artists is likely to grow 20% a year over the next five years. Currently, according Wilson’s office, about 60% of digital animators in the entertainment industry are recruited from outside the U.S.

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