May 30, 2024

How to make a blockbuster animated film (your results may vary)

Go behind the scenes at DreamWorks June 6 with Distinguished Graduate Speaker Andrew Pearce
A graphic of an animated wolf and a portfolio that reads 'How to make a blockbuster animated film'
Andrew Pearce

Animated movie magic doesn’t happen on its own. It’s not just the creative vision, hard work, and talent (although those are certainly important too!) — it’s also the leading-edge advances in computing and technology.

In fact, without new developments in computer science, some of the most beloved films of the past 30 years — from Shrek to Jurassic Park to The Matrix — wouldn’t have made it to the silver screen. And it’s more than just processing power. All of these movie marvels rely on novel programs and processes painstakingly developed by innovators in the field.

This June 6, join one such innovator for a look behind the curtain as UCalgary Computer Science alum Andrew Pearce, BSc'84, MSc'88, presents his talk How to Make a Blockbuster Animated Film (Your Results May Vary). A lifelong technology leader, Pearce was VP of Global Technology at DreamWorks until 2023, and helped bring some of today’s most beloved films to life.

This humorous, accessible, and engaging public talk is open to all, and will take place in the MacEwan Hall Ballroom. A catered networking reception will begin at 6:15 p.m., with the talk to follow at 7:00 p.m. Attendees will get an in-depth look at the innovations, learnings, and occasional hijinks that helped shape these cinema classics.

“We are thrilled to have Andrew Pearce join us as a Distinguished Graduate Speaker at spring convocation this year, and to share this exciting talk with our wider UCalgary community,” says Dr. Kristin Baetz, dean of science. 

“Science education is a gateway to accomplishing virtually anything, as Andrew’s distinguished career illustrates.”

Register for the event

About the speaker

Andrew Pearce is a UCalgary 2024 Distinguished Graduate Speaker. Holding a master’s in computer science from UCalgary, he has spent his career working in the field of computer graphics in various roles. In his time at DreamWorks, his projects included spearheading Open Source initiatives such as Academy Software Foundation (, OpenVDB which won a Sci-Tech Academy Award for its inventors, and DreamWorks’ MCRT renderer, MoonRay.

Pearce has 40 film credits, four patents, shares in the Sci-Tech Oscar for the development of Maya, developed and runs, is the president of the board for Impro Theatre in Los Angeles, and wrote and performed in a 1999 CBC comedy special.

Before joining DreamWorks in 2004, he was head of production technology and CTO at ESC, the visual effects house behind the Matrix sequels. He started his career at Alias (then Alias|wavefront, and now part of Autodesk) developing technologies such as Paint Effects, Maya, the Alias Ray Tracer, and delivering Maya for Mac OSX as director of Maya Technologies.

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