While you check your phone as you wait for your show to come back on, there’s a good chance you’re missing a museum’s worth of artist’s work. With the increasing reliance on digital effects, whether that be the complex task of designing futuristic cities or the simple necessity of making sure the feathers on a passing bird look real, many of those artists will be part of the visual effects team. Each of these behind-the-camera heroes are responsible for a hyper-specific part of the process, from skin texturing to mind-numbing programming. The team-based nature of the industry often makes it difficult to pinpoint specific superstars, but if you want to see just how impactful one person can be among that long list of scrolling names, look no further than Computer Graphics Supervisor extraordinaire, Rune Månsson.
In an industry where the focus is the team, in both technical and artistic areas, it takes an incredible effort to stand out and make a name for yourself. Rune Månsson has done this. Not by being the son of an industry-shaping icon. Not by becoming internet famous with a controversial tweet. He’s done this by literally mastering and changing the industry.
Rune is a Computer Graphics Supervisor (CGS), a title rarely given since most haven’t, and will never, master all of the skills the title truly requires. Like a maestro, he conducts the orchestra of visual effects from top to bottom. Every instrument wielded falls under his guidance. The instruments at play are diverse: sculpting, drawing, designing, and on top of all that, the oft-disregarded artistic endeavor of computer coding. As anyone who has worked under an inept boss knows, a leader can succeed simply by relying on the aptitude of his or her team, and certainly Rune Masson knows how to rely on the aptitude of his team, but like a truly great maestro, there’s no mistaking his hand in the symphony.
Rune works for the largest and most decorated visual effects company in the world, Moving Picture Company (MPC), as CGS in their advertising department. Even for a top company like MPC, a good CG supervisor is hard to come by. Why is this position so difficult? It requires a mastery of multiple skills from artistic, to technical, to the surprisingly rare-to-master interpersonal. Rune Månsson operates at the very top across this diverse skillset.
Beyond his interpersonal leadership, Rune is well decorated with industry awards and credits, such as his inclusion in the Visual Effects Society (VES), an exclusive organization for experts in the field, and a history of sweeping the Design & Art Direction awards. While impressive, these accomplishments hardly skim the surface of Rune Månsson’s contributions to the industry. His crowning achievement isn’t just the trophies, it’s in fostering the next generation of great artists through teaching and creating a multitude of tools for the industry.
Rune has single-handedly developed tools, including his Look Development Tool or “LookDev Tool,” that interacts with the complex VFX software packages Maya and Houdini. Rune’s tool has streamlined both Maya and Houdini and allowed more users to effectively design in both. This tool has made it significantly easier to use the industry’s complex software packages, so that designers are no longer be bogged down by technical issues and can instead focus on what’s important: making beautiful, realistic computer graphics. This revelation is an industry-enhancing one, allowing less experienced junior artists to design on a level they never could have before, the ripples of which will be felt by generations of aspiring graphic artists for years to come. The future generations of artists are extremely important to Rune. This is why once a year he teaches at the renowned Animation Workshop in Denmark, a university for animation and computer graphics that only accepts 50 students every year out of thousands all over the world.
Multimedia production companies cannot survive, let alone thrive, in the digital age without top VFX talent like Rune Månsson that take humdrum basic tools and footage to make a truly compellingly real visual story to capture the hearts and imaginations of viewers across America.