London man to receive technical Oscar next month

Mike Jutan grew up in London but lives in San Francisco, where he works for Industrial Light and Magic. The company was first founded by George Lucas in 1975 and is being honoured for developing a complicated computer system used in 95 films since 2004.

Mike Jutan will receive the golden statue at a ceremony in L.A. on February 10th

Mike Jutan will receive the Oscar on February 10th in L.A. (Submitted by Mike Jutan)

Mike Jutan is living out his wildest dreams.

The 35-year-old London man lives in San Francisco now, and just found out he, along with a few of his coworkers at Industrial Light and Magic, will receive a technical achievement award for their work on a complicated computer system.

Just to be clear. That's an Oscar.

"This has really been a lifetime in the making. I've wanted this thing since I was 10-years-old. I've wanted to work in the job that I'm in, at the company that I'm at."

Jutan said he's wanted to work in computer graphics for film since he first saw Terminator 2: Judgment Day. "That was the movie for me that sucked me in."

Jutan and the rest of the team will receive the golden statue on February 10th in L.A. at the Scientific and Technical Awards for their work on something called the Blockparty Procedural Rigging System.

What the heck is that? 

Jutan said that system is useful for "anything you see in a movie that's a visual effect. All that stuff that moves and flies through the air, and is clearly not a puppet of some sort." 

All of those images need to be modelled, animated, and rendered. They also need to be rigged and that's where Jutan comes in. Imagine that image is a puppet or a marionette.

"The rigger is the person who creates the strings. So they're the person who makes the digital puppet animatable. And those springs are very, very complicated."

Jutan said the computer system has been used in 95 films since 2004.

Jutan credited his success to the many people who supported him along the way, including his teachers at London Central Secondary School. "I was glued to my computer and math was one of my best subjects at school," he said. And his teachers let him skip some computer classes.

"My dad was a chemical engineering professor at Western and he'd always bring back a really amazing computer every few years, he would get a grant and have a home office and this computer was my life.

"This is before the age of the Internet, of course so you weren't wasting time on YouTube or whatever. The only thing to do was Microscoft Word and Excel and teach myself some programming and play with the hardware and open the computer up and break stuff and fix stuff and close it back up." 

The Oscar win is his crowning achievement, Jutan said. 

"What it really means to me is that my work has been able to support so many different artists creating so much different and interesting and unusual and exciting and scary and wonderful imagery that audiences get to see."