Michael Manza

*Birth/: August 27

*Occupation/Title*:
Visual Effects (IMDB.com)

*Bio Summary*:
In Toronto, Canada, a future artist was born. His name is Michael Manza. Reaching for impossible dreams, Michael Manza has been an artist ever since he was young. Working in the industry, Michael worked in places such as Pixar Canada, DreamWorks Animation, Weta Digital and Toybox. In these various studios, Michael was engaged in a variety of positions and titles. From becoming a 3D animation artist, Michael also worked as a FX technical director, lead lighter, compositor, and now currently working as a lighting technical artist at Pixar Canada. He was hand selected from 3,000 competitive applicants to be part of Centennial College initial Digital Art Program and only 13 were chosen for the intense program. During his studies, Michael learned various animation software packages such as Prisms (Houdini), Maya (Alias), and Softimage. He chose to specialize in Prisms (Houdini) because of the challenges and difficulty and also since less individuals knew this software well enough. Overcoming many obstacles and life turning events, Michael is now an accomplished artist and working in this competitive field.

*Early Life/Family*:
Michael Manza was born in Little Italy, Toronto, Canada. Out of three siblings in his family, he was the youngest and the only individual who has pursued the career in art.

*Education/Training*:
Centennial College
Programs: Softimage, Alias (Maya) and Prisms (Houdini). Specialized in Prisms (Houdini) because of its difficulty and less people in the industry were fluent with the software.

*Career Outline*: (From most recent)
(September 2010 – Present) Lighting Technical Artist at Pixar Canada

(October 2003 – August 2010) Lead Lighter and Compositor at DreamWorks Animation

(1999 – 2003) Lighting Technical Director and an FX Technical Director at Weta Digital

(January 1997 – January 2000) 3D Animation Artist at Toybox

*Comments On Style*: Lighting artist and Technical Director.

*Influences*:
Cartoons played a big role in shaping Michael’s early childhood and even as an adult it is still part of his life. As a child, Michael entered many art contests and also won the TV Guide at the age of five years old. Moreover, he had a great admiration for Walt Disney along with watching almost every Disney movie. While he was younger, Michael dreamt of becoming an animator and working at Disney. During his adolescent years while attending art school, *Bugs Bunny Shows* made way into his life. The contrast of Disney and Bugs Bunny style were on opposite ends, but they both impacted him as an artist. Other cartoons such as Hanna Barbara, the Flintstones, Yogi Bear and many others also inspired Michael as an influential aspect of his life.

*Personality*:
Blessed with the opportunity to talk to Michael about his career and about himself, Michael was considerate, kind, detailed and very pleasant to talk to. Although I was unable to physically meet him, his personality did show through the correspondences I had exchanged with him.

*Anecdotes*:
A successful career in the graphic industry redirected Michael’s dream of attending Sheridan College after high school. Twenty-three years later, the turning point of his life paved a path to schooling once again. He returned to Centennial College to follow his childhood dream of animation and becoming an animator. His first animation job was located at a company in Toronto. With his impressive Prisms (Houdini) skills, Side Effects, one of the software providers, secretly submitted Michael’s demo reel to Weta Digital. The best decision he had made was accepting the a position offered to him to work on *Lord of the Rings Trilogy* in New Zealand. The *Lord of the Rings Trilogy* was a treasure chest full of gold, allowing Michael to leave his legacy in the most renowned film.

*Miscellaneous*:
Also known as Michael J. Manza as an alternate name.

Out of the films and projects Michael had contributed his talents to, his most memorable and favorite would be the first of the *Lord of the Rings Trilogy films (The Fellowship of the Ring)*. Working on this film was a turning point in his career and also the work he is most proud of. Although LOTR was made in 2001, the visual effects standards in this film still stands, leaving a legacy in history. The experience with collaborating and working along many talented individuals around the world was unforgettable.

*Filmography*:
2010* Shrek Forever After * (lead lighter: DreamWorks Animation)
2009 *Monsters vs Aliens * (lead lighter: DreamWorks Animation)
2008 *Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa *(lead lighter: DreamWorks Animation)
2007 *Bee Movie * (lead lighter: DreamWorks Animation)
2006 *Flushed Away * (lead lighter: DreamWorks Animation)
2006 *Over the Hedge * (lighter: DreamWorks Animation)
2005 *Madagascar * (lighter: DreamWorks Animation)
2004 *Shark Tale * (lighter: DreamWorks Animation)
2004 *Shrek 2 * (additional lighting - as Michael J. Manza)
2003 *The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King * (3D lighting technical director: Weta Digital)
2002 *The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers * (3D technical director/lighter: Weta Digital)
2001 *The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring * (effects animator: Weta Digital)
1999 *Fight Club * (3D animator - uncredited)
1999 *Happy Face Murders * (TV movie)
(digital effects 3D animator ToyBox)
1999 *eXistenZ * (3D animator: Toybox)
1998 *Bride of Chucky * (3D animator: Toybox)
1997 *The Planet of Junior Brown *(CGI animator)
1997 *Lexx: The Dark Zone Stories *(TV mini-series)
(digital effects 3D animator ToyBox)

*Honors*:
TV Guide at age 5.
Oscars – Lord of the Rings Trilogy

*Related Links*:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0544380/
http://ir.dreamworksanimation.com/contactBoard.cfm
http://www.pixarcanada.com/faq.html
*Bibliographic References*:
Obtained through imdb.com, linkedin.com, and short interviews with Micheal Manza through e-mail.

*Contributors To This Listing*:
Katie Ling

Animators Hall of Fame