TJC computer-animation professor contributes to 'Ready Player One'

TJC computer-animation professor contributes to 'Ready Player One'

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Steven Spielberg's new sci-fi adventure "Ready Player One" explores a digital world full of digitally animated characters.

To fill this world with animated extras-- movie runners picked artists to contribute.

Tyler Junior College professor Justin Sullivan was one of them.

"The movie is about looking for Easter eggs, that's a big theme," said Sullivan. "So, it was fun looking for a character that is your own. It was cloud 9."

In 2016, Sullivan was excited to hear the Ernest Cline book would be adapted into a movie, and they were looking for computer animators to contribute making "digital extras."

"So, I jumped at the opportunity and when I heard it was Spielberg film it was a dream come true," said Sullivan.

Digital extras are similar to background actors in live-action movies. They fill the background.

Sullivan's only rule for creating a digital character was it couldn't be a character from the book. It had to be original.

"There were a lot of background characters I imagined when I read the books," said Sullivan. "So, I just picked one."

Sullivan credits his wife with helping him develop his idea of the character.

After two days' worth of work Sullivan says he emerged from his workplace with a female-like robot inspired by the 80s.

"It's a really cool robot character that has jet packs, a stereo, and a Walkman. It lives through the 80s because that's what the movie is about," said Sullivan.

He submitted his design and the model of it, shortly after was notified he was picked.

Sullivan had to wait until 2018 to see it on the big screen, but for him it was worth.

"It's unbelievable I have a character in a Spielberg film," said Sullivan. "This is a film that has video game characters, like Batman. Everybody knows Batman, and my character in the film is next to Batman. These are iconic figures for me so to have that in the film is perfect."

Sullivan says even though his creation appears in one scene, he hopes this inspires his students.

"My students are excited about it. All of them have at least seen it once and they all come in and say 'hey, I saw your character, Sullivan.' So, it's pretty cool," said Sullivan.

Sullivan has previously created digital animation for video games, but 'Ready Player One' was his first movie.

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