Home-grown talent at Rising Sun Pictures

By Melissa Keogh

Actors Tom Hanks and Austin Butler in a scence from the film Elvis. A scene from the epic biographical drama film Elvis, starring Tom Hanks, left, and Austin Butler, which Rising Sun Pictures - including junior compositor and UniSA graduate Maddison Green - worked on. Image courtesy RSP

UniSA graduate Maddison Green first came across Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) as a high school student attending a UniSA Open Day.

UniSA graduate Maddison Green

Fast forward a few years and Maddison is now part of the team at the Adelaide visual effects studio and has worked on Hollywood films such as the epic biographical film Elvis and action-adventure flick Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

Working as RSP’s junior compositor, it is her job to help create the final image of a frame, shot or sequence. A compositor takes all the different digital materials used, such as computer-generated images and live footage, and combines them to appear as one cohesive image and shot.

“I’ve been working at RSP for just over two-and-a-half years now and have had a couple of roles within that time,” Maddison says.

“Currently I am a junior compositor but have also worked in the technical services and paint and roto teams.

“I’ve been very lucky to work on an amazing scope of projects within such as a short period of time. Some of my favourites include Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Elvis and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.”

Maddison began a Bachelor of Media Arts (which is now the Bachelor of Film and Television) in 2018. In her third year she undertook training with RSP as part of a collaboration between UniSA and the visual effects studio.

“It’s really amazing to be able to work on Hollywood scale projects and know so many people have seen my work. I especially love being able to go to a crew screening with my co-workers to see all our work on the big screen together,” she says.

“Being able to do this kind of work from Adelaide is amazing. I’m from Adelaide, so it’s allowed me to stay close to family and friends and keep enjoying our lovely city and state.”

Maddison is one of 70 UniSA graduates currently working at RSP. Since the UniSA and RSP partnership launched in 2015, almost 200 graduates have passed through the program and are now working in the industry.

UniSA and RSP recently expanded training opportunities for aspiring visual affects artists by launching a new Bachelor of Visual Effects as well as Graduate Certificates in 3D Animation and Creature Effects.

The Bachelor degree will be taught on UniSA’s campus as well as onsite at RSP, while the Graduate Certificates will be delivered at the RSP studio.

To accommodate the expected influx of students, RSP has constructed larger purpose-built classrooms in its new production facility in Adelaide’s CBD.

The expansion of the visual effects offerings was prompted by overwhelming interest from future students, matched with unprecedented industry demand.

RSP president Jennie Zeiher says that following the pandemic, “the worldwide visual effects industry experienced unprecedented growth, and that drove a record demand for talent”.

“We anticipate further growth in early 2024 as projects accelerate back into production off the back of the US industrial action,” Zeiher says.

“This is one of the only university-delivered programs where students train onsite at a world-class studio and not only gain practical skills but also receive the mentoring and career advice they need to begin and sustain rewarding, lifelong careers.”

UniSA senior lecturer Dr Josh McCarthy says the teaching team worked with local and national industry to identify growth areas and skill shortages.

“3D animation and creature effects were two disciplines of need,” he says. “The new standalone degree in visual effects is similarly designed to accommodate student demands and industry requirements. We want to produce graduates with multidisciplinary skills and the flexibility to move between specialisations within the visual effects industry. It’s a comprehensive approach toward training.”

Applications for 2024 are open via the South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC).