As intern student projects passion on screen

Photo by Jeff Primozich

Photo by Jeff Primozich

Amber McKenna

Everyone has his or her claim to fame: shaking hands with celebrities, snapping pictures with pros and getting front-row seats for concerts.
For senior Nick Jauregui, his fame is no claim at all: It is a result of hard work, persistence and knowledge.
Most movie-goers abandon the theater as soon as the credits begin to roll. But if you were to stay awhile, one could see Jauregui’s name in the credits of “Coraline,” the latest animated hit.
Jauregui’s association with “Coraline” began almost a year ago when he decided to look for an internship in computer graphics.
After a computer graphics class trip to the Laika studios in Hillsboro, Ore., Jauregui was inspired.
“It was so cool to see the house sets they had created for commercials,” he said.
Laika, according to its Web site, is an animation company that specializes in commercials, music videos, graphics and both short and feature films. The company is owned by well-known Oregonian and Nike co-founder Phil Knight.
According to an Oregonian article “Coraline,” the studio’s first feature film, made $16.3 million its first weekend in theaters. The movie, based on the book by Neil Gailman, is a combination of 3-D and stop-motion animation.
The film is about Coraline, an 11-year-old girl who gains access to alternate universe where a different version of her life is taking place, according to Internet Movie Database.
Jauregui applied to be a summer intern online, but knew that sending in his résumé for the high-demand position was not enough. Jauregui connected with some of the company’s human resources personnel on the networking Web site, then met them at a career fair, making all possible attempts to leave an impression.
His perseverance paid off when he was called for an interview a month later, then hired to work on “Coraline” as a data wrangler in Laika’s entertainment division.
“I was told later that the main reason I was hired was because I was so excited [the interviewer] practically had to hold me down in my chair,” Jauregui said.
A data wrangler works with a large amount of data and complex computer graphics imagery.
On his first day he was thrown into the work, given responsibilities and tasks to complete, Jauregui said.
“There were always shots coming in,” he said. “We had a huge flow coming into our department, and if our computers were slow, production would basically shut down.”
He said one of his main duties with the 3-D picture was to get shots from the studios and prepare the left eyes to give to editorial to show the director, Henry Selick. Jauregui and other data wranglers also backed up the movie on discs.
Jauregui would often work as a projectionist for the director, the puppet fabrication team, the cameramen and the visual effects team.
He said his biggest challenge was blending, in which he was responsible for blending pixels and coding to make a clean, finished product.
“The longest shot I did was one and a half seconds and it took me about eight hours,” Jauregui said.
While working on the picture, Jauregui had the opportunity to collaborate with different professionals in the industry and observe, in person, jobs that he might want to do in the future.
“I was blown away,” he said. “This is what I want to do.”
Jauregui said that although the 10-hour work days could be stressful and tedious, it was better than anything he could have imagined.
“It was pure Hollywood, but in Portland,” he said. “Anyone would kill for that kind of experience.”
Jauregui got to see his efforts combined with professionals at the crew wrap-up showing of the movie, coinciding with the February premier of “Coraline.”
He said he was amazed at how involved he became in the picture after working on it for only three months.
Jauregui hopes to stay connected with Laika and gain a position among the crew for the studio’s next project, which has yet to be announced.

1 Comment on As intern student projects passion on screen

  1. LAIKA is actually located in NW Portland. The film was made in Hillsboro.

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