Izar Urcelay | Alaveza of the Month: „Technology Is Essential to Films Like 'The Snow Society'”

Behind the best film productions are teams of more than a hundred professionals. Although directors and actors are usually the main protagonists during promotion, there is a whole chain of work behind them. From script to visual effects including shooting crews.

Alavesa Izar Urcelay of March's EL CORREO knows this well. This computer engineer from the University of Duesto with a master's degree in 3D works at El Ranchito, a famous Madrid studio in the field of visual effects. On February 10, the company won the Goya for Best Special Effects for 'The Snow Society'. 'Mandalorian', 'Westworld' and 'Parallel Mothers' are some of the titles the team has worked on. Bayona's latest, best case of Spanish cinema, Ursele's role has been that of a software developer. He recognizes that explaining his tasks is not easy. How to define it? “I am working on software development to support and create digital files for any role, scenes, artist work management…”, he points out.

– When you were little, what did you want to do?

– Well, I really don't know. I don't remember. What I can say is that when I had to fill out my options for university with a more adult awareness, I chose more diverse majors. Teaching, Fine Arts, Telecom, Chemistry… none of these would have occurred to me.


„I discovered that there was a course in the computer science degree that bored me and could be applied to the audiovisual field”

– In the end he chose Id.

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– Yes, I think I chose computer science, not fine arts, because I believed it would help me take advantage of the fact that I'm good at science. My parents never told me what to study, they always supported me. Then I trained in 3D and it was very artistic. Throughout my working life I have discovered that art and technology can be brought together at the same point. There is a syllabus for Computer Science degree which is a theoretical bogus for me and I discovered its application over time.

– Are computer programmers in every movie that hits theaters?

– No, not all of them. This is especially true in 3D, or 2D, and animated image productions, known as CGI (computer-generated imagery or computer-generated imagery).

– Generally, the artistic part shines more than the technical part.

– More than that, it's normal. But art and technology are inseparable. It is essential for everything to function. If the software or management doesn't work, it won't progress.

Masculinized sector

„There are more women trained and working in the world of animation and in management positions”

– I used to work on designing cartoon skeletons. How was that job?

– The technical term is called 'Rigging'. It is not a field of study in computer science, rather it is a field of art. I studied for a Masters in 3D, which is also enrolled in Fine Arts or Audiovisual Communication. Within animation, we make it easy for a character like 'Bokoyo' to move his wrists, open his eyes or smile.

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Brings 'Bokoyo' to life

– 'Snowflake', 'Bokoyo'. 'The Mouse Pérez 2' is some of the projects he collaborated on. Which character do you have a special crush on?

– (He thinks about it).

Character accent

„We make it easy for digital characters to move or smile with a 'rigging' technique”

– To 'Bokoyo', perhaps? In the fourth season he worked as a technical supervisor on animation for a team of 45 workers.

– All characters from 'Pocoyó'. We had to remake them. It's true that I love Padu's character because apart from having fun with the script, you get to play with his structures. We also created a character named Nina. It was a challenge to create another new hero after so many years.

– Vitoria has animated references to Ruiz de Austri, Ballesteros and Estévez. But the percentage of women in this sector is 30%. Is that scale balanced?

– I think yes in recent years. We noticed that at El Ranchito Studios. The other day, following 8-M, we held an online group among colleagues and we are seeing more women in supervisory positions. In my case, I never noticed any difference or discrimination.

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