Joe Letteri, visual effects supervisor on 'King Kong', will be among several high-profile guests speaking at The Tate Modern as part of a series of lectures on digital art taking place in September and October 2006.

Hosted by Supernatural Studios and sponsored by Autodesk and Escape Studios, the lectures will examine the development of visual effects and computer animation over the last 20 years and explore their future potential. The lecture programme is as follows:

Monday 18 September – Johnny Hardstaff & Scott Eaton
Scott Eaton is creative technical director at Escape Studios in London. He studied traditional drawing, painting and sculpture in the academic tradition at the Florence Academy of Art. It was there that he began to integrate the lessons of the old masters with the techniques of modern computer graphics. Prior to studying fine art, Scott worked as a researcher in computer graphics at the renowned MIT Media Lab.

Eaton is joined in conversation by Johnny Hardstaff, who initially worked in print graphics for fashion designers such as Paul Smith and Katherine Hamnett. Hardstaff’s first film and subsequent PlayStation commission got him signed to Ridley Scott Associates. His graphic design, image making and films have been exhibited extensively in film festivals such as Onedotzero, ResFest and Mirrorball.

Monday 25 September – Joe Letteri & King Kong
Joe Letteri, visual effects supervisor at New Zealand post-production facility, Weta Digital, will discuss the creation of the Academy Award winning visual effects for Peter Jackson’s 'King Kong'. Joe will show how Weta built 1933 New York City, grew the lush jungles of Skull Island, and brought King Kong to life.

Joe has pioneered and developed many of the digital techniques that have become the standard in bringing photographic quality to visual effects. As an artist, he has specialised in the creation of highly realistic imagery, from the dinosaurs of 'Jurassic Park' and Gollum in 'The Lord of the Rings' to the 25ft gorilla in 'King Kong'. He received two Academy Awards for the visual effects of 'The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers' in 2002, and 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' in 2003. He also received the Academy’s Technical Achievement Award for co-developing the subsurface scattering technique that was used to bring Gollum to life.

Monday 2 October 2006 – Glassworks & The Mill
Juan-Pablo Brockhaus and Pete Reilly from Glassworks discuss current trends in digital animation with Rob Van den Bragt from The Mill.

Brockhaus is a senior 3D artist at Glassworks. After working as a freelancer for several years in Germany, he joined the Glassworks 3D team, and as well as an all round knowledge of animation, he creates scripts and tools for use in production. Pete Reilly is head of Research and Development at Glassworks. Providing in-house tools for use in production, he has also specialised in developing software for visual effects.

Glassworks provides digital animation and visual effects expertise for the production of award-winning commercials, music promos and immersive marketing tools for clients around the world. The company’s expertise is built around a core team of specialists in computer animation, digital effects and compositing, supported by in house team of R&D programmers who develop pioneering software and unique tools used for generating digital content.

Born in Arnhem, The Netherlands, Van den Bragt studied classical animation in Belgium. After obtaining his master degree he worked freelance in Belgium for a short time, then moved to South Africa and worked there for three years in commercials for The Refinery Post Production Facility – the biggest facility in South Africa. On his return to Europe, he worked for Cinesite on feature films as an animator, for Passion Pictures/Slave Studios on an animated CG TV series/feature, as an animation supervisor and currently as lead 3D artist at The Mill where he has been for the past four and a half years. His work has won several prizes and was awarded the title of Maya Master.

All lectures take place at 6.30pm - 8pm at the Starr Auditorium. Tickets are £10 (£8 concessions) and can be booked by calling 020 7887 8888 or online at www.tate.org.uk/modern/eventseducation/talksdiscussions/digitalartanewrenaissance.htm