Glamorgan's Ultramarines

A lecturer, three students and two recent graduates have been working on the visual effects for a computer generated animated movie. Find out more about their work on Ultramarines

From left to right: Jonathan Davies, Victoria Boyce and Joel Ritmeyer

Not a children’s movie

“It is the 41st millennium and there is only war. On the fringes of the Imperium, alien races lurk and plot. All that stands in their way are the mighty space marines. They are more than mortal. They are steel, and they are doom… and the greatest of them all are the Ultramarines.”

John Hurt’s raspy voice rumbles with the usual gravitas. On screen, the camera slowly approaches a tired, tough-looking animated soldier wearing futuristic equipment. The names of well-known character actors – Terrence Stamp and Sean Pertwee, among others – flash past. Ultramarines is not a children’s movie. “There is blood. Lots of blood,” production assistant Victoria Boyce tells us. Lead Visual Effects Artsist Chris Callow adds: “Severed limbs, chainsaws, flying heads…”

When not working on the Visual Composition of movies and TV productions, Chris is a lecturer teaching Creative Technology at Glamorgan. Victoria is one of five current and former students he brought in to work as production assistants on the film. Chris explains “I lecture on two days a week. The rest of the week, I work freelance, in Visual Composition. I took on this project – a 5-month project – and about two months into it, we realised we needed more people. It was a nice three month chunk of time – right in the summer. So I suggested we could get some of my really talented students on board as production assistants.”

Experience

For the students, Victoria Boyce, Joel Ritmeyer, Jonathan Davies (all in year 2) and recent graduates Kevin Bartlett and Anthony Williams, this was a unique opportunity. Joel Ritmeyer was delighted to be working on something more real-life than academic work. “It’s good to work on a real project. At uni, coursework doesn’t really go anywhere, and it’s nice to see your work out in the real world, on screen. Two of my friends have bought the DVD. They said they liked it.”

Jonathan Davies was glad to see his work experience portfolio grow. “Before this, I already had some experience in filming and editing. Not so much in animation. I’ve been doing some work for the Hay Festival, filming events there. At the moment, I’m working with Miniature Music Press on a Live Lounge project.”

For Victoria, this was her first real work experience. “It was fantastic. I learned a lot about compositing, and the standard of work that is required in a movie. There’s so much attention to detail in a film like this.”

Chris Callow added: “The biggest challenge about making Ultramarines was that the Warhammer 40,000 universe is so full of detail. Matching that authenticity in animation is not an easy task – it takes a lot of care. This is a graphic, violent universe. It’s a story about war. It’s not so out of line with things like Lord of the Rings.”

Fans

Ultramarines is a movie set in a universe that people are passionate about – Warhammer 40000 has a dedicated following. It is no surprise that the film has over 18,000 fans on Facebook

You can find out more about the film on the Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 movie website.

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