Stephen Rosenbaum

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Stephen Rosenbaum
Stephen Rosenbaum snapshot in 2010.jpg
Rosenbaum in 2010
Born (1965-10-26) October 26, 1965 (age 48)
Tacoma, Washington, USA
Occupation Visual Effects Supervisor

Stephen Rosenbaum (born October 26, 1965) is an American visual effects artist and supervisor. He has worked on over 30 film and commercial projects, including six that have won Academy Awards. Rosenbaum won two Oscar[1][2] and two BAFTA Awards[3][4] for his work on Forrest Gump and Avatar. He has played an integral role on such pioneering films as Jurassic Park, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Abyss, X2: X-Men United, Death Becomes Her, Contact, and The Perfect Storm.

Personal life[edit]

Rosenbaum was raised in West Los Angeles and graduated from Palisades Charter High School where he met and eventually married his high school sweetheart. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and remains a Bay Area resident along with his wife and their two girls.


Rosenbaum began his career in visual effects at the re-formed Computer Graphics Department of Lucasfilm's effects division Industrial Light & Magic. The previous members of this department moved to the building next door at the offices in San Rafael, California and formed the company Pixar. This new small group of computer artists received their first chance to make a computer generated creature when James Cameron asked them to create the Pseudopod water creature for The Abyss. For each shot (filmmaking), the computer-rendered creature was recorded to film and then composited with the filmed background using the traditional technique of layering them together in an optical printer. For two of the shots, however, the photographed background was digitized using a film scanner and Rosenbaum digitally composited the water creature into the background. This was one of the many notable accomplishments on the film that help spark the rapid transition of traditional film-processed visual effects compositing, to which Industrial Light & Magic was famous, towards a demand for future compositing work to be done within the digital medium.

Cameron followed with Terminator 2 and the group expanded the artist base and developed new software to execute one of the first 3D manipulations of a human character; the T1000 performed by Robert Patrick. Rosenbaum and his fellow artists (many who have gone on to win numerous creative and technical accolades) continued to thrive with the increased opportunities presented from mentors Ken Ralston, Dennis Muren, and Eric Brevig. It was Muren who challenged the group to figure out how to create the seminal dinosaurs for Steven Spielberg in Jurassic Park, and Ralston who pushed them to take off Lt. Dan's legs, rephrase the words of presidents, and fancifully animate the feather in Forrest Gump for director Robert Zemeckis. The work they created inspired a complete paradigm shift in visual effects and filmmaking methodologies,[5] as well as commercial digital imagery manipulation.

Rosenbaum spent several years working on various projects for his long time colleague Joe Letteri at Weta Digital, and in 2007 Letteri asked him to collaborate on Avatar. For two years, Rosenbaum worked with James Cameron in Los Angeles during performance capture and in New Zealand during live action photography. For the third year of the project he joined Letteri at Weta Digital in Wellington, New Zealand to help complete the CGI on the movie.[6]

In 2010, Rosenbaum was hired[7] by Digital Domain to start a creature development group. He was commissioned to recruit the industry's best visual effects artists and technicians and build a scalable creature animation pipeline so the company could efficiently accommodate multiple and complex CGI characters in live action and animated features. The first project they undertook was Jack the Giant Slayer (2013 film). With completion of the contracted work and increasing financial strain from within the parent company DDMG,[8] Rosenbaum and several of the original artists and developers left DD and have formed their own companies.[9]


Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Award[edit]


Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films[edit]


External links[edit]