FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 1998
University Receives Special Effects Software Gift
Students at California State University, Chico will have an opportunity to learn computer graphics software used to produce visual effects for such blockbuster films as “Titanic,” “Independence Day,” “The X-Files Movie,” “Armageddon” and “Godzilla,” thanks to a gift, valued at nearly a half million dollars, from a university alumni.
Chuck Spaulding, director of marketing and business development at Silicon Grail in Hollywood, has arranged for the company to donate the use of 50 copies of its Chalice software to CSU, Chico’s computer science department and Instructional Media Center for the next three years. Chalice is 2D compositing software used to combine multiple film elements into a single image.
The software was used in “Titanic” to composite a series of engine room scenes and a sequence near the end of the film where passengers are seen floating in the water with vapor coming out with every breath. The challenge for the engine room scenes was to composite numerous live action elements into a miniature model of the engine room.
Chalice is currently being used on the upcoming Jody Foster film “Baby Geniuses” to help create the illusion that toddlers can talk. The gift is valued at $435,000. Spaulding graduated from CSU, Chico in 1990.
Rick Vertolli, CSU, Chico computer graphics designer and instructor, said faculty and staff would begin learning Chalice immediately. It will be used in the university’s Instructional Media Center and in computer animation classes this fall. “This is a tremendous opportunity for our students to learn 2D compositing using one of the film industry’s leading special effects software packages,” Vertolli said.
The software offer came after Spaulding asked Vertolli, his former instructor, if the university had thought about using Chalice in the classroom. When Vertolli said the cost might be prohibitive, Spaulding offered to make the gift.
Copies of the software will be installed at the Instructional Media Center in Meriam Library, and at the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Technology’s computer science labs in the O’Connell Technology Center. Vertolli said that computer animation students would also be able to install the software on their home computers while they are enrolled in the class.
“This is a great opportunity for the students at Chico State,” Spaulding said. “Effects work is more about people than technology. Chalice is simply a tool they can use to composite images in the same way that an artist creates a painting through the use of light, color and composition. Rick has put together a quality program that I’m happy to support any way I can.”
CSU, Chico is already known for its computer graphics facilities and top-notch computer animation students. CSU, Chico students have won “Best of Show” the past two years in the CSU Media Arts Festival.