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The 2008 Friz Award Honoree

Marco Marenghi, Animation Supervisor, Sony Pictures Imageworks, will receive the coveted 2008 International Family Film Festival "Friz Award" (named for the late Isadore "Friz" Freleng, Head Animator at Warner Bros.) for Lifetime Achievement in the Art of Animation & Visual Effects, Sunday March 2nd at 6:30PM at Raleigh Studios.

Originally from Rhondda Valley, South Wales, United Kingdom, Marenghi's rise from humble beginnings to the kind of success that only hard work, belief in oneself and the support of a loving family can create, is both inspiring and touching. Marenghi reflects on his start in the industry: "I came from an area in Wales where 3 out of 4 persons are unemployed. Our small mining village (once thriving) was closed down and replaced with the electronics industry. I realized then that only through education could I better myself and change my lifestyle." So he took a leap of faith! With a wife, two kids and a mortgage, he decided to go to college to study electronics. His family fully supported him, and as fate would have it, his wife happened to notice that a course in animation was being offered there and encouraged Marco to apply.

The odds were against him. Marco had no background in animation, no one in his family had been an animator, the very thought of it had never even entered his mind. However, with his wife's encouragement, he went to meet the professor to find out more. "Wow, this is so cool!" was his first thought upon exposure to the craft. The professor asked him to go home and come back with some drawings. That weekend all he could think about was the fancy portfolios and prolific drawings of his competitors - all vying for a spot in the class! Nonetheless, when he returned to the college and showed his drawings, the professor remarked, "You've got a flair!" Just then the phone rang; the last place in the course could go to a mature student! He turned to Marco and said, "You want it?" Talk about being in the right place at the right time! This was the break he needed.

"My first day in college was the scariest thing." He was 32 (a late bloomer by American standards), but they saw something in him that he didn't know he had - he honored their belief in him and worked his butt off! Marco was dealt blows, but he didn't let it stop him. He knew he was the underdog and had a lot of catching up to do, but he persevered. It took two years of hard work to qualify for his degree, but he got it. Marenghi holds an HNC in Electronics from the University of Wales and an HND in Animation from the University of Glamorgan. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Marco specializes in "realistic" animation. He says that today, digital effects are wide spread, not just in film, but in commercials, flash media and the telephone industry. You can hardly watch anything that does not use some form of digital effects. Also of note: between family and work he finds time to teach college students and to reach back to his native community with employment where possible.

Marco's Achievements:

Marenghi was most recently the Animation Supervisor on I am Legend. He was responsible for implementation of all animation notes regarding look and feel of the characters and creatures. He oversaw the entire modeling, character setup, motion capture and animation support processes for the movie, as well as being heavily involved in the setup of the new Massive front end pipeline. Notably, Marenghi was also instrumental in producing the animation tests and behavioral studies for the infected creatures which led Imageworks to create each one digitally for the movie - 890 shots in total, some containing hundreds of creatures.

Marenghi was the animation supervisor on Ghost Rider, and was responsible for all CG elements in the film, as well as overseeing the pipeline, modeling, rigging, and animation departments. His work involved working closely with both the visual effects supervisor and the director to oversee all motion-related elements and the look-development of the film.

Prior to his work on Ghost Rider, Marenghi was a lead animator on Bewitched where he was responsible for all animation on the show. He also worked closely with the film's director and visual effects supervisor to create pre-visualization, final shots and a camera data system for motion control rigs on the set.

Marenghi joined Sony Pictures Imageworks in July of 2003 as an animator on The Polar Express where he was responsible for taking motion-capture data and using that information to assemble shots.

Prior to joining Imageworks, Marenghi worked on Minority Report reporting directly to Director Steven Spielberg, as well as Evolution, Time Machine and the Emmy-winning series "Walking with Dinosaurs" in the UK. While at Framestore CFC, Marenghi was an animator on Lost in Space and Tomorrow Never Dies. Marenghi has also worked on numerous television commercials and video games including The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and James Bond 007: Nightfire for Electronic Arts.

Marenghi was featured in a 2004 BBC documentary entitled "The Marco Marenghi Story." He was the recipient of the UK's Gold Award for Excellence in Industry in 2000. He received a nomination in 2008 for the VES Award (Visual Effects Society Awards) for Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture for I Am Legend.

"I wouldn't be here if I was not given a second chance. Complete strangers believed in me. What started out as a joke, landed me a career. Without the love and support of my family, I could never have done it." The small village where he grew up is destitute, so he and his wife are perpetually grateful for the blessings that have come their way. The Marenghi's have a strong family structure and truly appreciate all they have because of the break Marco was given back in college. Marenghi has the utmost respect for the part his wife has played in their success. Sometimes working 16 hour days he remarks, "I couldn't do what I do if it wasn't for my wife! I am where I am because of her!"

In fact, it was Marco's wife, Joe, that first signed the family up to volunteer at the IFFF. He remembers the festival in its early days in Valencia. It was there that he met Chris and Suzanne Shoemaker and Patte Dee McKee, the IFFF founders. "It was excellent exposure to family films. We're still on the mailing list!"

Coming full circle, Marco has graduated from IFFF volunteer to IFFF honoree. To his credit and our delight, Marco is as shocked and unaffected by his success as the IFFF is proud to honor this "family guy" with the "Friz Award" for lifetime achievement and excellence in film animation and visual effects. Congratulations!


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