Computer artist works on top film Liberty High graduate on 'Dante's Peak' team

February 18, 1997|By Jennifer Vick | Jennifer Vick,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Keith Huggins' former classmates at Liberty High School should not be surprised to find his name among the closing credits of the Hollywood movie "Dante's Peak."

After all, they voted Huggins "Most Artistic" during their senior year in 1988.

Huggins, 26, works as a digital artist for Digital Domain, a California company that created the computer graphics for "Dante's Peak," which, according to its distributor, Universal Pictures, scored the biggest opening in movie history on Feb 7.

The Carroll native was among 100 artists who worked on the movie's post production, using graphics computers to create realistic effects for the fictitious Dante's Peak. The artists created the beautiful and seemingly peaceful volcano in the film's opening and its eruption later.

"It's exciting to work on something and then have it be seen by millions of people, and to create stuff that would otherwise never exist," Huggins said in a telephone interview from California.

Although he lives in Beverly Hills, Huggins recently returned to Carroll County to visit his parents, Gordon and Carol, and join them in a screening of the movie.

Gordon Huggins, who said his son loved to draw and play soccer while he was in high school, enjoyed the special effects and "tension" of the movie.

Huggins is involved in the digital artwork of a Bruce Willis movie titled "Fifth Element," which will be the premier film at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Huggins describes his job as "a lot of hard work" and said when millions of dollars are at stake, "a deadline is a deadline." He said he works 12- to 14-hour days, seven days a week.

Digital Domain has done post- production work for "Apollo 13," "True Lies," and "Interview With the Vampire."

Huggins was hired by Digital Domain over the summer, while he was living with his parents in Eldersburg. He was selling environmentally friendly health products at the time.

Huggins did not immediately pursue computer graphics as a career after high school.

He initially attended Towson State University to study engineering because he didn't think working as an artist would be "a viable career."

He soon realized, however, that he was unhappy with the path he had chosen.

A viewing of "Terminator 2" on the big screen inspired him to pursue computer graphics.

"I wanted to do something artistic but technical at the same time," Huggins said.

He transferred to Purdue Uni- versity in Indiana and graduated with a bachelor's degree in technical graphics in 1994. He did some computer graphics work on commercials for a Toronto-based company before returning to Eldersburg last summer.

"It takes a lot of persistance and talent to get into this field, but it's exciting," Huggins said.

Pub Date: 2/18/97

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