By Hannah De Castro-Abinuman
Winston Quitasol may not be a name familiar to many. But a lot of people have seen his work. If you watched a Hollywood movie any time between 1992 to now, chances are, you’ve already seen at least one of the films he worked on. As a visual effects and lighting artist, Winston Quitasol has worked on various live action and animated films such as The Matrix Reloaded, Ironman 3, I Am Legend, Spiderman 2, The Aviator, Ghostrider, Tangled, Frozen, and most recently, in the academy award winner for best animated feature film – “Big Hero 6.”
In the fields of visual effects and digital animation, lighting is a significant element. It sets the mood and creates depth and realism in a scene, both in live action and in digital animation. The lighting artist adds emotion to the scene by adding light to certain elements in the images. It is his duty to ensure that the visual effects and live-action elements blend seamlessly; as though they both exist in the same environment. Whether it is for a fully animated film or for enhancing a live action scene with the use of computer-generated-imagery (CGI), it is the lighting artist role to add the finishing touches to a project. And this is the role of Winston Quitasol as a lighting and compositing artist. Indeed, an essential part of any movie.
”After watching Star Wars, I knew I wanted to have a career in film,” said Quitasol when asked how he decided to go into his line of work. Years later, he studied Television, Radio and Film at the California State University of Long Beach. And he landed his first gig in film as a production assistant in the movie Ghost in 1990. He later on switched to visual effects and animation as a lighting and compositing artist. And now has more than 50 film and television credits to his resume.
Although he is now living his dream, it was not an easy road for Quitasol. His parents initially did not support his decision to try his luck in Hollywood. He was born in the Philippines but moved to the United States when he was 4 years old. And even though he was raised in the US, his parents still maintained their traditional Filipino values and principles. Just like most Filipinos, his parents wanted him to have a more traditional and stable job, like a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Luckily, Quitasol proved that he had what it takes to make it in the film industry.
“I had to work very hard to get to where I am today,” said Quitasol. In his journey to pursue his dream, he experienced a lot of road blocks. But Filipinos are very resilient. And this was very evident in Quitasol’s character. He actually saved all his rejection letters to keep him motivated. Once in a while, he would read them in order to push himself to do better. Truly, he is an inspiration to anyone. “My advice to the Filipinos, and anyone who has a dream is to just go for it. But you also have to put in the work and get the right schooling,” said Quitasol.
Quitasol has been part of a multitude of praise-worthy projects. But from his long list of accolades, his favorites are “Spiderman 2” for live action, which, won an academy award for special effects. For animated short film, the Oscar winner, “Paperman.” And for animated full feature films, his favorites are “Frozen” and “Big Hero 6.”