Campbell McGrouther making his name in lights

SCREEN SAVER: Campbell McGrouther working on How To Train Your Dragon 2

SCREEN SAVER: Campbell McGrouther working on How To Train Your Dragon 2

Campbell McGrouther is a farm boy from Tuturau who earned a dream job at DreamWorks Animation in Los Angeles.

McGrouther, now a father and husband, lives in California where he works as a lighting artist on animated films and fantasy movies.

It all began in the country where his school focus tended more towards woodworking and technical drawing. He was advised to study architecture at a tertiary level but ended up at the Christchurch Design and Arts College, then the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.

During his time in Christchurch, McGrouther made some good friends and, after seven years in the advertising and documentary industry, he got a job in Australia working on animated penguin film Happy Feet and Baz Luhrmann's Australia.

In early 2012, looking for work-life balance for his young family, McGrouther applied to DreamWorks - a family-friendly company with long-term contracts for big films.

He landed a lighting job on Turbo and can claim work on to How To Train Your Dragon 2, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Penguins of Madagascar (due out 2015).

It seems like the best part of his job is going to work. DreamWorks has a huge campus with free breakfast and lunch for staff. He takes daily drawing classes and bikes to work in LA in his jandals.

He spots directors like Steven Spielberg or Guillermo Del Toro and is home at night for family time in a part of LA where many animators live.

The lifestyle is ideal and the pay is fantastic - US$100,000-plus a year (NZ$127,000).

So what is a lighting artist? Basically, McGrouther says, they are the end of the line. Once all the work has been done on the animations and scenes, the lighting team brings it all to life - setting the mood, casting the shadows and putting everything on a stage.

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While his life is pretty ideal at the moment, he is always looking forward to returning to New Zealand.

In America, savoury pies are hard to come by and finding unprocessed food can be a challenge.

 - The Press


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