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John C. Gaeta is an Academy Award winning visual effects designer best known for his work on The Matrix film trilogy, where he advanced and popularized the effects known as "Bullet Time" and "Virtual Cinematography," as well as pushing the boundaries of computer-generated visualization for film.
Mr. Gaeta's career began in New York City. While acquiring a B.F.A. degree with honors from New York University's film school, he was introduced to the industry as a staff production assistant for the Saturday Night Live film unit. Following NYU, he began camera and lighting work for a variety of media types including stop-motion animation, nature documentary, and holography.
A few years later, John Gaeta was drafted into the camera department of the newly formed Trumbull Company, founded by Douglas Trumbull. Mr. Trumbull was visual effects supervisor for such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as well as the director of such films as Silent Running and Brainstorm. It was at Trumbull Company that he was introduced and educated in a spectrum of innovative film formats such as 48fps Vista Vision, 70mm Showscan, IMAX, OMNIMAX and stereo CGI (partnered with Kleiser-Walczak). These were all applied to special venue and simulator film projects.
Following this special venue period (1991-1994), John Gaeta became interested in applying computer-generated animation as a means of visualizing content and visual effects concepts for directors as well as for custom camera-path planning. This led to experimentation with emerging forms of space analysis including photogrammetry, stereo and laser radar (a.k.a Reality Capture). Trumbull Company was renamed Mass Illusion and started feature film effects for movies. He continued there as an associate supervisor under the senior supervision of Oscar-winner Joel Hynek.
After co-supervising development for 3-D paint effect stylizations and LIDAR laser scanning for What Dreams May Come (1998 Visual Effects Oscar winner), Mr. Gaeta began his first solo effects supervision project for Larry and Andy Wachowski's film, The Matrix.
Designing and testing The Matrix bullet time effects began in early 1996. This work directly overlapped R&D for What Dreams May Come. Shortly after the release of the original Matrix in 1999, John Gaeta continued his exploration of content design through CGI visualization by developing fully "virtual" scene and action layouts for use in real-time interactive composition. Scenes ran on prototype Sony PlayStation 3 technology (then called GS Cube). The research was demonstrated at Siggraph 2000. This would be a short segue between the first and last two pieces of the Wachowski-driven Matrix trilogy.
Mr. Gaeta was brought on as the senior visual effects supervisor for The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. This pair of films features over 2000 visual effects shots. Overall VFX conceptual design as well as research and development was initiated for the final two installments in January 2000. There was a wide range of effects content from large-scale man vs. machine-type battles, to anime-styled hyper-real moments. The centerpieces of this expanded universe were the creation of "Virtual Cinematography" and "Virtual Effects," phrases coined by him in 1999 and 2000.
In fully synthetic scenes within The Matrix sequels, all aspects including principal characters, elaborate performances, dynamic events, and deep surrounding scenery were computer generated. Virtual elements were constructed from "universal capture" sources based upon real actors, production and cinematography, in a "sample cinema" process more analogous to producing virtual reality than to filmmaking.
John Gaeta continues to imagine through a complement of directing, visual development, and exploration of emerging creative technologies. He is an avid proponent of real-time virtual cinema (also referred as Navigational or NAV Cinema) and "Hybrid Entertainment." Hybrid Entertainment is unifying future content formats found between cinema, interactive games and other alternative media.
Today, Mr. Gaeta is allied once more with the Wachowski brothers, developing visual concepts for both film and game for the May 2008 release of Speed Racer. He most recently became an advisory board member for The 2nd Annual Hollywood and Games Summit that accelerates the collaboration between the film and game industries.