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One ‘Fantastic’ experience

Terrence Masson, director of Northeastern’s Creative Industries program, consulted on an Oscar-nominated short animated film. Photo by Mary Knox Merrill.

When the Academy Awards air on Sunday, Terrence Masson, director of the Creative Industries program in the College of Arts, Media and Design at Northeastern University, will be particularly interested in the category for Best Short Film (Animated).

That’s because Masson served as a consulting producer on the Oscar-nominated “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” from Moonbot Studios.

Masson, who worked on the production timeline, budget projections and story editing, called the role an incredible experience, which began in 2007 when he met the production team.

The film, which does not include dialogue, follows a man who is swept away in a storm and transported to a place where books are living entities.

“The story itself was very intriguing,” Masson said. “I’m a big fan of very strong stories, characters and emotions, and filmmaking without the need for dialogue.”

He also loved that the film revolved around reading. The self-proclaimed “lifelong lover of books” spent much of his childhood visiting libraries and still prefers cracking open a novel to picking up an e-reader.

The project adds to Masson’s long list of industry credits, which includes a major role in launching the “South Park” television series and serving as a digital effects artist on the “Star Wars” films when the Special Edition versions were released in the late 1990s. He has also served in several consulting, visual effects and supervisor roles on major Hollywood films such as “Titanic,” Fantastic Four,”  “Batman Forever” and “Interview with a Vampire.”

He is developing a short film of his own with his wife, Dana, an animation specialist. The project, which was inspired by the couple’s experience at bed-and-breakfasts throughout New York, centers on a man who falls in love with the woman of his dreams.

Masson has also used the project to teach his students about filmmaking, including how to incorporate real-time animation rendering to the film using video game graphics technology. This approach, Masson said, is at the forefront of filmmaking.

Northeastern’s Creative Industries program prepares students to integrate creative content with technology in a wide variety of venues and projects. Students in the combined majors choose between Game Design and Interactive Media programs, culminating in a group based senior year “Capstone” project which is individually tailored to fit the mix of skills and interests of each graduating class.

UPDATE: FEBRUARY 27, 2012: The film “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” won the Oscar for Best Short Film (Animated) at the Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 26.

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