By Janis Wallace
Hollywood has plenty of examples of successful brothers – Joel and Ethan Coen, Beau and Jeff Bridges, heck, there’s even four Baldwin brothers. Now, Western can add two of its own to that list – Wayne and Scott Lemmer.
“When we were kids, there was no indication we would both end up in film,” Scott said. “Working in the entertainment industry was always sort of a fantasy with no tangible path of getting there. It was certainly nothing I thought would happen to us so quickly.”
However, that is exactly where they landed.
Today, Scott, BA’01 (Visual Arts), is an animator who has worked for Dreamworks, Disney and Pixar. He counts among his credits a shelf full of parent must-haves including Rio, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Turbo, The Croods and Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs.
Wayne, BMusA’02, is a sound editor and re- recording mixer. His credits include Oscar- winning films like The Grand Budapest Hotel and Black Swan, as well as blockbuster fare like Transformers, X-Men: First Class, Monsters vs. Aliens and Kick-Ass 2.
The Ilderton, Ont. brothers were raised by parents who supported their creativity, especially their mom, Dawn, an elementary school music teacher and gifted musician.
“They encouraged us to play music, draw, paint and build stuff out of whatever was around the house,” Scott said. “I also really enjoyed the magic of cartoons and animation, but I never imagined there were actual jobs creating that stuff.”
“I think there was little doubt about what I wanted to study in university,” Wayne said. “Music was my biggest passion.”
At Western, Scott enrolled in Computer Science, but switched to Visual Arts in second year.
“I was in a pilot class for animation,” he said. “It was a basic introduction to technique and history and it was super interesting. I took a class in 3D software with a friend and enjoyed it. So, I focused on that during my last year.”
After Western, Scott studied at the Vancouver Film School. His first job took him to Dallas. A series of studios and films followed. He’s been with Dreamworks for more than two years, and lives five minutes from the studio with his wife and toddler twins.
The final year of university was transformative for Wayne, who, until then, thought he would be a performer.
“I took a course in composing digital music,” he said. “I was assigned to go out into the world and record non-musical elements, take them back to the studio and create a musical soundscape. I spent long nights struggling to make something cool and musical. But I loved every second – time just seemed to slip by effortlessly. I think after that I knew I was hooked on working in the studio.”
Wayne attended the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology (OIART) and focused on sound for film. “It just grabbed me. It engulfed my life. It was an exciting new venue for me to create and perform art.”
As a sound editor, Wayne watches the rough cut of the film, making notes on the story and what will need to be recorded. Like his student assignment, he then goes out in the world and records sounds to manipulate in the studio. “Guns and cars are a good example of things that exist in the world,” he explained. “However, giant robots and T-Rex’s do not. That’s where you can really have fun creating something new and interesting.”
When he switches to re-recording mixer role, he finalizes the soundtrack. “I think it’s best explained as ‘performance art.’ That’s when the dialogue, music and effects all come together on the stage. This is where careful choices are made to enhance the film. You can really focus on the track and work with the director to bring his vision to life.”
As an animator, Scott tracks motion on screen.
“You want to replicate the performance that honours the actors. That is a tough thing,” he said. “It’s like ‘digital puppeteering.’ It’s similar to old 2D, frame-by-frame poses and refining the action. You see the character come to life. It’s surprisingly rewarding, this feeling of completion when you see what you’ve created.”
In the early years of his career, Scott said it was a bit of a novelty. “At first it was cool to see the names (of actors) but after a few times it’s more about the shot. You’re working on making it look good. The animation has to look good, be appealing and move well, and show the acting, meaning and intent of the shot.” For Wayne, the challenge/reward is in telling the story. “There is so much technology, detail and complexity in what we do. Sound is one of many crafts required to make a film. They all should have one goal, and that is to emotionally support the film and help tell its story. A film comes to life when you add sound."
This article appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of Western University’s Alumni Gazette. Reprinted with permission.