Creative production studio Stept Studios
and its post division, Lockt Editorial
, add long-time collaborator, Ruel Smith, to its team of artists. As head of animation and visual effects, the Jamaican-born filmmaker brings his combined passion for storytelling and more than 16 years of experience in VFX and animation to his new role.
As an animator, Ruel has extensive expertise with creative works that involve epic CGI worlds, as evidenced in his work with A-list directors such as Ryan Coogler, Jon Favreau, David Fincher and Clint Eastwood. He has worked on blockbuster films including 'Black Panther', 'Captain Marvel', 'Flags of Our Fathers', 'Riddick' and 'The Jungle Book'; and notable game titles like Disney’s 'Tron Legacy', 'Medal Of Honor', 'Resident Evil 5', 'Mortal Kombat X' and 'Gears Of War 4'. He’s also directed several short films, with several other upcoming projects currently in development.
Ruel was instrumental in bringing Stept’s recent campaign for Riot Games’ League of Legends World Championships to life as co-director and VFX supervisor. The ambitious film promoted the 2020 eSports competition, with more than 95% of the project completed in CG and done with everyone physically distancing and working from home.
Ruel’s latest work is a powerful animation campaign for Best Buy featuring the stories of six teens from marginalised communities who have big dreams for their futures. Responding to the question: what do you want to achieve on the highest level?, each story is rendered in a different animation style, reflecting the diversity of their visions, unique individually but collectively functioning as a vivid and inspiring whole.
“I’ve been in their shoes." commented Ruel. "Growing up in Jamaica and wanting to dream big but not having the access or circumstance to the tools I needed to make that future possible. So being a part of this project was especially meaningful to me.”
“Ruel consistently blows me away,” added Nick Martini, founder and CEO of Stept Studios. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have him in this position, with his attitude and know-how both being some of the best in the business.”
Ruel continued: “I’m ready to jump in with the great team at Stept in this new capacity. Over this past year, I’ve had a great time creating exceptional story worlds with them. The sky’s the limit when everyone is so dedicated and talented. It’s my honour to lead the VFX and animation department and continue making impactful work.”