LOS ANGELES — Stept Studios (steptstudios.com), and their post division, Lockt Editorial, have added long-time collaborator Ruel Smith to its team of artists. As head of animation and visual effects, the Jamaican-born filmmaker brings a combined passion for storytelling and more than 16 years of experience in VFX and animation to his new role.
As an animator, Smith has extensive expertise with creative works that involve epic CGI worlds. He has worked on projects for top directors, such as Ryan Coogler, Jon Favreau, David Fincher and Clint Eastwood. His film credits include Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Flags of Our Fathers, Riddick and The Jungle Book, while his game credits include Disney’s Tron Legacy, Medal Of Honor, Resident Evil 5, Mortal Kombat X and Gears Of War 4. As a director, Smith has completed several short films, with a number of others currently in development.
Smith 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 percent of the project completed in CG and done with everyone physically distancing and working from home. His latest work is a powerful animation campaign for Best Buy featuring the stories of six teens from marginalized communities who have big dreams for their futures.
“Ruel consistently blows me away,” says Nick Martini, founder/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.”
“I’m ready to jump in with the great team at Stept in this new capacity,” Smith adds. “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 honor to lead the VFX and animation department and continue making impactful work.”