When the animated fish Dory wiggles past sea anemones, light glints and gleams to makes her underwater world so believable, and the trick was crafted by a light wizard whose creative spark first ignited in Vancouver B.C.
Kenyan-born Farhez Rayani moved to Canada as a toddler and that was just the start of his circuitous journey, not unlike Dory’s, to achieve his dreams.
“I just followed the passion,” said Rayani, 41, who is now a lighting technical director for Pixar Animation Studios in San Francisco, California.
“[I’ve] gone around the world in a way to get here.”
He’s worked on a long list of films from The Golden Compass to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but says for him it all started with the original Toy Story. When he watched that film he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
Rayani dropped out of the computer science program at Simon Fraser University and enrolled in Emily Carr University of Art + Design, but left early (graduating later) as the talented programer was scooped up by a company at the forefront of the industry at that time.
“It was a risk … [I] had no idea, as a Canadian, how I could go to Pixar,” said Rayani whose peers were all taking more conservative career paths. Despite this his father encouraged him.
“Being a fresh immigrant to Canada he had to start from scratch. He always told me always do what you love,” said Rayani whose extended family were part of a wave of Indians who fled Uganda and Kenya in the 1970s to restart lives in Canada because of changes and the threat of violence after Idi Amin came to power.
“As luck would have it Pierre Trudeau was in power and he opened his arms to many of the East Indians who settled here. My parents decided to leave too — and they chose Canada.”
After growing up in Vancouver Rayani made another new start after he was hired to work in animation.