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Legendary CGI and animation pioneer Mike Milne passes

Mike Milne: one of CGI's pioneers
2 minute read
Mike Milne: one of CGI's pioneers

Framestore has announced the passing of Mike Milne, six-time Emmy award winner and one of the pioneers of computer animation, especially on the small screen.

At RedShark we were saddened to hear of the death of Mike Milne, one of the pioneers of computer animation who founded Framestore’s first CGI team in 1992 and was a key part of the creative team that brought Walking With Dinosaurs to TV screens - a landmark piece of British television that celebrates 25 years this year.

Before helping change the world of visual effects, Mike worked variously as an artist, graphic designer and park ranger on a remote island. The great nephew of Winnie-the-Pooh creator A.A. Milne, in the 1970s he became fascinated with computer programming, working painstakingly from textbooks to learn the discipline’s underlying principles before taking night classes in programming at Middlesex Polytechnic.

An early adopter of computer animation, Mike was quick to see the potential for merging live-action with CG. He won a D&D Award for his work on the iconic, irreverent British comedy Spitting Image before making the move to Framestore in 1992. 

Framestore’s animation team grew under his stewardship, and 1999 saw the release of Walking With Dinosaurs - a game-changing series that brought Hollywood VFX to the small screen for the first time, secured Emmy, BAFTA, Peabody and RTS awards and saw one of the show’s fearsome creations grace the cover of Time magazine. This success led to further Walking With… projects and more. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Bournemouth University in 2002 and, in 2008, received the Royal Television Society’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to the industry. 

Fiona Walkinshaw, Framestore’s Chief Executive Officer, Film & Episodic, said: “A quarter of a century later it’s easy to forget just how groundbreaking Walking With Dinosaurs was. When you stop and think that the first Jurassic Park film featured something like six minutes of CG, and there was Mike and the team making a six-part, three-hour miniseries in the style of a nature documentary… it’s almost inconceivable. That work really pushed the envelope for visual effects, and many of the show’s innovations are now viewed as industry standard. Mike was a huge part of Framestore’s history and development, but more than anything he was a good, interesting and really clever person who it was always a pleasure to work with and learn from.” 

I interviewed Mike more than once and he was always fascinating to talk to and had a deep and insightful knowledge of his craft and the subjects he depicted. Thoughts are with his family and all who knew him. Framestore will be marking his passing with a special memorial in the autumn.

Tags: Post & VFX