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Meet the chief creative officer

Ewan Johnson, CCO and co-founder of Arcturus, reveals how a trip to a galaxy far, far away set him on a course to the media tech industry

Ewan Johnson, chief creative officer, Arcturus
Talk us through an average day in your role

I am very lucky in that I am involved in nearly all aspects of our company. My day begins at around 7:30 in the morning (pacific time). I typically begin by calling clients in Europe, along with check-ins with our teams on the East Coast. During this time I can end up doing a variety of things. I may end up helping clients plan the creative approach to a project using volumetric, or working with the Arcturus team on planning out new features for HoloSuite. Or I might help prioritise bug reports and work assignments while designing innovative uses for volumetric capture. 

How did you get started in the media industry?

I saw the original Star Wars when I was seven, and that got me interested in filmmaking. When I got to college, I studied printmaking, photography and eventually digital animation. To pay my way through art school, I taught myself how to program. I ended up creating some of the first digital tools for transferring film media to digital assets, for production on Flame and the earliest versions of the Avid. Developing those skills led me to Pixar at a time when they had under 100 employees. I joined as a technical director on Toy Story, and from there, I helped build the cinematography department.

What training did you have before entering the industry?

I have a bachelor of fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and I am self taught in programming C++, objective C and early html, including perl and php.

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

I enjoy the intersection of craft and new technologies. I’m able to help invent new tools and approaches that enable artists to create their dreams. That’s a great experience. 

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

Never stop learning, and remember that technology without a purpose is just a tool. Technology can help to tell stories, and enable new methods of communication. It can open up new doorways of creative expression.