STEUBENVILLE - Ohio Valley native and 2006 Catholic Central High School graduate Rebecca Vallera-Thompson said working as assistant technical director for Walt Disney's new hit animated feature "Wreck-It Ralph" has been a dream come true.
Vallera-Thompson, daughter of Frank and Sue Vallera, formerly of Steubenville, said she's thrilled to have completed her first assignment for the entertainment industry giant. "Wreck-It Ralph" opened last weekend to box office gold and has been the highest-grossing animated feature ever for the studio that was a non-Pixar film, earning $48 million, according to Vallera-Thompson.
"(The movie) was released last weekend, and it was No. 1 at the box office, so I was really excited. On the movie I was the assistant technical director," she said, adding the film stars the voices of John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman.
WORKING ON ‘WRECK-IT RALPH’ — Ohio Valley native Rebecca Vallera-Thompson sits at her desk at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif., while working on technical issues for an upcoming animated production. Vallera-Thompson, daughter of Sue and Frank Vallera, formerly of Steubenville, recently worked as assistant technical director on Disney’s hit movie “Wreck-It Ralph,” which opened last weekend and has been one of Disney’s highest-grossing animated films.
"My job was to create computer programs to help the artists do their job more efficiently. The artists are very good at what they do, but not always at expressing what they want technically."
Vallera-Thompson, who also is listed in the film's credits, said she had the opportunity to assist with shooting the film "in stereo," or in 3-D.
After high school Vallera-Thompson attended Ohio State University and majored in computer science engineering, with a minor in art. She said her break came when she interned at Pixar Studios.
"During college I interned at Pixar Studios in Emeryville, Calif., I did that in 2009," she said. "I started at Disney in March of 2011. That was what I really wanted to do."
Vallera-Thompson also said she doesn't consider herself an artist. Her minor in art helped her to be able to communicate with artists working on the animation. Her goal was to land a job with the studio, she added.
"I'm really lucky in the sense Disney was my first gig right after college," she said. "I wanted to be an animator at Disney, but I also knew the technical side, and I have to understand what the artists wants. ('Wreck-It Ralph') is my first in-theater movie."
She previously worked on the made-for-TV movie "Prep and Landing - Naughty But Nice," which was broadcast last holiday season. She said working at Disney is an adventure, and there are firm deadlines and some overtime required when working on animation.
"There's a lot of overtime," she said, adding she generally works around the artists' schedules. "That's just the nature of the business. We actually work 45 hours a week. It's very flexible."
Vallera-Thompson said she already is working on the next Disney project.
"I'm working on a new Disney film called 'Frozen,'" she said, adding the animated feature will be released next holiday season.