St. Catharines graduate played role lighting up ‘Pinocchio’ Oscar win


Published March 16, 2023 at 11:16 am

Andrés Coimbra Castedo, second from right, poses with his Niagara College classmates, from left, Andrew Chiarelli, Philip Ellis and Emma Perretta after the release of their video game, The Fallen, in 2019. (Photo: Niagara College)

After graduating from Niagara College’s Game Development program on the Welland campus in 2019, Andrés Coimbra Castedo took a career turn.

He shifted his talents into the world of film lighting artists and just two years later, he played a part in helping his first-ever film project win an Oscar last weekend (March 12).

Coimbra Castedo worked behind the scenes on the lighting for Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday.

After he and three classmates launched a video game, The Fallen, in 2019, Coimbra Castedo took his skills from computer programming and 3D art and shifted into the art of visual effects (VFX) industry.

“I chose lighting because it genuinely feels like painting a picture with mood, contrast, and composition using only lights,” he said. “Thankfully, the college gave me the skills necessary to work in multiple industries.”

The Bolivian native, who now calls St. Catharines home, saw the opportunity to work on del Toro’s on a Linked-In message.

“This movie was unique in the sense that it is all stylized, so we had a bit of creative say in how our shots and sequences looked like,” said Coimbra Castedo of del Toro’s penchant for using fantastical, gothic storytelling to evoke human emotion.

While he had to watch the Academy Awards on TV like the rest of us, the Pinocchio win was huge to him as it legitimized animation as a viable and adult medium for story-telling.

“For a long time in the West (North America), we have seen animation as a thing for children. But we have seen how other countries like Japan treat it with more seriousness, really pushing the boundaries that animation can reach,” said Coimbra Castedo.

“Thankfully, we are starting to see a shift in the perception we have of animation as a whole and I am happy to see what comes next – and eager to work on as many projects as I can get my hands on.”

While Coimbra is happy working as a lighting artist with Herne Hill Media, he hopes that someday he will tell his own stories on the big screen.

Guillermo del Toro’s “Pinocchio” was a far less cartoon-like, kid-friendly version of the classic
story. It collected an Oscar for Best Animated Feature on Sunday.

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