THE age where magic spewed forth from a big, leaky cauldron or flew off with sparks from a wand is a thing of lore.

Nowadays, there’s a different kind of magic brewing in the most unlikely place, borne out of a rich imagination and brought to life in the quintessential modern contraption: the computer.

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At only 11 years old, Brad Reddersen was cast in the spell of tinkering with computers, building his own mechanical device roughly similar to a computer that would count cascading marbles and keep them in rotation.

As he got older, the enchantment did not wear off, it seems.

After graduating with a degree in physics and optical engineering, he went into optical data recording, then into retail automation thru barcode scanners and portable data terminals.

In 2000, he headed the graphics division of Silicon Graphics, where he designed and developed hardware and software of special computers for computer graphics.

On Jan. 28, he shared with 93 participants his life-long fascination with computers as it relates to animation in a lecture-forum called “Design Speak: Movie Magic, The Fusion of Design and Advanced Computer Animation Technology.” The event was organized by Cebu Design Education Foundation, a non-stock, non-profit foundation formed by a group of design professionals and educators to support sustainable development through design education.

The talk could not have been more timely, with Avatar leaving a mark on pop culture. Speaking from his 35 years of experience in the high-tech business, Reddersen pointed out that the creative tension between what technology can do and what the artist wants to create raises technology to a higher plane.

He then cited examples when truly creative people make vision and technology push off each other: movies using stop-motion animation like Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Fox. But though animation is fun, Reddersen cautions that one still needs planning to make a good business model.

Reddersen is optimistic about the Cebuano’s creative spirit while citing areas for improvement. “I think the intellectual capability is certainly here. What is needed is the right kind of investors to be willing to really invest in a studio,” he quipped.

With vision and creativity, maybe it won’t be long till Cebuanos harness animation as a new tool for creative freedom.

“The magic really is whatever you can imagine, there’s probably a way to make it happen on-screen. You can imagine the impossible.”

Times may change, but man’s innate sense of whimsy will not.