When it comes to hiring hot young car designers, Detroit’s automakers face tough competition from an unlikely but glamorous source: Hollywood.
Ralph Gilles, head of design for Chrysler Group, told an audience in Detroit this morning that both moviemakers and carmakers use the same powerful software to digitally design their products.
“Digital surfacers” — designers who use computers to create and virtually test new vehicles and components before they exist in the physical world — are the fastest growing segment of automaker design teams, Gilles said.
“Those are the virtual builders,” Gilles told several hundred people at the Detroit Regional Chamber 2014 MICHAuto Summit this morning.
“There is a whole pool of people that does nothing but digital surfacing,” Gilles said. “That job did not exist six or seven years ago.”
Gilles said digital surfacers are used extensively by filmmakers to digitally create sequences that would otherwise be impossible to film, such as those in big-budget science fiction film series such as Transformers and Star Wars.
“It’s exciting. It’s glamorous. I don’t know what the career path is in those companies long term, but initially, as a young designer, they get tempted away by that,” Gilles explained.