A GRADUATE of Bournemouth University who created visual effects for Star Wars: The Force Awakens returned to inspire a new generation.

Mike Mulholland is effects supervisor with the London outpost of Lucasfilm’s effects company Industrial Light and Magic, where his other credits include Avengers: Age of Ultron.

He returned to Bournemouth for the BFX Festival, which celebrates the contribution the town makes to the effects, animation and video game industries.

He had to observe strict secrecy when working on last year’s Star Wars movie, which brought back the original cast after 33 years.

“I’ve got three kids and wasn’t allowed to tell them anything,” he said.

“If there was a trailer released, then I could tell them about it. I couldn’t give them any more information.”

He added: “London did about 200 shots on the film out of about 2,000 in total. We worked on the character Maz Kanata.

“We did shots of the Millennium Falcon and BB8. We did some more work at the end of the film where Rey visits the Jedi Island and the Falcon is parked up,” he said.

“Visual effects as a job has kind of grown over the years. There’s much more of a community in London now.

“Star Wars has always been underlying everything. It’s one of those iconic shows, so to be able to work on it was so exciting.”

He added: “The Force Awakens was a great example of a film where they tried to do as much as possible in camera. That’s great for people working in visual effects. You still do as much as we do on other films but you’ve got a real element to link up with.”

The Internet Movie Database lists Mr Mulholland as currently working on Star Wars Episode VIII but he is not allowed to confirm it.

The 41-year-old graduated from Bournemouth University in 1996. “It was pretty early days when I was there. I think I was in the second year of the BA course,” he said.

Raised in Birmingham, he was a keen artist who was also interested in computers, which were just developing enough power to handle CGI software.

His advice to young people interested in effects is: “At the end of the day, showing raw artistic talent is often the thing that will get you noticed. The software you use to create the images is available to anyone. It can literally be run on a home machine, which didn’t used to be the case when I started out.”

BFX runs at the BIC until Sunday, with a free family festival at the weekend. Details are at bfxfestival.com