by Lesley Brook

Twin peaks

A combination of cutting-edge technology and can-do attitude has provided Dunedin twins Sam and Hudson James-Everton with box seats for one of the world’s most prestigious golf events.

Getting up at 4am for four consecutive days, the 22-year-old brothers headed to the Dunedin headquarters of Animation Research Ltd, where they got to work providing all-important graphics for the US PGA Players Championship in Florida. As graphics operators for Animation Research Ltd, Sam and Hudson work closely together.

They also study together – both are doing a Master of Applied Science at Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga. Oh, and they have also just shared a new scholarship, created specifically by Animation Research Ltd to help cover their Master’s studies.

It might be a world away from the millions of dollars of prizemoney pocketed by Players Championship winner Scottie Scheffler, yet the scholarship boost provided by ARL is warmly welcomed by the brothers, who also appreciate having the flexibility to juggle work and study. Self-confessed “sports geeks”, Sam and Hudson are in that “pinch yourself” zone, where they have managed to combine their academic interests and knowledge with elite real-world experiences.

Angus Reid, Senior Sports Producer at Animation Research Ltd, says:

“Sam and Hudson have been outstanding. They have gone from interns to very capable graphics operators in a short space of time. They will both continue to work for us as they complete their Master’s at Otago Polytechnic. Sam has already taken up some cricket work with us over the summer and Hudson went away in January to the United Arab Emirates, where he covered another golf event. They are very promising young men”.

Hayden Croft, Head of Otago Polytechnic’s Institute of Sports, Exercise and Health, says Sam and Hudson each completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Science (specialising in sports performance analysis) in 2022 and quickly immersed themselves in the opportunities the programme provides.

“They have spent time on the cameras at Highlanders and Southern Steel matches, analysing players’ performance, as well as working with their other classmates on projects,” Hayden says.

“They took a new internship opportunity created with Animation Research Ltd and made it their own. The relationship between ARL and Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga has flourished and grown this year, with the next cohort of students already engaging in the opportunity this year. Essentially, the opportunity is to be trained in aspects of the sport animation production, building graphics for courses, loading animations live during sports matches, setting up and using technology to make it all work.”

Sam says working at Animation Research Ltd has shown him another side of sport. "Things have moved at a rapid pace over the last several months and, at the moment, I am just taking every opportunity to soak it all in. It has been a balancing act juggling my study along with my role as an apprentice performance analyst within the Highlanders rugby team and my commitments to Animation Research Ltd.”

As a performance analyst, Sam understands the importance of momentum. “I’d like to build on the foundations and relationships that have got me to where I am now. Hopefully, this will lead me to further successes within the field of professional sport – whether that’s on the sidelines or producing world-leading graphics for a broadcast.”

Hudson, like Scottie Scheffler on the final back nine of the Players Championship, offers a relaxed stance: "Looking to the future, nothing is set in stone. I am just taking it day by day and trying to soak up as many opportunities within the environments in which I am lucky enough to have found myself."