Campus Life

Visualization Program Producing Some Of The Nation’s Top Animators

The Department of Visualization has trained animators who’ve gone on to work at some of the world’s leading studios, including Pixar, Walt Disney and Dreamworks.
By Phillip Rollfing, Texas A&M College of Architecture May 26, 2015

“Sleddin’,” an animated short film created by students at Texas A&M’s Department of Visualization.

Animated films are some of Hollywood’s highest-grossing ventures and the animators who create them are in high demand. The Department of Visualization has trained animators who’ve gone on to work at some of the world’s leading studios, including Pixar, Walt Disney and Dreamworks.

The visualization programs, housed in the College of Architecture, focus on developing expertise in both art and science, producing graduates who achieve success in a wide range of visualization-related fields.

Continuing enhancements to the visualization department’s animation program and the success of the graduates it has produced have contributed to its ranking third best in the nation among public institutions by Animation Career Review (ACR), an online career resource for aspiring animators, game designers and digital artists. Texas A&M also placed second in the Southwest and 11th nationally among the hundreds of animation programs examined by ACR.

“It’s an honor to be recognized in this way,” said Tim McLaughlin, department head.

Earlier this year, the department’s video game design program was also recognized as a national leader.

“Our curricula, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, require every student to be an aesthetically astute artist, have a robust competence in math and programming, and be fearless with technology,” said McLaughlin.

Animation is one of the many areas of expertise bolstered by the broad foundational knowledge that comprises visualization education at Texas A&M. The undergraduate visualization degree focuses on the processes of creation, design and development of the visual experience, the master of science offering requires students to develop a strong focus area of advanced expertise, and the master of fine arts degree, one of only a few of its kind in the nation, provides technology-infused visual arts training.

Animation is the centerpiece of the Department of Visualization’s summer industry course, in which students create animated short films with guidance from industry pros using a workflow process similar to the kind used at professional studios.

Three videos created in summer 2013 with guidance from artists at Reel FX Animation Studios, were screened at SIGGRAPH 2014, the globe’s premier computer graphics industry convention. Videos created in summer 2014 in partnership with DreamWorks Animation have been submitted to SIGGRAPH 2015, to be held later this year.

Since its inception in 1989 the College of Architecture’s visualization program has provided Hollywood’s leading animation and special effects studios with a steady stream of highly trained computer graphics professionals. Visualization graduates, or “Vizzers,” can be found among the creative talent at Pixar, Blue Sky, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Industrial Light and Magic, Dreamworks Animation, Electronic Arts, Rhythm & Hues Studios and Reel FX.

Media contact: Phillip Rollfing, Texas A&M College of Architecture.

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