Culture & Society

16 Aggies Contributed To ‘Toy Story 4’

Texas A&M former students who honed their animation skills in the College of Architecture's Visualization Laboratory contributed their talents to the latest installment of the acclaimed Disney series.
By Richard Nira, Texas A&M University College of Architecture June 19, 2019

Sixteen former Texas A&M University visualization students helped bring back to life some of cinema’s most beloved characters in “Toy Story 4,” the latest installment in the hit animated movie series, which opens Thursday, June 20, 2019.

Contributing a wide range of talents to the movie, the Pixar vizzers worked in shading, lighting, rendering, rigging and other specialized roles combining computer science know-how with artistic talent — skills initially honed as students at Texas A&M’s Visualization Laboratory.

Former viz students who helped realize what promises to be the latest Pixar smash hit include:

  • Jean-Claude Kalache  – director of photography: lighting
  • Jesse Weglein – interim lighting lead technical director
  • Austin Goddard – art production coordinator
  • Patrick James – technical director
  • Robert Graf  – technical director
  • Chris Chapman – technical director
  • Gary Bruins – effects supervisor
  • David Verona – rendering technical director
  • Laura Murphy
  • Don Bui
  • Bob Moyer
  • Sajan Skaria
  • Kevin Singleton
  • Seth Freeman
  • Jon Reisch
  • Jonathan Kiker

Since 1989, the visualization program at Texas A&M has provided a steady stream of aspirants for the burgeoning field of digital and electronic visualization. Over the years, many of the world’s most celebrated animation and special effects studios have partnered with the program, providing scholarships, academic advice and regularly supplying visiting industry professionals who work with students on special projects.

This summer, pros from Disney Animation Studios are working with graduate vizzers to create animated film shorts as part of the department’s annual summer industry course. Previous summer courses have featured tutelage from industry professionals at Pixar, Industrial Light and MagicDreamWorks, and others.

Visualization graduates have achieved success as creative directors, computer animators, university professors and software designers, with many working in the animation, visual effects and electronic gaming industries.

Now nearing its 30th anniversary, the Texas A&M visualization program offers two Master of Visualization degrees, one in science and one in fine arts, as well as an undergraduate degree, the Bachelor of Science in Visualization. The programs are administered by the Department of Visualization in the Texas A&M College of Architecture.

The department nurtures a unique studio environment combining academic rigor with creativity, fun, camaraderie and collaborative problem solving.

This article by Richard Nira originally appeared in ArchOne.

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