Aggie Vizzers help create
new 'Shrek,' 'Toy Story'


Theatergoers who stick around for the credits for current releases “Toy Story 3,” “Shrek Forever After,” “The A-Team,” “Iron Man 2,” “Marmaduke” or “The Last Airbender” can spot the names of dozens of Aggie “Vizzers” — graduates from Texas A&M’s masters program in visualization sciences — who were leading contributors to each film.

A total of 13 Aggie Vizzers are listed in the credits for Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 3,” which welcomed Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the whole gang back to the big screen June 18 after a more than decade-long absence. The film finds a teenaged Andy preparing to depart for college while his loyal toys, exiled to a daycare center crawling with untamed, sticky-fingered tots, scheme their escape.

"Toy Story 3" was the top-grossing movie of the June 18-20 weekend, raking in a studio-estimated $109 million.

Breathing life into Far Far Away and the colorful denizens of DreamWorks Animation SKG’s “Shrek Forever After” were eight more digital wizards who honed their craft at Texas A&M. After dominating the box office since its May 21 opening, the film made way last weekend for “The A-Team,” on which fellow Vizzer James E. Price served as visual effects supervisor.

Texas A&M’s Master of Science in Visualization Sciences program, now offered through the Department of Visualization at the College of Architecture, has provided a steady stream of leaders in the growing field of digital and electronic visualization since its creation in 1989.  Program graduates have achieved success as creative directors, computer animators, university professors and software designers, with the majority working in the animation, visual effects and electronic gaming industries.  

Aggie "Vizzers" can be found among the leading creative talent at Pixar, Blue Sky, Industrial Light and Magic, DreamWorks/PDI, LucasFilm Animation, Walt Disney Animation, Microsoft and Sony Pictures Imageworks, and have been integral members of the teams behind such recent blockbusters as “Avatar,” “Star Trek,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “How to Train Your Dragon,” as well as the Harry Potter, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Chronicles of Narnia and Night at the Museum series.  Eighteen Aggie Vizzers also served on the Academy Award-winning team behind last year’s “Up.”

In addition to hiring A&M visualization program graduates, Pixar and DreamWorks are ongoing supporters of the program, providing visiting artist lectures, one-on-one reviews of student work and scholarships for current students given by former students and matched by money from the studio. 

The program also offers a Summer Industry Course that allows students to work with artists, technical supervisors and other CG industry professionals. This summer students are working directly with DreamWorks to produce animated shorts based on a DreamWorks-developed story idea.  Last year’s course was led by Disney Animation Studios.

Helping to assure the believability of “Toy Story 3” from Disney/Pixar were Aggie Vizzers:

  • Jonathan (Jon) Kiker ’05, lighting artist
  • Christina Garcia Weiland (working on MS Viz degree), set dressing artist
  • Sarah Fowler Deluna ’04, character shading
  • Jesse Weglein, lighting technical director, marketing
  • Angelique Reisch (working on MS Viz degree), production training
  • Patrick James ’98, layout artist
  • Donald Fong ’08, character tailor
  • Eric Peden (working on MS Viz degree), render pipeline
  • Eric Andraos ’02, set shading artist
  • Vandana Reddy Sahrawat, master lighting artist
  • Chris Chapman ’95, shots department/FX
  • Jacob Brooks ’02, character grooming, simulation and effects artist
  • Don Bui ’06, DVD and promotion production

The eight Vizzers contributing to “Shrek Forever After” were:

  • Shaila Haque ’04, technical director
  • Rodrigo Huerta (working on MS Viz degree), animator: cycles
  • Pia Miniati ’00, animation rig engineer
  • Lei Han ’04, lighting artist
  • Michael Losure ’08, visual effects
  • Zeki Melek ’07, visual effects
  • Zhang Xiao ’05, visual effects
  • Can Yuksel ’07, visual effects

Samples of the work currently being produced in the Viz Lab can be seen on the Department of Visualization website, its vimeo webpage, at iTunes U, and on the Viz Lab Facebook page.


- Posted: June 10, 2010 -

— the end —

Contact:   Phillip Rollfing, or 979.458.0442.


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