Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin had a chance to see how former students are redefining the entertainment industry during a Nov. 16 visit to the Bay Area campuses of Pixar Animation Studios and DreamWorks Animation SKG.
Joining Loftin on the visit aimed at strengthening university ties with the movie industry’s two leading animation studios were Tim McLaughlin, head of the Department of Visualization at Texas A&M, and Matt Jennings, western regional development director for the Texas A&M Foundation.
“The impact of what our former students are achieving in the digital and visual arts is redefining entertainment as we know it,” said Loftin, who met with studio VIPs and groups of former students, primarily graduates of Texas A&M’s masters program in visualization, who are working on the studios’ next major releases.
Aggies at Pixar and DreamWorks have made major contributions to blockbuster films like the “Toy Story” and “Shrek” series. The studios’ animated movies have grossed more than $15.7 billion worldwide, gaining critical acclaim and dominating the Oscars’ Best Animated Feature category.
“Dr. Loftin is very knowledgeable about our programs in visualization, its technology and the work our former students perform,” said McLaughlin. “He has a background in virtual environment research and enjoyed being immersed in those topics during his visits, which demonstrate Texas A&M’s broad support for what we’re doing in the Viz Lab, including our new masters degree in fine arts.”
The Texas A&M delegation met with studio administrators and approximately 16 former visualization students at Pixar’s headquarters in Emeryville, Calif., located between Oakland and Berkeley.
Later, they traveled to DreamWorks’ headquarters in Redwood City in Silicon Valley, where they also visited with 25 former students, including a group at DreamWorks’ Glendale, Calif. office via a videoconference wall.