The technical and artistic abilities of three Texas A&M Master of Science in Visualization students earned each of them a $10,000 scholarship from Sony Pictures Imageworks, an Academy Award-winning, state-of-the-art visual effects and character animation studio.
The three students, Conrad Egan, Chethna Kabeerdoss and Hao Luo, were awarded Sony’s Sande Scoredos Memorial Scholarships by a selection committee of Imageworks visual effects and animation supervisors, producers, executives and recruiters.
Committee members lauded the viz students’ use of digital technology and their passion for creating visual effects and animation that was displayed in their application packages, which included a demo reel, essay and resumé.
Egan’s reel, said the scholarship committee, demonstrated strong effects whose characters displayed impressive texture and shading details.
His aspiration to become a technical director in the animation industry began after he toured Pixar’s Emeryville, Calif. headquarters.
“I had an undergraduate degree in Design Media Arts from the University of California at Los Angeles, which provided a broad education in art and design through new media and technologies,” said Egan.
He applied to the Texas A&M’s visualization program after learning that several of Pixar’s technical directors were Viz graduates.
“The visualization program has helped me build a stronger resumé and provided an opportunity to draw upon the program’s extensive alumni network in the animation industry,” he said.
The committee also praised the effects Kabeerdoss has created as a student in the viz program.
“Kabeerdoss demonstrates strong technical skills throughout her demo reel,” said a scholarship announcement letter from Diane St. Clair, vice president of recruiting, training and artist management in the studio’s Professional Academic Excellence program (IPAX), which sponsors the scholarships. “She looks to be a strong individual who will go far in this field and we look forward to seeing her career advance in the visual effects industry.”
While watching cartoons as a child with her brother, Kabeerdoss, who is aiming for a career as a visual effects artist, began noticing how characters’ movements helped tell a story and how effects made animation come to life.
Years later, she focused on software engineering in her undergraduate studies, but found that career path unfulfilling and enrolled in Texas A&M’s visualization program.
“These two years of grad school have been the most fruitful years of my life,” she said. “I have been pushed to my limits emotionally and physically, but I can honestly say I’m where I was meant to be, doing what I love, doing what I am good at.”
Visualization student Hao Luo also earned an IPAX scholarship based on the abilities he demonstrated in his application packet.
“Luo has a very well-rounded demo reel,” said a scholarship announcement letter from St. Clair. “The overall presentation was laid out well and demonstrates his technical abilities.”
Luo, who is aiming to become a technical director in the digital animation industry, said that Texas A&M’s visualization program has provided him with a blend of technical and artistic skills, strong troubleshooting abilities, computer proficiency and an ability to see projects through to their completion.
IPAX, created in 2005 to educate faculty and structure curricula at leading academic institutions, sponsors the scholarship program in an effort to develop future talent that will contribute to the growth of the visual effects and animation industry.