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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M ranks No. 1 school in Texas for animation

Art courtesy of Weston Jones, Elizabeth Kelly, Caroline Fernandes, Sierra Richardson, Jacob Heyman and Brittney Crowe

Still shot of a plant in the student film “Harbinger” by the A&M animation department.

Texas A&M takes the lead as the No. 1 animation school in Texas.

Animation is one of three tracks encompassed by the visualization major and has soared with such success, elevating A&M as the No. 1 school in animation in Texas.

This success did not come easy, with both professors and students having worked immensely to produce quality work. Vertical Studio professor Caleb Kicklighter said the specific set up of the classes has challenged and equipped students to work together for the desired product.

“It’s classes like the Vertical Studio that Mayet [Andreassen] and I teach where a lot of it is working on a large production,” Kicklighter said. “You have a bunch of people who depend on each other and you sometimes have up to eight to 12 different people collaborating. They’re all contributing in different ways and rely on each other in different ways. It’s courses like [that] where students really learn that production pipeline.”

Not only does the strategic set up of classes aid in the success of their work, but alumni from notable animation companies have also mentored students, which helps elevate their techniques and understanding of the industry they’re entering. Vertical studio professor Mayet Andreassen said industry mentors have been a huge help in this accomplishment.

“We have a lot of industry mentors who have helped give feedback to our students [and] mentored our students,” Andreassen said. “That is a really big asset to our program, and something that has greatly helped in the quality of work. I think our students have seen this bar be raised every year and they have been incredibly inspired by that.”

Visualization senior Evan Dickinson said the format of classes implements a big emphasis on teaching and passing down knowledge to classes below.

“In the way we structure our classes, we have a vertical format, which means our seniors will also be working with juniors and sophomores,” Dickinson said. “So [they’re] getting firsthand experience working with experienced students. We’re really passing down the knowledge from one class to another and I think that’s just what makes the knowledge kind of organically grow.

Kicklighter said this accomplishment has meant a lot to all who work hard in the program.

“It’s well deserved,” Kicklighter said. “I think everybody in our program, including the students, work so hard. We say every semester that the students get better and better [and] they’re so much better than the last class.”

There have been many small achievements prior to this momentous one. Andreassen said students have had their work seen by many important individuals in the industry.

“Recently our students have had a lot of their work go into the [Special Interest Group on Computing Graphics and Interactive Techniques] Student Showcase [which is] the biggest computer graphics conference in the world,” Andreassen said. “Some of their work had been featured on Pixar’s RenderMan page and they have seen some of our students’ work and reached out to our students and showcased their work because it’s that good.”

Dickinson, who currently has an internship with DreamWorks, said A&M has greatly prepared him to go into the animation industry.

“It’s absolutely prepared me,” Dickinson said. “You get out what you put into it. Just the program itself [and] the professors are invaluable. Their passion for teaching alone has inspired me to work harder [and] stay in after studio, to put in extra hours in the afternoon. Just to have something even better to show the next week and get even more feedback from my professors.”

Although A&M is widely known for its notable STEM education, we see firsthand the School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts is accomplishing significant achievements many are excited to see, Andreassen said.

“I think people are really ready to see what performance and music and fine art is going to be produced by the new school [and] what kind of collaborations are going to occur,” Andreassen said. “People need to know that we have all these really fabulously skilled performers who are also in Texas. It’s not like it’s strictly performance, which it is [and it’s] wonderful, but they’re also doing some really innovative research too.”

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About the Contributor
Sydnei Miles
Sydnei Miles, Head Life & Arts Editor
Sydnei Miles is a communication sophomore and journalism minor from Houston, Texas. She began reporting for The Battalion in the fall 2022 semester covering culture and community events happening on and around campus. Since January 2024, Sydnei has served as The Battalion's head Life & Arts editor and previously served as the assistant Life & Arts editor for some of the spring 2023 semester and for the fall 2023 semester.
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