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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

Texas A&M Aggies guard Tyrece Radford (23) blocks Arkansas Razorbacks guard Tramon Mark (12) during Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)
Free falling
February 20, 2024
Jace LaViolette (17) an Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle celebrating a home run during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
GALLERY: Baseball vs. UIW
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) catches a pop fly during Texas A&M’s game against McNeese on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024 at Blue Bell Park. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M Aggies guard Tyrece Radford (23) blocks Arkansas Razorbacks guard Tramon Mark (12) during Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)
Free falling
February 20, 2024
Jace LaViolette (17) an Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle celebrating a home run during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
GALLERY: Baseball vs. UIW
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) catches a pop fly during Texas A&M’s game against McNeese on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024 at Blue Bell Park. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024

Former student part of Oscar-winning team

Pitted against animated films such as Wreck-It Ralph and Frankenweenie Pixars Brave won the Academy Award for best animated feature film in February, thanks in part to the help of a graduate from Texas A&M.
Chris Griffin, Class of 2007 and former graphics editor at The Battalion, was a simulation artist on the team that was awarded the Oscar.
I got to hold the Oscar, Griffin said. It was nice; it was heavy. This is the first film that I worked on thats gotten an Oscar.
Griffins involvement with Brave in designing digital costumes and hair movement for the animated characters.
We would take the characters that had already been animated and were responsible for animating the cloth and the hair using all kinds of simulation tools, Griffin said.
Among the animation tools Griffin used were high-powered simulators that calculate the motion of hair and cloth.
If its made out of silk, we have to figure out how silk moves and try to replicate it, Griffin said. Any kind of cloth material we try to get as close to reality as possible.
Griffin said the complexity of the character or garment determines the amount of time it takes to animate. A t-shirt, he said, is easier to animate than a kilt.
I like the challenge of trying to make something that moves right and looks great and maintains its aesthetic appeal, Griffin said. Its quite a lot of math a lot of geometry and trigonometry and calculus.
As the Oscar and reactions from moviegoers have shown, Griffins hard work paid off in the end.
The animation was perfect, said Austin Adams, junior business major.
Adams said he was amazed by the true-to-life movement of the character Meridas hair.
It really greyed the boundary between animation and reality, Adams said. It seems like a lot of physics work for the graphic artists involved.
Although Griffin himself dealt with the more technical aspects of animating the costumes in Brave, he collaborated with an eclectic group of people with various areas of expertise.
We have some people who are very highly technical and on the other side we have some people who are very adept at actually tailoring, Griffin said. The community [in the office] is fantastic. Everyone has a very open, cooperative attitude about everything.
For Griffin, the transition from college to the real world was a smooth one. A typical workday for him includes hacking away at a list of tasks, trading ideas with coworkers, and attending meetings.
You have your projects and assignments and you work on them and then you show them to your supervisors, and they give you notes, Griffin said. Its not all that different from the architecture program at A&M.
He said the architecture program well prepared him for the critiquing process at his job as a simulation artist at Pixar, but Griffin didnt always know he wanted to work at Pixar. In fact, he said he didnt decide to pursue a career as a simulation artist until early in his undergraduate education.
I was originally going to be an architect, Griffin said. But when I got into the architecture program, they had all these different options of where to go. They had the visualization lab, and I decided to change my direction and go for the Viz Lab instead.
The visualization lab supports the research efforts of the Department of Visualization.
We focus on the use of art, design, technology and science to create visual experiences, said Tim McLaughlin, Griffins thesis advisor and the head of the Department of Visualization.
McLaughlin said Griffins focus in graduate school was to combine procedural methods for generating complex motion with realism.
I believe much of his visual inspiration was derived from gritty comic books like the Dark Knight series, McLaughlin said.
The visualization lab emphasizes simultaneous right-brain and left-brain thinking in students, which prepares them to work at places that integrate technical and aesthetic requirements places like Pixar.
[The visualization lab] makes [students] very good at tackling computer graphics, problems like simulated cloth, character articulation, digital lighting and effects animation like fire, smoke and water, McLaughlin said.

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