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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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Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Q&A: The Science of Cinema

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Photo by PROVIDED
Chance Q&A

Battalion SciTech reporter Barath Menon interviewed Franklin Chance, the creative technical director of creature development at Industrial Light and Magic, ILM — an animation studio that has helped bring stories like Star Wars and Pacific Rim to cinema — to ask about his job and how Texas A&M has shaped his career.
THE BATTALION: How did you get interested in the field of animation and what made you pursue a career in it?
CHANCE: I come from a family of engineers. My grandparents were engineers, my older sister is a nuclear engineer, and my younger sister is a biomedical engineer. So I decided that was the route to go. I went to college to study engineering and later decided to pursue civil engineering. But after my first job, I decided to switch career paths because this wasn’t what I wanted to do. Yet one thing I had noticed in this time was that I loved going to the movies. I would go to the movies with my friends and I would have a wonderful time. I remember when Jurassic Park came out and how fascinated I was at the use of practical effects and [computer generated] effects. So that’s when I decided to pursue my career path. And also, I found out about the Viz Lab here at Texas A&M and how it is one of the few and best programs in the nation.
THE BATTALION: Do you have a favorite moment from one of your projects?
CHANCE: Well actually I do. When I first arrived at ILM, I was assigned the project of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” — the TV show. In that I was in charge of developing characters  like Darth Maul. One of those characters was Embo. If you don’t know who he is, a bounty hunter during the Clone Wars. And one of the best moments I have ever had was when I saw an action figure of Embo. Just seeing my work being made into an action figure was very fulfilling and was like a dream come true. Also another cool moment was when I got to work on Michelangelo and Raphael from [Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles]. Just making sure that they look good and the muscles are toned was very fun for me.
THE BATTALION: How has Texas A&M shaped your path towards your career?
CHANCE: The first way it had helped me was it provided me with the infrastructure that I needed. The Aggie Network is very strong. I have very good friends who actually work at Pixar, Dreamworks, Sony and even ILM. Some of my co-workers are Aggies. So Texas A&M helped me with the connections that I needed in order to be in my place. The second way is the great Viz Lab program that this university has. It is one of the best programs in the nation and is highly recruited. In fact, I currently work with one of the recruiters after 15 years since he had visited the Viz Lab program when I was a student. But it is one of the few programs in the nation, as well. If A&M didn’t have the Viz Lab program, then I would have gone to a different school. And lastly, great teachers. I have learned from the best, and that’s why I’m at ILM today.
THE BATTALION: What does one have to do or have to be in your position? Was there a course-path that you had to follow?
CHANCE: Dedication. You have to be very dedicated towards your craft. I love my job, but at the same time it requires a lot of work as well. In regards to the course-path, you can major in almost anything during your undergraduate degree. ILM has an assortment of people with a wide spectrum of undergrad degrees. But you need to get into a good program for Visual Arts for Graduate School. Luckily Texas A&M has one of the best programs for Visual Arts. Then you have to make sure that you get a really good internship. For me, my internship was at Pixar for Ratatouille, and that was amazing.

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