Vizzers contribute to 'Free Bird,' Reel FX's first animated feature

See Viz student's work from 2013 Summer Industry Workshop with Reall FX:

["Not Again"] (

["Beep & Boop"] (

["L3-R04"] (

Turkeys time travel to the first Thanksgiving in an effort to prevent their brethren from becoming the day’s main menu item in “ [Free Birds] ( ,” the new animated movie that includes 12 former [visualization] ( students in leading animating roles.

The movie, said Kate Erbland of, is the “cinematic equivalent of a holiday potluck, packed with the delicious and the inspired.”

It’s the first animated feature from [Reel FX] ( , an award-wining animation and visual effects studio based in Dallas and Santa Monica, Calif. and features the vocal talents of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler and George Takei.

Jeff Alacantara, who earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in 2001 and is enrolled in the Master of Science in Visualization program, was a lighting and compositing supervisor on the film. He said told the Bryan/College Station Eagle in an [article] ( posted Oct. 31 that he uses computer software to create colors and light to create moods for scenes in the film.

"You have to look at balancing how much light is in a scene, or dark, and working with colors so you're not confusing the audience, and being really strict and following the look to create a mood," Alcantara said. "So a lot of times, the happy sequence will have a lot of light bouncing around, and not a lot of dark shadows."

Former students with Reel FX who helped make the film include:

  • David Parrish ‘90 - head of production;
  • Allison Harbin ‘11 - animation production coordinator;
  • David Esneault  - visual effects supervisor;
  • Jeff Alacantara ‘01- lighting, compositing supervisor;
  • Ravin Dwivedi ’11 - effects technical director;
  • Seth Schwartz ‘08 - global technical director;
  • Doug Bell ’04 - rigging lead;
  • Garrett Moring ’05 - lead lighter;
  • Michael Catalano ’10 - effects artist;
  • Nick Naugle ’11 - lighting/compositing artist;
  • Rachel Bradley ‘09 - commercial group, and
  • Jon Speer ’06 - commercial group.

Reel FX recently partnered with the Department of Visualization in a 10-week summer course in which students work with industry professionals to produce 30-second animations. Other summer course partners have included Pixar, DreamWorks Animation and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Former students from Texas A&M’s College of Architecture can be found among the leading creative talent of all the major animation and effects studios including Pixar, DreamWorks/PDI, Industrial Light and Magic, Blue Sky, Lucas Film Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Walt Disney Animation.

They’ve contributed to the making of the biggest animated hits such as the [Toy Story, Shrek] ( and [Kung Fu Panda] ( films, and many more.

posted October 31, 2013