Former vizzer detailed GIS-based creation of 'Zootopia' city in GIS Day keynote address Nov. 14

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Brandon Jarratt

In the Oscar-winning animated hit “ [Zootopia] ( ,” creatures of all sizes live in a crazy quilt of habitats and structures in a giant city created with geographic information software by a team of Disney artists that included Brandon Jarratt, a former Texas A&M [visualization] ( student. Jarratt discussed the imaginary city’s creation in his keynote address at [Texas A&M GIS Day, ] ( a three-day salute to geospatial technology and its power to transform and enhance lives with data visualization and analysis.

Simply put, GIS links locations (where things are) to information (what things are), allowing us to visualize, question, analyze and interpret data and better understand relationships, patterns and trends. GIS applications, virtually limitless, are increasingly requisite to science, industry and government and are quickly becoming indispensable in everyday life for everyday people.

Jarratt, the GIS Day keynote speaker, is a technical director at Walt Disney Animation Studios. He and his fellow animators created the city of Zootopia using ESRI CityEngine, a 3-D GIS application that helps urban planners and architects visualize projects and plan their implementation.

“Using CityEngine to create the movie’s complex, imaginary world highlights how GIS can be adapted in innovative ways across disciplines,” said Jarrett, whose credits also include the animated smash hits “Big Hero 6,” “Moana,” and the upcoming “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.”

Jarratt earned a [Master of Science in Visualization] ( at Texas A&M in 2013 and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in 2010.

Event organizers, including Bo Ah Kim, assistant lecturer in the [Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning] ( , have scheduled a wide variety of GIS sessions that include accessing public data, emergency preparedness mapping, panel discussions with Texas A&M and industry experts, and more.

All Aggies preparing for careers in science and technology fields and looking for a leg-up on the competition should be learning GIS skills and networking with industry professionals, said Dan Goldberg, a GIS Day co-chairman and a Texas A&M assistant professor of geography and computer science and engineering.

“To get the jobs of tomorrow, students need to be learning GIS today,” Goldberg said. “GIS Day gives students from across campus an opportunity to learn these skills for free, which will be beneficial to both their current course work and future careers.”

Free [GIS Day workshops] ( covered everything from learning basic geospatial mapping capabilities to assessing public health data. Workshops include:

  • Kick Start Your GIS :  a whirlwind tour of the many research, public, and private sector applications that utilize geographic information science;
  • Maps of Imaginary Places : a private GIS Day tour of the Cushing Library exhibit featuring maps of fantastical places such as Hogwarts, Middle Earth and Westeros;
  • Career Fair and Industry Speed Dating : a set of career oriented sessions targeted toward getting Aggies great jobs and internships in the geospatial industry;
  • GIS Vehicle Exhibition : an event with local and regional first responders, including the Brazos Mobile Command Unit, providing tours and presentations on their vehicle's capabilities, and
  • Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute : an overview of how the institute uses GIS applications to support research in wildlife research, land use and conservation.

Richard Nira

posted November 8, 2017