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Neal G. Moore

Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2008

IUPUI student lands residency with Pixar Animation Studios

Residency will include assisting with production of Toy Story 3

May 7, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS -- Following the telephone call confirming his selection as an animator for Pixar Animation Studios, Frank Tai confessed that he couldn't sleep later that night. The 26-year-old graduate student says he was just too excited about joining one of the animation industry's leading production studios.

"I couldn't believe it at first," said Tai, who will graduate in May with a master's degree in media arts and science from the IU School of Informatics at IUPUI. "To know that a company like Pixar has such confidence in my talent as an animator is just overwhelming."

Pixar, the creator of the wildly successful Toy Story franchise and other animated blockbuster films, has hired Tai to be a technical director for the studio's newly established in-residence internship program. Tai will spend nine months at Pixar's San Francisco headquarters doing lighting, texturing, rigging and rendering work using Autodesk Maya as well as proprietary software designed by Pixar. This July, he'll undergo two weeks of orientation and will then begin assisting with production of Pixar's forthcoming feature film release Toy Story 3.

"I credit IUPUI's media arts and science program for properly preparing me for this exciting opportunity," said Tai. "I especially want to thank Clint Koch and Albert William, my professors, for their instruction and encouragement."


Tai submitted samples of his work to Pixar, including this image.

Tai was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, and came to IUPUI in 2003 as an undergraduate art student. A class field trip to a local theater to see The Incredibles -- another of Pixar's animated film hits -- hooked Tai on the notion of becoming a 3D animator.

"I knew right then that 3D was what I wanted to do," said Tai. "I later drew inspiration from Professor Koch, who has a passion for animation. Then Professor William turned me on to 3D stereoscopic techniques."

"Frank has been such a pleasure to work with. He has a tremendous work ethic, a great artistic sense, and is a very humble person," said William. "I am very pleased that Frank has landed such a great job at Pixar. He truly deserves it. I hope other students will be inspired by the work he has done and follow in his foot steps."

Tai, who would like to teach someday, says he feels an obligation to share with others what he has learned, and that the School of Informatics at IUPUI is particularly well-suited as a training ground for fledgling animation students. His goal is to become a supervising technical director -- hopefully with Pixar -- in the next 10 years or so.

Click here to learn more about IU School of Informatics 3D animation research. To see more of Frank's work visit