Viz Kids

From the aliens of Mars Attacks to the flying debris of Twister, today’s hottest special effects are created by graduates of Texas A&M’s Visualization Lab.

CHILLINGLY REALISTIC ALIENS, scenes of mass destruction, dazzling visual effects: Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks, which hits theaters this month, has all the makings of a holiday blockbuster. The science fiction farce based on the Topps trading cards of the sixties also features some well-known earthlings, among them Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox, and Tom Jones. And don’t miss Aggie exes Tim McLaughlin and Mary Beth Haggerty in key supporting roles—though you won’t see their names lit up on any marquee.

McLaughlin and Haggerty (who received their master’s degrees from Texas A&M University in 1994 and 1995, respectively) get some of the credit for bringing the movie’s computer-generated Martians to life. They work as technical directors at Industrial Light and Magic ( ILM), a top special-effects company based in San Rafael, California, that has won Academy awards for its work on such films as Forrest Gump, Jurassic Park, and Terminator 2. For Mars Attacks, the Aggie alums helped create the aliens digitally; McLaughlin’s job was to make sure the sophisticated computer models used to construct, color, and light them were technically correct, while Haggerty focused on the positioning and brightness of the lights and the shadows.

McLaughlin and Haggerty aren’t the only recent A&M grads to make the unlikely leap from Aggieland—famous for cranking out farmers

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