For every student that steps out into the world with an art and design degree, Academy of Art University sends them off with the confidence that they have been armed with the skills and knowledge to succeed in their chosen career paths. That’s why it will always be a source of much pride to see our Academy of Art alumni fulfilling their creative potentials and living up their dreams, some in no less than on the red carpet of the Oscars. We join the rest of the film industry in recognizing the artistic contributions of some our graduates in these Oscar-worthy productions.

Best Visual Effects

The Academy Award for Best Visual Effects gives recognition to the film that is deemed to have achieved superior technical contributions in the production through visual effects. Also taken into consideration is “the artistry, skill, and fidelity with which the visual illusions are achieved.” We tip our hat to our alumni who were contributing members to the visual effects department for the following films nominated in this category:

The Lion King

This remake of the 1994 animated classic from Disney brought much excitement to fans all over the world, not only for its photorealistic computer animation upgrade, but also because big celebrities like Beyoncé and Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) lent their voices to give life to the characters. Kudos to our School of Animation & Visual Effects alumnus, Victor Wagner, for his contribution as Technical Director and Key FX artist in this production.

Avengers: Endgame

Endgame provides a heart-wrenching finale to the well-loved franchise, following the quest of the remaining Avengers to undo the catastrophe wielded by Thanos upon half the entire population of the universe. AMPAS member Jan Philip Cramer was not the only Academy graduate who worked on Endgame. He was joined by several others performing other tasks, including compositing, motion editing, animating, FX technical directing, and matte painting.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

This iteration in the beloved Star Wars franchise, considered to be the conclusion of the Skywalker saga, works its way to the inevitable confrontation between Rey and Kylo Ren, as the rest of the resistance continue to defy the plans of the First Order to create a new Empire. Several School of Animation & Visual Effects graduates worked in varying capacities for The Rise of Skywalker, such as compositor, technical director, and layout & facial performance capture artist.


Sending messages in 1917 can be a deadly task in the time of the first world war, especially if the delivery is to be made within enemy territories. There’s no time for hesitation though, if it means saving 1,600 fellow British comrades. Our School of Animation & Visual Effects graduate, Vijay Selvam, applied his know-how in visual effects to help revive this bygone era for the big screen.

 Winner: Visual Effects

The Irishman

A truck driver gets involved with a crime family in Pennsylvania and veers into a new career path leading to top hitman. Helping make this Oscar frontrunner look as good and dapper as it does are School of Animation & Visual Effects graduates taking on the roles of digital compositor, digital artist, visual effects artist, and more.

Best Animated Feature

The Academy Award for Best Animated Feature is presented to the film that has achieved superb storytelling using a frame-by-frame technique to animate characters’ performances. Other criteria that must be fulfilled include a running time of over 40 minutes, a majority of the main characters must be animated, and at least 75 percent of the film’s running time must have animated figures.

Missing Link

Adventure awaits Mr. Link, an 8-feet-tall creature covered in fur, as he sets out of his solitary life in the Pacific Northwest to go on a quest to find his lost relatives. He recruits fearless explorer Sir Lionel Frost and adventurer Adelina Fortright to help him journey to the fabled Shangri-La valley. Graduates from the Schools of Animation & Visual Effects and Motion Picture & Television lent their creative services as colorist and character/pipeline developers to bring Mr. Link’s adventure to life.

Toy Story 4

There’s a new toy named Forky joining the gang on a road trip, which suddenly leads to Woody’s unexpected reunion with long-lost friend Bo Beep. Academy of Art University is proud to have graduates from different art and design degrees, such as animation, graphic design, and film and TV production contributing to this classic franchise.

 Winner: Animated Feature Film

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Vikings and dragons now live together in harmony, but evil still persists with Grimmel plotting to wipe out all dragons. To save Toothless and the rest of his kind, Hiccup must unite the clans to find the hidden land that is key to peace, Caldera. From the Art Department to VFX, Academy of Art graduates helped in creating environments that made Hiccup’s rescue of Toothless and the rest of the dragons a success.


A reluctant post master is assigned to the North Pole where he is given a year to carry out a seemingly impossible assignment. During his stay, he meets Klaus, the reclusive toy maker, and together, they start new traditions and legends. Our Animation & Visual Effects graduate Alex Orelle, who had also previously worked on The Matrix Reloaded and The Incredibles, got on board Klaus to bring in his expertise as creative consultant.

Best Animated Short

The Academy Award for Best Animated Short is awarded to the animated film that best achieves its narrative objectives using animation techniques. To be considered as a short, the film must not exceed 40 minutes of running time, including all credits. Among this year’s nominees for this categories are productions that Academy of Art alumni created and contributed to. A hearty congratulations to the following:


This animated short written and directed by former Academy of Art animation school student Rosana Sullivan shows how friendship comes in all shapes and forms—even between a kitten and a pitbull. Rosana worked on her passion project while she was working in Pixar, and now she’s ready to take on the spotlight herself with Kitbull.

She originally came up with the idea for story while in the School of Animation. Fortunately, she held onto it until the timing was right—during her stint at Pixar, the company launched the SparkShorts pogram, in which employees are given six months and a limited budget to develop their own film.

It was the perfect vehicle for a passion project exactly like Kitbull, so Rosana took the opportunity and ran with it. Little did she know then that the road will somehow make a turn for Hollywood’s biggest affair. “It was very humbling to be working with people who were so intelligent and talented at what they do. At the same time it was awesome to have [these] people… bring my vision to the screen,” she said of the Kitbull team. “If I were to go back in time and tell my college student self, [I’d say] don’t waste energy worrying so much about how others are doing or how I’m doing in relation to them. I’d instead focus my energy on how to improve myself.”

Hair Love

They say the love between a father and his daughter is special—all the more if Daddy can help his daughter have an extra-special hair day. Things can get frizzy in film production without a proper storyboard, and for this we’re proud of our alumna, Caitlin Vanarsdale, who contributed to this short as storyboard artist.

 Winner: Short Film (Animated)

Academy of Art University offers various and art and design programs, including those in entertainment arts. If you aspire to be like these Academy of Art alumni, pursuing their creative passions in the film industry, contact our admissions representatives to request information.

Apply now to our School of Motion Pictures & Television, Writing for Film, TV & New Media, Acting, Animation & Visual Effects, Communications & Media Technologies, Music Production & Sound Design, or Visual Development if you already have a clear picture of the path you want to take with us for your future!

Academy of Art University Search Search Search Previous Next Previous Next Next Next Chat Quote Facebook Google Plus Instagram Pinterest Twitter YouTube LinkedIn TikTok WeHeartIt Download App Close