Viz-a-GoGo: The Visual Olympics

Visualization students take what they learn in the classroom and showcase it at a student-run event each spring.

    By Mamie Hertel '24
  • Oct. 26, 2021
    3 min read

Viz-a-GoGo, a student-run event at the end of each spring semester, gives visualization studies majors a chance to share their work amongst their peers. Originally held as an informal presentation in a large classroom, the program’s success developed over the years into an official show in 1994. "It’s like a visual Olympics where we showcase, celebrate and acknowledge the best student-produced work,” explained Glen Vigus ’05, Viz Lab Director.

While the event started as a showcase for video and animated work, it now includes digital paintings, photography, sculptures, interactive games and visual computer-based research. Industry professionals are invited to attend the show to judge, while students receive awards known as “Vizzies” in areas such as best in graphic design and best in show. Some students even receive scholarships from animation studios like Pixar, Disney, ILM and DreamWorks.

“Viz-a-GoGo has become a source of pride for visualization majors over the years. Family and friends come from all over to attend the event,” Vigus said. “It’s opened doors for students seeking internships, scholarships and employment.” With attendance growing and its visual content becoming increasingly impressive, Viz-a-GoGo will continue to provide a unique opportunity for students to receive recognition for their hard work.

View these featured projects from previous Viz-a-GoGo participants:

John Donaldson ’22 - Sacrificial Jam

“Sacrificial Jam” is a melodramatic short film that depicts a sacrificial victim caught in a fun and surprising turn of events. The idea for the short film stemmed from the theme “back from the dead” and a love for horror films by John Donaldson ’22 and his teammates. Donaldson and eight other visualization students of various classifications worked together to create this comical film that surprises viewers with dark themes and dramatic cinematography.

John Donaldson ’22 - Surface Deep

John Donaldson ’22 and 30 student members created a four-minute short film that portrays the dangers of xenophobia and sheltered upbringings. “Surface Deep” follows a young girl tasked with guarding her underground society’s borders against the dangers of the outside world. “I wanted to tell this story as somewhat of an allegory for what it’s like to grow up in a social bubble,” Donaldson said. “You parrot what your family or community thinks, but when their beliefs are unacceptable, you have to grow as an individual to form your own opinions and values.”

Jackson Spencer ’18 ’22 - The Leica Camera

Jackson Spencer ’18 ’22, a graduate visualization student, was inspired to create a digital rendition of a Leica camera after he started a directed study with a mentor who works at DreamWorks Animation. The prototype became the perfect subject to study with its complex textures of aged leather and worn metal. “Every step of the process to create a 3D object digitally is very time-consuming,” Spencer said. “You have to go back and forth between different stages to make updates or fix things, but it’s incredibly rewarding.”