|BW alumnus Bill Kastak '86 (middle) with Big Hero 6 directors Don Hall (left) and Chris Williams|
One Baldwin Wallace alumnus contributed to a "heroic" win at the Oscars this year. William D. Kastak '86 was a part of the Walt Disney Animation Studios team that brought home the Academy Award for "Best Animated Feature Film of the Year," Big Hero 6. Kastak, who studied mathematics and computer science during his time at BW, was a Character Technical Director on the project, specializing in cloth and hair simulation for the award-winning film.
Prior to Big Hero 6, Kastak had a hand in character work on Bolt (2008), Tangled (2010) and another Oscar-winner and smash hit, Frozen (2013), for Walt Disney Animation Studios. Frozen, Kastak said, is his favorite Disney project, because it harkened back to the feeling of the old, hand-drawn animation that he knew and fell in love with growing up.
After graduating from BW, Kastak went on to study Operations Research at The University of Texas at Austin and worked for G.E Transportation before breaking into computer-generated animation. Although he took an unusual academic path into the field, he says he still leans on the critical thinking and problem solving skills his math and computer science courses helped to develop.
The Brunswick, Ohio native says said he had never touched a computer until he came to BW and although the current digital media & design major didn't exist back then, the BW program now features courses in Maya, the software Kastak uses in his work making on-screen Disney magic.