Stroud helped to create the meerkat island in “Life of Pi.” Pease worked on a key visual effect: the film's vast expanses of ocean.After performing highly specialized functions for the movies, they both now enjoy the freedom Raytheon gives them to take part in more of the creative process.“In the industry, Kiel focused on lighting and I focused on modeling. “You get to do a lot of fun stuff.”Pease also appreciates the wider scope of responsibilities.“At Raytheon, a small group of us handle the projects from start to finish,” said Pease.

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“I started taking programming classes, switched majors to 3-D animation and really fell in love with the art,” he said. There’s a misconception that the computer does it for you.

Don’t get me wrong, the computer does a lot, but if you don’t have a talented person at the helm, you’re not going to get anything worth showing.”The video game world is one source of animation professionals. Trent Stroud and Kiel Pease, animators based in Huntsville, Alabama, came to Raytheon after working at Rhythm & Hues Studios.

The California shop created Oscar-winning special effects for a number of movies, including “Life of Pi,” which featured a wholly-animated tiger and miles of empty, virtual ocean.

They show what missiles look like in flight, what satellites do in space and how battles unfold on the ground.

Their work shows up in everything from customer presentations to virtual engineering models and online videos.

It all starts with the same basic tool: An artist’s eye. “How do you visualize something that only happens in a computer system and turn it into a compelling story that is informative and exciting to watch?” asked Luke Stewart, a project manager with Raytheon’s CONOPS Visualization team in Tucson, Arizona.The camera skims low over a dazzling blue nightscape.Pulses of light zip through the city below as fiery columns plummet from the sky, exploding on impact.“Cyber attacks spread fear, disrupt commerce and leave a trail of widespread damage…” says an unseen narrator.It looks like a landscape from the movie TRON, but overpopulated and under assault. At Raytheon, skilled animators use sophisticated software and Hollywood-honed technique to illustrate complicated defense and aerospace technologies.