Three-time Oscar award winner Jim Rygiel ('81, MFA Fine Arts) supervised special effects on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A Fine Arts major at Otis, Rygiel entered the world of special effects in the early 1980s, when computer animation for film was in its infancy. His first film, The Last Starfighter (1984), pioneered digital imaging in place of models. At Boss Film Studios, which he joined in 1989, Rygiel directed a computer animation department that grew to over 75 animators and 100 support staff within 14 months, and produced effects for Starship Troopers, Species, Outbreak, Air Force One, The Scout, The Last Action Hero, Cliffhanger, Batman Returns, Alien III, and Ghost. He was special effects supervisor for The Amazing Spiderman (2012).
In 2002, Rygiel received the American Film Institute's first AFI Digital Effects Artist of the Year Award and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for Best Visual Effects.