Cogswell Faculty Spotlight – Michael Huber, Digital Art & Animation


Michael Huber

Assistant Professor Michael Z. Huber is a computer graphics animator and effects supervisor, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born in the Arizona desert and raised in the Silicon Valley, he is the product of an engineer father and an artist/actress mother. It seems only fitting that his line of work involves the marriage of art and technology on a daily basis.
Michael’s interest in animation began while attending film school in San Francisco, where he studied stop motion animation, cinematography and film production. He eventually transferred to San Jose State University, where a new program called CADRE (Computers in Animation, Design, Research and Engineering) was introduced, which was one of the first places to study computer animation. He furthered his own education by investing in animation software, called HASH, and continued to teach himself enough computer animation to start a freelance animation company, called Gravity 3D.

Having been in the visual effects industry since 1994, Michael’s freelance projects for commercials and videos eventually led to major motion picture and video game projects. He has worked on over fifteen feature length films and has been fortunate enough to work for directors such as Wolfgang Peterson, Luc Besson, Ridley Scott, Roland Emmerich, Michael Bay, and Steven Spielberg.

What classes do you currently teach?

Currently I am teaching advanced classes in computer character animation {part of the Digital Art & Animation program). Also I head up the Project X production group. In Project X we create short films for film competitions.

Do you have a favorite class to teach? If so, why?

I enjoy teaching period. When I see someone grow or that light bulb turn on over someone’s head that is very gratifying. But if I had to pick one I would say the Project X, as it’s really the most creative environment for the students to grow in.

Have you worked for non-academic companies in the past? Which ones? How did that experience make you a better teacher?

Yes, I have been all over the map as far as entertainment is concerned. I have worked for video game, visual effects, and broadcast companies alike. To name a few I worked at Electronic Arts as a Lead Artist, Disney Feature Animation as an animator and Art Director, and Digital Domain as a Technical Director. And that is just a few of them. And yes the more experience you have outside of academia the more of a holistic approach you will be able to bring the to the teaching table, it’s pretty simple.

What made you decide that you wanted to teach?

Not what you would expect. I had a death in the family and it made me realize that I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do. Furthermore the industry is so fast paced that I had to slow down or I would be in for some serious health problems for myself. Teaching seemed like a way to slow down. Ironically it’s just as difficult. I think any job can have its challenges if you care about it.

What projects have you worked on in the past? What was your role in the project?

Well going backwards I have worked on Tiger Woods PGA tour 2005, 2006, and the 2007 versions, also The Godfather video game as Lead Lighter. For films I played a large role on the Roland Emerichs version of Godzilla as Senior Animator. Also the last two Matrix Films, Black Hawk Down, Armageddon, Poseidon, Titanic, Blade two and three, Minority Report, and there are several others. It’s funny but the work has been so fast paced and hectic that I can’t remember half of the films I have worked on sometimes.

What projects (personal or professional) are you currently working on?

We just completed our first film in Project X and are currently on to the next film. The first film is great from an entertainment perspective and production value. Actually it nearly sets the standard for production value in a short animated film. So currently I am busy promoting that film. And we are working on the next thing, which is a film that has a very important message.

What do you think sets Cogswell apart from other schools teaching similar curriculums?

In my view, and as far at digital arts is concerned our Project X production group sets our program apart from other schools. We are a real production group/class where students get hands on real world experience. Also in Project X students get one on one review from industry pros from the best studios in the world. Also students get a demo reel and material that has the highest production value, it’s so high that it’s very close or in some ways surpasses industry standards.

Another advantage is that we are a small school and students get a lot of personal attention from faculty. There are more and more schools out there but they are usually large and to the most part impersonal. If I could be a student again this is the school I would want to go to, hands down.

How does a degree help someone pursuing a career in the digital media industries?

Every day there is more and more competition to get into the industry. Now those industries are looking for certification. A degree also shows that someone can finish what he or she started.

Phone: 408-541-0100 x122

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