Archive for the ‘Academics’ Category

Jump Start Your Animation Mojo

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Cogswell College knows what it takes to take your talent from beginner to pro – but here’s a helpful article in 3D World Magazine with a few tips to help you decide if animation is the right path for you.

Their 10 tips include: the best use of your time (don’t waste time playblasting), how to approach each scene (treat each phrase like it’s own shot), dealing with facial expressions (it’s about motion not poses) and troubleshooting (bookend trouble spots).

It’s a challenge for artists to step back from their work and keep moving forward before each shot is perfect.

Check out the trailer from “Worlds Apart” an award-winning, short animation produced by Cogswell’s Project X class.

More Summer Classes to Put the ‘Wow’ in Your Education

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Classes start on May 20.

BB Sketchbook (DAA499ST) A general storyline or previously published manuscript will be assigned at the start of the semester and students will work to develop everything that will go into a world which suits that storyline.  Over the semester, students will also be given intensive observational assignments to assist in the learning and development process.  These assignments will force the students to intensely observe figures, plants, machines and other items which will then allow for a complete understanding of real-world subject matter that can be later turned into confidently imagined characters, environments, vehicles, props or whatever  is needed as a conceptual step forward in designing to the given storyline. Ideas will be generated and changed and turned into something new, all chronicled in sketchbook form.  The end result of the semester will be a compilation of this development process.

“As the name ‘Sketchbook’ implies, this course is intended to be a ‘behind-the-scenes’ approach to developing ideas and imagery for character and creature design, environments, vehicles, props and anything students can imagine.  For every great concept, there is a paper trail of hard work, discarded and unseen ideas and drawings – the dirty laundry of concept development – this will be the focus of this Summer 2013 Sketchbook.”  -David Perry, Faculty

Theory and Practice of Sound Work (DAT 302) Have you ever wonder how and why music and sound impacts our moods and emotions? If your answer is yes, then Cogswell’s audio department is offering a class this summer that lets you examine the ways that sound and music interact with body and mind states. Sound Work takes a critical look at the issue from both a music theory standpoint and from a body/mind perspective. Explore multiple Sound Work practices, representative musical examples and take part in exercises and experiments to accompany the reading and discussion.

“Doing Sound Work frames music and sound in a different way. It often is as much energetic as it is sonic. Sound Work is successful if a listener or subject experiences some beneficial change, such as better concentration, a decrease in compulsive urges or deep relaxation. Engaging with the practice of Sound Work can be life-changing in its effect on a musician or audio specialist.”  -Tim Duncan, Faculty

“I’ve seen research that shows how certain sounds can induce states of healing, reduce stress or induce sleep. I think this is a very understudied field and would like to be part of research projects. It’s fascinating how frequencies affect the brain and can be embedded in musical works to promote different states.”  -Brahmanya Ananda, Student

Ultimate Electronic Music Production (DAT 499) lets you spend your summer immersed in every aspect of electronic music. Start with the history of and then move on to an analysis of groundbreaking works, focusing on an examination of the evolution and expansion of music production technologies in electronic music.  Take a behind-the-scenes look at famous synthesizers. Explore the use of MIDI/synch in the studio and concentrate on the elements of advanced sound design by (re)creating sonic textures and incorporating stylistic analysis and (re)production.  Best of all, the class features a synthesizer workshop.  With more than two decades of experience and passion, platinum-album electronic music composer, Julius Dobos, looks forward to sharing the techniques, sonic discoveries and future possibilities electronic music holds for dedicated students.

“Electronic music is an expansive and ever-evolving field within music composition & production, stylistically much more diverse than most would think. It has influenced countless genres and it presents an inexhaustible number of ways to communicate musical ideas.”  -Julius Dobos, Faculty

“Given the wide variety of distinguished professionals teaching at Cogswell, the best thing a student can do for his/her education is to take advantage of a teacher’s experienced wisdom on a subject. Ultimate Electronic Music Production is a great opportunity to hone my skills at electronic beatmaking, learn how to use heady gear in creative and efficient ways, and receive invaluable instruction and advice from a seasoned producer with a familiar passion for electronic music.”  -Daniel McFarren, Student

Technology & Culture (HUM 199 B) is an introduction to contemporary thinking about the nature and significance of technology as a dynamic element in human society and an embodiment of cultural values. Does technology work for us – or do we work for technology? Through the exploration of important – and widely divergent – theories of technology, you will be asked to think critically and creatively about the technologies that impact the work you plan to do upon graduation and the culture in which we live.

“Technology is the lens through which we view our work, our relationships with others, and even ourselves. It’s really important to develop a conscious approach to thinking about and discussing technology – so that we don’t mindlessly accept what the media tells us, or sleepwalk through our interactions. I’m excited to present this fascinating and challenging material to Cogswell students who engage every day with big questions about technology and culture.”  -Susan Harvey, Faculty

Apocalypse & the American Imagination (ENG 499) is taught in a seminar setting giving students ample time to delve into American’s obsession with zombies, cyborgs and the end of the world.  Why are we so fascinated with the apocalypse? Students will be asked to isolate and analyze memes and tropes in popular culture and media, and develop a deeper understanding of our culture in the process.

“I think it’s important because it teaches young artists how artists use culture to build and create something original.  The better your understanding of culture, the more informed your creations are.  I came up with the class because I was fascinated with how resilient zombies, cyborgs, and apocalypse are in our media.  I wanted to know more about it, and I do learn more each semester with the students in this seminar.”  -Richard Schimpf, Faculty

“I would like to take this class because I have an open-minded opinion on the possibility that our species will ruin this planet and make it uninhabitable.”  -William Collins, Student

These Summer Classes Will Put the ‘Wow’ in Your Education

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Classes start on May 20.

Hip Hop: America’s Narrative Platform (HUM 199 C) is an exploration of the historical context of hip hop culture as the first interactive media platform in America. Walk through history from the slave narratives to the beginnings of Hip Hop and finally into its maturity. Along the way you will explore the Blues, ‘yardie’ culture and Chicano protest murals.

“As a digital media campus, we constantly discuss and learn about platforms. The first platform I learned was the elements of the hip hop culture so I wanted to share it with Cogswell students as a way to increase innovation using a culture the students already acknowledge and love.”  -Bret Sweet, Faculty

“I want to take the Hip Hop class because it is a chance for me to learn or begin to grasp everything surrounding the hip hop movement and all its forms.”  -Troy Sinclair, Student

Game Animation (DAA 499) focuses on game specific animations such as Prototypes, In-Game cycles, Paired Animations and Combat. You will use the Unity Game Engine to dig deeper into the animation pipeline, tools and associated physics. Learn to speed up your animation workflow and capture character personality and aesthetics according to direction given and delve into basic techniques like idles, hits, attacks, chain attacks and reacts.

“As a Video Game Animator working across different Genres, I feel the need for students to learn about the Game pipeline before they get out of school. The Game Animation class is designed to give students the unique opportunity to test their skills, as in an internship at a Video Game company. Students will create assets (animations) and test them in a Game engine. By working with strict directions and time constraints, they will understand the technicalities that are necessary in a Game pipeline.”  -Jonali Bhattacharyya, Faculty

“Animation for film is wonderful, but learning to animate for games involves a whole other world of techniques that animators need to employ to be successful. I wanted to take Game Animation, not only to better myself as an animator, but to expand my skill-set, learn to pose characters that need to look good from all angles of viewing and perform specific actions with a limited frame count. At the end of the semester, I look forward to making some really cool character actions that can be used in games!”  -Robert Mariazeta, Student

“Games boast interesting and inventive characters and enemies, so the challenge of understanding how to animate how each acts and reacts intrigues me.  I’m also intrigued by game animation because it is so different from animation for film and television.  There needs to be several animations to accommodate the large variety of commands a player can have over a character. I am looking forward to game animation because it will open new opportunities for me as I prepare to look for jobs and internships.”  -Amanda Martinez, Student

Audio Theater (DAT 498) If you have ever wanted to tell a story using only sound, here is your chance. During Cogswell’s summer term immerse yourself in the production and recording of short dramas and narratives using only audio tools. Along with your classmates you will be given the opportunity to develop your skills in script creation, voice acting, sound effects, background music and dialog editing. An exciting medium in itself, it is also an effective test bed for developing soundtrack skills for animation and video games.

“Audio theater is a perfect test bed for learning all types of sound track skills (dialog recording and editing, foley, sound effects and theme and background music) without the overhead of developing a visual track. Whereas a 3 – 4 minute animation might take 1 – 2 years to develop, a 3 – 4 minute audio theater piece of comparable narrative quality can be done in a month. And it must be done correctly, because there are no visuals to distract from production errors and poor quality audio content. Audio theater can be even more vivid and immersive than film or animation because everything takes place in the listener’s mind. Orson Welles’ radio performance of H. G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” caused major panic when it premiered.  Listeners who tuned in after the start did not understand that it was fiction.”  -Timothy Duncan, Faculty

“When I heard ‘War of the Worlds’ for the first time, I was amazed by the way the piece impacted people. They really got caught up in the story. I thought this is how I want to present stories like the classic radio decades of the 1950s to 1980s. I can see this class becoming the Project X of the Audio Department.”  -Nick Connors, Student

International Political Relations (SSC 399) brings you up close and personal with world’s political scene and how it affects your life. Anyone who has paid any attention to current world affairs, knows that the world is changing. The class seeks to answer such questions as; how do other nations operate, why do they make the decisions they do and what responses are available to states and the international community. The class will focus on five general areas: politics and society, the linkage between society and government, policy decisions, defense and security and international law.

“The world today is interconnected in ways that human history could not have imagined even 50 years ago. Right this minute, a student could live video conference with a friend in Moscow, close a web business deal in Buenos Aires and transfer source code and funds instantly, and that same student could fly to Beijing and arrive in less than 14 hours. Our growing closeness as ‘citizens of the world’ makes it vital that we understand the world beyond our borders because as technology advances the concept of borders becomes less and less of a significant distinction – what happens abroad, happens here.”  -Michael D. Lee, Faculty

Cogswell Commencement 2013 is a Wrap

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Congratulations to the Graduating Class of 2013

Cogswell College held its 2013 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 11. Participants processed into the hall to stirring strains of the Stewart Highlands Pipe Band of Menlo Park.

The ceremony took place at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View in the second floor in the Hahn Auditorium. Cogswell individually recognized each of the 36 graduates participating in the ceremony as they received their diplomas onstage.

Presiding Officials included: Ms. Janis Paulson, President; Dr. Deborah Snyder, Provost; Mr. Michael Martin, Dean of the College, Dr. Kathleen Broome Williams, representing the Cogswell College Faculty Senate.

Before the diploma presentations began, outstanding students, faculty and staff received well-deserved recognition. Award presenters included: Ms. Janis Paulson for the Staff award, Dr. Deborah Snyder for the Faculty awards, Mr. Michael Huber for Digital Art and Animation, Dr. Kathleen Broome Williams for General Education, Dr. Timothy Duncan for Digital Audio Technology, Mr. Bret Sweet for Entrepreneurship, Dr. Younes Mourchid for Fire Science, Ms. Josie Alexander for Student Life and Mr. Nirmal Singh for the Legacy Award.

Faculty Award Recipients, Group L to R, Susan Harby received the John & Ginnie Chin Excellence in Teaching Award; Karen Keister, Director DAA program; Jonali Bhattacharyya, received the Dorothy Scholten Award for Excellence in Teaching; Deborah Synder, Provost; and Janis Paulson, Cogswell President

  • Student Award Recipients:
    • 2013 Outstanding Student, Digital Art and Animation – Taylor Hodgson-Scott
    • 2013 Outstanding Student, Digital Audio Technology – Kaleb Grace and Francesco Grieco
    • 2013 Outstanding Student, Entrepreneurship – Eric Tran and Zachary Irwin
    • 2013 Outstanding Student, General Education – Jessica Burgoyne
    • 2013 Outstanding Student, Student Life – Aaron Weingarten
    • 2013 National Fire Academy Achievement Award – James Bryla
    • 2013 National Fire Academy Achievement Award – Alfredo Estrada
    • 2013 National Fire Academy Achievement Award – Harry Higgins
    • 2013 National Fire Academy Achievement Award – Mark Walker
    • 2013 Henry Cogswell Legacy Award – Marialuisa Yazar
  • Faculty Award Recipients:
    • 2013 Dorothy Scholten Award for Excellence in Teaching – Jonali Bhattacharyya
    • 2013 John & Ginnie Chin Excellence in Teaching Award – Susan Harby
  • Staff Award Recipient: 2013 President’s Award for Outstanding Staff – Milla Zlatanov

For their high academic achievement, graduates Mark Walker, Degrees at a Distance/Fire Science and Jeannette Thomas, Digital Art and Animation and Kaleb Grace, Digital Audio Technology were selected to speak to the estimated 350 graduates, family, friends, faculty and staff in attendance.

Former Cogswell Chancellor, Chuck House. Mr. House sits on the Board of the Computer History Museum and helped arrange hosting Cogswell's commencement there.

Joel Slayton, Executive Director of ZERO1 delivered the Commencement Address.

Commencement Keynote Speaker, Joel Slayton, Executive Director of ZERO1

About the Commencement Speaker: Mr. Slayton took the helm of ZERO1 in June of 2008 after serving as a both a board member for the organization and chairperson of ISEA2006, which was held in conjunction with the inaugural 01SJ Biennial. An artist, writer and researcher, Mr. Slayton is a full tenured professor at San Jose State University where he served as Director of the CADRE Laboratory for New Media from 1988 to 2008. Established in 1984 CADRE is one of the oldest and most prestigious centers in the United States dedicated to the development of experimental applications involving information technology and art.

Joel Slayton Delivers 2013 Cogswell College Commencement Address

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Cogswell College is pleased to announce that Joel Slayton will provide the keynote address at its upcoming Commencement. The ceremony takes place at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View on Saturday, May 11, beginning at 11:00am.

Mr. Slayton took the helm of ZERO1 in June of 2008 after serving as a both a board member for the organization and chairperson of ISEA2006, which was held in conjunction with the inaugural 01SJ Biennial. An artist, writer and researcher, Mr. Slayton is a full tenured professor at San Jose State University where he served as Director of the CADRE Laboratory for New Media from 1988 to 2008. Established in 1984 CADRE is one of the oldest and most prestigious centers in the United States dedicated to the development of experimental applications involving information technology and art.

Mr. Slayton has also served on the Board of Directors of Leonardo/ISAST (International Society for Art, Science and Technology) from 1999 to 2008, and was Editor and Chief of the Leonardo-MIT Press Book. Most recently, he served as a member of the National Advisory Committee for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Selected as the first recipient of the Pick-Laudati Award by the Department of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University, Mr. Slayton is considered a pioneer in the field of art and technology. As an artist, his artworks, which engage with a wide range of media technology, including information mapping, networks and interactive visualization, have been featured in over one hundred exhibitions internationally. An original member of the Visible Language Workshop at MIT in the mid 1970s, he received a National Endowment for the Arts award for his public art spectacles, and was selected for the Xerox Parc Pair Artists in Residence Program. His research explores social software, cooperation models and network visualization. His published academic papers include “Social Software,” “Entailment Mesh,” “The Re= Purpose of Information” and “The Ontology of Organization as System.”

In addition to his artistic practice, from 1998 to 2007, Mr. Slayton was president and founder of C5 Corporation. C5 is a hybrid form of authorship intersecting research, corporate culture and artistic enterprise. C5 research explores issues of visualization involving large data sets and social networks. Begun in 1996, C5 projects have been featured at SF Camerawork, Museo de Belle Artes, II International Bienale Buenos-Aires, Walker Art Center, Cantor Center for the Arts, Transmediale, Ars Electronica, The New Museum, San Jose Museum of Art, ASU Center for Creative Inquiry, and AUT in New Zealand. Joel’s robotic tele-present works have been exhibited at the Krannert Museum of Art and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was selected for participation in Alternating Currents: American Art in the Age of Technology co-curated by San Jose Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

In 2011, Mr. Slayton was the keynote speaker at the Creative Cities/Global Economy conference in Tokyo and was invited to participate in the Aspen Institute World Art Summit in Muscat, Oman. He has presented at the Singapore Art Museum and was a keynote speaker at the ACE Conference on Advances in Computing Entertainment Technology in Los Angeles and at the Urban Games and Mobile Computing conference hosted by the Nabi Art Center in Seoul.

Most recently, Mr. Slayton was been invited to present his work involving ZERO1 at the Swissnex in conjunction with the San Francisco Art Institute Artists in Labs exhibition.

Steve Blank on Why a Lean Start-up Changes Everything

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Why do so many start-ups fail? Entrepreneur and educator, Steve Blank, has developed a method called, the Lean Start-up, that sets the traditional launch of a business on its head. At Cogswell College we’re a big proponent of Mr. Blank’s method.

One of the key tactics he suggests is that start-up founders should actually ask their potential customers whether the proposed product or service is something they actually want. Seems logical but many start-up founders launch their companies based on their vision and not solid market research.

A second mistake that many entrepreneurs make is to create elaborate business plans and assume that the business plan tells them everything they need to know. Blank suggests that entrepreneurs get into more of an iteration and pivot mode.

This comprehensive write-up in the Harvard Business Review about Steve Blank’s method is a must-read for every entrepreneur.

Handcrafted Board Games Are Not Dead and Stone Librande is Proof

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Many Cogswell students – past and present – will recognize this name. Not only is Stone a “SimCity” Designer at Electronic Arts but he has also taught “Game Design I” at Cogswell every Fall for years. Stone brings his love of game design into the classroom and shares his enthusiasm for the creative process with those lucky – and wise enough – to take his class.

Stone wanted to do something special for his young children so 17 years ago he decided to design a board game as their Christmas present. The first game was a hit and a Christmas tradition was born. The hobby eventually led to a job when some executives from Blizzard Entertainment played his 2002 gift, “Monster Hunter.” And the rest, as they say, is history.

Read the rest of the story in the article by Wired.

Goose Bumps and Music Chills

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

The science behind goose bumps is fairly well understood – but that ‘music chill’ you get sometimes when you hear certain melodies or sounds – well not so much. Could it be that what you hear evokes a specific emotional reaction?

Scientists are not sure but Cogswell  College is offering a class this summer, “Theory and Practice of Sound Work” that may dig a little deeper into the issue.

Take a few minutes to watch this short video to learn a little more about this phenomenon.

What music or sounds give you ‘music chills?’

Pixar Tips for Speeding Up Your Animation Pipeline

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

If you live and die by the GPUs (that’s Graphic Processing Units for the uninitiated), you know the time these chips save you every time you redraw a 3D scene.

In this tutorial from the session he led at the 2013 GTC, Laurence Emms from Pixar, gives a brief overview of the history of GPUs, a discussion and demo of how GPUs are used at Pixar and the future of GPU development in the industry.

What solutions have you used to make your  workflow faster?

BioShock Infinite, A Worthy Sequel

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Sequels can often be a disappointment as the next in a series cruises on the coattails of the original. Sequels have the reputation for lacking imagination and a unique story. They stick to the tried and true and fail to explore new territory or character growth.

Using BioShock Infinite as the example, Games Radar uncovers eight lessons all other sequels should learn in order to avoid the sequel blahs.

Anyone played the game yet? What are your thoughts?