Archive for the ‘Alumni’ Category

Halo 4 Animator Talks About His Job

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Halo 4 Soldier ImageThe following is an interview with Cogswell College alumnus, Pat Gillette (2006), who earned a BA in Digital Art & Animation and is currently an Animator for 343 Industries (a division of Microsoft)

Q.  Company name, your job title, a brief description of your job responsibilities and how long you have worked there.

A.  I started at 343 Industries in March, 2011 as a gameplay animator. I’m responsible for creating in-game character animations and vignette’s utilizing key frame and motion capture pipelines. In other words, make stuff look good any way I can.

Q.  Can you give an example of what you might do on a ‘typical’ day?

A.  During production on Halo 4, I’d start my day between 8 and 9, do the usual email checking and try to remember what I was working on the day before. Then I’d get to start animating any number of characters doing any number of things, although most of those things are violent. I was also the ‘character owner’ for a number of characters and so I’d usually spend some part of the day reviewing other people’s work and giving feedback. The goal was to improve the overall animation but also to maintain a consistent look and feel for the characters across multiple animators. Throw in a lunch/workout break, some bug fixing, problem solving, goofing off, writing tutorials, playtesting, occasional meetings and more animating and you have a ‘typical’ day that ends somewhere between 5 and midnight.

Q.  Can you give an example of something that surprised you about your job when you first started?

You mean besides the fact that people pay me to do this job? I think it’s surprising how much you learn day to day on the job – and that’s also one of the most exciting parts!

Q.  What projects have you worked on in the past?

A.  The list starts pretty sad, but it gets better so hang in there. Drumroll Please!
Leapfrog’s ClickStart Educational Software
Leapfrog’s My First PC

Disney Pixar’s Finding Nemo: Sea of Keys

Create and Learn

Disney Pixar’s Toy Story

Godzilla Unleashed Double Smash (Nintendo DS)

Spiderman Vs. the Masked Menace (TV Plug and Play)

Tomb Raider: Underworld (Nintendo DS)

Red Faction: Beast (Wii, Cancelled)

Tales of Monkey Island: Chapters 1,2,3. (Wii, PC)

Halo: Reach (XBox 360}

Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole Returns Again (Wii, PS3, XBox 360 Kinect)

Halo 4 (XBox 360)

Q.  What do you find most rewarding about your job?

A.  Seeing people get excited about the work you’re doing is pretty great. We often get to display our work on a big screen in front of the whole company and when you get a studio-wide reaction to an animation you’ve worked on it’s a pretty wonderful feeling. Combine that with the millions of people who willingly pay money to play something you helped create is amazing.

Q.  What advice would you give students preparing for a career like yours?

A.  Work really, really hard. Ask lots of questions and REALLY listen to the answers. Teachers tend to know some stuff that might be good to pick up. Be nice to people. College is equal parts learning and networking, so take advantage of both while you are there.

Q.  What qualities does someone need to have to be successful in this field?

A.  You need to be intrinsically motivated to keep getting better. It’s not that hard to get too comfortable with your abilities or your job and soon you’ll find yourself at the same quality level you were when you left college, and guess what, other people are working harder than you to get better, and they’ll succeed if you don’t do something about it. Unfortunately, most jobs would like you to get better but they don’t really help you do it, so it’s up to you to do it on your own time.

It also helps to be a people person, or at least be nice. You want people to like you, so that when job opportunities come up, your old co-workers remember you fondly, would want to work with you again and recommend you for positions at their company. I can proudly say I have never started a job where I didn’t know someone there before me who gave me a strong recommendation. This ‘learning and networking’ thing is a recurring theme.

Q.  How did Cogswell helped prepare you for this career?

A.  Cogswell gave me the opportunity to develop the foundational skills and the connections to start my career in animation.

YOBONJA Invades PAX Prime 2012

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Tobiah Marks at PAX Dev 2012

Cogswell College Alumni Tobiah Marks and Angelo Yazar Co-founders of the independent game development company, Yobonja, that brought us Blast Monkeys, will be exhibiting August 31 to September 2 at PAX Prime Seattle 2012 (booth #6415).  Also, on August 29th Tobiah will present a talk called “What Worked: Lessons Learned Running an Independent Game Company” at PAX Dev.

Yobonja’s  Blast Monkeys, a physics-based puzzle game with over 11 million cross platform downloads, was nominated for the “Best Mobile App for Consumers” at the 2012 Global Mobile Awards, and was the #1 Free Android Game during the summer of 2011.

Marks and Yazar, along with fellow business partner Yekta Yazar, will be supported by several fellow Cogswell alumni who will help run the Yobonja booth. There they plan to show off the many different versions of Blast Monkeys and conduct a PAX exclusive debut of Blast Monkeys related merchandise.

Yobonja started in early 2009 making Facebook apps, but shortly after switched focus to mobile apps as the new indie friendly mobile markets grew. The success of Blast Monkeys has defined Yobonja’s place in the exciting mobile indie space allowing them to turn their inherent passion for development into an indie game development business.

“I did not realize how much time and energy the business side of running a company takes,” said Marks. “When you’re so focused on game development, you forget to factor in time for massive amounts of emails, meeting with other companies and dealing with all the legal issues and paperwork.”

“Being a student at Cogswell taught me time management, staying in scope, all sorts of things that are so hard to learn from just reading a book and listening to lectures,” said Marks, “we learned to stay focused and just create the games we want to make.”

PAX Dev Panel Information:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 5:00PM – 6:00PM

What Worked: Lessons Learned Running an Independent Game Company” by Tobiah Marks.

Alumni Interview: Tobiah Marks

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Tobiah Marks of Yobonja!

I had the chance to catch up with Tobiah Marks who is super busy with his company Yobonja!  Between the fan emails, conferences, awards shows and more, Tobiah was able to take a few minutes to share his amazing experiences within the company he has built.

Zombie: So Tobiah, what is the name of your company and what is your title there and responsibilities.

The name of my company is Yobonja, and my title is “Co-Founder.” As for responsibilities, I wear many hats and I find myself doing a little bit of everything. I like to just call myself a “Game Developer.”

Zombie: Did you always want to start your own company?

Yes, or at least be in charge/running a game development project, not just be another “cog in the machine” so to speak. I didn’t think I would start my own company so soon after graduating though. It just kind of happened.

Zombie: So how did you come up with the name for your company?

A lot of people ask us that. The answer is, we made it up! Yobonja is sort of an anglicized version of the Turkish word “yabancı,” which means “foreigner” in English. We wanted to make up a word so that when we Googled the name before we made the company there were zero results.

Blast MonkeysZombie: Can you give an example of what you might do on a ‘typical’ day?

I wake up, eat breakfast, then sit down in my living room and start working. Usually I am doing something related to level design, such as designing new worlds, making new levels, etc. Then I’ll move on to answering emails. We get hundreds of emails a week ranging from dealing with customer service issues, getting fan feedback, to business people trying to sell us stuff. Players are constantly emailing us with bug reports and asking about when new levels are coming out. At some point in the day I’ll usually call or meet up with Angelo (Angelo Yazar, another Cogswell alumnus and the other Co-Founder) and we share our progress and plan out our next course of action.

Zombie: Can you give an example of something that surprised you about your job when you first started?

I did not realize how much time and energy the business side of running a company takes. Learning all that from ground zero was quite a challenge. When you’re so focused on game development you forget to factor in time for things such as the massive amount of emails I mentioned before, meeting with other companies, and dealing with all the legal issues/paperwork. Now that we’re more successful, we’ve been able to hire people to help us with those issues, like being able to get a lawyer when we need one. Even with help, I did not realize when we began how much time I would spend not actually developing any games.

Zombie: What projects have you worked on in the past?

I honestly have lost count, we’ve worked on so many. The first project our company started was Zeppelin Nations, a MMO on Facebook back in 2009. We’ve done a wide variety of projects, from mobile to web games, and even some odd ones like a photo manipulation application Angelo made.

End of January/early February 2011, we made Blast Monkeys. It started off small, but we kept iterating and iterating on it, adding more content, new art, new levels, etc. Over time, we built up a fairly large fan base. Now, 15 months or so later, we have over 10 million downloads and over 300 levels across 10 unique worlds. Over the summer of 2011 we were the #1 free Android game. We were even nominated for the “Best Mobile App for Consumers” at the Global Mobile Awards in Barcelona, Spain. The game is currently on iOS, Android, KindleFire, and NOOKColor. We’re also working on a couple other new versions of the game for other platforms as well.

Zombie: What steps did you take to grow your company?

Well, I haven’t really seen ourselves as having “grown” too much. We started off as two people, just Angelo and myself. Later we added a third, Yekta Yazar. After the success of Blast Monkeys we’ve been able to hire independent contractors every now and then when we need them, but I doubt we’ll expand to much bigger anytime soon. We like the size of our company.

Zombie: What do you find most rewarding about your job?

Being able to work every day on a game that I love and then putting a content update out and see how literally millions of fans immediately respond to and enjoy it. I like that nobody tells me what I have to do or have to design. We have total control over what we as a company think is best for our game. We’re making games that are fun for us to make, fun for us to play, and it just so happens others love them too.

Zombie: What advice would you give students preparing for a career like yours?

Learn a bit of everything. As an independent developer, you will at some point be forced to wear multiple hats. If you don’t know something, learn more about it or find someone who can teach you. Also, use version control! I run into so many people who don’t understand how important that is. Most importantly, iterate on your projects. Don’t just work on them, then throw them out there thinking you can move on to the next game. “Release early and often” is sort of the mantra we try to follow at Yobonja. Although we’ve been guilty in the past of not following it, as soon as we started just focusing on Blast Monkeys and iterating on the game, getting new stuff out, and growing the game based on player feedback is when we started to be really successful as a company.

Zombie: What qualities does someone need to have to be successful in this field?

Passion is the number one thing. You can’t just want to do it, you have to really love and be excited about what you are doing. Drive to learn is a huge factor – never stop experimenting with new tools and new languages. Never be content with just repeating what has worked for you/others in the past, especially in mobile. It changes so rapidly so you need to be able to adapt.

Blast MonkeysZombie: How has Cogswell helped prepare you for this career?

I really loved my time at Cogswell. I learned so much. I think most importantly though was the time I spent involved with the Game Development Club. The club gave students a space to meet with other artists, programmers and sometimes even an audio person or two and then work with them on all sorts of projects. Our company, specifically, started with Angelo and I working together on a project for a “Game in a Month” competition run by the Game Development Club.

My experiences at Cogswell really helped me learn how to create/manage a project, stay within scope, manage my time, etc. All sorts of things that are so hard to learn from just reading a book and lectures and really prepared me for my career.

Zombie:  Thanks so much Tobiah!  Best of luck to you in your future endeavors!

Halo 4 Box Art Released

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Hello everyone!

I know that I just posted about Halo 4 in my last entry, but… THEY JUST RELEASED THE BOX ART! This is pretty exciting as 343 Industries haven’t followed the trend that Bungie has set forth with nearly every other Halo release where they have leaked tons more game-play and video previews. This time around 343 has kept the details pretty under-wraps in terms of video footage and releasing very little art. However, a little beauty came flying across my desk today and I had to share it with you guys. Oh and….. little bonus, did you know that two Cogswell alumnus work for 343 Industries? Their names are, Will Christiansen and Pat Gillette, and I would like to give them a big salute and thank you for bringing us this beautiful game, we are all eagerly awaiting its release. Thanks guys!

Halo 4 Box Art

Beverly Hills and Newport Beach Film Fests

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Worlds Apart Crew at Newport BeachNewport Beach Film Festival (from left to right): Evan Clover, Josh Hodges, Jeron Moore

Worlds Apart Crew at Beverly HillsBeverly Hills Film Festival Awards Gala (from left to right): Josh Hodges, Evan Clover, Ivy Clover, Jeron Moore

Recently a few of our alumni attended two film festivals in southern California; The Beverly Hills Film Festival and the Newport Beach Film Festival. Both festivals were very exciting, the gang started their weekend off with attending the screening the animated shorts portion of the Beverly Hills Film Festival and we happy with the way Worlds Apart was received by everyone. After that, they took off to the Newport Beach Film Festival to attend the Shorts for Shorties portion of the festival. The animation they saw there was astonishing in quality and said it will be tough competition.  They were invited to the front of the theater to answer questions from the audience and then hopped out to the red carpet for pictures. Finally their weekend concluded with the Beverly Hills Film Festival Awards Gala. They got all gussied up with their suits and skirts and arrived to rub elbows with other film makers and celebrities. The awards ceremony was very classy and there we tons of laughs. Worlds Apart did not walk away with an award but there was high praise among  attendees for the films high production value and story. The Project X crew was all in all very pleased with the festivals and the weekend they had.

We will let you know as soon as we hear back from Newport Beach if Worlds Apart won an award. Stay tuned!


Alumni Interview: Adrian Majkrzak

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Adrian Majkrzak: Bungie Concept Artist

For those of you who don’t know who Bungie is, let me give you a brief overview. Bungie is responsible for one of the biggest game franchises ever, Halo. Their history goes back much further than that though, they were also shipped a game called Oni and several other Mac gaming titles including Marathon and Myth. Adrian Majkrzak, one of our alumni, got a job there recently and agreed to an interview with us. So here goes…

Zombie: Hey Adrian, thanks for talking to us. Could you give me a quick summary of where you work and what your job is?

Adrian: I’m a Concept Artist at Bungie. My job is to provide visual designs for anything that’s asked of me, including characters, environments, vehicles, weapons and props.

Zombie: So what does a typical day look like for you?

Adrian: Being a night owl, my day usually starts with a big cup of coffee. After that I’ll look over my tasks for the day and talk to anyone involved in them (my lead, the art director, the game designer in charge of the aspect of the game I’m working on, and any 3d artists who are going to have to model my designs). Once I have a clear idea of where I’m heading, the majority of my day is spent in front of the computer, painting away in Photoshop. As a design progresses, I’ll usually ask my teammates for a critqiue, which is almost always invaluable and I end up with a stronger design for it. At the end of the day I fire off my work to everyone involved for a round of feedback. If everyone is happy with the design, then I submit it and move onto my next task. Rinse and repeat each morning.

Zombie: What is something that surprised you when you first started your job?

Adrian: Maybe not surprising, but the sheer talent of the people I’m surrounded with can be pretty intimidating. I like the challenge though and love being able to contribute in whatever way I can.

Zombie: Can you tell us about any of the projects you have worked on in the past?

Adrian: Prior to joining Bungie, I worked at CCP Games for about 3.5 years. There I worked on concepts for EVE Online, the EVE-related shooter DUST 514 and the World of Darkness MMO.

Zombie: What is one of the most rewarding parts of your job?

Adrian: Being able to work in a creative field and getting paid for doing what I love. Cliche, but true.

Zombie: Do you have any advice for students wanting to get into your field of work?

Adrian: Be prepared to put in a ton of work outside of class and your assignments, to supplement everything you’re learning. Unless you’re a prodigy, it’s going to require a lot of self-discipline, study and hours upon hours of practice to break into the field. Spend time on online art forums, not just lurking but actively participating and asking people for feedback. Contact professionals and ask them for a critique of your work (be courteous and most people will be receptive). Learn to not be precious with your artwork because ultimately it’s the client you’re designing for, not yourself?

Zombie: Are there any qualities that someone needs to be successful in your field?

Adrian: Passion for drawing and painting is number one. Make sure you love it, because there are million other things you could be doing if not! Learning self-discipline is another big one, both for preparing your portfolio to break in and once you’re working, because you’re going to be expected to deliver and there isn’t going to be someone constantly over your shoulder to make sure you’re getting your work done.

Zombie: Is there anything special that Cogswell did to help your prepare for your job?

Adrian: For my normal day-to-day, I have to thank Reid Winfrey and Thomas Applegate for giving me an excellent foundation in drawing, painting and sculpture to build upon. They helped me recognize that 2d art was my real passion and encouraged me to pursue it. My education in 3d software wasn’t wasted either, as I still use 3ds Max frequently to create quick block-ins for me to paint over. Having that knowledge has helped make my process much more efficient.

Thanks Adrian for you time and all the cool info you provided. And for everyone else, be sure to check back in for more alumni interviews. Take care everyone!


Alumni Interview: Stephanie Lostimolo

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Stephanie Lostimolo

I’m pretty excited about this one everyone! I got super lucky and was able to get in contact with an alum that I have been trying to find forever. Stephanie Lostimolo is one of the biggest reasons I came to know about Cogswell, I have been a fan of her art since High School. So…. enough gushing, let’s get down to this interview.

Zombie: Thanks for taking time out of your day to talk to us. I am not going to waste any time here, would you mind giving us an overview of where you work and what your job is?

Stephanie:  I currently work for Michael Curry Design in Portland, Oregon and Faerieworlds LLC and Imaginosis in Eugene, Oregon.

For Curry, I serve as a concept designer for theater, music festivals, theme parks, and other venues. I also work as a graphic designer for Faerieworlds LLC (producers of art/fantasy/music festivals on the east and west coast), creating the look and feel for all of their websites, posters, advertisements, brochures, program books, and other collateral. For Imaginosis, I design countless books, posters, calendars, t-shirts, hats, magazine articles, advertisements, and other items for clients such as Brian Froud & Siegfried & Roy.

I also make and sell paintings, prints, jewelry, and mixed media art in my “spare time.”

Zombie: So what is a typical work day look like for you?

Stephanie: It varies. On days when I work in Curry’s office, it’s like a normal work day for anyone. I wake up at 6am, drive an hour to work in traffic, work an 8-hour day doing all sorts of design work, and then I drive an hour home. Then I work on my freelance gigs in the evenings. I work on Faerieworlds and Imaginosis stuff at home.

Zombie: Was there anything that surprised you about your job when you first started?

Stephanie: Deadlines. Must. Be. Met.

I always knew this but it didn’t hit home until I got a real job. All personal work goes out the window when someone is paying you to be their design hero!

Zombie: Would you mind listing some of the projects that you have worked on in the past?



  • Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith
  • John Carter (march 2012)
  • Outlander (2008 sci fi film, vikings)


  • Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil
  • the upcoming Madonna appearance at the 2012 Super Bowl


  • Brian Froud’s World of Faerie
  • The Art of Kinuko Craft
  • Siegfried & Roy: Unique in all the World ($700 limited edition collectable box set)

Zombie: What would you say you find most rewarding about your job?

Stephanie: The ridiculously long list of things I’ve been a part of. I like to point at something in a theater or a store and say “I WORKED ON THAT!” It’s a very satisfying feeling and it definitely makes writing the checks for my student loan payments easier every month.

Zombie: Do you have any advice for students who are maybe preparing for a job like yours?

Stephanie: I hope you like working! Laziness is a disease that is sweeping the nation; luckily for hard workers, it’s easy to stand out in this sea of lazy folk. My significant other happens to be my art director and owner of Faerieworlds and Imaginosis, otherwise I don’t think I’d have time for a personal relationship. Sleep is optional, and options only open up after the work is done.

Zombie: Are there any other qualities a person could have that would help them along?

Stephanie: You must also know how to take care of yourself. Remember to stand up for yourself when asking for money and never tolerate being treated badly. Seek jobs where you feel appreciated, but know that you will never be worshipped again the way you may have been in school or at home. That is a very hard thing to learn.

Zombie: Is there anything you would like to leave the students of Cogswell with?

Stephanie: Cogswell helped me prepare for my career by introducing me to other like-minded people who inspired me to keep moving forward. The contacts I made at Cogswell lead directly to my first job, and all of my jobs to this day.

When I started at Cogswell I thought I wanted to be a 3D animator. I soon realized 3D was not for me, and that I was more of a 2D person. It was an easy transition and I’m glad the school supported my choice to abruptly change gears.

Zombie: Thanks for all of your time and insight Stephanie. We all are looking forward to what you will be working on next.

And for any of you who would like to check out Stephanie’s work I have provided a link below. Be sure to check back in for more Alumni interviews!

Stephanie Lostimolo’s website:

Do You Know This Girl?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Rachael Reisdorf

Hey ya’ll!

Do you know the girl in the picture posted above? If you don’t, you really should get to know her!

This is Rachael Reisdorf! This girl is one of the craziest chicks on campus (in a good way). She is around for almost every student event helping out in pretty much any way she can. She is an alum of Cogswell (Game Design program) as well as being an employee here now. She does an insane plethora of work that ranges from design to student life. Seriously, if you go to Cogswell and you don’t know this girl, you need to stop in to her office next to the student lounge and chat with her for a bit. She is super accommodating, easy to talk to, helpful and is always down for a good laugh. Oh! And today is her 9 Year Anniversary of her stay here at the majestic Cogswell College! She also loves World of Warcraft….. so there’s that too…… (I heard she is with the Horde though, yikes).

Keep up being you Rach!


P.S. Her husband (also an alum) works for Sledgehammer Games!!!

Symphony of the Goddesses

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Symphony of the Goddesses

Hey Peoples!

If you hadn’t read here earlier, we had an alum work on the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony. Well, after the two shows in LA and London, the show took a 3 month hiatus and revised the show for its big 2012 tour. This included taking some movements out, adding some and re-working some of the visuals (this is what my inside source told me at least). I might also add that they re-packaged the show as well and are now calling it The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. The best part of all this news to me is that IT’S COMING TO SAN FRANCISCO!!! I’m totally going, see you all there!

If you want to get the skinny on the concert go check out this full article at Destructoid.

Also, this is the link the Symphony of the Goddesses’ Official Website.

P.S. Fun Fact – did you know that the Producer and Director of these shows was the Editor on both Project X films? Crazy right!?!?


Alumni Interview: Jessica “Psy” DeLacy

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Jessica "Psy" DeLacy

Yesterday I got the honor to sit down and chat with one of our most recent and successful alum, Jessica “Psy” DeLacy. She was really easy to talk to and had so much to talk about. Read on to see what we talked about in the interview!

Zombie: So Psy, where are you working right now and what is your job?

Psy: I work at Rhythm and Hues!  I am a Technical Animation TD, and I’ve been working here since December of 2010.  It’s my job to make cloth, fur, dynamics, and interaction look awesome.

Zombie: So what would be a typical day at work for you?

Psy: When I get to work in the morning, I usually have a few shots waiting for me that need attention, and I will work on these based on highest priority, aka what lighting wants first.  Shotwork involves simulating clothing and fur, but for everything to work correctly I need to make sure all geometry is cleaned up and the characters are interacting with each other in such a way that the cloth can evaluate properly.  Then there’s getting certain materials to act and feel a certain way: a sweatshirt on a chipmunk behaves differently than a kite tied to a penguin, wet fur will move differently on a character standing still than it will on a dry character that’s running, etc.

I have a whole toolset that I use to clean up geometry and make interactions play nicely together, but often I will script out tools that I use a lot to optimize them and make my workflow faster.  Generally I will do this if I’m waiting for animation or feedback on shots, or if I have multiple simulations running that I am waiting for.

Zombie: Can you give an example of something that surprised you about your job when you first started?

Psy: I was genuinely surprised that they’re paying me to do this.  I mean, this is fun – this is what I do on the weekends for fun.  I guess I was also surprised how prepared I was – I was able to dive right in and adapt to the pipeline fairly quickly.  Thanks PX!

Zombie: So what projects have you worked at at R & H?

Psy: At Rhythm I have worked on Hop, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Alvin 3: Chipwrecked, and currently I am working on Snow White and the Hunstman.  So far Alvin has been the most fun, and the most challenging.

Zombie: What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

Psy: Figuring out the monster shots and making them look good.  When you work on a shot for weeks on end, and then see it on the big screen and it looks great – that’s an awesome feeling. I had this shot on Alvin that was a monster for tech: Simon unties a piece of seaweed from around his arm, ties it around his head, then rips off his sleeves.  That shot took hours upon hours of doing RnD, testing out different ideas, building the rigs to allow for the sleeves ripping, getting the fringes on the sweatshirt and the fur to react correctly – it was a multi person effort, and at times quite frustrating.  Seeing the final render of that shot caused high fives all around.  Also seeing peoples’ reactions, especially kids.  When kids in the theater are excited and enjoying the movie, I’m happy.

Zombie: Do you have any advice for students wanting to get into your industry?

Psy: Yes I do, You have to want it.  It’s a competitive industry, and you can’t just expect to get a degree and automatically be ushered in.  You really do have to work hard through school, and come out with a good reel and good communication skills.  Get to know people, get used to working in a team, and be the person that everyone wants to work with.  Always thirst for knowledge, and be passionate about what you want to do, and be willing to adapt to a new pipeline.  It takes work and diligence, but you can get in, and you can go far, if you want it enough.

Zombie: What kinds of skills or abilities would someone need to get into your line of work?

Psy: For Techanim specifically, you need to have technical and artistic skills.  You need to understand anatomy and have a good eye for how characters, cloth, and interaction should look, but also need to be able to write scripts and understand what’s happening under the hood during a simulation.  Patience is also key, as sometimes you will spend days on a single shot getting it just so.  There’s a lot of “well, object A needs to act like X until it hits object B.  How do I do that?”  And then you figure it out.  It’s a lot like rigging in that it’s both artistically and technically demanding, requires a lot of out-of-the-box thinking, and can be a bit tedious at times.  That’s probably why I love it so much.

Zombie: So how did Cogswell help prepare you for what you do today?

Psy: I’ll give you the same quote I gave to Bonnie, regarding Project X, because although Cogswell laid the foundation, Project X was really what prepared me for this.

“Project X was the most difficult, most challenging, and most demanding thing I’ve ever done.  I loved every minute of it, and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.  When we started X, we were students.  When we finished it, we were ready for the industry.”

Zombie: You have already said so much, but do you have anything else to leave our readers with?

Psy: Ah man, I could say so many things.  I could talk about how awesome my coworkers are and how much fun we have at work.  But instead I’ll try for something inspiring.

You can get here.  You can get into the industry – whether you’re a modeler, animator, rigger, concept artist – you can get here.  But it’s not easy.  Please don’t be the person who coasts through school thinking that you’ll graduate and be welcomed with open arms.  A degree is not a ticket in.  You want in?  Treat every assignment as if it’s going into your portfolio.  Spend your time after class, your weekends, any time you have learning more and challenging yourself.  Quit playing WoW and get involved in a student project.  Compete amongst yourselves, team up – do something you think you can’t do.  You’re a modeler?  Study edge loop theory, model the same thing over and over until it looks amazing, get someone to rig it and critique the edge flow, and model outside your comfort zone.  Concept artist?  You should be filling sketchbook upon sketchbook.  Draw from life.  Draw from conceptual techniques.  Take the shapes you see everywhere and make something from them.  Take a sketchbook with you everywhere.  You get where I’m going with this.  And no matter what you are, don’t be afraid of critique.  Accept it gracefully and don’t argue it – and most of all, seek it out.

Go forth and follow your dreams!

Zombie: Thanks Psy, keep up the good work!!!

For those of you who have never heard of Rhythm & Hues Studios, check out their website and check back soon for more alumni interviews.