Archive for the ‘Alumni’ Category

Back in Time with Cogswell College Commencements

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Since our 2013 Commencement takes place tomorrow, we thought it would be fun to take a look at a few of the graduating classes. Our first graduation ceremony took place in 1891.

Faculty and Graduates on the steps of our first campus in 1911.

Class of 1957

Centenial Celebration in 1987 when past grads joined us for Commencement

Class of 1999

Class of 2007

Alumnus, Will Christiansen, Talks About Halo 4

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a team member on a AAA Title game? Cogswell College alumnus, Will Christiansen, talks about his experience and shares examples of his work on Halo 4 in this edition of inside 343 Industries.

“Sitting and working right at the crossroads between design, functionality and how our worlds come to life is what the primary role is for a Gameplay Animator at 343,” said Christiansen.

According to Will, there is always something new and different to challenge him in his work. Take a few minutes to check out his hand-keyed animations in his Halo 4 demo reels.

iPhone Apps for Professional Audio Engineers

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

From games to communication to productivity tools, the number of apps available for the iPhone is seemingly endless. Most apps have been geared to enthusiasts, but recently there have been more iPhone apps for professional audio engineers. Ranging in price from free to somewhat pricey, there are a number of apps that audio engineers use to help make their jobs easier.

The three most common types of pro audio iPhone apps are field recorders, portable digital audio workstations and remote controls.

Field Recorders

Many of the available audio recorders lack the options found in traditional field recorders, but some have come on the market recently that make it possible to conveniently capture professional quality recording without having to purchase a separate device. Here are just a few:

  • Audiofile Engineering “FiRe”
  • BIAS iProRecorder
  • McDSP Retro Recorder

Portable Workstations

Using the iPhone’s built-in audio interface, these apps are actually simplified digital audio workstations used to record or program multi-track song ideas. They can then be exported into a computer later for editing. They include:

  • Cleartune Chromatic Tuner
  • ioMetrics GigBaby!
  • Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer
  • Novation Automap 3
  • Sonoma Wire Works FourTrack (Company founded by Cogswell Alumnus, Doug Wright)
  • Thezi Studio Metronome TS

Remote Control Apps

These allow audio engineers to control digital audio workstations (DAWs) or other hardware devices from the iPhone. They are specific to the devices in use and control the various virtual knobs, buttons and fader. Some of the more popular are:

  • Far Out Labs ProRemote
  • Hexler TouchOSC
  • Planet Waves Rig Remote
  • Steinberg Cubase iC

Tell us what you think!

Which iPhone apps for audio engineers have you used and which can you not live without?

How ILM Turned Mark Ruffalo into The Hulk

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

There’s been a lot of talk lately about what visual effects brings to film and game. The artists who work in this industry do make magic happen.

We thought you would enjoy seeing how ILM turned Mark Ruffalo into “The Hulk.” Three Cogswell alumni worked on the film. Greg Smith as a Digital Modeler, Adam Lawson as an Animator and Vincent Parker as a Video Playback Engineer.

Check out the video and let us know what you think!

Successful Job Fair at Cogswell College

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Welcome to the Job Fair at Cogswell College

A great big thank you goes out to all of the employers, students and alumni who took part in our recent job fair on March 15. This hugely successful event featured 11 employers and drew more than 100 students and alumni to campus to apply for more than 50 positions.

Opportunities included post graduate jobs, part-time summer jobs and internships with employers looking to hire artists, programmers, marketing assistants and retail associates to name a few of the positions available. A good number of the students who completed employment applications at the job fair, have been asked to take the next step and interview for those positions.

From the minute the doors opened at 10AM until they closed at 2PM, students and alumni flocked into the Dragon’s Den, resumes in hand and waited patiently to talk to each of the employers present. In preparation, Nikki Love, Director of Cogswell College’s Career Services, had offered numerous sessions over the last few months on interviewing techniques and resume development to help students be successful at the job fair.

For more information about the next job fair or to advertise a position to Cogswell College students and alumni, please contact Nikki Love at or phone her at 408-498-5102.

Job Fair Art Test for Karmen's Art Shoppes

Waiting in line to talk to Grimm Bros, LLC, representative, Ash Monif

Cogswell Alumnus, Andy Timm’s, Art Featured in Flicks and Bits

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

It’s so cool to see artwork created by our alumni get published. In a recent Flicks and Bits review about the “Dark Knight Rises,” they featured a piece by Andy Timm depicting a wrestling match between Bane battling Venom.

Congrats Andy!

Adobe Youth Voices 2013 Selects Two From Cogswell as Judges

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Jose Saavedra

Cogswell student, Jose Saavedra Lara who was a 2012 Adobe Youth Voices winner, has been selected as one of the judges in the upcoming Adobe Youth Voices 2013 competition in the Music Video category.

Jose, along with fellow Cogswell students P.J. Poloai and Diamante Horton, directed and produced Keep Pushing, a video that received the Gold Award in the Music Video category in the 2012 competition. Their moving narrative, Angel in my Sky, received a Gold Award in the Narrative Category of the competition.  20 20 Vision, an inspiring call-to-action music video, received the MTV Act Award. The trio met at the Redwood City Boys & Girls Club while in middle school. The Club houses a state-of-the-art production studio and provides guidance from Adobe industry professionals who donate their time to teach audio engineering, video editing and production. Jose, P.J. and Diamante turned to Cogswell College to continue their education and earn their bachelor degrees. Jose’s goal after graduation is to become a music producer for the best in the business.

Michael Martin

Michael Martin, Dean of the College at Cogswell College, has been asked to serve as one of the judges in the Poster Campaign category. Michael also currently serves on the San Jose Arts Commission and sits on the nationally recognized Public Art Committee and the Mineta Airport Art Program Oversight Committee.

Death Boulder Bones is in the Running to Win the Next Game Boss Competition

Friday, March 8th, 2013

IGN’s Youtube web series, The Next Game Boss, has a Cogswell College alumnus connection. Seth Robles who graduated from Cogswell in 2005 is the Lead Artist on the Death Boulder Bones game that is one of the final three games in contention for the $10,000 prize.

Death Boulder Bones, a product of Grandendroit, is an innovative new auto-runner game. The twist is that the game player controls the environment instead of the character. Using their mouse or touch screen, players draw walls, jumps and even control time itself in order to lead the near-sighted adventurer, Dr. Indianapolis Bones, to the exit. Along the way, gamers challenge themselves to collect the many artifacts and secrets hidden throughout each level.

“Early player response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Robles, “and the game is expected to shake up the runner genre.”

Grandendroit began in 2009 when coder Eli Delventhal and artist Seth Robles met during the first Global Game Jam at Cogswell College. Frustrated with the difficulty of realizing their creativity at their day jobs with the gaming establishment, Grandendroit became a place for their own ideas to take flight. In 2011, they began work on an innovate auto-runner game, Death Boulder Bones.

As for the results . . . you’ll just have to watch! Check out their website to see the episode where the final two competitors are selected. Will Death Boulder Bones be one of them?

They currently have a Kickstarter Campaign underway to raise funding for further development ahead of the games official release this summer.

Let us know what you think about their game!

Ever Wonder What the VFX Artists Did on the Life of Pi?

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

It’s hard to image a film without the wonder that special effects brings to the movie-going experience. Their hard work and talent makes those things that couldn’t possibly happen – believable.

Several Cogswell College alumni had the opportunity to be part of the cadre of artists who worked on the Oscar-winning “Life of Pi” and offer a fascinating peek into the life of the artists who bring these stories to life.

Most of these artists were also graduates of Cogswell’s unique Project X class. One of the secrets of Project X is that it does not run like a regular class but rather a full-blown film production company. Hours are long, aesthetics are very demanding and the artists are treated like professionals and not students. This total immersion creates an environment conducive to quality, camaraderie and the highest production value.

Our Alumni talk about their work on “Life of Pi”:

Ryan Rogers

Title: Technical Animation Lead

Brief Description: As a tech anim lead I was in charge of half of the tech animators that we had in LA as we had two teams. Technical animation is a department that is tasked with bringing to life all of the secondary motion of a scene. Our main tasks for “Life of Pi” were skin simulations, fur simulations and simulating the tarp that was covering the boat (which actually turned into our hardest character).

Most notable work: Tech is also in charge of any interaction between live action people and the CG characters. One of my most notable memories from working on the show were the scenes where Pi put Richard Parker’s head on his lap. We had to do a quite a bit of work on the shot to feel like the two characters were really sharing the same space, and that Pi’s hand was really contacting the tiger and running his hand through the tigers fur.  The dummy that they used on the set for the actor to act with, was just that… a dummy, it wasn’t an actual tigers head. A few of the shots, Pi is running his hand from the side of the tigers face, up to the top of his head. These were very difficult to sell, as the tigers head and the dummy didn’t line up perfectly. We had to do a lot of things to cheat the tracked hand to push down into the tiger’s fur so that we could get some sort of interaction through our simulations. It took a lot of time and ingenuity, but it was all worth it in the end. When you watch those scenes in the movie, it’s very convincing that Pi is running his hand through the fur of a real 500lb dying Bengal tiger .

Chris Evart

Job Title: Technical Animation TD

As a TD, I was responsible for the animation of muscle contraction and jiggle for skin simulation (sim), character interaction with skin and cloth and post animation geometry cleanup. Basically, the workflow was sim the muscles, sim the skin over the muscles, sim the fur over the skin and then do the interactions with the boat/set/plate actor.

I was responsible for many of the shots on Life of Pi because I worked on the show during the main production period and did a bunch of shots then, but I also was the only Tech TD (besides the supervisors) who came back and finished up the show after it came back from hiatus.

Some of the most memorable shots for me were:
An extremely long shot when the tiger first emerges from the tarp and kills the hyena. Pi rolls around on the tarp and there was a ton of tarp/tiger interaction. Simulating the tarp to get good interaction was a challenge but I’m happy with how it turned out. It’s the reveal shot of the tiger and it’s about 1600 frames I believe.

I did a close up interaction shot of Pi crying and petting the tigers head and then another interaction between Pi’s hand and the tiger’s head skin/fur as well as all the normal tech stuff. (skin sims and such.)

One of my shots was where the hyena starts attacking the dying zebra and bites his leg. The zebra kicks the hyena so I got to do fun kick recoil and interaction work. It also had OJ in the shot yelling.

Another favorite was the shot where the tiger comes out from under the tarp and turns around and roars right at the camera.

For each of these shots, I just described the shot specific stuff I did but I also did all the general tech on each of the shots.

Chris Sutherland

Job Title: Compositor (the process of combining multiple footage layers or “elements” to make them appear as if they were shot with the same camera, at the same time)

Before I started compositing on the film, I was asked to help with the Stereo QC stage of production–the first step in getting every shot ready for vfx magic. I trained and helped lead artists in LA for a while, which enabled our team to refine and streamline the process. After a couple of months, I had the opportunity to fly to our Hyderabad office in India for two weeks of training a small team of artists there. Wow… what an experience! Not only did I get to see an entirely different culture, but I also made some very good friends almost instantly. It’s a trip I will never forget… There is so much I could tell but I think it would end up being a book! Shortly after that trip, I started on the compositing stage of things…

First of all, it was amazing to work under Bill Westenhofer. The man is a master at his craft as visual effects supervisor. At least 95% of the time, he knew exactly what he wanted and gave very clear notes for artists to address. It’s hard to put into words how important that is for us! Not only that, but he was easy-going, and relatively chill for the most part. After working with him on this show, it’s no surprise that he’s been nominated for three Oscars and won two!

Second, it was even better to work directly under the guidance of my sequence supervisor Chris Kenny. It seemed no matter what issue I came across, he knew a way to address it. Every opportunity he got, he was teaching me something new. I learned a lot working with him and for that I’m also very grateful. He was also able to keep a light-hearted and fun atmosphere for the team, even when things got stressful and a bit crazy.

In terms of my own personal shot work, I felt very fortunate to have a variety of shots, and four in particular that I thought were really ‘cool’. One was when the whale jumps out of the water and knocks Pi off of his raft. My shot was of Pi underwater with all the jellies and bioluminescence. Another was in the flying fish sequence, when the camera whip pans from left, where all the fish are coming from, to right, where Pi and Richard Parker are in the boat trying to avoid and/or catch them. The last shot I worked on for the show was in the meerkat island sequence. It’s the first shot of the night scene, when Pi awakes, surrounded by meerkats in the tree. But finally, maybe the coolest shot I composited–that I had the least to composite on, funny enough–was where Richard Parker’s head takes up the entire screen for a few seconds, and you can just stare into his eyes. Beautiful imagery created by amazingly talented artists.

Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of working on this film was seeing it finished in theaters. It was a wonderful feeling to have my expectations blown away–as a film, as a story, and on top of that, a visual masterpiece. Even though I’d worked on the film and seen final shots in dailies, I was still astonished by the final product. I don’t know that I’ve seen another movie where the visual effects had so much to do with telling the story.

Working on Life of Pi honestly felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am immensely grateful for the experience.

Ben Taylor

Job Title: Systems Operations Administrator

The work I did on the film covers a wide range of technical aspects on all the shots.

Some of my responsibilities included: Managing studio resources, converting/finalizing all the shots, fixing renders and various pipeline issues, and increasing efficiencies between technology and production.

It’s always fun to do work that you enjoy, although Life of Pi came at a very challenging time for our studio.

Embark on Dark New Adventures with Grimm Bros

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

How Grimm Can a Game Be? That depends upon your definition. If you imagine a game filled with dark-themed fairy tales and a large dose of black humor, then the new Grimm Bros offering might be just what you are looking for. Think Evil Dead meets Monty Python and you’re in the right neighborhood.

Grimm Bros is a new start-up studio founded by Cogswell College alumni, Ash Monif, and his partner Randis Albion, both veteran game developers. Their focus is to produce a franchise of Triple-A quality games for PCs and tablets using a cloud-based technology – meaning you can play anywhere, anytime on almost any device.

“I have always been a fan of complex subject matter,” said Monif. “I grew up reading the classics Grimm, Chaucer, Tolkien – and I feel that today’s games gloss over a lot of the richness that can be found within these great works.  Our goal is to build a community of core and mid-core gamers who are seeking out a redefined RPG experience.”

Monif and Albion have worked together for many years and in 2013 decided to combine their talents to found Grimm Bros. The company has started production on its first title and will announce details at the upcoming 2013 Game Developer Conference in March!

Ash Monif is CEO and in charge of business development and production. His game credits include: Fort Courage (Android), TinkerBox (iOS), Fieldrunners (Mobile/Online), Mercenaries 2 (Console), James Bond, FRWL (Console), Sims 2 (PC), Lord of the Rings – TTA (Console) and James Bond – EON (Console)

Randis Albion is COO and in charge of art direction. His game credits include: Puzzlevania (iOS), ThinkerBox (iOS), League of Legends (PC), MMO Cooee (PC), AquaNox Angels Tears (PS2), AquaNox II (PC), and AquaNox (PC)

Sergei Gourski, another Cogswell College alumni and co-founder of the award-winning Subatomic Studios and creator of the hit sensation Fieldrunners had the following to say about Grimm Bros, “We worked with Ash and Randis on multiple projects. Both are outstanding and extremely talented individuals.  Grimm Bros looks like a great team with lot of potential for success!”

Check out their official Facebook page for updates and game release dates.