Archive for the ‘Animation’ Category

Cogswell Faculty Shares His Expertise with DreamWorks Artists

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Even professional artists who are at the top of their game still have things to learn. Cogswell faculty, Thomas Applegate, brings inspiration and a new perspective to the artists who take his workshops through the Artistic Development Office.

Applegate designs the workshop content to meet DreamWorks goals which typically focus on expressive narrative and character design and expression. Most of his workshops run for 6 weeks and average 15 to 25 participants.

Some of the classes he has taught include: Character Development, Character Sculpture and 2D Water color Character Portrait. His most recent class was Character Expressions.

“When you teach a class to professional artists,” said Applegate, “the expectations are really high. It requires a lot of energy on my part to make sure I challenge them. But on the other hand, these very talented artists come in with lots of humility and are eager to learn. I feel honored that they approach our time together with that attitude and do my best to reciprocate.”

Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the Digital Art and Animation program at Cogswell and is the Director of the Studio E project class.

10 Short Animated Films Considered for an Oscar

Friday, December 27th, 2013

The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies and whenever available, a link to the trailer.

Feral,” Daniel Sousa, director, and Dan Golden, music and sound design (Daniel Sousa)

Get a Horse!” Lauren MacMullan, director, and Dorothy McKim, producer (Walt Disney Feature Animation)

Gloria Victoria,” Theodore Ushev, director (National Film Board of Canada)

Hollow Land,” Uri Kranot and Michelle Kranot, directors (Dansk Tegnefilm, Les Films de l’Arlequin and the National Film Board of Canada)

The Missing Scarf,” Eoin Duffy, director, and Jamie Hogan, producer (Belly Creative Inc.)

Mr. Hublot,” Laurent Witz, director, and Alexandre Espigares, co-director (Zeilt Productions)

“Possessions,” Shuhei Morita, director (Sunrise Inc.)

“Requiem for Romance,” Jonathan Ng, director (Kungfu Romance Productions Inc.)

“Room on the Broom,” Max Lang and Jan Lachauer, directors (Magic Light Pictures)

Subconscious Password,” Chris Landreth, director (National Film Board of Canada with the participation of Seneca College Animation Arts Centre and Copperheart Entertainment)

Do you have a favorite?

Twas the Night Before an VFX Artist Christmas

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

One of our alumni shared this with us last year and we thought it was worth repeating.

************

Twas the night before Christmas, at the VFX house
Everyone was still there, ’cause shots “HAD” to go out.
The clips were all loaded, ready for playback again,
With hopes to be home by a quarter past ten.

The artists all wiggled, back and forth in their chairs,
Confident that “Finals,” soon would be theirs.
VFX sup at the ready, their anticipation grew,
As they all settled in, for one last review.

When out in the hall there arose such a clatter,
They sprang from their seats to see what was the matter.
From through the door a producer screamed like a loon,
More shots just came in, due tomorrow afternoon!

“How could this be, do they know it’s Christmas eve?”
“We’ve been on OT for 6 weeks, and now we can’t leave?”
“For my family I’ve bought, nothing at all!”
“On the way home, I was going to stop at the mall!”

Sadness and anger took over their minds,
But soon they were off, they dared not get behind.
Back to their desks, away they did flee,
Anxious and worried, what kind of shots would these be?

No new characters or props, a bit of good news,
A new environment, no time, an old one they’d re-use.
More rapid they typed, as they got back to work,
They drank coffee, and yelled, and started to curse!

“Screw Maya and Nuke and this proprietary crap!”
“Wake me when that file loads, meanwhile I’ll nap!”
“Ok, it loaded, but my assets aren’t showing!”
“Where the hell are those files, there’s no way of knowing!”

After while they all settled, back on the right track,
They had to make haste, there was no going back.
Hours and hours they slaved at their screens,
Pushing every pixel, every red blue and green.

And then, via email, a bit of joy after all,
Donuts in the office, at the end of the hall.
Pushing and shoving to claim circular delight,
Glorious sugar and frosting, some fuel for the night.

With simulations and renders, out on the farm,
A slight glitch here and there, no cause for alarm.
Keeping tabs on their renders, frame by frame,
Soon they would finish and freedom they would claim.

By four the next morning, all tasks were complete,
Freshly animated and lit, then composited neat.
Shots uploaded and queued, so they gathered once more,
Tired and haggard, the team was drained to it’s core.

The VFX Sup stood up and looked over his crew.
A wave of pride rushed over, and immediately he knew,
These people had families that soon would awake.
These words he spoke so loud, the ground it did shake!

“Get away from this place, another minute do not spend.”
“Be with your spouse and your kids, go home my dear friends.”
“If during review the client says these shots do not pass,”
“I’ll turn to him and say, why don’t you kiss my ass!”

They looked at each other, then started to cheer,
Finally it was time, they were all in the clear.
They got up and walked out, goodbye they all waved,
Racing home in their cars, Christmas might have been saved.

Back in his office the VFX sup awoke from his slumber.
Where had everyone gone, out loud he did wonder.
Up on the roof, old Santy morphed back to himself,
“Happy Christmas to All!,” shouted the jolly old elf.

A Conversation with the Directors of Five Top Animations

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Five animation directors, Chris Sanders ("The Croods"), Chris Renaud ("Despicable Me 2")Dan Scanlon ("Monsters University"), Jennifer Lee ("Frozen")and Chris Wedge ("Epic") gathered for a round-table discussion about their films and the special needs of the genre.

The LA Times recently covered the Envelope Animation Round Table and had a conversation with five directors of top feature animations. The directors were Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”), Chris Renaud (“Despicable Me 2″), Chris Sanders (“The Croods”), Dan Scanlon (“Monsters University”) and Chris Wedge (“Epic”) tackled such topics as the challenges of female characters, the effect of celebrity voice actors and the changing economics of feature animation.

Congratulations to the Cogswell alumni who had the opportunity to work on these films:

  • Frozen – Christopher Evart, character technical animator; Andrew Jennings, character technical animator and Chad Stubblefield, modeling supervisor
  • The Croods – Steven Sorensen, final layout artist and Carrie VanEtten, image finagling artist.

Did any of their comments surprise or inspire you?

From Star Wars To Gravity: The Special Effects Milestones That Shaped Cinema

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

The title of this intriguing slide show in Empire Online basically says it all – the milestones that shaped the use of special effects in film. This presentation of 19 moments from ground-breaking films includes a description of the early special effects and the techniques that they made possible in later films.

Starting with Bound for Glory in 1976 the piece progresses through more than 30 years of films highlighting the works the authors thought had a significant impact on the industry.

Did they leave out any films you think made a big difference in the types of special effects available?

How Disney Made the Snow Look Real in ‘Frozen’

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

It’s only snow, right? How hard can it be to make snow look real? Well several Cogswell alumni who worked on the film could probably tell you stories of long hours in front of their computers striving for the perfection that is a Disney hallmark.

This article and short video in Mashable, talks about the new technology called, ‘material point method,’ that Disney animators created to bring the desired realism to the scenes in the film. The accompanying video was first shared at this summer’s SIGGRAPH when the animators explained the algorthms behind the complex particle response and showed some nifty and very realistic demonstrations of their “snow” in action.

Congratulations to Cogswell alumni Christopher Evart and Andrew Jennings who each received credit on the film as a Character Technical Director and Chad Stubblefield who is credited as Modeling Supervisor!

If you saw the movie, let us know what you thought.

Giving Up Won’t Solve Your Problems or Why Art Can Be a Problem

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Disney Character Artist, Chris Oatley, shares insights into learning from your failures, knowing when you’ve learned everything you can from the piece of art you are working on and knowing when to move on. Oatley says, “Works of art abandoned for frustration, self-doubt and depression are needless casualties of a needless war.”

According to Oatley, the process of art-making is basically just a sequence of problems with corresponding solutions that begins with an idea or an inspiration and ends with a finished piece of art. Instead, he suggests that artists look at the rocky patches they hit during the creative process as a measure of progress.

His final piece of advice is, “Art problems are external. Don’t internalize them. Don’t blame yourself for their existence.”

What ‘rocky patches’ have you hit during the creative process and how did your solve them?

Cogswell’s MediaWorks Presents its ALearn Corporate Identity Project

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Screen Shot from the ALearn Animated Logo Project

MediaWorks, a project-based, learning program in which student teams engage in audio and visual production projects for real-world clients just completed a flagship corporate identity and messaging project for the Santa Clara-based nonprofit, ALearn.

Check out the project on YouTube.

Cogswell College instructors Julius Dobos and Anthony Dias envisioned the concept and are leading the implementation of the MediaWorks program. Utilizing their industry experience, they oversee student-produced works that include animation, live action footage, sound design and original music. The program’s audio and visual production projects involve real-life client meetings, creative brief and concept generation, participation in the approval process and project and time management.

The ALearn media production, just a little over a minute long, included a newly-animated corporate logo, original music and sound design. A preliminary version of the video was previewed and well-received at ALearn’s annual fundraising dinner in October.

“The MediaWorks program is designed to immerse students in the real world process of audio and visual production,” says Anthony Dias, co-leader for the project and digital audio technology (DAT) instructor at Cogswell. “Our students sat down with the client, listened to their vision and asked them questions aimed at guiding the creative process.”

The class meeting about the project.

MediaWorks has created a shift from the college’s standard semesters-long portfolio classes—some of which can take up to 18 months for completion—to 6-8 week deadline-driven client projects where students work in teams of 12-20. Dias and Dobos, adopted this model in an effort to mimic the experience of working for a large creative agency.

“We wanted the students to feel the pressure of the project’s deadlines, just as they would if they were working in a large creative agency,” says Julius Dobos, distinguished lecturer at Cogswell and MediaWorks’ co-leader for the project  “There’s a big difference between creating sound design for movies and sound design for corporate communications, one is entertainment, the other is advertising.”

Dobos has composed movie scores for Hollywood films and admits that most of the students want to work in Hollywood or a big studio environment creating varying forms of entertainment.

Dobos continues, “Our students have the chance to utilize traditional corporate work as a stepping stone to the entertainment field, which is a lot harder to get into directly. Through MediaWorks, they will have big-name Silicon Valley companies in their portfolios that even industry professionals would envy, which presents a huge edge in the marketplace. Not only being ready to work with a major client but showing the results of having done so makes a significant difference on a job interview or when you are launching your own business.”

The goal of the MediaWorks program is to generate sufficient revenue to provide for student compensation and the ability of the audio, engineering and animation departments to make technology purchases as new industry tools become available.

Cogswell is in talks with several high-visibility Silicon Valley firms for media projects for 2014 and has begun work on a yet-to-be announced multinational corporate client project, currently under non-disclosure.

We look forward to sharing the projects with you as they become available.

22 Animated Shorts from Around the World

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Pixar's "One Man Band" short animation.

This blog from Design Your Way list what it considers as 22 of the best short animated films. While best is a subjective term, many of the films they included in the list were either film festival winners or recommend for consideration by the Academy Awards.

While some of the film links are missing, there is still plenty of variety in both technique and subject matter to give you plenty of food for thought.

Hopefully these will offer some inspiration for your own projects.

Storyboard Secrets from Disney Artist, Sherm Cohen

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

National Gallery Ident Project

In this detailed video tutorial, Disney Artist, Sherm Cohen, shares seven hidden patterns of successful storyboards. Sherm Cohen is a cartoonist, writer and storyboard artist. He got his start in animation at Nickelodeon on The Ren and Stimpy Show as a character layout artist, followed by a three-year stint on Hey Arnold as storyboard artist and director. In early 1998, Sherm Cohen was invited by SpongeBob’s creator Steve Hillenburg to be part of the original SpongeBob SquarePants crew as a writer, storyboard artist and director.

Cohen uses lots of examples to illustrate the ‘language of films’ and how to make the best shot choices by following patterns.

What tip will be most helpful to you?