Archive for the ‘Animation’ Category

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?

A Short History of Animation Techniques with Demo Clips

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Paper Cut Out Animation

If you’ve ever wondered how animated films are made, the National Film Board of Canada took a neat look at a few of the many techniques that animators use to create their special brand of art. While some of the techniques are more widely utilized than others, the variety definitely gives artists the chance to share their message in a way that expresses their individuality.

Some of the techniques covered in the article include:

  • Animated drawing
  • Paper cut outs
  • Drawing & etching on film
  • Pinscreen
  • Computer

Do you have a favorite technique?

Pinscreen Animation Technique

Animated Drawing Technique

Double Fine Productions Hosting Fan Day

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Double Fine Productions has announced that it is hosting a special “Day of the Devs” event on November 2. The event is open to the public and in addition to meeting the great Double Fine crew – which includes several Cogswell graduates – guests will mingle with other indie developers and have the chance to test the company’s new Kickstarter-funded game, “Broken Age.”

Learn more about the event at GamePolitics.com or RSVP at the Day of the Devs website.

Day of the Devs will take place at Public Works at 161 Erie St. in San Francisco from 4-8 p.m. on November 2. The event is free to attend, though no one under 21 will be allowed in, likely due to alcohol being on-site.

Studio E Embarks on an Interactive Adventure

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

At Cogswell College we believe that the best lessons are those learned by doing. Our newest studio class – Studio E – is no exception. Students in this class under the leadership of faculty, Thomas Applegate, have an ambitious goal but are confident of success. The crew of 18 is creating the art assets, 3D reference models, animation, programming and audio content for an original story created by Thomas.

Over the course of the next 18 months, the team will create a short animation based on the story along with an interactive book version for mobile platforms to deepen the reader’s experience and further immerse them in the story. Students will take the project from the beginning development phase, through pre-production, then full production mode and finally post production. During the class students are given the chance to work in a setting that mirrors a professional studio and will follow an industry-standard production pipeline.

But in typical Cogswell fashion, the learning process has a twist. While the crew adheres to a full-blown production cycle, much of the work in the various phases will be done in tandem. Pre-production will happen in step with the development phase and some full production will happen while pre-production is still going on. This is possible because everyone works on the same files so the work can progress in stages. Environment artists create temporary environments that can be filled in later while character artists and animators can do rough animation in the temporary environment so they don’t have to wait for the finished environments to do their jobs.

“I really want the students to go through the entire design process and learn what is expected of them when they begin working in the industry,” said Applegate. “We started with the story and the visual design, then created a full 2D animatic, from which we are drawing all our information to create the pre-vis animatic, animation, color script, as well as color and lighting keys to establish art direction.”

In addition Cogswell’s learn-by-doing class format, students work on state-of-the-art equipment. Studio E is equipped with Wacom Cintiq monitors which allow you to paint right on the monitor. According to several of the students it took a little adjusting to transition from drawing on a desktop tablet to drawing on a monitor but the consensus is that this is one of the best classes they have taken.

Check out the video for more information stay tuned to find out how the project progresses.

The 5 Most Lucrative Animated Films

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Did you know that the average nationally-released animated feature grosses $87.7 million at the domestic gate (according to Box Office Mojo)?

Universal partner Illumination Entertainment spent less than $80 million to produce which top grossing animated film?

Check out this Slideshare presentation from The Motley Fool for the answers and to find out which films earned the most money. The piece also shares information on costs and revenue for each film.

Were any of the films mentioned in the top grossing list a surprise?

Cogswell Students Selected for Disney Animation Inspire Day

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

L. to R., Robert Mariazeta, Steven Chitwood, Alondra Paco, Colton Fetters and Michael Sardi

On Wednesday, October 3, Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California is hosting its 5th Annual Disney Animation Inspire Day and five talented Cogswell College students will be among the select few invited to participate. The students taking part in the day-long event are: Steven Chitwood, Colton Fetters, Robert Mariazeta, Michael Sardi and Alondra Paco. The group includes two technical artists and three animators.

For the first time Inspire Day attendees were chosen through an online application process that required them to submit an application, resume, demo reel and letter of recommendation from their faculty. If they had a website, the application asked for links to that as well. Since the application period fell during Cogswell’s break between the summer and fall terms, students who applied had to scramble to get everything in on time.

“For me it was pretty last minute,” said Michael Sardi, “but I had some good 3D work from the Animation in Game class and the Intro to Animation class, some clay models from Sculpture class and some 2D work from an animation project that Robert and I are working on so was able to put my reel together.”

Alondra Paco and Robert Mariazeta faced the same issue. Alondra had a rough reel ready but had to come into campus during the break so she could access Premier Pro in our computer labs.

Steven Chitwood and Colton Fetters had both worked on the most recent film from Cogswell’s Project X animation studio class so were able to populate their demo reels half with material from the film and half with projects they had worked on in various classes. As the two technical artists, Colton focused on compositing and lighting skills while Steven focused on visual effects work.

The group is taking an early morning flight to Burbank tomorrow morning so they will be at Disney by 9:00AM.  During the day students will get a behind-the-scenes look at how Disney films are made, have their demo reel critiqued by industry professionals and a lucky few may be invited to apply for either an internship or job.

They fly back home later that evening and though we know they will be tired – we’re sure that the Disney experience will inspire them! Good luck and we can’t wait to hear how your day went.