Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

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.

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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.

Should Entrepreneurs Embrace Life-Long Learning?

Friday, December 20th, 2013

This article by Natalie Bracco in Epic Launch supports the premise that continuing to learn is beneficial for everyone but especially entrepreneurs.  She suggests advantages to you can include:

  • Indulge your love of learning – while you may want to take something directly related to your business, you might also consider something like public speaking or web design to broaden your skill set.
  • Making vital business connections – you never know who you will meet during class.
  • Becoming more competitive – continuing your education proves to potential employers and clients that you’re hungry, ambitious, and self-motivated.
  • Earning more money – according to Ms. Bracco, the more you know the more you’re worth.

What do you think about her arguments?

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?

10 Films Under Consideration for VFX Oscar Nominations

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Last week the Academy of Motion Picture & Sciences announced the films in contention for the 2014 VFX Oscar and the results are in Animation Magazine. The Academy’s Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee determined the shortlist. All members of the Visual Effects Branch will now be invited to view 10-minute excerpts from each of the shortlisted films on Thursday, January 9, 2014. Following the screenings, the members will vote to nominate five films for final Oscar consideration.

The films under consideration are:

  • Elysium
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Iron Man 3
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Oblivion
  • Star Trek Into Darkness
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Pacific Rim
  • World War Z

Congratulations to the Cogswell alumni who worked on one or more of the films! Evan Clover, animator (uncredited) on Iron Man 3; Gregory Smith, pilot suits and conn pod arms and Carl Frytz, visual effects artist (uncredited) on Pacific Rim and Carl Frytz, previsualization artist and Evan Clover, animator on Thor: The Dark World.

Oscars nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

What you Don’t Say is Just as Important as What You Do Say

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Now that finals are over and many Cogswell students have had to deliver numerous presentations, we thought it might be a good time to offer tips on non-verbal communication. While what you say plays vital role in delivering your presentation, the non-verbal cues you convey can drastically change the message your audience receives.

Some of the non-verbal signals covered in PR Daily that impacts how your audience perceives what you are saying include:

  • Eye contact
  • Voice fluctuation
  • Position in the room
  • Facial expressions
  • Hand gestures

Which of these areas do you need to work on to improve your next presentation?

Panel Discussion on Tips for Being a Successful Game Audio Contractor

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Interested in getting into the Game Audio field? This video in GameSause from the Casual Connect Conference offers an in-depth look at the business by four industry panelists and moderator, Aaron Walz.

Aaron Walz owns Walz Music & Sound. He recently scored the top-ranking Facebook adventure, Ravenwood Fair and has received several awards for his audio work including “Best Game” at the Independent Game Festival and Game Tunnel’s “Best Sound” as well as being nominated for “Best Game Audio” by GDC Online.

Panelists include:

  • Rich Vreeland (also known as Disasterpeace), an award-winning freelance composer and sound designer based in Berkeley, CA, with a focus in producing and directing dynamic sound treatments for games.
  • Barry Dowsett who created original audio content for an array of cool projects for developers and publishers such as Activision, Popcap, Electronic Arts, THQ/Dreamworks, F9, Eidos, Gree, Playdom, Griptonite, Microsoft Game Studios, iWin, Disney Interactive, Google and many more.
  • Dren McDonald is an experienced game audio composer, sound designer and audio director with over 30 shipped titles.
  • Nick Thomas began his career as lead Engineer/Mixer for Sony Music artists, including Destiny’s Child, Celine Dion, Carlos Santana, Jessica Simpson, Michael Jackson and Ricky Martin. In 2003, Nick joined with Kane Minkus to open SomaTone Interactive and has spent the last 10 years producing the highest quality audio and art content for Gaming.

During the video these five share their experiences working on game audio, the challenges they’ve faced and tips for advancing in the industry.

What is your biggest take-away from the discussion?

Things You Should Not Say to Creative Types

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

If you’ve ever designed something for someone else, lots of these statements in BuzzFeed will sound familiar.  This humorous collection of cards was conceptualized and spearheaded by Mark Shanley and Paddy Treacy, an advertising creative team in Ireland.

The posters were created by several Irish design professionals, including graphic designers, other ad creatives, illustrators, animators, and directors, to name a few.

Do you have any favorites?

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.

Cogswell College is Happy to be the Exception in Educating Software Engineers

Monday, November 4th, 2013

We often hear about the great job prospects for software engineering grads but according to this article in Dark Reading by Gunter Ollmann, many new grads are finding the scope of those jobs limited by their lack of real-world experience. Mr. Ollmann says that the crux of the problem boils down to colleges missing two critical educational opportunities:

  1. In most colleges students predominantly work on individual assignments rather than collaborative projects.
  2. The vast majority of assignments require students to create code from scratch instead of working on code written by someone else.

Project-based learning is a hallmark of a Cogswell College education. Students have numerous opportunities to work in teams of artists, animators, audio specialists and software engineers and gain the experience they need to become a valuable asset to future employers.

The Importance of Storytelling for Brand Recognition

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

With all of the social media options available and connectedness of today’s consumer, storytelling to relate the sales message has come into new vogue. This technique makes each message personal as the intended audience uses its imagination to fill in the detail.

The Adweek article states, “There is little hesitation in knowing we operate in a cultural and technological world where consumers know everything about a brand, from who owns it to where and how products are manufactured and sold. As a result of this, companies are now evaluated by much more than their products. We are in a world where a brand’s values and the emotions they evoke are narrative material.”

What helps you remember a marketing message?