Archive for the ‘Digital Media Management’ Category

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 College: A Microcosm of Silicon Valley

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

While many regions around the world have access to talented artists and engineers, groundbreaking marketers, infusions of capital and excellent universities – what is it that makes Silicon Valley so special and difficult to reproduce elsewhere?

It’s not in the water but it does seem to be in the air we breathe. We operate differently in the Silicon Valley and have a very different mindset about how to do business. Words often used to describe this unique area include: entrepreneurial, passionate, future-focused, collaborative, high-energy, innovative, creative, techy, team-oriented and willingness to take a chance.

In an article published in the Washington Post, author Victor Hwang, identifies a key element that is often overlooked. Other regions “focus primarily on its ingredients — its obvious assets, like venture capital, skilled workers and universities. What they have largely ignored is its recipe — the social interactions that turn those ingredients into vibrant companies.”

He goes on to state, “arguably, the most important factor in its success has been the formation of a unique culture — one that allows people with diverse skills, who often don’t know each other, to mix and match: collaborating and trusting in ways that people in other cultures don’t. It is not simply creative destruction, as many observers say. More importantly, it is a process of creative reassembly, as people join forces on temporary projects and then recirculate and recombine for other projects later.”

Cogswell College, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, is a true microcosm of Silicon Valley. Within our walls a true collaborative spirit exists. Students, faculty, alumni and external ventures dive into projects and work together to give them life thus gaining valuable collaboration and teamwork competencies. The groups formed bring a diversity of talents, skills, life experiences and perspectives to the task at hand plus an eagerness to learn and desire to create something extraordinary.

Visitors to our campus respond to the natural curiosity and energy permeating Cogswell’s classrooms and labs as teams tackle whatever challenge is in front of them. Whether you are a student in our Undergraduate program or Master’s program Cogswell encourages its students to create, innovate and apply what they have learned in a project-based curriculum that focuses on delivering market-ready products. Students learn to work on teams that mirror real development teams consisting of artists, animators, audio experts and project managers – with software engineering at its core.

With the ability to assemble multidisciplinary teams from within its programs of study, Cogswell College is uniquely positioned to deliver market-ready projects to partner companies and organizations. A sampling of projects we have collaborated on include:

  • Interactive Logo Designs – Cogswell’s Sound Design class developed new logo treatments for Cogswell (seen at the end of the video posted below) and for two different external partner organizations.
  • Interactive Book – Using the latest industry-standard technology, students are working under faculty guidance to create an artistically stunning interactive book (or whatever text Thomas approves).
  • Mobile game – Prairie Rainbow develops table top games to help younger students learn math concepts. Cogswell students are developing a mobile game version of the company’s Rainbow Squares learning tool.

Cogswell also encourages it students to develop their own projects through and supports their efforts. Original student development projects include: game development, operating student store, 3D printing and audio theater projects.

One of the things that sets Silicon Valley apart from other tech development centers, is the sharing of ideas and expertise. Few days go by without an opportunity to attend meetups, salons, hackathons, live/work houses, clubs and industry-specific events. Most have an open door policy – if you are interested in whatever the topic, stop by to learn and network. There is an accessibility to successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley unavailable in other tech regions largely fostered by the area’s culture of sharing knowledge with the next generation of entrepreneurs.

At Cogswell College we bring all the pieces together in one place. Our students have the opportunity to collaborate with other students who possess a diverse range of skills and interests on projects, they have access to Silicon Valley thought leaders and a long history of innovation and cutting-edge education. Cogswell College truly is a microcosm of Silicon Valley.

Check out this video to learn more about how Cogswell mirrors the Silicon Valley ecosystem.

A Guide to Video Game Kickstarter Funding

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

In case you’ve been thinking about creating a Kickstarter campaign for one of your projects, here’s a handy – and very detailed – guide to answer all your questions. With a whopping 32 chapters, this online guide covers everything.

Chapter topics include: setting goals, structuring rewards, popularity rankings, building community, dealing with objections, the last 48 hours and so much more.

Let us know if you ran a Kickstarter campaign and how it went.

10 Startups That Are Changing the Music Industry

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Once upon a time, you either turned on the radio and listened to your favorite DJ spin popular tunes or you went to the music store and purchased  a record (a big, flat plastic disc with grooves that when placed on a record player magically produced sounds) so you could play what you wanted, when you wanted.

But the times and technology has changed – and so has the music industry. This slideshare presentation by the Biz Journal, highlights 10 companies that are making waves within the industry. Check out what they have to say about Spins.FM, Tomahawk, Lisnr, Vyclone, Songza, Songkick, NoiseTrade, SoundCloud, Murfie and Bandcamp.

Are there other companies you think should be on the list?

Best Incentivization Networks for Game Developers

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

If your game was the only one in town – and it was fun to play, then you would have no problem finding a multitude of players eager to purchase your creation. However, with more than 150,000 games in the app store, it’s all too easy to get lost in the crowd.

In order to get their work in front of their intended audiences, more game designers are turning to incentivized networks or app discovery platforms to make sure people can find them. Some platforms buy traffic from other incentivized networks, increasing your risk of buying duplicate traffic. So how do you go about choosing the right network for your work?

This article in Venture Beat, offers helpful tips for choosing the right network for you – choose a ‘destination’ app discovery network, integrate a social media plan and focus on user engagement.

What do you think about incentivizing programs?

What is an Animation Technical Director?

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

People with these job skills can fall into several different categories – Lighting TD, Character TD or Shader TD – but all require artistic sensibilities, technical savvy, a good eye and good problem-solving skills. Other TD’s focus more heavily on the programming side of the industry but still need a basic understanding of the art process.

Quite a few of Cogswell’s Digital Arts Engineering graduates have gone on to work as the more ‘technical,’ Technical Directors while some graduates from our Digital Art & Animation program have followed the lighter and character TD career path.

This concise article in 3D Renderer offers a good overview of the job.

The Rise of the Indie Games

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

An indie game company founded by Cogswell Alumni

Here’s a thoughtful video offering insights from a number of European indie game developers about the success – and the reasons behind the success – of the indie game industry. One of the secrets is the agility these smaller companies have to address the needs of niche audiences and to try something that flies in the face of mainstream thinking.

But there are challenges to being a small, indie developer and they talk about these as well.

Let us know what you think is the biggest benefit of being an indie game developer.

The Rise of Social Media for Musicians

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Your music matters and you want to get it in front on an appreciative audience but often that is easier said than done because you need to find your audience or it needs to find you. Social media is making your job a lot simpler.

The great thing about promoting your music through social media channels is that the cost is low or free – and free is good for a musician just starting out.

Almost everyone has heard about Facebook and Twitter – which with time and effort can help you build your fan base – but what other social media platforms should you consider?

Music Clout offers some handy tips.

What other social media tools do you use to get your music out to the world?

Other sites that may be helpful:

Social Media Secrets for Musicians

Social Media for Musicians: 10 Musts for Social Media Marketing

How Social Media Levels the Playing Field in the Film Industry

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Image from Under The Milky Way,

Social Media has definitely changed the way we do business. Gone are the days when advertisers tell the public what it wants. Maybe it was bound to happen anyway but social media has hastened the transition that puts the public in the driver’s seat.

The film industry has felt the impact now that anyone with a video camera or cell phone can create a film and get it viewed across multiple public platforms. Some of these films have gained traction around specific causes or issues.

HootSuite put together an interesting look at how film companies have learned to use the power of social media to promote their films and engage their audiences.

Digital Media Management – Program Spotlight

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Meet Digital Media Management Program Director, Bret Sweet

Bret Alexander Sweet was born in San Francisco, California. He was raised between Oakland and Sacramento, settling in San Francisco in 1997. Bret graduated from Berkeley High School in 1995. He is the son of prominent Bay Area civil rights attorney and social entrepreneur, Clifford Charles Sweet.

Bret combined his passion for music and entrepreneurship at a young age by earning himself an internship at PolyGram Group Distribution’s San Francisco office in the summer of 1995. Three months later he was an artist development rep focusing on the company’s urban division associated with Island Def Jam artists. He left PolyGram shortly after the merger to focus more on his college career at San Francisco State University and open his own label. Throughout his studies, Bret invested his time working in various community development organizations as well as running his own independent record label, House Kemetic Suns. Although House Kemetic Suns never reached platinum status with its artists, Bret had established the first online music distribution channel when he was 19; 6 years before Steve Jobs would bring iTunes to market.

In 2002, Bret began teaching entrepreneurship to youth and young adults from under-developed communities. In 2003, he signed on as Lead Entrepreneurship Instructor at BUILD, a non-profit organization in Menlo Park that uses entrepreneurship as vehicle for college admission for first generation students. In 2004, Bret was awarded Certified Teacher of the Year by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship. In fall of 2007, Bret retired from teaching to pursue his life-long dream of an MBA at the University of San Francisco. In 2008, Bret began certifying new cohorts of future NFTE instructor as a NFTE CETI (Certified Entrepreneurship Teacher Instructor). Bret graduated from the University of San Francisco in May 2009 with his Master’s of Business Administration with a dual emphasis in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. In December 2008, he received the USF School of Management’s Dean Circle Scholarship for exemplary service in his community.

In 2007, Bret founded the Dualism Group which is early stage venture capitalism firm and consulting arm geared toward helping underserved entrepreneurs launch and expand their companies in order to bring jobs to lower income communities. One of his clients is Robert Simpson of Back A Yard Corporation which led to Bret being instrumental in the founding of Coconuts Palo Alto and the expansion of Back A Yard into San Jose. In addition he established his own property management firm called Sweet Rentality which creates tech innovations for the property rental market. Bret is currently the director of Digital Media Management programs at Cogswell College.

Q & A About the Program

Cogswell:     Managing an entrepreneurial business that manufactures or provides a service probably does not pose the same challenges as managing a digital arts venture. Can you provide a definition of ‘entrepreneur’ as it applies to the expanded Digital Media Management Program?

Sweet:          I think the term entrepreneur has become really co-opted over the last 10 or 20 years. In regards to the Digital Media Management Program here at Cogswell, it’s really the fusion of creative thinking, business systems and self-awareness within four concentrations: audio artist management, entertainment media management, game design and business modeling, and finally, interactive marketing.

Cogswell:     I’d like to know if this program is designed just for people who want to go out on their own after graduating?

Sweet:          This program is for those who want to work both independently and for those who want to be prepared to work for companies like Disney, Sony and EA. We’re teaching them the fundamentals of how to have a larger position in business, whether it’s starting their own business or working in a high level position at a global company.

Cogswell:     That’s great, because not everyone wants to go out on their own right after graduating and even the ones that do usually work for a larger company before making that jump.

Sweet           That’s right. ‘Fundamentals for the digital arts’ is a key descriptive here. Let me give you an example. We had a Dean of a business school speaking to us recently. His brother had gone to an Ivy League school, was a practicing attorney, but wanted to get into the animation field.  He had to go back and make coffee at the animation company for four years before he got hired into management because he knew nothing about animation. Imagine if he attended a law school integrated with digital arts. I don’t believe he would have been making coffee.

Cogswell:     Sounds like he needed our Digital Arts Management program, he could have probably secured a degree in less than four years.

Sweet:          Indeed, but what’s really going on out there is that you have a generation of individuals who are running media companies, largely a result of consolidation and mergers, who don’t know the fundamentals of the digital arts business. You have the artists who work in these companies who don’t know business because it’s out of their comfort zone, and then business managers who don’t know anything about where the art comes from.

Cogswell:     What specific sets of skills will digital artists learn in this program that will help them be more successful?

Sweet:          Digital arts students understand how content is created, but they may not understand how to monetize it, create a working business model around it, protect it, keep it legally viable, market it, or determine who the target customer is. It’s not like there’s a How to Run a Studio for Dummies out there. We provide the core skills of what is needed to run a digital arts enterprise and present the information in the context of the arts, where our students are most comfortable.

Cogswell:     Aren’t some skills universal, don’t all businesses need some of the same core skills regardless of what the industry is?

Sweet:          Yes, but the digital arts have a unique core skill set. If you talk to most of our students and you ask them why they’re at Cogswell, what they are not going to say is ‘I want to be a business person.’ The students look at the business world and say, ‘that’s not something I am good at.’ Cogswell’s Digital Media Management program places students at the intersection of business and the digital arts. We use the term ‘entrepreneurship’ as a vehicle to teach business to our students. The irony here is that the attitude of a game designer or someone who wants to manage musical artists is decidedly anti-business, but many of our graduates have gone on to work at Pixar, which is owned by Disney, one of the largest companies in the world. They end up with most of the same skills, but learned in a very different environment. They find out that the business skills they used to fear actually come quite natural to them.

Cogswell:     Can you share a specific example of this?

Sweet:          Sure. This summer we are offering Hip Hop: America’s Narrative Platform. It’s a humanities class, but the idea is to teach students how to do a S.W.O.T. analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) by looking at urban music. We’re teaching a core business skill through an art form.

Cogswell:     What you’ve described certainly demonstrates a larger need in the industry for this broader base of education in the digital arts community.

Sweet:          Absolutely. Just imagine that you work for an entertainment company, but the person who signs your checks worked at a television network for 20 years selling soap ads. They were great selling ads, but when the network bought your record label, they got moved, placed above you on the ladder and do not know anything about music. To them, everything is business and corporate culture. To the recording artists, everything is music and culture. The Cogswell Digital Media Management graduate becomes the conduit in between. We’re finding that there has to be a happy medium between the people who are creating the content and the people who are monetizing it. This is what our program is all about.