Archive for the ‘Illustration’ Category

The Cartoon Art Museum: The Importance of Preservation

Monday, June 8th, 2015

From still images to full comics, concept art to finished animated works, The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco (currently located at 655 Mision St.) features snapshots , glimpses into the colorful history of cartoons across a variety of media. Chronicling great examples from every era since the very beginning, the museum (one of only a handful in the nation) is a beacon for all things cartoons. Unfortunately, the future fate of the museum is up in the air. Many of the exhibits and pieces of art have begun to be packed up in preparation for (hopefully) temporary storage while the museum seeks a new location.

The lease has been extended out into fall of this year but after that, nothing is certain. Recently, Deanna Trapp, a 19 year old University of Wisconsin student currently studying Web development, stopped by the museum for the first time with her sister, giving it praise. “It was cool,” she noted. “I loved all the different styles of drawing that were displayed.” Her sister, Jazmyn Trapp age 20, an animation student at Cogswell Polytechnical College in Sunnyvale, found the historical exhibit to be an eye-opening experience. “I never really read the newspapers or knew about comic strips,” she remarked. “I’m more a fan of 3-D animation like ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ by Dreamworks, but I respect that this, this genre of cartooning, is where it came from. It was educational, and it makes me want to go home and start drawing.”

Just as Jazmyn mentioned, its good to know where it is that today’s animated movies and cartoons got their start. Like a family tree for the world of cartoons, its important to not lose track of what happened yesterday on our journey to tomorrow. I’m hopeful that this generation of animators, modelers, environment artists, software and sound engineers, technical animators, and more look back and appreciate what came before them. This way, the past won’t be forgotten but rather preserved while new strides and revolutions are made in this industry. Thank you for reading folks, and be sure to try and visit the museum before it closes it’s doors this September.

Written by Juan Rubio, 3D animation student at Cogswell
With notes taken from the article “Is it the end of Cartoon Art Museum? No!” by Carolyne Zinko, featured in last Sunday’s SF Chronicle Datebook publication.

Recent News in Animation & more

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Source: tadoo.com

Disney is releasing two critically acclaimed and fan favorite films from the famous Studio Ghibli on Blu-Ray! Widely considered to be a masterpiece, the Oscar award winning ‘Spirited Away’ (2002, Best Animated Feature Film) as well as the charming fantasy/adventure ‘The Cats Return’ will be made available for the first time in a Blu-Ray Combo pack on June 16th here in the US.

Created by world renowned filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, one of the most celebrated and respected filmmakers in the industry, ‘Spirited Away’ is a feast for the eyes. With lush dazzling landscapes, minute details in things like environments and architecture, and a story bursting with adventure and wonder, its no wonder this film has been called an absolute masterpiece. ‘Spirited Away’ tells the tale of a young girl named Chihiro who ends up in a strange and unfamiliar world populated by spirits. After witnessing her parents undergo a bizarre transformation, Chihiro is tasked with finding the courage shes always carried as well as learning to cope with change in order to save her family and free them back into the outside world. A story for the ages, ‘Spirited Away’ is not to be missed if you haven’t already seen it.

The English-language voice cast is made up by Daveigh Chase (Chihiro), Suzanne Pleshette (Yubaba/Zeniba), Jason Marsden (Haku), Susan Egan (Lin), David Ogden Stiers (Kamaji), Lauren Holly (Chihiro’s Mother), Michael Chiklis (Chihiro’s Father), John Ratzenberger (Assistant Manager), Tara Strong (“Baby”) and Bob Bergen (Aogaeru).

While the original Japanese version was written and directed by Miyazaki, the English-language version was produced by Donald W. Ernst and John Lassetter (of Pixar). Bonus content in this new release includes an introduction by John Lassetter, in addition to “The Art of Spirited Away” and “Behind the Microphone” featurettes and original Japanese storyboards, Nippon Television Special, original Japanese trailers and TV spots.

Also from Studio Ghibli comes ‘The Cat Returns’. Directed by Hiroyuki Morika the film follows Haru, a schoolgirl bored and unsatisfied by her ordinary routine who saves the life of a mysterious cat and suddenly finds her world flip-turned upside down. To alter her destiny, she must learn to believe in herself and in turn, appreciate her everyday life.

The English-language voice cast is made up of Anne Hathaway (Haru), Cary Elwes (The Baron), Peter Boyle (Muta), Elliott Gould (Toto), Andy Richter (Natoru), Rene Auberjonois (Natori), Tim Curry (Cat King), Judy Greer (Yuki), Andrew Bevis (Prince Lune), Kristen Bell (Hiromi), Kristine Sutherland (Haru’s Mother) and Katia Coe (Little Haru).

Bonus features for ‘The Cat Returns’ include the original Japanese storyboards, original Japanese trailers, TV spots, and two features: “The Making of ‘The Cat Returns’” and “Behind the Microphone.” Again, don’t miss either of these releases on June 16th.

Source: gamepur.com

‘Uhcharted 4: A Thief’s End’ developers Naughty Dog have divulged details of major improvements to their internal facial animation rigs used since Uncharted 3 and the Last of Us. They claim face models now animate with around “300 and 500 bones”. Writer Josh Scherr spoke to GamesTM and quantified the improvements by comparing them to rigs used in previous Uncharted titles, and ‘The Last of Us’ which used “about 90 and 100 ‘bones’ in their faces.”

“We’ve completely revamped our facial animation systems,” Scherr commented. “Think about that, how detailed Joel and Elli’s pained facial expressions were, how well the game captured the respective actors … Now, the faces have anywhere between 300 and 500 bones.”

“(This) lets us emote more, with all the ‘bones’ we can put onto (the face) – you pan round the camera to look at Nate’s face when he’s climbing and you see him grimacing and all this kind of stuff … we’re pushing detail on a macro and micro level that I think people are really going to respond to,” chimed in lead designer Ricky Cambier.

Nathan Drake face detail, source: Gamespot.com

On previous Naughty Dog games, “some of the animations might have been sample(d) at 10 or 15 frames per second to save memory,” these captured frames would then be run through software to interpolate or “tween” (in-between) them to run at 30 frames per second in game. This new technology can “afford to record [footage] at 30 frames per second so that [it'd] look that much smoother.”

“If you look at the first Uncharted and how that looked versus how The Last of Us looked … I have difficulty fathoming that we’ll have that kind of graphical leap in the next several years. The reality is, we probably will as we learn the systems better, so it’s all up from here, and that’s exciting.”

Naughty Dog has said it is targeting 60fps for Uncharted 4, but the studio won’t push the PS4 game that far if it affects the gameplay in a negative way. According to director Bruce Straley, the Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Gameplay Demo was hard locked at 30fps, however, the game is now achieving higher frame rates.

Source: Cartoonbrew.com

What if the dinosaurs hadn’t have gone extinct? This is the question animation studio Pixar poses in their latest film, ‘The Good Dinosaur’. Anyone who’s been following this movie knows its had trouble getting onto its feet, after a change in directors, and a pushed back release date ‘The Good Dinosaur’ is finally ready to be shown off to the public.

The story is somewhat simple, but full of the signature charm and multi layered approach Pixar has been recognized for. A boy and his puppy… except the roles are reversed, the boy is a wild child (the puppy) and the dinosaur is the one offering life lessons to the boy. With the help of the good dinosaur, the boy learns more about the world, himself, and how to be a normal human. Originally pitched and directed by Bob Peterson, the movie has been shifted over to Peter Sohn.

Peter Sohn has been the inspiration

Arlo (the boy) isn’t seen much in the trailer, with the teaser focusing more on the titular Good Dinosaur, and the situations he finds himself in. Most of the trailer is spent focusing on the asteroid that never impacted this big blue marble we call Earth. Glimpses of Arlo are seen towards the end, which is sort of a shame as Sohn won the directors position after his insistence on the boy-and-his-dog archetype. Sohn told Yahoo! the following:

The heart of it has always remained the same in terms of the boy and the dog. I’ve been very diligent with the story team to kind of protect that and focus on that more. In terms of the world, it has kind of changed a bit here and there, and some of the characters have gone out and new ones have come in.

“We’ve been trying to find physical obstacles and and emotional obstacles for our main character, and nature can represent both. In a lot of the research that we’ve done, going out into the Northwest and out into the wilderness, I cannot tell you how beautiful and scary it can be, and how quickly nature can just turn on you. And we’re trying to finding the truth in that in terms of Arlo’s growth.”

Watch a trailer for ‘The Good Dinosaur’ on YouTube, it will be released November 25th of this year, one day before Thanksgiving.

Juan Rubio

Patrick Osborne to Deliver Cogswell Commencement Address

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Source: Animation Magazine

Sunnyvale, CA — Cogswell College, a 600-student educational institution offering a unique curriculum fusing Digital Art, Engineering and Entrepreneurship, will host Academy Award-winning animation director Patrick Osborne (“Feast”) during the school’s commencement ceremonies on May 16th. The event begins at 11 AM, and will be held at Club Auto Sport in San Jose, CA.

Based on the theme of “Learning to enjoy the blank page in front of you,” Osborne’s keynote will address Cogswell’s Class of 2015.

“It is such an honor and privilege to have Patrick Osborne, a brilliant and gifted animation industry director, agree to speak to our students on one of the most important days in their lives — college graduation,” said Dr. Deborah Snyder, Cogswell College’s President & Chief Academic Officer. “His exceptional talent serves as a role model for many of our students who aspire to walk in his footsteps. We are so grateful he is willing to share his experience and ideas with our students, as they embark upon the next phase of their careers.”

Osborne is the winner of a 2015 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his original short film, Feast. Starting in 2008, he worked in-house with Walt Disney Animation Studios, where he animated on Bolt, Tangled and Wreck it Ralph, and acted as Head of Animation on the Oscar winning Paperman. In addition, Osborne was also the co-head of animation on the smash hit animated feature film, Big Hero 6.

Osborne began his professional career as an Animator at Sony Pictures Imageworks, where he animated on an assortment of films, including I Am Legend and Surf’s Up. He later worked at gaming company Electronic Arts, Inc., where he contributed to the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 videogame title.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, he is a 2003 graduate from the Ringling College of Art and Design with a BFA in Computer Animation. Osborne lives with his wife, Ali, in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles.

Source Article: Animation Magazine

Juan Rubio

Recent News in Animation and More

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

source: (cc) flickr user fleecircus

When reading about famous animators I’ve come to realize there is a very clear trend, there seems to be more coverage of male talent vs female. Is it that I’m not looking in the right places? Or perhaps there is actually more male than female artists in general, I’m not exactly sure to be quite honest. Luckily, Canadian artist Heather Kai Smith has taken it upon herself to create a website/database called Great Women Animators.

Great Women Animators says its a “collection, dissemination and categorization of identified women who have or currently work in the field of animation.” The website features biographies, filmographies, and images from female artists from the early 1910′s up until present day, illustrators, and contributors. Not limiting itself to western film, Great Women Animators also features artists from Japan, the former Soviet Union, and other international animation regions.

The project began as a month long series of film screenings hosted by Kai Smith in the summer of 2014. At the event, the attendees analyzed and explored “techniques and thematic influences of these women animators” and took part in “discussions regarding feminism in the field of animation, masculine and feminine aesthetics, and what it means to be a woman working with animation today.”

Great Women Animators is very much a living, breathing creation, which is to say its a work in progress that’s constantly evolving. The about page reads, “This is an ONGOING project and this list is by no means comprehensive. New animators are added all the time.”. The website also features a resource list, where visitors can look at and explore related websites, events and academic journals.

The site not only sheds light on women animators, but its also a reminder of all the work that goes on behind the scenes of our favorite cartoons and and movies. Please check out the website and show your support!

source: schmoesknow.com

In other news, Pixar’s new movie “Inside Out” has been confirmed to premier at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival! Director Pete Doctor, who was behind “Up” (the first animated feature ever to be the festival’s Opening Ceremony film), producer Jonas Rivera (Up), and co-director Ronnie Del Carmen (Up) will be in attendance at Cannes, along with members of the all-star English-language voice cast.

“We are overjoyed at being included in this year’s official selection at Cannes,” said Docter. “With Inside Out, we spent years imagining — and then building — never-before-seen settings and characters within the mind. It was an incredible, fun and exciting challenge and now we can’t wait to share it with the world.”

“Inside Out” follows the story of a young girl named Riley, who moves away from her life in the Midwest when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Riley is guided by her emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the central hub inside Riley’s mind, where they help get her through her struggles in adjusting to a new city and school.

Disney/Pixar is going to premier ‘Inside Out’ in 3D in theaters everywhere starting June 19, 2015. The 68th annual Cannes Film Festival will kick off on May 13th, and you can view a trailer for the film on YouTube.

Source: Cartoon Brew

Also premiering at Cannes is filmmaker Mark Osborne’s ‘Le Petit Prince’ (The Little Prince), known for being the director of Dreamwork’s ‘Kung Fu Panda’, Osborne’s take on the french children’s story is fresh and vibrant. It will be released October 7, 2015 in France by Paramount Pictures, a US date has not been announced but Paramount Vantage has US screening rights already. The film is a new interpretation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic 1943 novel ‘The Little Prince’, presented through the eyes of a young girl who discovers the book thru en elderly reclusive neighbor.

The film features two distinct styles, a familiar and contemporary CG world while we follow the girl’s story, and a beautifully rendered paper world when following The Little Prince. In this vibrant world everything is made of different sorts of paper and animated with the meticulous process of stop motion. We see everything from scraps of torn construction paper, to elaborate sets carefully made out of tissue paper, the world of ‘The Little Prince’ offers a refreshing break from the otherwise standard style of most CG animated films today. The book is the most-translated-French story of all time, selling over 150 million copies worldwide. The new movie was developed primarily by Mikros Image in Montreal, Canada, where Osborne is currently residing.

Watch a trailer for the movie on YouTube.

Juan Rubio

Pixar Resume Presentation

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Source: Pixar Times

On April the 29th, I attended a presentation at Pixar by two leading HR recruiters in the industry who specified the do’s and don’ts of the application process. The presentation was highly informative and answered many burning questions that any applicants might have for companies looking to hire. I took notes on what the recruiters said they were looking for, and would like to share them with other Cogswell students.

Resumes
• Include all of work experience with dates, keep updated. Don’t worry so much about formatting.
• Put work experience before schooling.
• Make contact info easy to find.
• List software skills. (Maya, Zbrush, etc) Make sure of proficiency. Some people put level of experience next to the software.
• Clubs, interests, awards are good to list.
• Font doesn’t matter, readability does.
• Prior work experience that isn’t industry experience is acceptable.
• References aren’t necessary, they come later in the hiring process.
• If you took time off to travel, include in resume.
• High school details don’t really matter.
• Objectives, if included, should be focused. It’s ok not to have it.
• Personal logos don’t matter so much.
• If you have experience/education in one thing but really have interest in another, present that.
Cover Letter
• In production, the cover letter is everything. It’s all recruiters have to know your personality.
• Summarize who you are, what you do, and why you want to do the job. Don’t go on about your life story, but clearly explain why you would be the best candidate.
• It is very good to have a cover letter, and you should always have one available. Sometimes, hiring managers do skip reading the cover letter and go straight to the resume.
• Don’t be a fanboy.
• Don’t be arrogant. The cover letter is about your story and you—tell it like one.
• Humility and being humble will take you far.
Demo Reels
• Should be around 2 minutes. Quality is better than quantity. Most recent work in the front if possible, things that you’re really proud of.
• Do call-outs in your demo reel, clarifying what you did if you’re presenting group work. Be honest about what you’ve done, specify your job.
• Sound isn’t necessary, unless it’s lip-syncing.
• ONLY include best stuff. Don’t put in filler material.
• If submitting on a website, having demo reels separated into different subjects/different areas might be good.
• They can see all the positions you’ve applied to. Don’t go applying for every job available at the studio. Be certain about what you want.
• It’s ok if the demo reel is super short, only include best work.
• Social media can influence a decision.
Interview
• Be well-presented. Dress well, care about hygiene and personal appearance.
• Come prepared. Make sure links, material is all set and ready to go.
• Do research on the company. Know about the films and their work.
• Come early, rather than late.
• Show interest, speak about what you’re applying for. Know about your position.
• Ask genuine questions, ones you can’t find on the website.
• Be humble!!
• Make eye contact with everyone.
• Write a thank-you email to the recruiters. It’s okay to follow up.
• Check-in emails are good. If you got really close in the interview process, every 3-6 months you can stay in contact with recruiters.

Sierra Gaston

Recent News in Animation

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Image source: http://referentiel.nouvelobs.com/

The Academy-award nominated, BAFTA award winning, and French academy award (Cesar) winning filmmaker and director Sylvain Chomet (director of ‘The Illusionist’ and ‘The Triplets of Belleville’) has just directed a brand new animated music video for “Carmen“, a song off of Rwandan-Belgian rapper Stromae’s album ‘Racine Carrée’.

The video is very clearly done in Chomet’s style, a look achieved by scanning pencil drawings into the computer and then coloring them. With minimal cleanup if any, and watercolor style backgrounds, this creates a more raw look that is both appealing and refreshing to see. The song is loosely based on the 1800′s opera of the same name, and features an animated Stromae struggle with his addiction to Twitter. What begins as a small habit soon turns into a massive weight on his shoulders, an obsession that sinks its claws into every facet of his life, from friendship to love.

The video was released Tuesday, March 31st on Buzzfeed, and has gotten over 5 million views on Buzzfeed and 2 million views on Youtube. It was produced at Th1ng, Chomet was not only the director but served as lead animator as well alongside Neil Boyle. Background layout was done by Marcin Lichowski, while Kirk Hendry served as lead compositor and lighting designer for the short.

Fans of Chomet’s style might also want to check out his Simpson’s Couch gag, which can be viewed on Th1ngs channel on Vimeo.

Source: cartoonbrew.com

Industry veteran Will Finn (animator, voice actor, character designer, storyboard artist and director) with nearly 40 years of experience has offered his thoughts and advice to anyone who’s dream it is to work in animation. In his blog post, “Why You Shouldn’t Want A Job In Animation”, Finn spoke about and explained the difference between a ‘job’ and a ‘career’ in animation:

“To me a job is something you depend on from an employer. It’s theirs to give and theirs to take away… A career is something I have to be responsible for based on my reputation, my ability, and my preferences. I don’t expect much beyond what I invoiced for last week, and I keep tabs on whatever’s coming up—staying in touch with long-term contacts and making new ones almost constantly. I try to keep at least one ‘Plan B’ in mind at all times. And that’s fine. A career is like a life: mine to tend, mine to succeed or fail at, mine to take credit and blame for, mine to earn. I would not have it any other way.”

In the post, Finn also speaks about what it was like starting his career at Walt Disney Animation studios. Following his childhood dream only to have that dream ripped apart after “barely nine months” on the job”, while working on ‘The Fox and the Hound”, getting into behind the scenes politics, his run in’s with the higher ups, and producing work that was “substandard even for a newbie”.

This was his first crash and burn with Disney, Finn would later come back to Disney to supervise the characters of Cogsworth in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and Iago in ‘Aladdin’, he also worked for Warner Bros., Dreamworks, the Don Bluth Studio, Reel FX, IMAGI, Renegade Animation, and others.

In his third leg at Disney in 1999, Finn would come to realize that his original childhood dream of working at Disney until retirement was clouded by the innocent lens of youth.

“Senior Disney artists who I remember envying on that day in 1979 when I got let go were being given their 20th and 25th anniversary pins alongside pink slips terminating their employment. Some of them had never worked outside the studio and the transition must have been difficult. But at that point I knew while I still admired their talent and artistry, I had stopped envying the idea of a long tenure at a single studio long ago. In 2004, I was on the pavement again, looking for work.”

If you would like to read the full post, please do so on Will’s Blog.

Juan Rubio

Recent News in Animation

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Image from cartoonbrew.com

Tonko House, the studio founded by former Pixar art directors Robert Kondo and Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi, is making a feature film based on their short ‘The Dam Keeper‘.

The news came with the announcement that Tonko House is pairing up with First Second Books, an offshoot of McMillan, to expand the short into a series of graphic novels. The first book in ‘The Dam Keeper‘ series will be released in 2016, picking up after the events of the short, and set a few years after Pig’s original story. The book will address two unanswered questions from the short: What became of Pig’s parents? And how did his world come under the influence of a dark cloud? To date, no further details of the feature film have been divulged.

As a fan of the Academy Award nominated short, I await any new details or sneak peaks with bated breath, this is going to be great!

Image from Cartoon Saloon

In other news, Oscar nominated film ‘Song of the Sea‘ from Cartoon Saloon and ‘The Secret of Kells‘ director Tomm Moore, is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD! ‘Song of the Sea‘ takes the viewer into the wonderful world of Irish folklore. It features a fantastic art style incorporating techniques used in ‘The Secret of Kells‘ and mixes it with watercolors, creating a world bursting with color and personality.  It’s truly a treat for the eyes. Based on the Irish legend of the Selkies, the story tells of the last seal-child, Saoirse, and her brother Ben, who go on a journey to save the world of magic and discover details of their past along the way. Hounded by Macha, an owl witch, and a variety of ancient and mythical creatures, Saoirse and Ben are on a race against time to awaken Saoirse’s powers and prevent the world of spirits from disappearing for eternity.

Image from aceshowbiz.com

In what many would consider an upset, Genndy Tartakovsky has dropped Sony’s ‘Popeye‘. While finishing ‘Hotel Transylvania 2‘ Genndy noted that the studio was moving in a different direction and opted to drop out of the project. He was quoted as saying,“I was in love with what we were doing, but I think the studio is going through changes and I don’t know if they want to make the ‘Popeye‘ that I want to make.” He continued, saying, “Right now, I’m off that project and moving on to the other one we soft-announced, which is Can You Imagine?…It was hard to let Popeye go, but that’s the business.”

Genndy is going on to work on ‘Can You Imagine?‘, his own project at Sony. ‘Popeye‘ was announced to great reception last March. A proof of concept was released shortly after the film was announced, it was brimming with personality and showed great promise. Fans of Tartakovsy know he has an incredible track record: creator of ‘Dexter’s Labratory‘, ‘Samurai Jack‘, ‘Star Wars: Clone Wars’; co-creator of ‘Sym-Bionic Titan‘; and director of ‘Hotel Transylania‘ 1 and 2.

No news of the film’s future have been given, and no indication of whether or not Tartakovsky is out for good has been given either. I, for one, hope whoever they choose ends up honoring the original vision and style Mr. Tartakovsy had in mind.

Image from spinoff.comicbookresources.com

If the above image doesn’t already tip you off, Astro Boy is getting a brand new animated series! Paris-based animation studio Caribara Animation unveiled a teaser for the new series, titled ‘Astro Boy Reboot‘. 26 episodes of the hybrid 2D/CG cartoon are currently in production. The short was directed and designed by Florian Thouret, co-art director and assistant director of the French feature ‘The Suicide Shop‘ (‘le magason des suicides‘). Mickael Crouzat animated the piece. Crouzat, who was also a key animator on ‘Despicable Me‘ and ‘Ernest & Celestine‘ shared his pencil test on Vimeo as well.

Caribara is co-producing the series with Monaco-based Shibuya Productions and Japan’s Tezuka Productions. The series will be based on Osamu Tezuka’s creation, but will feature a brand new storyline as well as new characters. The announcement was made just a few days ago, and there is currently no word on a U.S. localization, or whether any U.S. broadcasters will air the show. Whatever the case, this is exciting news and I’m looking forward to seeing what this new series has to offer. I find the art style vibrant, colorful and incredibly appealing as well.

Watch the finished teaser trailer here: https://youtu.be/Z240pys_D4A

Watch Crouzat’s pencil test here: https://vimeo.com/122894003

Juan Rubio

Women in Animation and Women in Games International

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Image from http://www.womeninanimation.org/


Image from http://www.womeningamesinternational.org/

The animation and games industries are two places where you rarely find women working, until recently. Even Cogswell has been a heavily male-dominated school until a few years ago. What’s exciting is the wide-spread growth of organizations that are specifically for women in these industries (although men may join). These groups promote networking, inclusion, exposure, encouragement and opportunities to hear industry leaders. By creating a more diverse workplace, animations and games will be even stronger therefore garner more consumer enjoyment.

Two organizations that I am involved with are Women in Animation and Women in Games International. Thanks to Women in Animation, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Pixar twice as well as network with some of the best known women in the business. Being a newer member to Women in Games (WIG), this week I will visiting Zynga’s campus for the re-opening of the San Francisco WIG chapter. As a primary developer of Facebook games, Zynga is one of the most famous game companies in the Bay Area.

I definitely recommend checking these two groups out, and any groups dedicated to animation and games in general. As well as being fun to join, they can be key to getting crucial contacts in the industry.

http://www.womeningamesinternational.org/
http://www.womeninanimation.org/

Sierra Gaston

Lucasfilm and Disney’s Strange Magic

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Image from Blackfilm.com at: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/3wv7Li2V7S8/maxresdefault.jpg

When I heard that a recently-released animated movie had just set the record for all-time worst-opening ever for an animated film in 3000+ theaters, as well as the 7th-worst opening for any film playing in 3000+ theaters, I decided I needed to see for myself why the film was being avoided like the plague. So, I went ahead and purchased a matinee ticket to see Strange Magic, a 3D animated adventure that had been included in the Lucasfilm deal to Disney. So, Disney released it in a notoriously bad month to release movies: January.

To be honest, the trailer was awful. Not only had it been released at the last possible second, it looked like someone had thrown together clips from the film in a way that made no logical sense to the actual plot. Most people who watched the trailer decided that the movie was full of terrible, clichéd jokes and felt completely disorganized. However, there have been plenty of movies with bad trailers that turned out to be decent films, which is why I wanted to give Strange Magic a chance.

The verdict: it was strange. I was cringing in embarrassment and impatience for probably the first 10 minutes of the movie while all of the characters sang seemingly endless love and heartbreak songs. Don’t get me wrong, I love musicals, but the movie went about it the wrong way. The songs were steering the plot, while it should have happened the other way around.

Once the song marathon ended and we entered the Bog King’s domain, the movie picked up a little bit and I found myself enjoying some parts. There was some good character development for Marianne, the main character, in the first part of the story. While she started off as a starry-gazed, lovesick princess, something happens and she changes into a sword-fighting, awesome, disillusioned warrior chick that is grossed out by the mushier things of life, which had me cheering. After some good scenes in Act II, however, the movie reverted to being cringe-worthy and mushy.

Overall, the message of the story was good (everyone deserves to be loved, no matter what they look like), but the kaleidoscope-like scene at the end threw me off and was really too weird to get over. So—it was strange, yet slightly magical in some places, but understandable why the movie had such a bad opening weekend. Despite this, the animation was really impressive, and I was impressed with the color design in many of the environments (not quite as green as Epic). Although the plot wasn’t up to par, visually the movie was more fun. High-five to all the artists involved in this one!

(And still a better love story than Twilight)

Sierra Gaston

Star Thief Studio Animation & Interactive Book Teaser

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Star Thief Studio is one of several on-campus Project-Based Learning studios at Cogswell College. These studios mirror professional production studios and allow students to collaborate with their peers – whether they be artists, animators, technical artists, engineers and sound designers – to create outstanding large scale projects.

= ABOUT STAR THIEF STUDIO =

Star Thief Studio is guided by faculty with industry experience and student work is regularly critiqued by industry professionals. We are focused on creating engaging story-driven content in the form of animated shorts and interactive stories. Currently Star Thief Studio is working on an unannounced project which will feature a stand-alone animated short and an interactive version of the story, bundled together as an app for the iPad.

Our development artists work in a dedicated studio space and use everything from pencil, paint and clay to Maya, Zbrush, Mudbox, Photoshop, Renderman and Fusion. Much of our digital painting and sculpting is done on Cintiqs. Our engineers use tools like X Code, Flash Professional, and Maya, writing code in Objective C, C++ Maya API, Action Script, Mel Script and Python.

Star Thief Studio offers students the opportunity to be an important part of a major project that will deliver a great experience, film credit and professional quality content for their demo reel. The large group, project-based environment of Star Thief Studio gives students the opportunity to develop and exercise the skills needed to work effectively with a team over an extended period of time. Skills like communicating professionally, being a team player, taking initiative and learning to lead, as well as managing time-sensitive tasks and completing work within deadlines. In the end, students will have work for their portfolios which has been refined to an extremely high standard and used in a major animated and interactive project.

See more at: http://www.cogswell.edu/student-work/studioe.php
Andhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTv8U7n_cIg&list=PL9DCF83E90D3F20A7&index=1
Video created by Cogswell alumni and Cogswell students:
Rachael Sass
Andrew Long
Jose Hernandez