Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Source: disney.wikia.com

Studio Ghibli’s latest film ‘When Marnie was There’ has just begun to premier in USA, and company GKid’s has just released a new trailer for the film. Earlier last month the film was given a limited release in theaters, with it slowly rolling out to select theaters in New York and L.A., and a wide release in summer. With Ghibli veteran Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement last year, many have questioned the fate of Studio Ghibli’s future, ‘When Marnie was There’ shows promise however showcasing the signature Ghibli style.

The film is based on British children’s book ‘When Marnie was There’ by Joan G. Robinson, and is said to be one of Hayao Miyazaki’s most loved children’s books. It follows the story of a lonely girl who moves to a seaside town and meets a strange new friend. The official synopsis reads:

“Sent from her foster home in the city one summer to a sleepy town by the sea in Hokkaido, Anna dreams her days away among the marshes. She believes she’s outside the invisible magic circle to which most people belong – and shuts herself off from everyone around her, wearing her “ordinary face.” Anna never expected to meet a friend like Marnie, who does not judge Anna for being just what she is. But no sooner has Anna learned the loveliness of friendship than she begins to wonder about her newfound friend…”

Watch the trailer on YouTube.

Source: ipadforum.net

In other news, The Incredibles 2 has been confirmed to be in development! Last year Bob Iger broke news that a sequel to ‘The Incredibles’ was being worked on, and recently news has surfaced that director Brad Bird has begun penning the story. In an interview with NPR, Bird said that the project is “percolating” and he’s just now working with story elements. This hint’s at Bird having creative control of the project, which is promising since Bird has been known to avoid sequels unless the right story was developed. Considering the original film and characters mean so much to Bird, we can rest assured that he will give the new story the respect and treatment it deserves.

Pixar Veteran John Lassetter had the following to say about Pixar and the concern over Pixar’s sequels, including ‘Toy Story 4′:

“We do not do any sequel because we want to print money,” Lasseter says. “We do it because each of these films was created by a group of filmmakers, and to my mind, they are the owners of that intellectual property.”

“So we look at it with the simple question: Is there another story we can tell in this world? And that desire has to come from the filmmaker group. Sometimes, the answer is an obvious yes. And sometimes it’s, ‘I love the characters and I love the world, but I don’t have an idea yet.’ And sometimes it’s just, ‘that movie is a great movie,’ and the filmmaker wants to move on and do something else. And that’s fine, too.”

Juan Rubio

Don Hertzfeldt on ‘World of Tomorrow’

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Image source: http://thefilmexperience.net/

Independent animator and filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt has just released his latest short, titled ‘World of Tomorrow’, on Vimeo on Demand after having screened it at film festivals like Sundance and SXSW. For those who don’t know Hertzfeldt, he is most well known for his short “Rejected Cartoon’s”, a surreal film in which various cartoon adverts for “The Family Learning Channel” are played back to back. The cartoons eventually begin to fall apart and lose sense and structure, a reflection of the fictional artist’s own descent into madness.

‘World of Tomorrow’ follows a young girl, played by Hertzfeldt’s own four-year-old niece Winona, on a journey through the memories of her future self. Don describes the character as “Mary Poppins but with part of her brain missing” in a recent Reddit AMA promoting the film. When asked about what is was like to work with his niece, Hertzfeldt said “I don’t know why I was ever under the impression I could direct a 4-year-old.

She wouldn’t even recite lines back to me. Everything she says in the film is just her being herself while we hung out and talked about the world…”. He later went on to say that he ended up using an iPad app to record her, and rewrote parts of the script to match her dialogue. Hertzfeldt mentioned working with these limitations was sort of fun, having to improvise the animation along with her dialogue.

On the subject of the creative process, Hertzfeldt described it as if “…you’re floating in an ocean, and you want to build a raft. So you just float there and you wait and wait. And eventually this little piece of something comes drifting by, maybe a memory, and you hang on to it, and then another little piece comes around, it is unrelated, maybe it’s a funny sentence you overheard somewhere…”. He says more and more pieces drift by and you collect them until you have enough to build a raft, and eventually you have to make a decision.

Which pieces are essential for the raft and which aren’t? Writing a story is very similar to his raft idea, you collect ideas and see what works well together and toss whatever doesn’t help the story, or raft, float. He also notes that he doesn’t spend a lot of time “swimming around, or (doing) calculation(s)…”, saying stressing over details or trying to figure things out is like poison for creativity, “The big ideas won’t happen right when you mentally stress on them… It is more a matter of being patient and being open to all the things that just drift in.”.

Don was asked about why he chose to release ‘World of Tomorrow’ on Vimeo on Demand, and he responded by saying “It’s a bit of a risk, I’ve traditionally funded everything else through theatrical tours and DVDs, and most people will tell you there’s no market for shorts online. But if we continue to believe that without ever trying to do anything to challenge it nothing will change, right?”. He praised Vimeo’s ability to allow him to update his videos throughout the 30-day rental period, saying he could improve picture quality by using better compression methods, or replace the footage altogether.

He’s come to like the 30-day rental concept, regarding it as a 30-day movie ticket, where you can watch the film as many times as you wish and get more out of it. With the knowledge that the film will disappear after a set time, and that we won’t actually own it, it turns into more of an experience and less of a fleeting though like many of today’s films. “What if after the end of the 30 days I deleted all of the master files and removed it from theaters and the film will forever only exist in our memories? Isn’t that kind of beautiful? Ok I won’t do that.”.

Someone asked why he didn’t just post the video to YouTube for free and use their algorithm to generate revenue to which Hertzfeldt answered, “Vimeo gives the filmmakers a 90% share, which I think is unprecedented. They also seem to genuinely care about presentation. YouTube gets more traffic than anybody, but they are sort of eating themselves alive with advertising.”. Since Don is an independent, he has to sustain himself and as such has started to sell his shorts and films through platforms such as Vimeo.

“For the survival of young short film makers and aspiring animators today, we really need to begin training people to pay for short films. Theatrical tours and DVD sales and the old models that I relied on are not going to be realistic much longer for them (or even for me).” He notes that the free YouTube model the public is growing fond of is hurting independent filmmakers, its teaching the newer generations of artists that their work has no value and that their “silly” personal projects should just be dumped online for free.

Unfortunately, the “free” model isn’t exactly viable for most people working on their own as Hertzfeldt does, “… if they’re lucky it will attract an advertising gig to pay the bills. And maybe make one more “personal project” that they can do on the side again. It’s not a good cycle.”. Don then began to speak about how he was on the Sundance Jury a few years ago, he watched amazing short films and independent productions that were met with great praise from the jury and festival attendees alike. Unfortunately, these same films would later fade into obscurity after their festival screenings, with little to no funds for a theatrical or physical release and with the creators reluctant to upload their films for fear of having them circulated for free, these films often disappear.

He says, “…many filmmakers aren’t even bothering with the internet… “Getting exposure” doesn’t fund films. When you pay to see a movie you are casting a vote. You are saying, hey please go make more of this sort of thing.”. Everyone knows that Hollywood is a machine that makes money, and all it wants to do is make more money. People tend to bemoan and complain about the string of bad movies were forced to watch in between the few gems, and yet they line up to see them, casting their votes for more bad movies to be made. Nobody is forcing people to watch the “bad” movies, but they go and watch them anyway. However, when people pay to see independent movies they are saying, “hey i’d like you to actually have the chance to go make another one.”.

Hertzfeldt announced he was working on a new feature length film as well, ‘Antarctica’, saying the only thing holding it back at present was paperwork. He mentioned he will continue to make more shorts leading up to the new film. Finally, when asked on how he defines art Hertzfeldt said, “Anything artificial that is intended to produce an emotional reaction.”.

You can see some of Don’s shorts on his channel at YouTube, watch his short ‘World of Tomorrow’ on Vimeo on Demand, and check out his website. If you’d like to find out more, including Don’s favorite ice cream flavor and his opinion on David Lynch, you can read the full AMA here.

Google’s Project Tango at Cogswell College

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Recently, a small group from Google visited Cogswell College to teach a class about and demonstrate Project Tango. What is Project Tango exactly? Project Tango is a brand new mobile device that has the ability to navigate the world, similar to us humans. It’s an Android device/platform that has spatial perception, and accomplishes this by using advanced computer vision, image processing, and special vision sensors.

One may think, “That’s all fine and cool, but what does this thing do exactly? And what practical applications can be derived from such a technology?”. To put it simply, what Tango does is continuously scan the surrounding environment as the user walks around with the hand-held device, and then it uses the data it collects to construct a 3D model of the environment. It uses motion tracking to give real time info about it’s motion through 3D space.  It also uses depth sensors for depth perception (allowing for interactions between the real world and the virtual world Tango has built/is building) and it can learn new areas intelligently. If there are any errors with the 3D model it has created, Tango can use visual cues around the space to re-render and fix trouble areas. The potential applications for such a technology includes, but isn’t limited to, new Virtual Reality or AR games and applications, video games, rapid environment generation, and more. The potential is limited only by imagination.

The Cogswell class, which is currently learning to use Unity, was tasked with testing the devices, running an application, and providing feedback as they went along. Google called it a Code Lab event, the purpose of which was to iron out and fix any bugs in the system before this year’s Google I/O conference in roughly two months. Students debugged Google’s sample instructions, tested and ran the code, and followed development environment instructions – all while under the direction of watchful and curious Google engineers. Google had previously tested these devices at nVidia, but were impressed to see that Cogswell students produced better results and provided higher quality feedback.

For the demo, students were each provided with a Tango tablet device, USB cables, a pin code to unlock the devices, and a URL in which they found further instructions. The students booted up their devices and launched a 3D mapping app which tracked their movements. As they moved around the classroom, the students got feedback through interactive mapping, cloud arrays and more. The students then returned to their workstations to continue the demo. The students went through a series of environments to get an app running in Unity, importing that app into their devices, then running that app on their devices as they moved around. Some students continued with the instructions provided to them, whilst others conversed with the Google engineers.

The success rate of the tests and demos was 100%, much better than other tests that Google had done before. Whenever any of the students would get stuck, they would first work together for a solution, using the Google engineers as a last resort. Working together led all students to success. As the class progressed, the Code Lab event slowly turned into a seminar where students brainstormed potential applications for the technology.  Ideas included a music application for better microphone location/tracking within a room and an app capable of creating 3D sound environments.

All in all, it was a successful demo and everyone walked away with new knowledge – and an amazing experience!

Based on notes from John Duhring’s experience
with additional content and editing by Juan Rubio

Tour with Gree International

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Image source: http://www.bcciconst.com/

Thanks to my attendance at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco last month, I was able to meet the Director of Engineering from Gree mobile. After he helped me with a portfolio review, I asked if it was possible to tour the studio to see how their pipeline worked. During spring break, I was given a personal tour of the facility where their 300+ person team works. I got to see how Gree International functions as a whole and how the artists collaborate with each other.

After signing a nondisclosure form and mentally getting over the fact that their employees get a never-ending supply of snacks, beverages and coffee as well as free meals, I was able to meet with Gree’s Production Artist. She walked me through their pipeline, explained how art reviews were performed, and went over how long it generally takes to create a game. I also learned about their outsourcing and how many artists were actually in the studio.

Near the end of the tour, I was able to get a look at one of the Art Lead’s workspace where he had several characters and environments drafts that the other artists had submitted to him. His job was to maintain consistency in the established art style, so he would do paint-over corrections and send it back to the artists to make the changes.

At the end of the tour, I got a free burrito (yay!) and left more enlightened about the studio and really impressed with the level of work that came out of Gree. I hope to be back one day soon!

Sierra Gaston

Pixar’s Renderman now available for free!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Image from cganimationblog.com

For those not already aware of it, Pixar’s Renderman is now available for free for non-commercial use! What is Renderman, you ask? Renderman is a rendering plug-in that Pixar developed for use with 3D animation and modeling programs. It’s an alternative rendering method to the default options already available in programs such as Maya. As previously mentioned, use of the software is 100% free, with no limitations, feature cuts, or even watermarks to worry about. As long as whatever you produce with it is not for profit, anything is free game.

The latest version of the software, version 19, brings multiple improvements to the fray. One of which is a brand new rendering paradigm Pixar calls RIS. RIS is a highly optimized mode for rendering global illumination. It’s made specifically for ray tracing scenes with heavy geometry, hair, volumes, and radiance – with incredible efficiency in one pass. What does this all mean? Renderman can render your objects and scenes much quicker and more efficiently than many other options currently available today. In fact, it’s currently the most flexible and powerful option for VFX and cinematic imagery available to the public. More information and technical details can be found at the following link: http://rendermansite.pixar.com/view/latest-tech

I highly recommend that anyone interested in 3D animation, VFX, or 3D modeling check this out. It’s not often that the public gains free access to internally developed software from professional studios, much less a fully featured and limitless version of that same software. Pixar offers multiple tutorial videos to those new to Renderman, so users can get to know the workflow and learn to use it to its full potential. The plug-in is currently compatible with Autodesk Maya versions 2013.5, 2014, and 2015 as well as The Foundry’s Katana versions 1.5, 1.6, and 2.0. Support for Houdini and Cinema 4D is currently underway. Potentially compatible programs in the future include Modo, 3DS Max, Blender and more.

Download Renderman at the following link: http://renderman.pixar.com/view/non-commercial-renderman

Juan Rubio

The Leviathan

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Art by Jim Murray, creature design by Jordu Schell

The Leviathan is a short which has been making the rounds on the internet lately. Made as a proof-of-concept by Irish director Ruairí Robinson, the short features stunning visuals and fantastic animation. Robinson created the short as a pitch to major movie studios in hopes of having it become a feature length film. It was created with the aid of the Irish Film Board and Jim Uhls, who wrote the script to ‘Fight Club’.

The story is set in the 22nd century, where humans have colonized many worlds. Faster-than-light travel has been made available, however, the only viable fuel source for this kind of travel uses exotic material from the eggs of the largest species humankind has ever seen. Those who go out to hunt the animals are mostly voluntary labor.

I’d love to see the short turned into a full length movie; perhaps they could delve deeper into the back story. How was interstellar travel developed? How did they figure out space whale eggs were the perfect fuel source and is there really no alternative?

See the film at the following link: https://vimeo.com/122368314

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

Quick Chat: Cogswell’s Assistant Professor Jonali Bhattacharyya

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Randi Altman’s Post Perspective Interviews Cogswell’s Assistant Professor Jonali Bhattacharyya

As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This is a lesson the students in Cogswell College’s Digital Art & Animation program learned recently. When borrowing animation rigs for classes outgrew its usefulness, students were tasked with creating 3D animatable rigs for 12 original digital characters. They called this Project Avatarah. Assistant Professor Jonali Bhattacharyya and her students have now made these rigs, available free to the public, through open source.

We reached out to Bhattacharyya to find out more about Cogswell, her classes, how she helps prepare her students for the real world and how Project Avatarah came about.

Can you tell us a bit about your job?
I teach character animation — from introductory to advanced level — quadruped animation, game animation and animation portfolio. If I had to describe teaching in one word, that word would be “rewarding.” It’s a really great feeling to see our students have successful careers. In training the next-geneation of animators I use my industry animation background and my experience as a zoologist to guide them in techniques, skills and preparing demo reels.

What do students learn within the program?
Digital Art and Animation at Cogswell College offers three major concentration areas: 3D Animation, Entertainment Design, and 3D Modeling. The coursework bridges traditional and digital arts classes and includes components of theory, production, and general education. Digital Arts and Animation project classes provide many opportunities for collaborations with other programs at Cogswell, including Digital Audio Technology and Digital Arts Engineering. The Portfolio classes provide a format for bringing together all of the elements of the concept-to-delivery pipeline as students collaborate on multidisciplinary teams to complete real-world projects.

What’s your background, and how do you use your past experience as a working animator in your teaching?
I have been teaching animation for over six years. Before that I worked as a zoologist, then an animator in games (Secret Level/Sega, Factor 5). I worked mostly on platform games, including such titles as Iron Man, Golden Axe and Marvel Ultimate Alliance II. After working on game animation, I felt inspired to help the next generation of animators and give back to the animation community. I felt I had a lot to offer, and I didn’t want to regret that later in life.

I started by teaching as an adjunct professor. Initially I wasn’t sure if I’d even like teaching, but like I said, it’s very rewarding, and once I got into teaching there was no turning back. My perspective in teaching is very practical, and up-to date with the industry. I give importance to traditional fine art skills as much as animating in Maya. For me, being an animator is all about dedication to the craft, and that comes with patience, perseverance and love for animation, and that is what I want to build in my students.

What inspired Project Avatarah?
Project Avatarah was born based on a need our students had. Until now, Cogswell College didn’t own any original 3D characters, and to teach our rigging and animation classes we had to borrow rigs from other outlets. With Project Avatarah we created a set of 12 rigs, covering all our animation and rigging classes. Our characters were designed, modeled, textured and rigged in-house.

Students from across disciplines were chosen to work on this project based on their expertise and they in turn got to use these characters for their graduation portfolio. Today, our classes benefit from having a variety of rigs that cover the needs of our class assignments and difficulty level. We created characters from quadrupeds to bipeds to primitives, all designed to fulfill the needs of our curriculum. The main goal of Project Avatarah is to have our students graduate with work that has its own identity.

And you are now making these available for the general public?
There are plenty free rigs out there, but not many meet the quality that we offer. Our rigs are free, built to professional quality, created under supervision of our faculty with industry background. We recently released one of our characters to the general public, Cogswell’ the Dragon. Cogswell is available to download from our website.

In the near future we plan to release more rigs to the public — this isn’t a project that only benefits Cogswell students, this is for all animators, students and professionals alike, who need good quality rigs for their portfolio.

See the full article at Post Perspective.
March 13, 2015

Cogswell College welcomes Wajid Raza, a Lighting Technical Director at ILM

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

COGSWELL COLLEGE TO HOST WAJID RAZA, A LIGHTING

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR AT INDUSTRIAL LIGHT & MAGIC,

FOR SPECIAL GUEST LECTURE MARCH 25TH

Sunnyvale, CA, March 16, 2015 — Cogswell College, a leading educational institution offering a unique curriculum of Digital Art & Animation, Digital Audio Technology, Game Design & Development, Digital Media Management, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship & Innovation, will host Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) Technical Director Wajid Raza for a Special Guest Lecture. Karen Keister, Cogswell’s Program Director and Assistant Professor in the school’s Digital Arts & Animation Dept., made the announcement. Keister’s department regularly features one guest speaker each semester who has prominently established him/herself within the entertainment and digital arts industry.

The lecture, entitled “The VFX Pipeline,” will take place on Wednesday, March 25, from 7:30-9:30pm in the Dragon’s Den Theatre on the Cogswell College campus. Raza will discuss how the work of each artist on a large project fits into a chain of complex tasks that, when brought together, will create the ultimate visual effects. He will also cover how a visual effects studio is structured and what contributions are made by each of the studio’s different departments.

ABOUT WAJID RAZA:

Wajid Raza is currently working as ILM’s Lighting Technical Director on the upcoming Marvel Entertainment motion picture “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015.) He first joined the renowned and multi-award winning visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic in 2009 as part of its technology group. Since then, he has worked as an Assistant Technical Director, Production Engineer and Technical Director on many of ILM’s tent-pole projects. Raza was an integral part of the team behind the Academy Award winning film “Rango” (2011) and the Academy Award nominated film “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013.)

For the film “Rango,” Raza wrote software for the Layout Team and served as a Final Layout artist to bring the director’s vision from concept art to digital 3D scenes. He helped troubleshoot issues in a newly developed monolithic-process for working in multiple shots at the same time. One of the tools he wrote for Layout enabled them to create specialized cameras for the locked-off static shots in the movie. This technique enabled the addition of a “micro-float” treatment to the CG cameras, so their movements mimicked real-life camera movements.

Similarly, for the movie “Star Trek Into Darkness,” Raza led efforts in developing new software and production workflows tailored for the film. He helped set up a distributed fracture system pipeline that was employed in key scenes.

Raza is a graduate of Savannah College of Arts and Design (SCAD) where he received his MFA. Earlier, he completed his BS Degree in Computer Science from Government College University in Lahore, Pakistan, the city in which he was born. Currently, he is a resident of San Francisco.

WAJID RAZA’S CREDITS WITH ILM:

2015 “AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON” (currently in production) – Lighting Technical Director
2014 “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES” – Production Engineer (Technology)
2013 “NOW YOU SEE ME” – Production Support (Technology)
2013 “STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS” – Digital Artist (Technology)
2012 “BATTLESHIP” – Assistant Technical Director
2011 “PIRATES OF CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES” – ATD
2011 “RANGO” – Layout Artist

ABOUT COGSWELL COLLEGE:

Designed as a “fiercely collaborative, living laboratory,” Cogswell College is located in the heart of the legendary Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale, California. The school is a WASC accredited, four-year institution of higher education with a specialized curriculum that offers programs in Digital Art and Animation, Digital Audio Technology, Game Design & Development, Digital Media Management, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

Numerous alumni of Cogswell College have secured prominent positions within the entertainment, videogame, technology, computer, animation, and motion graphics industries throughout California and beyond. Several of these alumni have established careers with such high profile companies as Activision, DreamWorks Animation, Disney, Electronic Arts, Pixar, and Microsoft Game Studio. Many other alumni have launched their own creative ventures.

Recent Cogswell alumni were members of the Academy Award-winning production teams which worked on the blockbuster films “Frozen” and “Life of Pi.” Some of the other well-known consumer projects to which Cogswell alumni have contributed include the feature films “The Boxtrolls” and “The Avengers,” and the popular videogames “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” “Halo 4” and “Battlefield Hardline.”

Additionally, animated short films conceived and produced by Cogswell students have gone on to win prestigious awards, including those presented by the California International Animation Festival, the Colorado Film Festival, the Oregon Film Festival, the Miami Film Festival, the Philadelphia Film & Animation Festival, the San Jose Short Film Festival, and Canada’s International Film Festival.

Cogswell College is located at 1175 Bordeaux Drive, Sunnyvale, California, 94089. For more information, please call 1-800-264-7955 or visit: http://www.cogswell.edu/

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Contact for Cogswell College:
Rachael Sass
Creative Services Manager
Sunnyvale, CA
408/498-5150
rsass@cogswell.edu

Media Contact for Cogswell College:
Dan Harary
The Asbury PR Agency
Beverly Hills, CA
310/859-1831
dan@asburypr.com