Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Cloud Computing is Changing the Face of the Animation Industry

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

A decade ago if you couldn’t get your hands on a huge server farm, your animation output was limited. Studios invested a lot of money acquiring the resources they needed to create their films.

Now the advent of cloud computing has opened the door to small and mid-sized companies in their pursuit to produce high-quality animation products. Cloud Service providers deliver the computing resources in a more cost-effective way, that make it possible for smaller firms to compete in the marketplace.

In this article by Xath Cruz in Cloud Times, he examines the animation industry’s challenges along with the power that cloud computing puts in the hands of even amateur animators.

Have you used cloud computing for one of your projects?

Cogswell Faculty, Bret Sweet, Announces Publication of First Book

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

If you are looking for a fantastic read that will transport you to another time and place, grab you by the lapels and keep you enthralled from beginning to end, then Cogswell faculty, Bret Sweet’s, first work of fiction completes your quest. “Among the Veils,” the first book in the Paper Thrones series, was released in paperback on August 19th and Kindle version on September 4th.

Bret conceived the book during a difficult period in his life. His father suffered from dementia and eventually spent time going from assisted living to emergency rooms for extended periods. A musician friend told Bret that he wrote songs in his head when he was worried. Bret took the suggestion to heart, though he didn’t want to write music, he challenged himself to write a book in his head during the many long hours devoted to making sure his father would not be alone and received the best care.

“The story just sort of came to me,” said Sweet. “I started feeling isolated because caregivers I met at groups seemed to have more resources than I did. I began feeling like maybe the odds were against me. The book was how I stayed on point.”

“Among the Veils” plot follows Clay Durward who works with young people in San Francisco. When he is called to a crime scene and asked to protect a small old boy, he learns the child carries the spirit of a ten thousand year old energy locked in his subconscious. In trying to help his ward, Clay finds himself embroiled in a civil war between two factions of Ancient Egyptian deities fighting out their rivalry among the darkest streets in America’s crumbling cities.

“The conception process took about 3 months,” said Sweet, “and about another 3 months to get it down on paper. The hardest part was the editing and getting it ready for print. About the 4,000th time I had to read through the book, it was really hard to concentrate.”

Bret said he wrote the book for people who are taking care of their parents or other loved one suffering from some kind of neurological disease. He understands that these people are burning the midnight oil as they try to take care of the people they love. He hopes they will feel less alone, that they will feel validated. He wants them to know that they are his heroes.

The book embraces the culture of today with an effective use of modern technology through the use of a sound track, illustrations and wiki. The goal was to create an interactive experience for the reader and really involve them in every aspect of the story. Bret calls his unique genre, ‘urban sci-fi’ or ‘street sword and sorcery.’  His wife calls the style, ‘Harry Potter meets The Wire.’

“Brilliant is an overused word, but appropriate for this story. Bret is an exceptionally talented writer and clever speaker. I’m sure he relates to Clay’s character because Bret is also connected to the minds of the youth and has an unwavering passion for helping them….even if it means putting himself at risk among the darkest streets of America.”
— Enitan Bereola II, Author ‘Bereolaesque’

You can purchase a copy of “Among the Veils” at CreateSpace or Amazon.

About Bret Sweet

Mr. Sweet is the director of Digital Media Management at Cogswell, following his work in launching the College’s Entrepreneurship initiative in 2010. He continues to develop Cogswell’s entrepreneurship curriculum and teaches a variety of “business for artists” courses. He is certified by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), and has taught business building strategies to thousands of Bay Area low-income youths and their families. From 2003-2007, Mr. Sweet was the lead entrepreneurship instructor at BUILD, which provides entrepreneurship education to high school students in low-income areas boasts an excellent college acceptance rate for its seniors. His activities have garnered him a host of accolades, including the NFTE’s prestigious Teacher of the Year Award in 2004 and a speaking engagement at the 2012 NAACP National Convention. Mr. Sweet’s background is as an entrepreneurial musician, music promoter and restaurateur. He received a B.A. in Television and Radio Production from San Francisco State University and a dual-MBA from the University of San Francisco.

Cogswell Announces the Appointment of Dr. Zachi Baharav to Lead Engineering Program

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Dr. Zachi Baharav joined the Cogswell College faculty on August 1 as Director of Engineering, Director of the Master’s program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the Executive Director of the Cogswell Idea & Innovation Lab. Dr. Baharav is a Silicon Valley innovator who brings a rich background in research and applied engineering, most recently with Corning West Technology Center.

Dr. Baharav envisions an engineering department that brings the artistic flavor of Cogswell to tangible products, drawing on the cultural strength of Cogswell’s animation, game and audio programs. A Silicon Valley resident for 14 years, Dr. Baharav plans to use his familiarity with local industry to engage engineering students with real-life applications by collaborating with local Silicon Valley groups. These relationships will also contribute immensely to the Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship program. A focal point for combining all this will be the Idea and Innovation Lab, where undergraduates from all of Cogswell’s degree programs benefit from the skill, talent and creativity of each other as they build their ventures or work on corporate projects.

“Engineering is the process of bringing science into practical applications. It is the perfect tool to bring various abstract artistic ideas to fruition and make them work,” says Dr. Baharav. “It’s important to give undergraduates the chance to solve specific problems and bring things to completion. We are focusing on making things practical and relevant, without sacrificing the theoretical base. One of Cogswell’s advantages is that it is small and nimble—allowing its students greater flexibility to engage collaboratively with other departments—while being set in the incredibly creative environment of Silicon Valley.”

According to Dr. Baharav, art and engineering are highly complementary disciplines. “We have moved from functional-centered products to design-centered products,” says Dr. Baharav, “In the past, engineers determined the functionality of the product, which in turn drove the design. These days, the designers determine the look and feel of a product, and engineers need to make it work. As we move forward, people are looking for personalized devices. Artistic, personal expression in your own device is coming, be it in the external design or in the content you watch – and this is exactly the intersection of Art and Engineering.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Baharav’s high-profile Silicon Valley background and engineering expertise to Cogswell,” says Dr. Deborah Snyder, provost and chief academic officer at Cogswell. “The energy and creativity he brings to the engineering program will incorporate the world of mobile, consumer electronics and big data visualization into our curriculum. Also under Dr. Baharav’s guidance, graduate students will work on their own innovations and ideas and create their own business plans before taking their product to market.”

Dr. Baharav holds more than 30 patents in diverse areas ranging from printing to millimeter wave imaging, from digital cameras to touch sensing, and others. Many of those were used in products. He is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society. He previously worked at HP/Agilent and Synaptics.

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.

A Look Inside the Mind of an Entrepreneur

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Ever wonder what makes an Entrepreneur tick? The Kauffman Foundation sponsored a series of  studies of 529 company founders to find answers to the question. The study delved into the founders’ motivations, socio-economic background, education and family history.

A few of the findings include:

  • More than 90 percent of the entrepreneurs came from middle-class or upper-lower-class backgrounds and were well-educated: 95.1 percent of those surveyed had earned bachelor’s degrees, and 47 percent had more advanced degrees.
  • Only 11 percent of the first-time entrepreneurs received venture capital, and 9 percent received private/angel financing. Of the overall sample, 68 percent considered availability of financing/capital as important. Of the entrepreneurs who had raised venture capital for their most recent businesses, 96 percent considered financing important.
  • In identifying barriers to entrepreneurial success, the most commonly named factor – by 98 percent of respondents – was lack of willingness or ability to take risks. Other barriers cited by respondents were the time and effort required (93 percent), difficulty raising capital (91 percent), business management skills (89 percent), knowledge about how to start a business (84 percent), industry and market knowledge (83 percent), and family/financial pressures to keep a traditional, steady job (73 percent).

To read the full reports, visit the Kauffman website.

Where Did ET Go?

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Following the popular Steven Spielberg movie, “ET,” Atari made a video game about the adventures of the lost, little alien. According to this report in, it was among the worst video games ever and Atari purportedly buried its mistake in the New Mexico dessert.

Now a Canadian video game company, Fuel Entertainment, is attempting to locate it and dig it up. Watch this short video of the Marketplace report and a short gameplay video of the original Atari game.

Do you agree that the ET video game is one of the worst ever made?

Gamespot Reveals its Top Video Game Picks From E3 2013

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Now that the show is over, Gamespot staff put together their list of the 12 best-of-show games. The list includes Battlefield 4, Mario Kart 8, Forza Motorsport 5 and Watch Dogs.

Check out their reviews and let us know if you agree with their choices? Did your favorite make the list?

How the Animation Industry is Becoming More Nimble

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Form 1 3D Printer

Most of you have probably heard about the challenges animation studios and VFX houses have faced in recent years. Costs have spiraled yet the demand for ever-increasing levels of realism have escalated.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention and this article in Digital Arts online explores a few of the options that studios have implemented to increase profitability.

Solutions discussed include using more sophisticated software that allows companies to work with smaller budgets, taking a DIY approach to in-house green screen production to augment VFX shots, crossover between 2D and 3D workflow pipelines, 3D printing to create models and using 3D scanning technology.

What other changes do you see happening in the animation industry?

Is Innovation Inherently Good or Bad?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Is Innovation Inherently Good or Bad?

We all love innovation, don’t we?

Innovation brought us the light bulb, the Ford Model T and the polio vaccine.

Innovation in search technology allowed Google to dominate search, to make billions and it even resulted in a new verb “to Google”.

Innovation in product design and marketing allowed Apple to rise up from the position of also ran to become a dominant player in computing, digital media players, online music and even to validate a new category (despite the skeptics), the tablet computer.

But there’s another kind of innovation.

Monsanto’s gene mutations are controversial examples of innovation in the agricultural industry.

The atomic bomb is an example of one the most powerful and scary innovations in weapons and warfare.

Innovations in terrorist organizations can have devastating results.

At a recent Silicon Valley Innovation Institute event (“Innovation Feng Shui”) held here at Cogswell College, the good, bad and ugly of innovation was discussed.

The attendees, SVII Founder Howard Lieberman and a panel of innovation specialists all participated as equals in this discussion that was run in a unique way. There was no podium, panelist table or slide presentation. Each participant grabbed a chair and picked a spot in a hexagon taped on the floor.

Everyone gathered around the two lamps situated in the center. The free form discussion that resulted was a great opportunity to learn and to exchange ideas on the topic of innovation. Some key takeaways follow:

Can cities innovate?

Per one of the panel members, every municipality has innovation in their mission statements. Is there a gap between desire and actual innovation? What is innovation for cities?

Singapore, the city-state, was highlighted as a key example of civic innovation.

Cities in China competing for awards as the top technical city, the city with best transportation and other similar awards were called out as other examples of ways that cities can innovate.

Closer to home in San Jose, a recent participatory budget modeling exercise, was called out as an innovative way to get community involvement in the tricky city budgeting process.

I would argue that cities and towns can innovate. The fact is, most probably want to be, but aren’t (to the point of the original comment).

The consequences of innovation

We may not always realize the unintended consequences of innovation. The smart phone is an amazing innovation but we certainly talk to each other a lot less in person.

In the retail industry, is a big box store the dark side of innovation?

  • Big box stores increase their buying power and lead to cheaper products and more convenience for the consumer.
  • The downsides: they drive what we are able to buy and they drive smaller businesses out of business.

Innovations in the industrialization of food industry have resulted in chickens becoming production machines. Under these circumstances, they need hormones and antibiotics to combat disease.

McDonalds can be called innovation in food. If you’ve seen Super Size Me, you know that it can kill you.

Is our innovation stuck in “D” for “Dumb”?

The development bags that can change color – is that innovation?

Was “pink slime” an innovation?

Where’s innovation where we need it?

Things that need innovation don’t get enough because the economic incentives are low. Areas like drought and the food supply.

Branding innovation can be applied to anything

Nuclear energy is now called passive energy.

Has the nature of innovation changed?

Innovation in past was lonely, guy or two in the garage. These days, collaboration (often across the world) is leading to many of the newer innovations.

Change is neither Good nor Bad

At the end of the day, innovation is neither a positive nor a negative thing. It’s a major change, shift or improvement in a process, product or service.

Stainless steel can be made into a scimitar or a scalpel.

Innovation may be amoral, but we need to be aware of the consequences that can result from it.

About the author: Tom Treanor is an adjunct professor for Cogswell’s Entrepreneurship Master’s Program and consults on and teaches social media and SEO in the Bay Area for Right Mix Marketing Inc.

Audio Speakers Move from Old School to New School

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

If you thought a speaker was just a speaker – then you’re probably not a Cogswell College Digital Audio Technology student – and you should take a look at this article in Sound and Visioning for a review of what’s on tap for 2013.

The models reviewed include Magico’s S1, Jamo’s S25, GoldenEar Technology’s Triton Seven and Polk Audio’s TSX.

Granted you won’t find these pricey works of art (costs for the models reviewed range from a low of $599 to a high of $12,600) at your local discount store – but one can always dream about how they would look in your living room.

If money were not an issue, which speakers would you purchase?