Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2015

Art by Cogswell Student Jose Hernandez

Happy New Year!!! Did everyone make new resolutions? Did anyone actually stick with last years?

We made it to another new year and I, for one, am more excited than I have been in ages. New beginnings! New opportunities! New friends and more! I’m a bit more than halfway done with my bachelor’s degree here at Cogswell, and I can’t wait to get started on the new semester. I hope everyone has been enjoying their break, because I know I have. See you again soon everybody.  Happy New Year and stick to those resolutions!

Juan Rubio
Digital Art & Animation Student

Virtual Reality Sculpting

December 30th, 2014

Screenshot taken from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnqFdSa5p7w

Have you ever thought about sculpting using Virtual Reality technology? A new app called VRClay shows us how to do just that by allowing us to create 3D sculptures in VR. Using the Oculus Rift headset and a motion controller such as the Razer Hydra, we will be able to sculpt 3D figures using motions such as push, pull, drag and buildup. While the traditional method of using computer screens would still be ideal, a VR workspace would give us the ability to walk around and inspect the physical manifestation of our work. There is still no release date for the Oculus Rift, so it looks like we will have to wait a while before we can try this app.

Peter Gazallo

Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2014

Art by Cogswell student Jose Hernandez

Merry Christmas everyone! Hopefully you’re spending the holidays having a jolly old time with your friends and family. Remember, it’s not so much about the presents, but about the relationships and bonds you form and continue to keep throughout the year. Christmas is a time of year where we’re all reminded of those who love us, and those who are near and dear to us as well. So go have some eggnog, grab a mug of hot cocoa, roast some chestnuts, and spend some time with those who are important in your life. Have fun!

Juan Rubio

Visiting Pixar Studios in Emeryville California

December 23rd, 2014

Inside the Pixar Animation StudioA couple of weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Pixar with the manager of post-production, Robert Tachoires. Besides just being a nice and all-around awesome person, Robert took the time out of his busy schedule to show me around Pixar for nearly two hours. I’ll be honest—it was slightly surreal. I casually passed by people like the director of Brave, Mark Andrews, Pete Docter, and other famous names.

He gave me the general tour of what you’d expect at Pixar—the cafeteria, Oscar awards case, cereal bar, post room, studio store—but he also got clearance to show me the animation and tech departments!

Pixar has two main buildings where the artists are located. There’s the Steve Jobs building, which has animators on one side and the tech/post production side on the other, and the Brooklyn building which houses the pre-production artists. Naturally, I didn’t get to see much of pre-production since that’s all top secret. Going through the animation department however blew my mind—there is literally a mini-village inside of Pixar!

Each animator is given the chance to decorate their own space however they want—and some have literally imported Tuff sheds to live in while they do their work. One was decorated to look exactly like a miniature everyday-house you’d see on a street, white picket fence included. Another looked just like a Tiki hut, and a particular ‘street’ in the animation department resembled Chinatown. One room seemed to overflow with Ninja Turtles toys and posters.

I got a close-up look at their Oscar trophy case—which actually included drawings by children! That earned a couple of bonus points in my book. Also, they had a huge Render Farm—processing machines lined every wall of a see-through room – which had a water-circulating system designed specifically for keeping everything cool.

The saddest part was definitely leaving Pixar. It was thrilling being around so many people who made the Pixar name legendary. It’s pretty obvious why everyone wants to work there! (Not just because of the Pixar store, though that was amazing. I loaded up on some major Pixar swag).

Sierra Gaston
Digital Art & Animation student

Global Game Jam at Cogswell College!

December 22nd, 2014

Poster Image created by Jose Hernandez

Global Game Jam is a worldwide event in which over 20k “jammers” meet together in various locations around the globe to make games, and once again, we are hosting it at Cogswell! It is an intense 48 hour event in which programmers, artists, designers and audio folks are challenged to come together to build games from scratch. Best of all, every game produced is absolutely free to download once it’s finished. Admission is $40 for the general public, $20 for Cogswell Alumni, and $10 for any Cogswell or college student with a valid college email address. Price includes a pizza dinner Friday night and snacks throughout the weekend.  Don’t miss the chance to be part of something huge as space is limited to 50 participants this year. Register soon!  http://www.cogswell.edu/ggj2015

Star Thief Studio Teaser – Animated Film and Interactive Book

December 19th, 2014

We’re excited to announce the teaser for the project that Star Thief Studio – one of our newer studio classes – coming in Spring 2015!

Star Thief Studios - Animated Film and Interactive Book

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

http://www.cogswell.edu/student-work/star-thief-studio.php

Digital Media Management Students attend the “Next Steps Forum”

December 18th, 2014
Cogswell Student DeShawn Davis and Rev. Jesse Jackson

DMM student DeShawn Davis (right) meets Rev. Jesse Jackson (left).

Cogswell College Digital Media Management (DMM) program faculty and students attended the “Next Steps for Technology Forum” which was sponsored by Intel and Rainbow PUSH. Engaging in dialogue about increasing diversity in the employment and supplier pipelines over 300 people including VC’s, entrepreneurs, technology companies and community based organizations. Participants were treated to talks from Rev. Jesse Jackson and upper management from tech companies.

Happy Holidays

December 17th, 2014

Jack Kirby Happy Holidays fan art, found on kirbymusem.org

Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Festivus for the rest of us! Finals Week is here, and the holidays are happening right now. While all of us are hard at work, studying, taking tests, giving presentations and more, we’re all looking forward to the end of it all. It’s just three more days now until we can say goodbye to the all nighters, the unhealthy amounts of coffee and the energy drinks. All of the stress and hard work that everyone has been putting forth will all be worth the effort once the semester ends on December 20th. I know I’m looking forward to home cooked meals, cozy weekends and hot cocoa, but I won’t ever forget what truly matters around this time of year.

It isn’t about the presents or the free stuff, it’s about the family and friends you spend your days with. The priceless memories that are formed each and every day, particularly around this time of year. It’s a time to look back and reflect upon the year: did I accomplish everything I set out to do? Or did I have a great year anyway? Whatever the case, take the time to seek out your friends, family and loved ones, and remind them why they matter in your life. Don’t forget to have fun and be safe my friends!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Juan Rubio

Interview with Cogswell Digital Audio student Randy Greer

December 16th, 2014

Randy Greer - Image from: randygreermusic.com

The Cogswell Pulse interviewed senior Digital Audio Technology student Randy Greer about the creation of his compilation album that was released last semester.  Randy began studying classical music in 2007, under DR. Scott K Bowen, Travis Silvers and Aaron Garner. He later shifted his focus from classical music to digital music while at Cogswell College. We asked about his experience in producing an album and the journey that he went through.

Q: What is the inspiration for your music?

A: The inspiration varies from song to song really. Because the songs have to cover a wide variety of styles, I have to draw inspiration from all over. I might listen to jazz and country back-to-back for a week straight in while I’m working on a rock song. I got one of my catchiest melodies “glock jams” from a mechanic who was whistling to my music as I wrote with my window open.

Q: What project did you create your music for? Why did you create your album?

A: I created an album for my Portfolio II class. It’s license free music to hand out to businesses to help get my name out there as a composer.

Q: How long did it take you to create? What software did you use?

A: It took me the whole semester to create the album. I wrote about 3 songs a week, but some of the songs had to be recorded. All songs had to be edited, mixed, and mastered.  The album art and website had to be created as well. I used Pro Tools 10 a lot. I also used a MIDI notation program called Guitar Pro, mastering was done with iZotope, and I used Propellerhead Reason 5 for a lot of my electronic sounds.

Q: What is your favorite part about the album?

A: My favorite part of the album was probably the country song. I had to learn to play the banjo just for that song and I fell in love with the instrument and its unique characteristics.

Q: What was the most challenging part about creating the album?

A: The most challenging part, believe it or not, was not the time constraints. It was not knowing how the music will be used. This meant I had to make music without direction even though it still had to fit parameters to stay as useful as possible.

Q: What did you learn while creating this?

A: I learned that although the people guiding you have knowledge, it is often faster and more consistent to execute your own decisions – with confidence and reason. I learned how to write a simple work-for-hire contract. I learned how to play the banjo, and I also learned how to prep meals for marathon work sessions. That might not be important to everyone but I don’t believe it’s necessary to kill your body to make good work while meeting tight deadlines.

Q: Did you create the album with the help of other people? If so, how did they contribute?

A: Having outside help was a must. I have original music falling out of my ears to the point where it’s a distraction on any given day. But finding ways to manage and present the music can be overwhelming with 45 songs at a time. I had to use other students in the audio department for mixing and mastering: Justin Floyd,  Joey White, Marc Rivas, and Andrew Wilkins were all a huge help. Often times, the school’s studios were overbooked, or equipment I reserved was rented out to someone else when I had booked a session with a professional musician.  Those other students pulled through to help me out in emergencies.

My whole class also helped with feedback on songs and how they might need reworking. It was a critical listening process. Also Katie Fortune was a huge help, she worked with me remotely to get the album art to present in a professional way.Q: What was your experience with working with other people on a project like this?  What did you learn?  What were the benefits and challenges?

A: Most of the people I worked with who were also Cogswell students were reliable and fast, however most of the people who were not from the school – like my session musicians – were flaky. They were willing to commit but reluctant to execute, without some coaxing and encouragement. The best thing I did was playing the instruments myself. I made recordings by myself. I mixed by myself. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to work with these people, but when I’m on a timeline and being graded and they are not, I can’t expect them to put the same amount of care and determination into a piece of work that I would.

Q: What would you do differently for your next album?

A: Hands down, I would write for a project that had a specific need. I like to make music that is uniform and collectively representational. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll write anything for the right price, but I only had a week to formulate this project.  At the time, I was also doing work with MediaWorks. That said, I’m currently working on an app that requires a diversity of music. Funny how that works I guess.Q: What career do you hope to get into?

A: As far as careers go, my first choice would be to create original music and sound effects for video games, followed by movies or television. I’d also be happy to be hired to write music for apps, commercials, online videos and startup promotions. Ideally I would like to work full-time for a company that has good benefits. I’m not sure how many 9-to-5′s are out there that fit that description, but I my goal is to one day start a family.  I want to be able to support them without compromise and I will need a job that can ensure that that happens.

Finding Dory

December 15th, 2014

Hold your breath and hold the press—new details are swimming the internet right now about Finding Dory, the long-awaited sequel to Finding Nemo from Pixar Animation Studios. Guess what—much of the film is going to be set in California! At the Marine Biology Institute of California, to be precise. (Sounds a lot like Santa Cruz to me.) As stated by comicbookmovie.com, “the story of the movie will follow Dory, Merlin and Nemo as they set off on a journey to find about Dory’s past and parents.” In addition, we also learn that Dory had, in fact, been born at the Institute and was released into the ocean when she was young. We’re going to see the return of many of our favorite characters, but there’s also going to be plenty of new ones—including Dory’s parents! (Do they also suffer from short term memory loss? Are they natural blues as well?)

Apparently there’s been software developed specifically for handling crowd simulations for this movie (the many schools of fish) which isn’t surprising at all. Studios are constantly upgrading to newer and better ways of showing us complex animation and rendering – the likes of which we’ve never before. With their newest release Big Hero 6, Disney has set a new bar in terms of the level of sophistication in rendering.

Speaking of fabulous rendering—be sure to keep an eye on Project X here at Cogswell. I was able to get a glimpse of a few of their first renders of the new and upcoming animation short and I was blown away. I feel that this new one is going to be an amazing addition to what Cogswell has accomplished so far.

Happy Holidays!
Sierra