Posts Tagged ‘Alumni’

Do You Know This Girl?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Rachael Reisdorf

Hey ya’ll!

Do you know the girl in the picture posted above? If you don’t, you really should get to know her!

This is Rachael Reisdorf! This girl is one of the craziest chicks on campus (in a good way). She is around for almost every student event helping out in pretty much any way she can. She is an alum of Cogswell (Game Design program) as well as being an employee here now. She does an insane plethora of work that ranges from design to student life. Seriously, if you go to Cogswell and you don’t know this girl, you need to stop in to her office next to the student lounge and chat with her for a bit. She is super accommodating, easy to talk to, helpful and is always down for a good laugh. Oh! And today is her 9 Year Anniversary of her stay here at the majestic Cogswell College! She also loves World of Warcraft….. so there’s that too…… (I heard she is with the Horde though, yikes).

Keep up being you Rach!


P.S. Her husband (also an alum) works for Sledgehammer Games!!!

Symphony of the Goddesses

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Symphony of the Goddesses

Hey Peoples!

If you hadn’t read here earlier, we had an alum work on the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony. Well, after the two shows in LA and London, the show took a 3 month hiatus and revised the show for its big 2012 tour. This included taking some movements out, adding some and re-working some of the visuals (this is what my inside source told me at least). I might also add that they re-packaged the show as well and are now calling it The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. The best part of all this news to me is that IT’S COMING TO SAN FRANCISCO!!! I’m totally going, see you all there!

If you want to get the skinny on the concert go check out this full article at Destructoid.

Also, this is the link the Symphony of the Goddesses’ Official Website.

P.S. Fun Fact – did you know that the Producer and Director of these shows was the Editor on both Project X films? Crazy right!?!?


Alumni Interview: Jessica “Psy” DeLacy

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Jessica "Psy" DeLacy

Yesterday I got the honor to sit down and chat with one of our most recent and successful alum, Jessica “Psy” DeLacy. She was really easy to talk to and had so much to talk about. Read on to see what we talked about in the interview!

Zombie: So Psy, where are you working right now and what is your job?

Psy: I work at Rhythm and Hues!  I am a Technical Animation TD, and I’ve been working here since December of 2010.  It’s my job to make cloth, fur, dynamics, and interaction look awesome.

Zombie: So what would be a typical day at work for you?

Psy: When I get to work in the morning, I usually have a few shots waiting for me that need attention, and I will work on these based on highest priority, aka what lighting wants first.  Shotwork involves simulating clothing and fur, but for everything to work correctly I need to make sure all geometry is cleaned up and the characters are interacting with each other in such a way that the cloth can evaluate properly.  Then there’s getting certain materials to act and feel a certain way: a sweatshirt on a chipmunk behaves differently than a kite tied to a penguin, wet fur will move differently on a character standing still than it will on a dry character that’s running, etc.

I have a whole toolset that I use to clean up geometry and make interactions play nicely together, but often I will script out tools that I use a lot to optimize them and make my workflow faster.  Generally I will do this if I’m waiting for animation or feedback on shots, or if I have multiple simulations running that I am waiting for.

Zombie: Can you give an example of something that surprised you about your job when you first started?

Psy: I was genuinely surprised that they’re paying me to do this.  I mean, this is fun – this is what I do on the weekends for fun.  I guess I was also surprised how prepared I was – I was able to dive right in and adapt to the pipeline fairly quickly.  Thanks PX!

Zombie: So what projects have you worked at at R & H?

Psy: At Rhythm I have worked on Hop, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Alvin 3: Chipwrecked, and currently I am working on Snow White and the Hunstman.  So far Alvin has been the most fun, and the most challenging.

Zombie: What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

Psy: Figuring out the monster shots and making them look good.  When you work on a shot for weeks on end, and then see it on the big screen and it looks great – that’s an awesome feeling. I had this shot on Alvin that was a monster for tech: Simon unties a piece of seaweed from around his arm, ties it around his head, then rips off his sleeves.  That shot took hours upon hours of doing RnD, testing out different ideas, building the rigs to allow for the sleeves ripping, getting the fringes on the sweatshirt and the fur to react correctly – it was a multi person effort, and at times quite frustrating.  Seeing the final render of that shot caused high fives all around.  Also seeing peoples’ reactions, especially kids.  When kids in the theater are excited and enjoying the movie, I’m happy.

Zombie: Do you have any advice for students wanting to get into your industry?

Psy: Yes I do, You have to want it.  It’s a competitive industry, and you can’t just expect to get a degree and automatically be ushered in.  You really do have to work hard through school, and come out with a good reel and good communication skills.  Get to know people, get used to working in a team, and be the person that everyone wants to work with.  Always thirst for knowledge, and be passionate about what you want to do, and be willing to adapt to a new pipeline.  It takes work and diligence, but you can get in, and you can go far, if you want it enough.

Zombie: What kinds of skills or abilities would someone need to get into your line of work?

Psy: For Techanim specifically, you need to have technical and artistic skills.  You need to understand anatomy and have a good eye for how characters, cloth, and interaction should look, but also need to be able to write scripts and understand what’s happening under the hood during a simulation.  Patience is also key, as sometimes you will spend days on a single shot getting it just so.  There’s a lot of “well, object A needs to act like X until it hits object B.  How do I do that?”  And then you figure it out.  It’s a lot like rigging in that it’s both artistically and technically demanding, requires a lot of out-of-the-box thinking, and can be a bit tedious at times.  That’s probably why I love it so much.

Zombie: So how did Cogswell help prepare you for what you do today?

Psy: I’ll give you the same quote I gave to Bonnie, regarding Project X, because although Cogswell laid the foundation, Project X was really what prepared me for this.

“Project X was the most difficult, most challenging, and most demanding thing I’ve ever done.  I loved every minute of it, and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.  When we started X, we were students.  When we finished it, we were ready for the industry.”

Zombie: You have already said so much, but do you have anything else to leave our readers with?

Psy: Ah man, I could say so many things.  I could talk about how awesome my coworkers are and how much fun we have at work.  But instead I’ll try for something inspiring.

You can get here.  You can get into the industry – whether you’re a modeler, animator, rigger, concept artist – you can get here.  But it’s not easy.  Please don’t be the person who coasts through school thinking that you’ll graduate and be welcomed with open arms.  A degree is not a ticket in.  You want in?  Treat every assignment as if it’s going into your portfolio.  Spend your time after class, your weekends, any time you have learning more and challenging yourself.  Quit playing WoW and get involved in a student project.  Compete amongst yourselves, team up – do something you think you can’t do.  You’re a modeler?  Study edge loop theory, model the same thing over and over until it looks amazing, get someone to rig it and critique the edge flow, and model outside your comfort zone.  Concept artist?  You should be filling sketchbook upon sketchbook.  Draw from life.  Draw from conceptual techniques.  Take the shapes you see everywhere and make something from them.  Take a sketchbook with you everywhere.  You get where I’m going with this.  And no matter what you are, don’t be afraid of critique.  Accept it gracefully and don’t argue it – and most of all, seek it out.

Go forth and follow your dreams!

Zombie: Thanks Psy, keep up the good work!!!

For those of you who have never heard of Rhythm & Hues Studios, check out their website and check back soon for more alumni interviews.


Alumni Interview: Will Reichenthal

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Alumni Interview 002

Hey Everyone! I recently got the privilege to sit down and do an interview with alumni, Will Reichenthal. Will has one more semester left here at Cogswell and ALREADY has a job in the industry. I wanted to get the low down on his stay here at Cogswell and how he scored a job before graduating.

Zombie: Hey Will, thanks for coming and taking time away from finals.

Will: Hey, no problem, it’s my pleasure.

Zombie: What did you study here at Cogswell?

Will: Well first, I still have one more semester at Cogswell but to answer your question I am a DAT student, concentrating in Audio Engineering. I wanted to work in software development for the audio industry, like making plugins and applications. It was really a pipe-dream before I heard about Cogswell , but then I got here and saw this it was within my reach.

Zombie: So tell us more about this project or internship?

Will: The company is called Sonoma Wire Works, based out of Mountain View. I am a programmer there. I basically work on a guitar amp app for the iOS platform which means, I sit and program with a guitar in my hands, I think I played guitar at work for about 4 hours yesterday.  We just had a hardware launch at Sonoma, so my days have consisted of taking the device and plugging it in and going through all the features on the software side to see if it’s working with the hardware. I came across two major bugs recently and went and de-bugged them. It’s always something small – like something isn’t capitalized when it should be since all of the code is case-sensitive. Another thing was one of the amp settings didn’t sound right. As a musician, I know what it’s supposed to sound like and with my engineering background I was able to do some more research. In the end it was just that the frequency needed adjustment.

We also did a commercial for our product recently so I went out and shot that with the camera crew and I have worked at a couple of trade shows with another one of our alumni, Danny Codella, who also works at Sonoma. Things that we learned in classes like sound synthesis totally influenced what we do at work. Danny and I listen to reference songs and then try to simulate their sounds and make presets in the software.

Zombie: How did that come about?

Will: So I was in Audio Programming and this class I took was held in the teachers personal office at Sonoma Wire Works. We would have the class and go through the lecture and afterwards I would look at all the equipment and would stay talking till like 3 in the morning and playing guitar so that he can hear all these guitar amps and effects.

So when the summer semester ended, in the middle of finals, he gave me a call and asked me if I could come in and start work there.

My first day they threw me into the studio to recreate a HI-Watt amp, so I went to work. Then Doug Wright, the owner, plugged into it and started playing and told me that he loved it and it was perfect. It was pretty cool.

Zombie: Any big plans for the future?

Will: Graduating… does that count? That’s the big one right now. Once I graduate I should hopefully be working full time at Sonoma. Past all that, I would like to make more and more tools. Every time I make music and I encounter something in the software that isn’t right, I feel like there is an opportunity for me to create something to solve that problem. So I guess what I’m trying to say is my dream is to create any tool that I think of and to be able to use my experience as an artist and knowledge as a recording engineer to solve the hurdles that a musical artist encounters in their everyday tasks.

Zombie: Great! Thanks again Will, it was awesome getting to talk to you and hear your story.

Will: Thanks, talk to you later!

For those of you that are interested, I have imbedded the video that Will told us about below. Stay tuned for more updates from Will!


Modern Warfare Alumni (there are three of them, and it’s MW3…get it?)

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Greg Reisdorf & Rosie

Ron Andaya

Check it out guys! So a couple days ago, MW3 (Modern Warfare 3) was released and everyone here at Cogswell was pretty excited – especially since we had a few alumni who worked on the game. Greg Reisdorf and Rosie Wrede (grads of 2003) were at Best Buy with some of their team and Ron Andaya (grad of 2005) was at GameStop. They were all signing swag!!!

We have cool celebrity Alumni! (Below is a little blurb about each of them)

Greg Reisdorf (2003 grad) – Greg, a Sr. Level Designer, blocks out the level and makes iterations on the design. He also makes sure that the pacing and combat are good. Another aspect of his job is to ensure that the objectives work and players understand the level. Greg previously worked on Dante’s Inferno, Godfather I & II and Knockout Kings 2003.

Rosie Wrede (2003 grad) – Rosie, a Level Designer, pretty much does the same thing as Greg. She has worked on Tiger Woods 2007, Godfather II, Dead Space 1 & 2.

Ron Andaya (2005 grad) – Ron is a Technical artist which means he makes sure everything runs at frame rate, tweaks the game and works with the artists to maintain 60(beautiful)fps! He worked on Dante’s Inferno, Godfather I & II and Dead Space 1 & 2.


Alumni Interview: Evan Clover

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Evan Clover of Luma Pictures

I would like to welcome everyone back to the blog. I hope you have been having a good week. I want to finish up the week with a really cool interview that I did with recent Alumni, Evan Clover. Evan works for Luma Pictures (a visual effects studio), as an animator. To give you a little background on Evan before we start, Evan worked on both Project X films; The Offering and Worlds Apart. He was an animator on The Offering and Animation Lead on Worlds Apart. Enough talk from me, let’s hear what the Clover guy had to say.

Zombie: Hey Evan, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. So we know that you worked on Worlds Apart, what were your responsibilities during the making of the film as Animation Lead? Also, how did you like the whole experience?

EvanAs Lead Animator of a 7 member team, my responsibilities in addition to animating were to work closely with our Director: Mike Huber, and Animation Director: Dave Perry. I would take notes, make suggestions, and make sure that my team was on top of things to keep us on schedule (of course they were, they were a great team), lest we incur the wrath of our Project Manager: Ivy Chien.

Zombie: Understood, “wrath” huh? It sounds like your manager knows how to crack the whip.

Evan: Yeah, haha.

Zombie: Did I hear a rumor that you…. umm ended up proposing to the Project Manager?

EvanYes. Ivy and I had been dating since before my time on The Offering. During our time on Worlds Apart, I asked her to marry me.

Zombie: That’s pretty cool! So now that we know all about your personal life, let’s get some details on your professional life. What have you been doing since Worlds Apart?

Evan: Well, as our production of Worlds Apart came to a close, I started sending applications out to numerous companies to see if I could land a job out in the industry. To be honest, there were some “no’s” and even an interview that resulted in “you’re not experienced enough,” but if Project X and my school taught me one thing, it was to persevere. Eventually I received a call from an effects house called Luma Pictures, asking me to please come down for an interview, so I drove down to Venice, and the next day was called back and offered a job. Since then, I have done work on Thor, Fright Night, X Men: First Class, In Time, and am currently working on Underworld Awakening.

Zombie: Those movies were great! So what were your roles on those films?

Evan: I am a Digital Animator.

Zombie: What kinds of things have you animated over the course of all the films you have worked on, including your own personal works?

Evan: In my experience as an animator, I have been able to animate a huge range of things, such as effects, various creatures, biped, quadruped, simple hard surface, and humanoid rigs. Oh! And floating alien scientists with robot arms……. and teddy bears.

Zombie: So pretty much everything? Is “everything” safe to say?

EvanHa! Not hardly, but I want to work with as much variety as I can in order to not be uncomfortable or inexperienced with anything, if that’s even possible.

Zombie: If you could work on any movie, for any company, what would it be?

Evan: ILM on the classic Star Wars in the 70′s, but that’s a completely different job. That would involve much more practical models and miniatures type stuff. Old-school effects work.

Zombie: Yeah, that would be a fun film to work on, Star Wars in its glory days. So i guess my last question to you is, how would you say that working on films like The Offering and Worlds Apart has helped you in your current professional career?

Evan: Well, I’d have to say that, over all the hard work, sacrifice, intense problem solving and long hours, in the end, our bond as a team and as friends has lasted long past our time at the college. As I made my way down to LA and the industry, I definitely was not alone, and definitely was not the first. Many of my friends from the projects now have successful careers at studios and the like. One of my close friends and roommates just did visual effects for The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary SymphonyAfter the projects I realized that we had our own network started before we even got here, and that means a lot as friends and colleagues.

Zombie: Yeah! I just did an interview with Josh Hodges. Wasn’t the Editor from Worlds Apart the Director and Producer of the The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony as well?

Evan: Yeah he was. His name is Jeron Moore, and is a close friend of mine down here in LA as well.

Zombie: That’s cool, I need to see if I can get an interview with him since all you guys are so close.

Evan: Yeah, I’ll talk to him and see if I can put him in contact with you.

Zombie: That would be great. Well thanks Evan, it was a treat to have you out and get to hear about your success so far.

EvanThanks, I had fun.

If you guys would like to see some examples of Evan’s personal work, head over to his Vimeo Account. Hope you enjoyed reading, see you all again soon.


The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Hey everyone, I got the chance this past week to not only go check out a truly breathtaking show but to talk to someone who was responsible for part of its creation. On October 21st in Hollywood, California Nintendo teamed up with Jason Michael Paul Productions to bring adoring fans a concert to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda. The show was announced at this year’s E3 and was eagerly anticipated by any lover of the franchise. I got to the show around 6:00PM and there was already a huge line around the block from the epic Pantages Theatre. I don’t want to go into detail about the show and spoil anything for those of you who will be purchasing tickets for the show when it goes on tour next year but… it was one of the best things I have seen, ever!

Anyway, enough gushing like a hopeless fan and on to the interview I got with the VFX Supervisor of the show; Josh Hodges. He was super accommodating and even gave me some cool The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony swag.

Zombie: Hey Josh, thanks for taking time out of your day here at the show to talk to me, I’m sure you are busy.

Josh: Actually my job is pretty much done, it’s all in the hands of the live show crew now, haha.

Zombie: Well I bet that is a relief for you. So let’s get down to it, what was your job exactly on this production and did you enjoy it?

Josh: My job was to work with the director to visually communicate the feeling of each musical piece by designing an “ambient background” of sorts. I basically made really high quality screen savers that were themed to accommodate each musical piece that game footage and scenes could be laid over. I enjoyed it very, very much. I am a huge Zelda fan and if you told me years ago when I was playing the first Zelda on NES that I would be working on a live performance of selected Zelda pieces of music, I would have told you that you were crazy. I was extremely lucky to have been given that opportunity.

Zombie: You sound like you genuinely love the franchise. Were there any challenges that you came up against?

Josh: Yeah, there were tons. The main one was pretty much same all the way through the project, and that was how to convey the feeling of each musical piece in a single loopable piece. Nintendo is very strict when it comes to making sure you are staying true to their games, as they rightfully should be. So we had to make sure that we were making something high quality while still holding true to the original games. The other big problem was doing this all on my own machine; I have a decent computer but some of the things I rendered got pretty heavy so my poor little computer started screaming a few times. She pulled through in the end so don’t worry (wink).

Zombie: Wow that does sound pretty intense. So, I know that you are a graduate of Cogswell. Is there anything in your experience at Cogswell that helped prepare you for this cool job?

Josh: Haha, yeah, you found me out, I am a Cogswell Dragon. Yes though, Cogswell definitely helped me prepare for this job, especially a class at the college called Project X. The class really pushed me to try my hand at different jobs as well as strengthening skills that I was already confident in. If I hadn’t taken that class, I would not be in the position I am today.

Zombie: That’s awesome; we are totally excited to have known that someone from Cogswell is doing really cool things with what they learned. So, do you have any advice for current students that are at Cogswell right now?

Josh: Ummm yeah, just remember that you get out of school what you put into it. You have to work really hard to get better and never stop trying to learn and improve your work. The trick is to never be satisfied with what you do and to push yourself every day. I still try to learn something new every day too.

Zombie: Cool Josh, well thank you again and have a great show! I am looking forward to it and I’m sure everyone else is too.

Josh: Thank you and hope you enjoy the show, take care.


For anyone who wasn’t at the show I provided a couple links below. I also linked to the Project X page on the Cogswell College website. Go check out the class that Josh was talking about. Talk to you guys again soon!

Descructoid’s Review of The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony: Click Here.

About Project X Productions: Click Here.

Cogswell Alum an International Hit

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Cogswell College Alumni Dan Martinez

Cogswell graduate and San Jose resident Dan “Dirtbag Dan” Martinez was featured on the cover of Metro Magazine earlier this month. The battle rapper has been very busy since completing his degree, with most of that time spent performing around the globe while developing a huge international following on YouTube.

Although Dan was extremely busy during his Cogswell career, he remained focused and dedicated enough to complete his degree in 2008. You can catch Dan performing locally.

Michael Martin – Dean of the College

Ten Years of Cogswell Game Club Celebration

Monday, August 30th, 2010



Alumni Spotlight – Greg Reisdorf, Designer at Visceral Games, EA

Monday, November 30th, 2009


Company name, your job title, a brief description of your job responsibilities and how long you have worked there.

Hi I’m Greg Reisdorf. I’ve worked at EA for 4 and a half years and I design levels at Visceral Games. Currently I’m working on Dante’s Inferno.

Can you give an example of what you might do on a ‘typical’ day?

On a typical day I usually go through a process of coming up with an idea for an area in a level, implementing the idea, testing it to see if I like it and then making changes accordingly. Once I like the area I show it to my lead.

Can you give an example of something that surprised you about your job when you first started?

When I first started, I was surprised that there is no concrete way for making a game. The industry is still new, so the process for making each game is always different. There’s a lot of creative problem solving both on the design side and also how the design comes to fruition.

Describe your piece of the production cycle. How does what you do move the project forward?