Posts Tagged ‘Alumni’

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?


Senior Producer at Nickelodeon Kids and Family Games Speaks at Cogswell

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

kevin richardson

Cogswell graduate, Kevin Richardson, will share his wealth of knowledge and experience in the casual game industry during a presentation on campus. His topic will be, “Creativity and Unlocking Your Own Unique Talents.”

Date: November 3, 2009
Time: 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Where: Dragon’s Den at Cogswell
1175 Bordeaux Dr
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Pizza will be served

Kevin graduated in 2003 with Bachelor of Arts in Computer and Video Imaging – the precursor to Cogswell’s Digital Art and Animation program. He currently works for Nickelodeon Kids and Family Games group in San Francisco as their Senior Producer of games. Kevin also just launched his own casual independent game series for download under the Gamespin banner, Ghost Town Mysteries. He has produced over 30 “E” rated games, including the Family Feud and Risk games and several Hasbro titles including Boggle and Trivial Pursuit while at Prior to, he worked at The Learning Company/Mattel Interactive where he was Executive Producer on numerous Reader Rabbit and ClueFinders adventures and at EA/Pogo where he worked on Tumblebees ToGo. He began his career as an animator and special effects artist working for ILM and Hanna Barbera-Wang Films.

Learn more about what it’s like to be a Senior Producer at Nickelodeon.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

College Connections That Last a Lifetime

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009


College can provide much more than the skills and experience to begin a career. Just ask Stephanie Zhu (DAA class of 2005) and Bryce Gunkel (DAA class of 2004). They met while studying Digital Art and Animation at Cogswell, and decided to make their relationship official this September. They join more than a few couples who started their relationships as well as their careers at Cogswell. Congratulations Stephanie and Bryce

-Michael Martin, Dean of the College

Raymond Crook On What It’s Like to be an Animator

Thursday, July 16th, 2009


I am working as an animator and character modeler/rigger at Double Fine Productions in San Francisco. I started working here shortly before graduation from Cogswell College in 2001. All of the animators in our department are required to know how to model characters as well as rig them. We all wear several hats. We released Psychonauts in 2005 – and our game Brutal Legend that just premiered at the E3 Expo was nominated to receive the Game Critics Award for Best in Show.

The thing I like most about my career is that it gives me a creative outlet. I’m doing something that I love to do and making a living at it. I am happy to say that I truly enjoy my job but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. It can be very stressful at times and the hours can also be long but the satisfaction of seeing your work inside the game is very rewarding.

If not for Cogswell, and particularly some key faculty members and alumni, I would not have this job or this career. The courses at Cogswell College gave me the foundation in fine arts and digital media to be able to step into my position here at Double Fine and immediately begin working. This is what the company needed at the time. Of course I have learned a lot and made a lot of mistakes since then, but I had enough practical skills and know-how to hit the ground running.

When it was time for me to find a job, it was a faculty member and one of our alumni who helped me get my first interview and get my demo reel to the right people. I will always be grateful for that. The classes were small enough that I was able to get to know some of my instructors on a personal level and have remained good friends with them. I attended a much larger university before transferring to Cogswell, and because of sheer size of the classes and the inapproachability of the professors, I was not able to create the kind of relationship with them that I did with the Cogswell faculty.

I think a key distinguishing factor that sets Cogswell apart from other colleges is the leadership and vision that focuses resources as needed, pays special attention to the experience of the students and builds relationships with alumni and the community/industry.

If you are planning on being an animator, know that this field is very competitive but also very gratifying. I would suggest to anyone seeking a career in animation that they develop strong, traditional, fine arts skills – then move into the digital realm. The computer is only a tool that you will use to apply the traditional skills of drawing, sculpting and painting at your job. It is important to have some talent for the arts before going into this field. Remember, the job is not glamorous, don’t do it for the bragging rights. Do it because you love to be creative. And certainly don’t do it for the money. Like most art-based careers, you can make a living but don’t plan on it making you wealthy. However, I have found when you do what you love and what you are good at, the rest works itself out.

Click here to learn more about Cogswell’s animation degree program.

- Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

2009 Grad, Michael McConnell, Uses His Skills to Reach Billions

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009


Michael McConnell graduated from Cogswell Polytechnical College on May 9, 2009 with an inter-disciplinary degree in Multimedia Engineering and Design. He received a Bachelor of Science and was one of the valedictorians at Commencement. He currently is doing an Internship at Tertia, a San Francisco based company that uses unique technology, in partnership with the US publishing industry, to deploy enhanced English media to the 2 Billion second-language speakers of English worldwide. (more…)

Steve Swink Authors Book on Game Feel

Monday, July 13th, 2009



“Picture yourself playing Super Mario Brothers. Imagine the sensation of moving Mario around the level, the feel of jumping over pipes and platforms,” said Steve Swink, author. “In digital game design, ‘feel’ is the most overlooked facet of game design. It’s a powerful, gripping, tactile sensation that exists somewhere in the space between player and game.”

Cogswell Alumnus, Steve Swink (Class of 2005), authored the book Game Feel: A Game Designer’s Guide to Virtual Sensation. The publication was released in paperback in October 2008 by Focal Press/Morgan Kaufmann.

Steve Swink graduated from Cogswell in 2005 with a Bachelor degree in Computer and Video Imaging. He is a game designer and managing partner at Flashbang Studios, a creator of independent games in Tempe, Arizona.

Click here to read more about the book . . .

Click here to learn more about Cogswell’s Game Development degree program.

- Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

Audio Alumus Speaks about Audio Program

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Evan Peebles, Technical Support Specialist and 2007 Cogswell College graduate answered some questions regarding his experiences and reasons for entering the Audio Program at Cogswell College.  Here is what he had to say:

Why did you come to Cogswell?

As people look for colleges, there is often a list made somewhere in their mind of what they want.  When I was looking for a college to attend,  I was looking for several specific things.  First, I wanted to get a degree in audio science. While there are many schools that offer programs in this field, very few are WASC accredited bachelor degree programs.  In the audio field, few careers require bachelor’s degrees. Historically many of the careers in this field were entered through reputation, apprenticeships and connections.  But the audio field is currently in a bit of turmoil and is changing fast.  I love learning and wanted to reinforce my own experience, but it was also important to me to have a safety net.  A WASC accredited bachelor’s degree assures that I could proceed with further education such as a Masters or Ph.D., as well as opens up a wider variety of career paths in case the audio industry’s upheaval gets dramatically worse or I change my mind in the future.  In Cogswell, I found a college that offered the exact degree I was looking for.  Once I had heard of Cogswell, I only ever heard from people about how great it was!  The location was great, no need to move to LA, Florida, or New York.  The tuition was really affordable for a private college.  It has an incredible student-to-professor ratio.  As the college has great industry ties, many industry professionals working as professors, and a flexible program, I would have plenty of great opportunities for internships to further develop my skills, resume and connections.  And the people at Cogswell really cared. (more…)