Posts Tagged ‘Animation’

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.

-Zombie

Worlds Apart Wins Honors at Encounters Film Festival, UK

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

2011 Winner

Worlds Apart, a short, animated film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, faced its toughest jury yet. The Encounters Film Festival visited 20 schools in Bristol to present a special screening of this year’s nominees for the Children’s Jury Award to hundreds of children. After the screening the students voted for the short film they liked best.

And the envelope please – Worlds Apart wins the Children’s Animation Jury Award! Film Director and Cogswell faculty, Michael Zachary Huber, was on hand to accept the award.

“The award is regarded as one of the best awards to get at the festival,” said Huber, “because these young judges are so brutally honest and free of bias. At the Awards Ceremony where they also showed the film, people in the audience were wiping their teary eyes right after it screened.”

All Official Selections under 15 minutes long and deemed suitable for young audiences over 7 years of age are entered in this competition. These films demonstrate how animation is a great way to tell stories visually; in ways that require little or no spoken language.

Part science fiction and part cautionary fairytale, Worlds Apart explores the universal themes of stewardship of nature and the fate of humanity. Worlds Apart asks the question, “Can humanity change its ways and save itself?” Watch the trailer.

Encounters Bristol International Film Festival is the UK’s longest running competitive short film and animation festival. The festival presents one of the world’s best-known showcases and meeting points for emerging talent, and seeks to promote the importance of short film as a means to develop the next generation of filmmakers and animators. Of the more than 1,800 films submitted to the festival only a tenth of those made it through to the festival competition.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class at Cogswell College that is run like a professional animation production studio using teams of skilled artists and sound designers. Students work tirelessly for three semesters to produce a studio-quality, short film. During production they are supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

LINKS:

Encounters Film Festival http://www.encounters-festival.org.uk/encounters-2011-awards.html

Private Screening Went Swimmingly

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Hey everyone! Sorry my reply came so late. It’s been a busy week and I have some great things in store for you in the coming days.

What I wanted to tell you today was how great the private screening of Worlds Apart went. The night started out with a meet and greet with some snacks. As soon as Chuck (our Chancellor) took the stage you could tell that everyone was clinging to their seats with anticipation. After Chuck spoke, he invited a couple more people up to say a few words, one of which was the Director of Worlds Apart, Michael Huber. Mike talked about the process of making the film a bit and then had a few of the project leads come up and talk about their experiences on working on the film.

After the talking was done, Michael Huber introduced the film and the lights faded down. I wont say too much about the film because I’m really not supposed to, but I will say that what I saw was amazing and I couldn’t believe it was student work.

The impression that I got from around the room was that everyone’s reaction was similar to mine, astounded. After the film was finished Chuck opened the floor to questions and everyone stuck around to talk to the crew.

It was a very magical night overall and I am sure this film will take the festivals one by one.

-Zombie

Cogswell Hosts Private Screening of Worlds Apart

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Worlds Apart - Project X

Hey everyone!

I just had to let you know about this really interesting upcoming event. I just found out that Cogswell is going to be having a “private, by invitation only” screening of the newest Project X film, Worlds Apart. The rumor going around campus is that there might be some really cool industry professionals coming to check it out and tell the school what they think.

I’ll tell you what, I will update you tomorrow about what I can find out. I got invited to go see the movie so I’ll have the inside scoop. Be sure to check back tomorrow night!

And if you haven’t already, check out the trailer for Worlds Apart here.

-Zombie

Worlds Apart Set to Screen at the Philadelphia Film and Animation Festival

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Cogswell College is pleased to announce that Worlds Apart, an animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, is an Official Selection of the 6th Annual Philadelphia Film and Animation Festival. The festival takes place from September 29 to October 2, 2011.

Project Twenty1 runs the festival and its mission is to Exhibit, Promote, Inspire, and Connect people through film and animation. Project Twenty 1 focuses on helping artists and filmmakers turn their passion into a career.

Its two largest programs, the 21 Day Filmmaking Competition and the Philadelphia Film and Animation Festival, have become exciting annual events for the Philadelphia filmmaking community. The Festival’s educational and internship programs help aspiring artists develop their creative skills while simultaneously preparing them for the business realities of work in the industry.

The Festival hosts programs in the Greater Philadelphia area that attracts participants from all over the world. It creates a network of support, promotion and distribution through which motivated filmmakers and artists can get their work seen internationally. In the process festival-goers have the opportunity to witnesses the birth of exciting new careers and truly original and entertaining films.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class at Cogswell College that is run like a professional animation production studio using teams of skilled artists and sound designers. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce a studio-quality short film. During production they are supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

“The hours are grueling, aesthetics standards are very demanding and we treat the artists like professionals and not students,” said Michael Huber, Director of the Project X course. “This total immersion creates an environment conducive to quality, camaraderie and the highest production value. We believe it’s the best way to learn.”

Cogswell Insiders: Episode 3

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

It’s the triumphant return of Cogswell Insiders! For this installment we have Aaron Miner, President of the Cogswell club Dragons Den Productions. This man has taken it upon himself – with the aide of a few others – to create a hub for creative minds of all artistic skill to create animated films.

Davain: Thank you for coming by to do the interview Aaron.

Aaron: I’m more than happy to represent Dragons Den Productions

Davain: So my first question for you is what was the process in forming DDP? (more…)

NY City International Film Festival Set to Screen “Worlds Apart”

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

For the second year in a row a Cogswell College Production is an Official Selection of the NY City International Film Festival. The most recent Project X film, Worlds Apart, will follow its predecessor onto the big screens of Times Square in addition to being shown in one of the nearby theaters.

The NYCIFF takes place from August 11 to August 21 and will host 300 films from 46 countries. The Red Carpet Gala will be held at the historic Hudson Theater on August 18.

The film was produced under the auspices of Project X, a unique curriculum design that delivers the learning experience based on a professional studio model. Under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator, Michael Huber, students take the film from concept to post production. The class is only available at Cogswell College. Students, selected through a portfolio review and interview process, worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality, short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

This is the second film festival that has announced its showing of Worlds Apart! Here’s to many more!

Lucasfilm Animation Artist Advises Cogswell’s Project X

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Adam Holmes, Senior Story & Previs Artist at Lucasfilm Animation, stopped by to critique and offer advice on the latest Project X production at Cogswell College. The current Project X film is in the final stages of production and should begin the film festival submission process by early April.

“I was very impressed with the Hollywood production value of the film and Huber’s leadership and experience is clearly evident,” said Holmes. “The story, music, character design, animation, lighting and FX were well above most college-produced CG projects. In many shots the excellent character animation felt like I was watching a Pixar film! I have high hopes for these students in their careers and this film could be a serious award contender.”

Project X, the brainchild of Cogswell faculty member Michael Zachery Huber, is a course for upper division students and simulates a professional animation studio. In addition to having the opportunity to work on a professional quality short animation and build a high quality portfolio, students also get to network with industry professionals who visit the class to lend their expertise.

Visit the Project X website to learn more about this unique teaching model.


Radio returns to CPC!

Friday, November 5th, 2010

ONtheAir

Much to my delight, the CPC Radio Club is being ravamped!  Be prepared for some student shows coming to you via online streaming, and keep a heads up for a concert even that’s in the works.  It’s going to be EPIC and beyond your wildest dreams!  I remember the early days of CPC Radio when me and a handful of others were building it from scratch and learning all the tricks of the trade, in addition to some of the trials and tribulations… but we ironed out everything and really sunk our teeth into the lands of internet radio and self-produced concerts.

Also, there’s a pretty snazzy article in the current issue of Animation Magazine that tells the tale of Project X’s last film, “The Offering.”  I personally didn’t work on it, but a ton of my friends did, so I have to represent. :) Go read it, see the trailer, and get stoked!

The Offering Selected For Screening at the Sundial Film Festival

Monday, February 8th, 2010

ProjectX_PosterCogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has been selected for screening at the 2nd Annual Sundial Film Festival. The festival takes place from March 10 to 13, 2010 in Redding, CA.

The film was produced under the auspices of Project X, a unique curriculum design that delivers the learning experience based on a professional studio model. Under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator, Michael Huber, students take the film from concept to post production. The class is only available at Cogswell College. Students, selected through a portfolio review and interview process, worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality, short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

The Sundial Film Festival is a Northern California celebration of the digital artistic expression of professional and amateur filmmakers and photographers. It incorporates an international and children’s film experience with the “State of Jefferson” competition designed to showcase digital film and photography that enlighten and reflect the talent and diversity of artists and/or natural resources of Northern California and Southern Oregon. One of the guiding objectives of the Sundial Film Festival is to educate and foster film and photography production among youth that they may discover an interest or career using this craft.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement