Posts Tagged ‘Animation’

Cogswell Faculty Spotlight – Michael Huber, Digital Art & Animation

Monday, November 16th, 2009


Michael Huber

Assistant Professor Michael Z. Huber is a computer graphics animator and effects supervisor, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born in the Arizona desert and raised in the Silicon Valley, he is the product of an engineer father and an artist/actress mother. It seems only fitting that his line of work involves the marriage of art and technology on a daily basis.
Michael’s interest in animation began while attending film school in San Francisco, where he studied stop motion animation, cinematography and film production. He eventually transferred to San Jose State University, where a new program called CADRE (Computers in Animation, Design, Research and Engineering) was introduced, which was one of the first places to study computer animation. He furthered his own education by investing in animation software, called HASH, and continued to teach himself enough computer animation to start a freelance animation company, called Gravity 3D.

Having been in the visual effects industry since 1994, Michael’s freelance projects for commercials and videos eventually led to major motion picture and video game projects. He has worked on over fifteen feature length films and has been fortunate enough to work for directors such as Wolfgang Peterson, Luc Besson, Ridley Scott, Roland Emmerich, Michael Bay, and Steven Spielberg.

What classes do you currently teach?

Currently I am teaching advanced classes in computer character animation {part of the Digital Art & Animation program). Also I head up the Project X production group. In Project X we create short films for film competitions.

Do you have a favorite class to teach? If so, why?

I enjoy teaching period. When I see someone grow or that light bulb turn on over someone’s head that is very gratifying. But if I had to pick one I would say the Project X, as it’s really the most creative environment for the students to grow in.

Have you worked for non-academic companies in the past? Which ones? How did that experience make you a better teacher?

Yes, I have been all over the map as far as entertainment is concerned. I have worked for video game, visual effects, and broadcast companies alike. To name a few I worked at Electronic Arts as a Lead Artist, Disney Feature Animation as an animator and Art Director, and Digital Domain as a Technical Director. And that is just a few of them. And yes the more experience you have outside of academia the more of a holistic approach you will be able to bring the to the teaching table, it’s pretty simple.

What made you decide that you wanted to teach?

Not what you would expect. I had a death in the family and it made me realize that I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do. Furthermore the industry is so fast paced that I had to slow down or I would be in for some serious health problems for myself. Teaching seemed like a way to slow down. Ironically it’s just as difficult. I think any job can have its challenges if you care about it.

What projects have you worked on in the past? What was your role in the project?

Well going backwards I have worked on Tiger Woods PGA tour 2005, 2006, and the 2007 versions, also The Godfather video game as Lead Lighter. For films I played a large role on the Roland Emerichs version of Godzilla as Senior Animator. Also the last two Matrix Films, Black Hawk Down, Armageddon, Poseidon, Titanic, Blade two and three, Minority Report, and there are several others. It’s funny but the work has been so fast paced and hectic that I can’t remember half of the films I have worked on sometimes.


Senior Level Animation Class Project X Has a New Project and Needs Artists!

Friday, November 6th, 2009

11X17_promoWith the completion of Project X’s first project, The Offering, the Senior level animation class is starting on its second project and is looking for artists! Details about the project are once again protected under Non-Disclosure Agreements but the theme can be surmised from the promotional poster.

If you are an animator, rigger, lighting artist or texture artist, pull out the best of your portfolio and submit it for review! Cogswell students who are interested should talk to Michael Huber. An impressive portfolio and deep dedication is essential to become part of the team. While the class requires a very high level of commitment, it is also one of the most rewarding classes on campus.

“Students should join Project X because it’s extremely beneficial to their futures. This particular project is going to be a very influential piece in the art world,” advises Cogswell student Josh Hodges, a Senior in the Digital Art and Animation program and a concept artist on the new project. “Project X will give you an amazing portfolio and set you apart from others when you start applying for jobs in the industry. Make sure you’re confident when you register for the class. We have a lot of fun but we’re all about work. Make sure you have enough time to invest. This project is all about commitment, but it’s absolutely worth every second you spend.”

What is Video Game Level Design?

Monday, October 26th, 2009




We asked Assistant Professor Albert Chen to explain level design

If Game Development covers how games are made and Game Design determines what the game is and how it is played, Level Design is about defining the moment to moment experience for the player. It includes planning and creating the actual spaces that the player travels through and orchestrating heart-pounding encounters and events that happen along the way.

Can students learn level design at Cogswell?

This past summer term, we offered a six-week Special Topic – Intro to Level Design Workshop. This intensive course introduced students to the fundamentals of 3D level design for 1st person shooters. By using Unreal Tournament 3′s level editor to build playable multiplayer levels, students were able to experience the level design process first-hand. They also learned the theories behind competitive multiplayer map creation to control play balance, intensity and flow.

In Spring, we will offer an Advanced Level Design course. Check the Spring schedule when it is released in early October.

Want to learn more about our Game Art, Game Development, or our Digital Art and Animation programs?

Visit the Cogswell College website or better yet, arrange a tour of our campus and see where you can begin your career in video games.

-Michael Martin, Dean of the College

Lucasfilm Recruiters Visit Cogswell

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Last Monday night Cogswell hosted a visit by Lucasfilm Recruiters. They showed some of the pioneering work the done by the various divisions of Lucasfilm, and even showed some work in production. They spoke about some of the changes in the industry and how graduating students can prepare for a career- in particular, the Jedi Academy Internship.

One of the most interesting points was that there are a few rare entry level positions with these companies. They are looking for strong Riggers at the moment, and they are always looking for entry level Technical Directors. The Recruiter from Lucasfilm Animation stressed that your chances of landing an entry level job increase exponentially if you are an animator but you have some programming and scripting under your belt.

This visit highlights the importance of always keeping a reel in progress. If you were prepared on Monday night, there was a good chance you could have picked up a rigging gig at LucasArts! Just another example of why it is better to prepare than to plan. Many times students hear about openings and start to prepare a reel, but by the time they are ready the opportunity has long passed. Be diligent and always have your best work ready to show to recruiters.

I want to mention that we are running Rigging 1 right now, and we will offer Rigging 2 next semester. You probably already know that we updated our Scripting for CG class that we are running now, and if there is interest, we can run again next term. One other course to note is the new Game Level Design 2 on the schedule next semester. The Spring 2010 class schedule will be released next week.

Keep your eyes open for the next industry visit, and keep that reel up to date!

-Michael Martin, Dean of the College

The Offering Premieres for Cogswell Community

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009


On Thursday, October 1 at 12:30 pm in the Dragon’s Den, we will premiere the Cogswell-produced short animated film: The Offering. This animated short film was produced on campus by Cogswell students! The film has never been played before an audience, so the Cogswell community, including a few VIPs, will have the privilege of being the very first audience

Assistant Professor Michael Huber and the Special Project/Senior Project students 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 film is sure to attract the attention of studios and inspire prospective students everywhere.

Please pass the word: lunch and drinks will be provided. Come and see the premiere of this ambitious and artfully constructed film. Come celebrate the immense efforts of your friends and fellow Cogswell students.

This is a campus only event, so only current students, faculty, staff, and a few VIPs will be admitted. There will be a formal public premier at a later date.

-Michael Martin, Dean of the College

Short Animated Film “The Offering” Trailer Now Online

Friday, September 11th, 2009


If you have been following Cogswell news, you know that we are close to premiering the Cogswell student-produced short animated film The Offering.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell Polytechnical College. Project X has no competition with regard to the quality of instruction it provides or the standards it sets for animation production value. Student participants have the opportunity to integrate all the disciplines of CG production including animation, modeling, texturing, effects, rigging, lighting, rendering, compositing and production management.

Take a look at the trailer, and keep an eye out for more updates on where and when to see The Offering.

To learn more about the multi-discipline project-based curriculum at Cogswell College, visit our website or better yet, arrange a tour of our campus and see where you can begin your career in video games.

-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

Pilot Animation Program for Silicon Valley High School Students

Friday, July 10th, 2009
Award ceremony on June 19, 2009

Award ceremony on June 19, 2009

What’s next after high school? How about working toward a career in the animation, game or digital audio fields?

Cogswell Polytechnical College wants to open doors to these industries to local youth by offering introductory classes in these subjects. The College is working with The Silicon Valley African Productions through its Future Stars Program, an area nonprofit, to identify candidates.

Students must apply to participate. They are required to maintain high academic standards and be involved in the local community while they are taking advantage of these opportunities.

Cogswell currently provides instruction in beginning and intermediate animation techniques using Maya, beginning and intermediate game level design and beginning and intermediate audio production.

The next series of classes begin in September. Though anyone can apply, the goal is to recruit a more Latino and African-American students in Santa Clara County.

Click here to learn more about the pilot program.

Click here to learn more about Cogswell’s Animation and Game Design degree programs.

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

- Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

Allen Stetson Featured in 3D World Magazine

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Allen-StetsonCogswell alumnus, Allen Stetson (class of 1999), Lead Technical Director at DreamWorks, was featured in the ‘Inspiration’ section of 3D World Magazine’s December 2008 issue.

In the article he describes how after viewing the film, The Little Mermaid, in seventh grade he became fascinated by the way the artists handled light and the distortion of movement through water. He knew then, that this is the field in which he wanted to build his career and Cogswell was the college he chose to make his dreams a reality.

Cogswell recognized Allen as its Silicon Valley Campus Alumnus of the Year at Founders’ Day in March 2008. The award is given to alumni who have made contributions to their professions and had an impact on Cogswell.

Click here to read the interview.

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

Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement