Posts Tagged ‘Cogswell Students’

Happy Holidays

Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, 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.

Finals Week at Cogswell College

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Sketch by Daniela Panigada Cook found at: dpc-design.com/2012/05/04/sad-pencil-is-it-over-yet/

The last week of school is upon us and as such, many students find themselves with work piling on top of work and increasing levels of stress. With five classes this semester and a job to stay on top of, I have no shortage of tasks to complete and deadlines to meet. Luckily, I’ve already completed one class for the semester… no class next week for Drawing For Animation! For me, this means one last project in Perspective and Rendering (Daytime/Night time building), a last essay in Ethics class, a group performance in Acting for Animation, and one last project in Video Editing, the Experimental.

To say it was an easy semester would be a lie; this semester was, by far, the most challenging for me so far. With 2 project classes – both with heavy workloads – I had my work cut out for me. But I’ve managed to stay afloat! That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this semester however. It’s been one of the most gratifying few months of my scholarly career yet.

Walking through the halls of the school I see evidence of finals taking their tolls on the students. People scrambling to finish last projects, a spike in coffee intake, and more than a handful of people napping all around the campus. I’ve already pulled one or two all-nighters, but I’m sure I’m not the only one. Finals week is almost here, and while I had a great semester overall, I can’t wait for Winter Break!

Juan Rubio
DAA 3D Animation Student

Cogswell Presents: Nye Warburton

Thursday, November 6th, 2014
Cogswell College Presents: Nye Warburton
Cogswell Presents: Nye Warburton
Tuesday, November 11th
12:45 – 1:30
Dragon’s Den

Students!
Do you find yourself starting projects that never get finished, or find yourself swimming in awesome ideas and never do anything with them? Come see Nye on Tuesday to learn how to…

Finish it! How to take your creative ideas and finish the project.
Tips from the industry. How to go from idea to final film, or final game, or whatever you are building. A little bit of project management, a little bit of creative advice and a little bit about the business and how to get your work out there.

About Nye:
Nye Warburton is an animator, cartoonist, game designer and artist. His graduate thesis film, Magnetism, landed him in the Los Angeles animation industry in 2004. He spent a decade at studios like Electronic Arts, Sony Imageworks, Fox, Blur, Proof, Digital Domain and  The Third Floor. He has worked on 30+ high budget films including Monster House, Thor, Battleship, Men in Black III and Oblivion. He has had development deals with Fox Animation and Comedy Central, as well working on several independently funded animation and game projects.

Nye currently works as a creative director for start ups, out of his office space in downtown Los Angeles. Visit him online at http://nyewarburton.com

Concept Art Process for Award-Winning Short Animated Films

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Kong Vang, Cogswell alumni and Art Director of two short animated films

Kong Vang, Cogswell alumni and Art Director of the two short animated films “Driven” and “Worlds Apart” – both created in Cogswell College’s Project X class – shares his process of creating character concept designs and more.

While working on the films created in the Project X class, I learned that it takes a very dedicated team to make a short film in four semesters or less. Many of the students on this team are attending classes full-time in addition to contributing their talents towards making an awesome film.

Here’s an overview of what happens during the production process of a short animated film: First the script and storyboards are completed and approved, within the first semester. Meanwhile, the concept team begins creating concepts for characters and environments.  Approved concepts are sent into the modeling pipeline as soon as they are approved where our artists create 3d models. As each model is approved by the Director, they are sent into the texturing and rigging pipeline. Technical artists create animation rigs for each model and prepare them for animation testing.  Animation is a long process so it is important to get the rigged 3D models to the animators as soon as possible. Animation takes almost a year to get all of the shots approved.  After the animation is polished, the first test of the film timing is created, approved, and sent off to the sound effects and music score team.  Also during the process of animation, approved shots are sent to the lighting team for light set and test render. When the finalized lit shots are rendered out, they are sent to the compositing team for the final clean up. After the composite shots are cleaned up and finalized, they are sent off to the film editor who creates the final cut of the film and music score.

On the latest film ‘Driven’, each member of the team wore different hats depending on which stage of the production pipeline the film was in.  For instance, initially I started out in the concept design pipeline, then moved to the animation pipeline and finally to matte painting for the final stage of the film.

One of my jobs as a concept designer was to collect the approved designs from the other artists and finalize them. Because most approved designs are from different artists, each with their own distinct style, the finalization process ensures a consistent look and feel. After finalizing the look and stylization of the characters, I would render each character in 2D using Adobe Photoshop so that it would represent its 3d counterpart.  This allows the Director to easily visualize how each character will look before it gets passed along to the modeling team.

Digital media is the fastest way to work and Photoshop offers the perfect tools and work flow for this demanding field. With infinite tool presets, custom brushes, and limitless iterations, it allows me to work more quickly and easily compared to traditional mediums like paint or ink.

To block out the initial character’s silhouette, I like to use a standard round brush, which I adjust into an ellipse shape, then angle it 45 degrees. This style of brush setup creates a line weight that flows much more nicely than the standard round brushes. Once the silhouettes and internal shapes look good, I create a new layer in Photoshop and start to block out the forms with one color value. At this early stage, I prefer to work in black and white.  It makes it easier to focus just on values and form rather than getting caught up about the colors. My preference in digital painting is to work from dark to light values, or shadows to highlights. It has been my experience to get results much faster using this method than trying to paint from light to dark.  I push and pull (lighten and darken) the values until the character forms are clear.  During this process, I maintain a wide range of values to create depth and realism.

Once the characters have been sketched out, it’s time to experiment with color palettes. I like give a slight color tint to the values before painting on top of the black and white image. The tint layer acts as a color wash so none of the black and gray value show through later. I create a new layer and set the Layer Mode to “Color”. I start by painting over the character with the color palette that the team agrees on. By using multiple layers, I don’t lose my original black and white image – and I can test out different color schemes.  Once I’ve added general color blocks to the characters, I use a new layer to start painting in details. For the final detail stage, I use textures and custom brushes to polish the look of the characters.

The development stages from concept to finished product vary from character to character; it all depends on what the Director is looking for. For example, secondary characters may be approved before main characters. Main characters are often challenging as they have to be visually pleasing and have the right visual attitude. On the other hand secondary characters have far less restrictions, allowing flexibility for designers to explore their creativity.

The concept team spent almost an entire semester designing characters. After four months and multiple iterations, all nine characters were finally approved. Once approved, I took the concepts and started finalizing each character’s look. It took me roughly four or five hours to render out the first pass of each character to show the Director.  One character in particular – the adult Biff cop – took almost ten hours to design.  After multiple small changes, the final designs were approved.

One of the most surprising and challenging characters to design was the Jet Bike that the main character rides.  Its importance in the film is equal to the character that rides it. Although there were many great concept designs shown to the Director, none of them were approved. That’s when I was given the tough task of designing the bike. After fifty designs, we started to narrow down the concept. Once the main silhouette was chosen, I mixed elements from the best three designs together to get the final jet bike concept. The process for this single ‘character’ took three or four weeks, from start to finish, working with traditional mediums like graphite and paper.

This is just the front-end of the production pipeline for a short animated film. It takes a strong team and lots of man hours to complete the film. In the end many people had come and gone, and lots of talented people contributed to the film. We were all so glad that the film was finally finished. It took the PX team about four semesters and two summers of hard work to accomplish the short film, Driven. The Project X class has given me the best hands-on experience possible. It has definitely changed my future and life for the better. Thanks Project X!

Kong Vang

“Oh don’t worry. I can put that off till tonight!”

Friday, April 8th, 2011

This isn't even half of the work on my table just to the right...

The one leading killer of time for college students today is the deadly disease “Procrastinitis” that has a victim number that reaches millions. It’s a very evil virus that affects its victim by subjugating their time from doing a task that is very important to their future and putting it off until the very last minute amount of time it would take to complete said task. For years, doctors have tried to find a cure for this disease by means of medical sciences, therapy, and even introducing subjects to environments where the virus is at its weakest, but all attempts have failed. I’m reporting this news to you all today because I am a fighter of “Procrastinitis” and have been ever since I started junior high school.  This horrible disease has been the downfall of many of my school projects and even some events that I planned out weeks in advance, which is why I want to inform everyone I can about how it is affecting people like us everyda- OK I’m going to stop now!

Come on guys, take a joke. All silliness aside, there really is a problem some of us college students have with procrastination. Being a student at a digital arts college that demands my full attention to every single detail of my projects does not make the reality of having procrastination issues any easier. Every day I have a project that needs to be done whether it would be mine or someone else’s and if it doesn’t get done on time, all hell breaks loose… or at least I get scolded by my professors. Don’t get me wrong, I love to do all these projects and give my best on each one…but sometimes my video games call out to me under that thick layer of dust that has accumulated over them in the last 3 months. There is just a part of me that loves to both work on all of my art projects and enjoy other people’s art projects…but never enough time to do both and keep a routine sleep schedule. How does one fight this?

Honestly, it’s all depending on the person and how much they can control their desires and needs. It tears a hole in my chest every time I choose to work on homework for a design class that was due 2 days ago when there’s a new update to one of my games that has been on my calendar for 5 weeks, but I know that if I don’t get it done I’ll be in some deep trouble and my grade will drop. So I just tell myself I’ll grind through the work late at night and spend the morning playing the game which ends me up with 2 hours of accumulative sleep for the day and the droopier eyes than an old beagle…and those eyes can droop for days! Really it’s just best for people, whether they be in college, high school, or even at a job to just assess what they really can get done and be happy with their work. I mean even though I was very tired that morning, I was happy and was pleased with my work. Although I can tell every single person who passed me in the halls did a double take when they made eye contact. Word of advice for anyone who plans to use my previous experience as an example: expect people to give you the weirdest looks when you pass them in the halls. But it’s not all bad since you’ll be so spaced out you won’t even notice. Cheers everyone!

-Davain M.

Cogswell’s Entrepreneurship Workshop recieves recognition by Kauffman Foundation.

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Remember the Entrepreneur’s Workshop in November?  The workshop coupled with Cogswell’s Entrepreneurship Launch Competition to kickoff the newest edition to the Cogswell College family of programs and degrees: Entrepreneurship and Innovation.  For that event, Cogswell received recognition from the Kauffman Foundation, an organization that advocates for entrepreneurs and for improving education for youth.

The activities of Cogswell’s entrepreneurship event were just a few of over 3,000 that took place during Global Entrepreneurship Week of 2010. The massive movement educated aspiring entrepreneurs, and also helped launch many businesses.   Cogswell’s contribution was put together by Professor Bret Sweet and program director Trish Costello.  The inspiration and excitement they continually pour into the Entrepreneurship and Innovation branch of Cogswell is a true testament to the passions they share with entrepreneurs everywhere.

-Rachel

Cogswell Holiday Break

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Happy Holidays from Cogswell!  We wish everyone a safe and delightful holiday season, whichever holiday you are celebrating, be it Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas!

Take note, the campus will be closed from Friday, December 24 until Sunday, January 2, 2011.

-Rachel

Audio students working in the studios.

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

As I was leaving the Cogswell campus yesterday, I heard a grandiose finish consisting of guitars, drums, and something that could have either been a harp or piano.  The sound travelled faintly through the hallways and a a bit of it made its way into the Cogwell admissions office, the Ina A. Cokeley Campus Service.  The curiosity got the best of me and two other Cogswell inhabitants and we followed the sound to the first place we all had assumed to be the source of the audio explosion.  We headed through the halls and heard the sound getting louder and clearer.  Nearing the control room, a few other curious ears were making their way in the same direction me and my band was heading.  We all converged outside of the glass, looking into the tracking room to find a Cogswell Digital Audio student, hands on the faders and knobs of the mixer.

Here’s a look at what we found:

-Rachel

Cogswell Insiders: episode 2

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

This week’s featured Cogswell Insider is Jessica Bower!

Q: What is your major/program and student status (frosh, soph, jun, sen)?

A: My major is DAA (Digital Art and Animation) and I’m specializing in 3D Modeling. I am a junior.

Q: What student activities are you involved in?

A: I am involved with Game Development Club, Women of Cogswell Club, and All-Student Board. In those clubs I am currently VP of Game Club, VP of Women’s Club, and I’m an Executive Board Member on ASB.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit more about the Women of Cogswell Club?  I’ve seen some of the Bake Sales as fundraising, those definitely hearken to the domesticity of the female stereotype, is this all in jest?  Are there any men involved in the club, by chance?

A: We are a group designed to get the women (and men) of our school together to talk about issues and host events. The posters we have up are definitely in good fun. We’re just poking fun at the typical female stereotype and it also draws attention to the club. And yes, there are quite a few men involved in the club. It’s about 50/50 when it comes to the male/female ratio.

Q: What was your impression of Cogswell (classes/student body) when you started?  Has it changed?

A: When I first started Cogswell, I was dazzled and I still am. This school has so much to offer in the field I want to pursue, which is making video games, and my old college did not have these courses. I figured the campus, class and student wise, would be similar to my old college, but now that I’ve been here for a year, that view has definitely changed. You never know what to expect here. The people here are a unique bunch of folks.

Q: As a student myself, I completely get the unique quality of the student body.  What are some of the crazy quirks you’ve seen?  Any crazy stories?

A: It’s difficult to just point out any specific crazy quirk, and there are a lot in my opinion. However, story-wise there are plenty, but one does come to mind. It was finals week and Samantha and I needed to work on finals at school. She got the idea to build a couch fort in ASB office. We brought blankets and pillows, pushed the couch and chair in ASB together, built the fort, and slept in it till the next day.

Q: What do you look forward to most in the school year? Projects? Events?

A: I look forward to learning new things and building onto my current knowledge. Going to student events is the highlight of the semester when midterm and final projects start to rear their heads and most of your time is dedicated to working on them.

Q: What have been the most memorable events for you?

A: The most rememberable events for me would be the first student housing event I ever went to when we all went to a beach in Santa Cruz and I got buried vertically and lost my glasses in the ocean (they were found). The second most memorable would be the Global Game Jam that happened at our school in Spring 2010.

Q: Have you met anyone interesting/networked with people you see yourself working with in the future?

A: I have in fact! When the Global Game Jam was here [at Cogswell] in spring of 2010, I got the pleasure of working with four people in the industry. I’m horrible with names, but one I clearly remember was Rob Jagnow, Founder of Lazy 8 Studios and the sole programmer for their indie game “Cogs”. Everyone on my team was so amazing. I knew nothing about game making, but they helped teach me and we created a fun game to play! I feel that I can definitely see myself working with them when I improve my skills and the chance arises.

Q: If so, how have your career plans changed since studying?  Are they still on track with what you wanted when you started?

A: I originally wanted to be a concept artist, but I learned that the industry has many people wanting to get into that particular profession and my drawing skills, in my opinion, are not up to par with industry standards. So, I changed to 3D modeling, because as long as I’m creating something I am happy.

Thanks to Jessica for taking part in the Cogswell student series!  Be sure to check back to read another take on Cogswell Student Life.