Posts Tagged ‘Digital Art and Animation’

Digital Art is Real Art – Really!

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

There’s an old adage that most people can’t define art, but they know it when they see it. The definition of art was debated long before the digital age. From Greek philosophers to the United States Supreme Court, wise people have tried to define what art is, the process by which it is created, and its meaning to society.

Defined in simple terms by Merriam-Webster, art is “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.”

As the process of creating digital art evolves and becomes more commonplace, we see debates in internet forums and hear conversations in museums and coffee shops about whether art created digitally can really be considered art.

Open for interpretation

Many would argue that art cannot be defined. In fact, the legal system has declined to “define” art and has instead left it open to interpretation. It allows for societal norms and does not put limitations on the evolving process by which it is created.

For the most part, fine art has been defined as something created primarily for beauty rather than utility and placed into categories such as painting, sculpture, poetry and music.

What is digital art?

Digital art is any form that utilizes digital technology during production. Fairly broad in definition, we know, but there are as many forms of digital art as traditional art. For the most part, though, a digital artist sits in front of a computer monitor to create, rather than a blank canvas or hunk of unformed clay.

Sometimes the image created is done from scratch; other times the artist is manipulating an existing image into something different and unique. Like other forms, digital art can take on many forms, from illustration to multimedia to interactive.

Commonalities exist between digital and traditional art. As in traditional art, there are very few successful, self-taught artists. The best digital artists study traditional techniques in order to become better artists. There is skill involved. Like a painter, a digital artist has tools available to help him create. But those tools do not create; the artist does! And like a painter, the digital artist must be well-versed in light, color, texture, saturation, and depth. Perhaps most importantly, each artist has to possess a desire to create and express through the medium.

Does digital art meet the definition of art?

Of course it does. At its base, art is merely a form of communication. The artist, through creativity, is attempting to express an idea or evoke an emotion. The same is most certainly true for a digital artist.

Like any other form of art, digital is merely the newest evolution of art. The potential of digital will grow as technology progresses and will be limited only by the artist’s imagination.

Cogswell College’s Bachelor Degree in Digital Art & Animation is designed to prepare students for exciting careers throughout the entertainment, media and art industries. Through extensive coursework, students gain hands-on experience using the latest tools and applications for 3D graphics and animation.

Psychology and Video Games, part deux

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Hey everyone, time to get back to our talk about psychology in video games.

Let’s dive right back into our previous discussion about conditioned and unconditioned responses. Just a quick reminder so we don’t need to back track: conditioned responses are like tutorials, reoccurring quick time events, things you find out on your own through trial and error, etc. Now we get to delve into unconditioned responses, which deal with a players natural response to stimuli… and hopefully we can get to fight or flight before the third part of this incredibly long blog post!

Unconditioned responses: not touching a hot stove after having found out that hot=pain, knowing that a headache is not good, being parched after a good workout. We train ourselves unknowingly to follow these responses day in and day out to make our lives easier and safer. Games use this natural human trait and expand on it within their world by giving you experiences that you the player may like or dislike but give you one crucial fact to these experiences: they won’t let you progress. Well, that’s not entirely true since secret bosses can be ignored throughout a whole game. Okay, let’s just say that games use unconditioned responses as a tool to make a game more vast and explorative in more than just ways that hinder ones progress… but for now we will stick to progress hindering. To present the way it works, take an imaginary game where you are the main character and you have to save the world from bad guys. These bad guys have attacks that will hurt you and you can attack them back. As an added bonus, the game gives you areas that you can hide while they attack, so you can wait for the perfect time to strike. At this point you have a few choices but two main choices. Do you charge in, guns a blazing? Or do you take the safe route and wait patiently for your time to strike?  Both can get you further in the game, but what if one of those choices almost always ended you up in failure? Say the charging tactic would get you killed instantly because your enemies can kill you the closer you are to them. You’d try and try to kill these enemies over and over and always come up short. Sure, you might get lucky sometime but that’s probably not going to happen with how this area is designed. Frustrated, you stop and think about what you can do to avoid failing over and over again. You remember that there were areas where the enemies couldn’t attack you and take advantage of them next time. Suddenly, the enemies forget you are there and nod off for a bit which gives you the opportunity to attack them for a short time and finally win, leaving you happy and satisfied. The game developers gave you two ways to handle a task where both could get the job done, but one made it easier than the other. One way made you furious, and the other made you happy.  Although my reasoning is a bit broad here, the unconditioned response was your feelings towards each different style of playing. When you got killed doing something one way, you got furious which is how any human reacts when they can’t progress, but when you did progress, you were satisfied and glad. It is the natural way we would react to something when stimuli is presented to us such as being hungry when we smell food, or being thirsty when it’s too hot. I’m really banking on the universal thought that people like to progress in life and only touching on the mechanic of progression inside video games today so don’t think that this is the only way that game developers use unconditioned responses in video games today. Anyways I think I’ve given a good idea on both conditioned and unconditioned responses. Time to move onto the fight or flight reflex in gaming!

Let’s keep this part short and sweet. Fight or flight is the reaction that we get when presented with a situation that requires an almost immediate response. You can’t have some in-between answer for this problem; it can be only one or the other and has to be made right then and there. Early video games really banked on fight or flight since it always kept the player engaged and gave opportunity for replay value. A perfect example of this reflex in the past is the game Rally X where you are in control of a car that is speeding within a confined space with three or more racers trying to crash into your car. Your goal is to capture flags so you can advance to the next level while avoiding the enemy cars with a burnout mechanic equipped on the car that can disable any car caught in it’s smokescreen. That burnout mechanic is what really made that games fight or flight input shine since the paths you could take were designed to have the enemy cars corner you and destroy your car, but was expansive enough so you could use that burnout or your own skill to get yourself out of sticky situations. The real defining factor that made it fight or flight was the games ability to give you choices that ended you up in either one place or another: I’m running into a tight space…do I avoid them using my own skill/the burnout button, or do I just accept my fate and try again? The choice in which one is better is irrelevant, because at this point you have two choices: die or survive. Many old school games use these choices to make a much more exciting experience and let the player progress the way they would like.  These days fight or flight is used, but sometimes in more confined experiences. Quick time events are perfect examples of this since some are optional, and some are required in order for you to progress. Not to say that mandatory fight or flight choices are bad, but a little variety never hurt anyone, right?

I’m really glad I got through all that in under 1,000 words… oh darn I’m already over. Well, at least this touched on one complete topic. All we have got left is subliminal messaging and relatable video games. Check you guys next time!

-Davain

Cogswell student hones in on psychology and games.

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Here is a guest blog from a Cogswell Digital Art and Animation student, Davain.

Hey everyone. First post of my blogging career. Kind of important isn’t it? Well I hope that I can deliver great topics to discuss and bias/unbiased views on said topics. As well as exceptional grammar since if I can’t even form a coherent sentence, what were all my 12 Language Arts classes for?

Ok, so today’s topic: psychology and games… well psychology and video games to be more exact. In this blog we will discuss the connections between psychological studies and how they are used by both publishing and developing companies in the video game industry. It’s a really big topic that I think about daily since video game development is something I want to do as a profession. It’s pretty big people. So where to begin? Let’s start off with some psychological terms that we are going to be referencing during this thing so you guys don’t get too confused: conditioned and unconditioned response, essentially training someone to do something or even not to do something; subliminal messaging, a hidden message or picture in plain sight, but is de-emphasized in order to trick the subject into thinking about whatever it is your trying to show or tell them without letting them know consciously, but subconsciously; fight or flight reflexes, either you do it, or you walk the other way…there is no in-between;  and I know this isn’t an official term, but I also want to talk about how video games use recognizable situations within their storytelling in order for the player to connect much more with the story and feel much more immersed in the game playing experience.

Let’s start off with conditioned and unconditioned reponses in video games. This is beyond overused because it’s what ALL games use in order to function at a level of enjoyment. You buy a new game, all shiny and new and you start playing. What’s always at the beginning of almost every game that is made nowadays? A tutorial or some level designed to show you the controls of the game and what rhythm you will be using them. You don’t always have to go through these tutorials, but for this blogs purposes let’s stick with the assumption that every person who plays a game goes through it. The game at this point is telling you how to play it and what commands you can give it to grant you success in its progression and if you plan on finishing any game these days, you’ll want to listen. But not all video games nowadays do the traditional tutorial level. Most tutorial levels in the past had you go through a level that wasn’t even a part of the actual storyline. It would put you in a room where you are free to try out the controls and not be punished for doing them wrong.

These days, it’s a mix of styles. Sometimes you get games that do the traditional style, and sometimes you get games that immerse you into the story and give you control commands while you play. On rare occasion, you may get no information at all and be expected to get to a certain part of the game before they tell you how to really perform the complex actions it is capable of. All are effective in telling the player how the game works in its own way, but sometimes the player gets bored or becomes uninterested because the controls are obvious to them or they have already played a previous installment and the controls are already conditioned in their heads. Some might want to skip the tutorial all together and just jump head first into the game, but can’t because the game requires you to go through a long tedious tutorial level. There are many different scenarios that come with tutorials in games, but all these different styles all are trying to do one thing: train your mind to perform the games actions with little to no effort. The developers want to train you, in a very small amount of time, how to perform actions that are new and have you execute them so you can get to the next level…or stage, world, plane of existence, etc. By having an intuitive demonstration of the games controls you will be using throughout the game, you give the player their own conditioning period where they may or may not choose to use certain methods to progress and have them feel like they can understand instructions faster than they originally thought. It’s one of the most important part of a video game and one of the main conditioning tools developers use to teach people how to play. Without it, we’d all go through trial and error for hours on end until we got it right. I don’t know about you, but I like to know how to play my games.

Phew…there’s a LOT to cover within each of these topics and I didn’t even get to touch into unconditioned responses. I’d love to continue onto fight or flight and subliminal messaging, but I think I’m hitting my limit for this blog alone. Check back next week for the continuation of this topic. Hopefully I can put this into much more concise sentences.

See ya guys.

-Davain

Welcome back from the president of the Game Development Club!

Monday, January 24th, 2011

The first week of school is always one simple thing: Crazy! No matter if you are a freshmen nervous about starting new classes and meeting people, thinking that your lack of skill will turn people away from you (which it won’t by the way! We will help you) or whether you are a junior or senior nearing the end and wondering on earth you will get a job after school, the first week of school is always the craziest and loudest usually.  I am indifferent whether or not I like the first week of school but that doesn’t really matter and as much as I love getting sleep when I want it and need it and having no homework or tests to worry about, getting back into the mayhem of school at this point in my life is something that I am just use to, it also helps that I am the President of  Cogswell’s Game Development Club here on campus and this semester along with another we got an idea for a game that we want to make and get others involved with, which is the whole point of the club really. This ironically does add to the overall stress and fatigue of the semester, but whatever call me crazy!  You kind of have to be to really dig this school, and that’s what I love about it!  This thing called normalcy is overrated here and if you are a nerd looking to be involved in crazy schemes that will make you giggle with glee at the thought of making a video game or a short film or awesome music this is the place for you.

Classes I am always a little apprehensive about cause I don’t know if I will like them or not, example is that I took lighting and layout last semester, which teaches you how to create and use lighting and effects in a 3D program to make them look realistic.  I was hopeful for the class but after it was over I really didn’t care for it, lighting just isn’t my thing but it’s fine and I learned a new skill and that will help me out in the future.  This semester I got four classes and all of them are pretty cool for the exception of math, which hates me for some reason I just can’t figure out, despite that I am looking forward to learning new things about rigging and level design along with figuring out what “x” is and how economics work.  This semester will be a big I feel cause of the project(s) I am involved with along with classes school events and parties and welcoming the new students.  Just the average life of a Cogswellian Dragon!

-Nick

Two Cogswell graduates have officially checked out.

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Two recent Cogswell graduates have officially left the Sunnyvale campus to join some other graduates in Los Angeles. To be more specific, they are joining fellow Alumni Andrew Jennings, Ryan Rogers, and Joshua Cogswell at Rhythm & Hues, an Academy Award winning visual studio that specializes in animation and visual effects. The two Spring 2010 grads are Jessica DeLacy and Chris Evart., both in the Cogswell’s Digital Art and Animation program.

Pictured (counterclockwise): Chris Evart, Andrew Jennings, Josh Cogswell, Ryan Rogers, Jessica DeLacy

Both were working on the current Project X Film and have nothing but accolades from professors. On behalf of everyone in the online Cogswell world, congratulations to you both! You have the support of the faculty, students, and staff.

Also, stay tuned tomorrow for another installment of Cogswell Insiders!

-Rachel

Cogswell hosting an Open House, December 11!

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

It’s that time again!  Cogswell College is having an Open House on December 11, from 11:00am to 3:00pm.  If you are looking to have a career in the digital arts, engineering, or entrepreneurship, come check out what Cogswell has to offer firsthand.  Admissions Representatives will be on hand to answer any questions you have and to help you out with the admissions process.  Tours will be provided for those who haven’t visited the campus before, as well as workshops about our different programs:  Digital Art and AnimationDigital Audio Technology, Digital Arts EngineeringSoftware Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation (which had its own exclusive Entrepreneurs Workshop in November in conjunction with the Entrepreneurship Launch Competition.)

Also, do you listen to Pandora?  Yes? If so, have you seen or heard us?  Here’s a screen shot provided from a Cogswell student who happened to be listening:

Keep your eyes and ears open the next time you’re listening to your custom station!

-Rachel

First installment of Cogswell Insiders

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

The first blog of the new series of Cogswell student interviews begins, today.  The first student featured is Andrew Severns.  He’s quite the mover and shaker here on campus.  I don’t think there’s anything that he isn’t somewhat involved in, either directly or indirectly.

Q: What is your major/program and student status?

A: My name is Andrew Severns and my major is DAA/DAE in Game Design with a concentration in Level Design. My current student status is Junior.

Q: What student activities are you involved in?  To what extent?

A: The student activities that I’m involved in are Andrew FEST, where I hold office of President, ASB, where I hold the office of Vice President, and Game Development Club.

I inherited Andrew FEST from the previous president, Andrew Jennings, who himself inherited it from an Andrew (or so the story goes). The purpose of Andrew FEST is to basically put on free low key events for the students with the help of ASB like BBQs and game nights with the help of Game Club. Andrew FEST has also put on themed events like Cantina Night, Lounge Night and the very popular Slumber Fort FEST. This helps to bring the Cogswell community together, gives everyone a chance to take a break from projects and have some fun.

Q: What happens if someone isn’t named Andrew and you have to pass it down?

A: Who knows, someone might be bestowed the name of “Andrew.”  It’s really still up in the air, who knows, maybe we’ll call it “Steve FEST” or “Armando FEST,” something that sounds cool.  BUT, the group/individual will still need to hold onto the ideas of Andrew FEST which is “FUN FOR ALL.”

[continuing on]

As Associated Student Body (ASB) Vice President I work with the current President Nathan Hiller in making executive decisions, help in creating, facilitating and budgeting for student activities along with the help of the ASB Executive Board for the student body. Consistent events that ASB helps to organize and run are Casino Night, which acts as a Fall semester kick-off, movie nights, where the whole student body goes to the movies, and Fusion Awards, were students submit their work to be voted on by their peers (not to worry pieces that are to be voted on don’t have names so that way it’s not a popularity contest).

As a member of Game Club we look to take what we have learned in class and apply them in creating our own games with Game Maker and the UNREAL Development Kit. We just concluded projects in Game Maker with some of the newest members for the Fall semester were they created simple side scrolling platformers. I feel everyone learned a lot in the production and creation of a video game and with the help of our faculty advisor and head of the Game Program, Albert Chen, we will continue to learn and grow.

Q: What does the Unreal kit entail, and why that specifically used?

A: It’s a free game engine editor that is one of the main engines used in the [game] industry.  A lot of game companies, from Epic Games to Ubisoft use the engine, and to know and learn that engine will make it easier to land a job.

Q: Is it because you’re familiar with the tools?

A: To a degree there are similarities (in reference to other game engines), unlike how Maya is in relation to other animation software.

Q: What was your impression of Cogswell when you started?  Has it changed?

A: During my tour of Cogswell the impression of the community I got was a place and environment that was nice, friendly and hardworking. It didn’t feel like a bunch of closed individuals but an inviting community.  The current ASB President at the time, Andrew Jennings, was very happy that I was considering Cogswell and helped to affirm those impressions after talking with him. After starting at Cogswell I could ask anyone for help with school work or to just hang out with. Over the course of my stay here at Cogswell I feel these traits have not changed and as a student and representative of the Associated Student Body I have tried to maintain these.

Q: You’re also an RA in student housing, how has that been with the transition from?

I enjoy being an RA and enjoy helping with the transition to home life to college life.  Being involved in so many activities, I find it easier to get them involved with the college and I think helps with transition into the Cogswell Community.

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

What I look forward to the most in the school year is having fun with my friends, working on projects with them in Game Club and helping to create and run events for them like Andrew FEST and Casino Night. The students really make this school and without them it would not be as enjoyable.

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

I have been really fortunate to meet a lot of neat people at Cogswell and would love to work with them in the future. I honestly could see myself working with anyone of them.

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

When I first started Cogswell I wanted to be an overall game designer but after several semesters here I have found that I really enjoy level design, creating the space in which the players will play in while still working closely with the game designer. I started out as DAA [Digital Art and Animation] but to be an effect level designer I need to know scripting languages so now my degree is split between DAA and DAE [Digital Arts and Engineering].

Thanks to Andrew for taking part in the blog!  If you’re interested in becoming a student here at Cogswell and starting your career in Game Design, please contact the Admissions Office to find out more.

Ready for Fusion?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Although it is taking place next semester, now is the time for Cogswellians to prepare for the annual student-produced FUSION AWARDS!  This isn’t just any award show.  This is a chance for students to put their work up against that of their peers, and gauge their skills.  Categories span from traditional art in 2D and sculpture to student produced PC games and audio production and composition.  The contest of sorts is open to all levels of undergraduates, so freshman should be prepared to bring out their best and compare with the upperclassmen.  Although, with fellow student voting, as well as faculty, sometimes the junior or senior doesn’t always win.  With that said, I would like to emphasize that everyone has a chance and getting a coveted dragon egg to display upon their mantle.

The event is sponsored by Cogswell’s Associated Student Body (ASB), and is organized by a student committee comprised of members of the ASB’s Executive Board.  This special committee collects work, sets up the voting system, counts votes, and promotes and produces the award ceremony.

Important dates to keep in mind:

-2011 Fusion Awards submission period begins January 28, 2011

-Voting takes place February 7-11, 2011

-2011 Fusion Awards Ceremony takes place on February 25, 2011

Since submissions begin shortly after the return from winter break, Cogswell students are urged to start thinking about what they will be submitting now so they have the break to finesse their entries.  This is one of the biggest events of the year!  It will definitely be a treat to see what all of these creative minds have been working on.

The insiders tell all… a mini-series of blogs

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Cogswell students are an exceptional bunch.  Each one coming from a unique background and collecting at this institution of art, engineering, and innovation.  I have chosen to give these movers and shakers a voice in the online Cogswell community, because I believe they can give you an insight into Cogswell Polytechnical College that no admissions representative, faculty member, or staff member is capable of telling.

Cogswell students are passionate, and I hope that this will come across in the interviews soon to follow.  Each week, one member of the Cogswell student body will be showcased in a Q&A session hosted by me.  Hard hitting questions will be the main event, as I explore and reveal the many psyches that make up the eclectic student body.  Each interview is going to allow readers into the student scene of Cogswell, giving a different perspective and spin on the Cogswell experience for those curious about the student culture here at Cogswell Polytechnical College.

The blog series is comprised of students from all programs: Digital Art and Animation, Digital Arts Engineering, Digital Audio Technology, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Computer Engineering, and Software Engineering.  For whatever your interest, check back weekly to see if the student exposé matches what degree you may be interested in!

Guests from Massive Black and EA to speak tomorrow

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Tomorrow night, Cogswell is hosting a special event.  We are pleased to have two representatives from the companies Massive Black and Electronic Arts come out and talk about their experiences in the gaming and animation industries. This should be a very informative lecture, as most of Cogswell’s student body has the goal of getting into these industries, and there is a huge amount of interest in learning about what to expect in their future career.  Not only is it beneficial to get an intro of what to expect straight from those who are experiencing it, but it is also prime time to make connections you can utilize.  I heard there will be pizza, so no need to worry about food during the dinner hour.

In other news, the ASB (Associated Student Body) is hosting another Cogswell movie night this Friday.  This week’s offerings?  The newest Harry Potter movie!  As a fan of the series, I’m incredibly excited for this movie night!  I urge students to please sign up ASAP, because spots are limited.  ASB hosts various events throughout the semester and the movie nights are definitely one of the most popular. Depending on the movie, even faculty will get in on the action and join the massive Cogswell mob that inhabits the entrance of various movie theaters.  Unfortunately, we are not seeing the midnight showing, but maybe that’s best for the sake of any Friday morning classes.

-Rachel