Posts Tagged ‘students’

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 Kicks Off 2nd Annual After School Program with San Jose’s Independence High School

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

COGSWELL COLLEGE KICKS OFF 2ND ANNUAL “AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM” FOR FALL 2014 IN CONJUNCTION WITH SAN JOSE’S INDEPENDENCE HIGH SCHOOL

Sunnyvale, CA, November 10, 2014 – Cogswell College, a leading educational institution offering a unique, project-based curriculum fusing Digital Art, Engineering and Entrepreneurship, has just commenced its 2nd Annual “After School” program with 48 students currently enrolled.

Cogswell College designed this program in conjunction Mr. Jack Aiello a senior instructor with San Jose’s Independence High School. The After School program represents a shared endeavor between Cogswell College and Independence High School, and is made possible for the high school through a five year grant from Goodwill to Independence High and Cogswell’s support of providing free instructions and usage of their studios and equipment.

The Cogswell After School program will run for eight weeks, and offers courses in the areas of Digital Audio, Digital Animation and Game Design. This unique program engages students in a project-based learning environment led by Cogswell faculty, and features classes modeled on a redesigned Cogswell curriculum – one that is specifically suited to meet the needs of high school students.

Abraham Chacko, Cogswell’s VP of Admissions & Marketing, and facilitator for the After School program, said, “The teenagers who attend Independence High School are from the Silicon Valley, so when they realize that we are offering custom designed classes to them in digital animation, game design and digital audio, their ears really perk up! They know that future jobs within companies like Disney and Pixar might be within reach, if they have the knowledge and exposure to these digital art forms early in life.”

“We are delighted to be in the second year of this program. Last year, the response to this wonderful program was terrific. We had 50 students participate in 2013,” Grettel Castro-Stanley, Independent High School’s Principal said. “Those students reported back to us that they learned a lot, were inspired and encouraged, and had a great deal of fun in the process.”

Independence High School’s Jack Aiello is a “Project Lead The Way” – trained instructor who teaches Introduction to Engineering Design at Independence High. He is also a coordinator of that school’s pre-engineering program, Space Technology Engineering Academy Magnet (STEAM). He serves as the faculty facilitator for the Cogswell After School program in tandem with Chacko.

“Running an after school class with 20 students at Cogswell, working in a project-based environment, is far more advantageous than the more traditional teaching model that involves lectures or video presentations at the front of a classroom of 35 or more students,” says Aiello. “The hands-on computer and audio equipment, programming tools and industry-experienced instructors that Cogswell offers us are a tremendously valuable resource. The partnership with Cogswell allows our students an exciting peek into the ‘behind-the-scenes’ world of the digital creative arts, and gives them a leg up into the super competitive, post graduate world of securing creative jobs in the digital space.”

ABOUT INDEPENDENCE HIGH SCHOOL:

Located in San Jose, CA, Independence High School is one of the largest high schools in Northern California. With a student body of approximately 3200 for the 2014-2015 year, Independence is also part of the East Side Union High School District. The high school is one of about 400 State of California school participants in the California Partnership Academies (CPA) program. The program stresses rigorous academics and career technical education, with a career focus. Schools involved with the CPA program boast the highest graduation rates (95%) in the state, attributing this to their focus on pre-engineering and technical education programs and smaller learning communities.

For more information on Independence High School, please see: http://www.ihs.schoolloop.com/

ABOUT COGSWELL COLLEGE:

Designed as a “fiercely collaborative, living laboratory,” Cogswell College is located in the heart of the legendary Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale, California. The school is a WASC accredited, four-year institution of higher education with a specialized curriculum that fuses digital arts, audio technology, game design, engineering and entrepreneurship.

Numerous alumni of Cogswell College have secured prominent positions within the entertainment, videogame, technology, computer, animation, and motion graphics industries throughout California and beyond. Several of these alumni have established careers with such high profile companies as Activision, DreamWorks Animation, Disney, Electronic Arts, Pixar, and Microsoft Game Studio. Many other alumni have launched their own creative ventures.

Recent Cogswell alumni were members of the Academy Award-winning production teams which worked on the blockbuster films “Frozen” and “Life of Pi.” Some of the other well-known consumer projects to which Cogswell alumni have contributed include the feature films “The Boxtrolls” and “The Avengers,” and the popular videogames “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” “Halo 4” and “Battlefield Hardline.”

Additionally, animated short films conceived and produced by Cogswell students have gone on to win prestigious awards, including those presented by the California International Animation Festival, the Colorado Film Festival, the Oregon Film Festival, the Miami Film Festival, the Philadelphia Film & Animation Festival, the San Jose Short Film Festival, and Canada’s International Film Festival.

Cogswell College is located at 1175 Bordeaux Drive, Sunnyvale, California, 94089. For more information, please call 1-800-264-7955 or visit: http://www.cogswell.edu/

Contact for Cogswell College:
Rachael Sass
Creative Services Manager
Sunnyvale, CA
408/498-5150
rsass@cogswell.edu

Media Contact for Cogswell College:
Dan Harary
The Asbury PR Agency
Beverly Hills, CA
310/859-1831
dan@asburypr.com

Industrial Strength Graduates and Commercially Viable Apps

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Industrial Strength Graduates and Commercially Viable Apps

by John Duhring, Education Technology Specialist, Cogswell Polytechnical College

Introduction

To prepare students to enter today’s ecosystems, academic institutions are challenged to create environments in which students can learn not only what skills they need to acquire but also how to work as part of an ensemble of other talented individuals with the goal of producing something extraordinary. Learning as a group requires practice and the best practice is through the experience of making products together.  It is the assertion of the group described here that in addition to embracing what is called “collaborative learning,” colleges can graduate students who are ready to contribute to startup teams the moment they leave college with their experience enabling them to function at a high level.  In many cases, the curriculum for educating students for professions within startups and high–tech ventures draws heavily on the practice of publishing and the Cogswell approach we describe provides one approach.  While it is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss the learning objectives and assessments in place, the course described brings the process of publishing into a classroom experience in which the participating students earn credits towards their WASC accredited bachelor degrees.

For our purpose of examining how publishing processes can be experienced within an academic institution, we first extract the practice of publishing from the myths surrounding the publishing business.  The world of traditional publishing is filled with powerful narratives.  For instance, a publishing company is often called a “house.”  In it, a mythical editor diligently molds an author’s work into a “best–seller” while un–seen production planners and managers bring physical products to market.  Early electronic publishing ventures molded themselves on this model, particularly in the realm of gaming and animated films.  Hidden from view are the specialists and professionals who bring their talents to bear on each work.  It has been well understood: the only way to learn publishing is to work in publishing and that learning takes place over years of apprenticeship and mentoring.  Typically, students from colleges with liberal arts backgrounds are encouraged to give publishing a try.  They migrate to production or marketing, and they discover the roles of myriad specialties: cover design, publicity copywriting, developmental editing, ancillary rights management and royalty distribution.  Here’s a somewhat typical example.

With the current rise of mobile apps as a driving force in electronic publishing, the “house” model is migrating to a “studio” model in which the author team crafts its own works and sells directly to its own audience.  Double Fine Studios provides but one example. As small teams of college students embrace publishing, otherwise hidden facets of what makes the traditional publishing world work can be adapted into production pipelines tailored for each project.  The craft of turning inspiration into product is being embraced by organizations with no background in traditional publishing.  Innovative teams, often operating within larger organizations, look to hire professionals who understand their skillset, their place in production pipelines and the adaptability required to bring products to market.

Skills and Passion

Professor Thomas Applegate of Cogswell College in Sunnyvale, California organized a studio course within a college that is dedicated to bringing engineers and artists together in projects that reflect industry practice. “The students are learning another form of storytelling, from the inside.  They see what it takes to bring the story to life using modern tools to engage today’s audiences,” says Applegate.  The studio’s first work is about a seven year-old boy named Sebastian, his adventures and his personal transformation.  His experiences are delivered as a seven minute animated film bundled with an interactive book as an app for the iPad:   “Each of us is a Sebastian.  This project celebrates what it means to see the world through the eyes of a kid.  It’s for children of all ages and calls forward memories we sometimes salt away without much reflection.  The students are putting their skills to work as part of a collaboration, which means they themselves are in the process of transformation into professional roles even as they reflect on the story as it aligns with their own experiences.”

Drawing on his experience designing games for Sega, DreamWorks and others, along with his 16 years teaching at Cogswell, Applegate brought an original story to Cogswell and recruited students to join the team.  His example illustrates the academic and professional benefits surfaced through collaborative learning when the goal is to instill professional practices while developing a unique curriculum for students.  Participating students earn credit for the course and gain a rich portfolio to take with them into their professional careers.  Mirroring industry methods, the outcome of this project will be distributed through Apple’s App Store.  Such globally available publication vehicles enable Applegate to acknowledge the contributions of the participating students, much like the practice in publishing where a professor thanks those who helped in the production of his manuscript.

Video 1. Developing an inter–disciplinary project involves rethinking how traditional courses are taught.

The mix of skills students bring to the team are enhanced by the roles they take on during the project.  At one stage of production, physical sculpts are produced as reference models, storyboards rendered to document the arc of the narrative and color studies painted to orient the team.  At the same time, engineers build frameworks that will animate page turns, light scenes and bring sounds into the user experience. Since a seven minute animated film is rendered at 24 frames per second, literally thousands of versions of the film are produced as each character is rigged and their moves polished.  Students I’ve interviewed say the major value working on such an inter–disciplinary project comes from what they experience as part of a team.

Video 2. Students gravitate to the challenge of collaborating with talented peers.

Applegate interviews students who show potential as team members.  All Cogswell students are used to critique and presenting their work for class projects, but in order to function as part of his team, the personalities he finds must be complimentary to what is already in the collaboration. He looks for not only a deep–rooted skillset but also the ability to solve problems through critical thinking and to adapt as needs change.  He says, “At the front end, students are attracted to working on a project that is as sophisticated as what they aspire to work on in the industry.  While that is attractive to them, what holds their commitment to the project is what they bring to each other as a team.  Team members shift jobs as the work changes.  Team leaders become novice helpers and vice versa.  It’s a fiercely collaborative environment.”

Measurable Performance

Cogswell College has no varsity sports teams but project teams take on many of the characteristics of athletics with regards to teamwork, performance, roles and capacity.  Individuals in project teams such as described here are graded much like those within an athletic department at a major college.  Participation is not only essential it becomes the quality indicator.  People show up when they feel indispensable.  They challenge themselves to make the team work effectively and within that structure the creativity contributed by team members exceeds expectations.  Something transformational occurs as individual step beyond their own limitations and take on greater responsibility or embrace new challenges.  Cogswell’s faculty serves as “coaches” in this paradigm.  They establish norms and alignment with project goals and cheer on their team members to consider their opportunity to learn and develop their skills and value to the team.

As a WASC–accredited institution, Cogswell measures Learning Outcomes at a course, program and institutional level.  Proficiency in written and oral communications is required as part of every graduate’s performance.  Rubrics are structured to indicate whether a given student meets, exceeds, or goes above and beyond expectations in a variety of measures.  The rich communications fabric that develops between team members within projects provides ample opportunity to observe and measure proficiency and progress.

In the project we are examining here, which awards 3 credit units per term, Applegate requires a self–assessment from each student at the beginning and end of each semester.  The start point serves as a base–line and the end–point provides critical self–reflection on what has been accomplished in the period.  For each student to articulate their role and how it interacts with others forms one level of awareness.  To go beyond this to include how the pipeline or a production process adjusted based on participation moves the needle in a way that reflects professional practice and helps identify which students have the potential to take on greater mentoring or team leadership responsibilities.

As part of the project course, each student is required to write a paper that describes something they learned during the term.  This can be simply a description of some component of their skillset that they enhanced during the period or an observation about working with the team. When evaluating his students, Applegate also asks them to be teachers and to describe how they have helped their teammates to learn from their example or guidance.  He believes in shifting roles from student to teacher, and vice versa.  He says, “If the students have the opportunity to try teaching they get a completely different perspective.”

Better Together

Observing the course in action often takes the casual observer by surprise.   “This is what education should look like,” said one recent visitor, a corporate lawyer. The production goal is to evoke a single emotion around each scene in the animated film while at the same time to faithfully simulate that telling through the form of an interactive book.  For both the film and book sub–projects the work is broken out into animations and assets.  The storytelling takes on unseen sophistication by using the iPad to view the film and to interact with the book.  For instance, the sound track for the film is linear but for the book, sounds respond to user behaviors.  Likewise, animations throughout the book invite interaction.  For instance, users can pause in their reading of a nighttime scene in Sebastian’s back yard and trace stars in the sky to make up their own constellations.

Roughly speaking, the film animations focus on what is known as “character development.”  Each character in the work is examined at a level of detail that goes far beyond what is revealed in the story itself.  For instance, the only hint that Sebastian’s mother plays a major role in his life is revealed when a user discovers his sketchpad in the interactive app and flips through pages to see what he has written about her there. Technically, the images of the characters are sketched in a variety of situations and story–boarded before being constructed digitally.  This construction involves a complex structural design, or “rigging,” that creates a personality to the movements of the character.  The expressions, skin, hair and clothing are stretched and textured onto these structures and fine–tuned to the artistic demands of the project.

Alongside the characters, the props and objects that populate both the book and film require a team dedicated to their production.  Natsumi Nishi is a texture artist on the assets team.  She describes her job as not only designing everyday objects, like a clock that sits on a mantle, but as guiding and mentoring other students who like her have never been challenged to take on such a role that they might choose to pursue in their professional career.

Video 3. Roles in a digital production pipeline involve mentoring and learning new techniques.

From a management perspective, there is a weekly “all hands” meeting, in which the four major sub–teams come together to update their progress and describe their challenges.  These group meetings provide a level of problem solving that rarely happens in traditional academic settings.  The interplay between the sub–groups enables parallel production pipelines to result in orchestrated results and at the same time serves to keep everyone focused and on track.  The discussions lead to what ultimately appears on the upcoming schedule of jobs to be done.  They also serve to establish a common language about the project, for the entire team to gain a new perspective and appreciation for what they are accomplishing.

In addition, the sub–groups formally review their progress on a daily basis.  These “tracking meetings” provide a forum for timely suggestions and advice.  “There really is no place to hide,” says Applegate.  “It’s easy for students to micro vision the problem without seeing the big picture.”  Since the story is about childhood, stories from the students’ own narratives inevitably find their way into the work. In order for the work to be a good story, well told, the students are challenged to reset their perspectives regularly.

Present throughout the process is Applegate, who works with team leaders one–on–one to mentor and model the dynamics of team leadership.  He says, “Students will do what you say in many cases, but they will always do what you model. That’s what they pick up.”  He has created a laboratory that illustrates how teamwork, mentoring and ventures work together.

A Look Forward

As of this writing, the commercial possibilities for the story of Sebastian mirror the dynamics within this self-publishing venture.  No longer do the means to an audience reside exclusively in the promotional machinery of major publishing partners.  In very real terms, participation in a creative endeavor as described here involves communities that come together around what is produced.  The work will be made available through Apple’s ecosystem, but how the creators are able to engage with users directly is still to be seen.  As an academic exercise, the learning stands by itself, yet the meaningfulness of the work expands as audiences respond to the artifacts that are published and that story is yet to be told.

The learning outcomes of the approach described here might provide the strongest measure of their effect.  While we have described skill–building and team–oriented learning that comes into play, the profession–readiness aspects also deserve mention.  In the past year, two hires evolved from similar projects at Cogswell, one to Google and one to Industrial Light and Magic (Lucasfilm).  These Cogswell recent alumni now sit alongside the best and brightest in the world, working on projects with the potential to change lives.  Last year, another recent alum, Chris Evart, received an Academy Award in recognition for his contributions to the Disney film, Frozen.

Whether students matriculate into a studio, an enterprise, or a startup, preparing them to serve vital roles, contributing to the success of any venture, point to the skills and behaviors that they develop as a consequence of their involvement with their peers in producing commercial–grade media.  Typically, students graduating with a bachelor’s degree even from top–rated institutions rarely have the experience of managing multiple groups of people over extended periods of time, or over multiple projects.  Their ability to commit fully to a project or opportunity has been cited as a key reason for their hiring after all other factors have been taken into consideration.  Further studies into the educational value of “head–to–hand” and project–based learning would be well–served to adopt publishing frameworks for their model.


John Duhring (@duhring) is an Education Technology Specialist at Cogswell Polytechnical College.

Cogswell Student’s Artwork Featured On Kotaku!

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
Matt Bard

Dungeonesque Walls

One of our students, Matt “Bardler” Bard, had his polycount rock formation featured on Kotaku as, “A rather magnificent-looking, somewhat dungeonesque wall from Bardler”

Clicker here for the article!

Awesome job, Matt!

Robert Moog’s Birthday

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Google Doodle - Moog

Hello Everyone!

You may not have known but yesterday was Mr. Robert Moog’s birthday. If you don’t know who Robert Moog is and you are into the creation of music in any way, it’s about time you found out. Mr. Moog was the creator of the most famous analog synthesizer, The Moog Synthesizer. He created it in the mid 1960′s and inspired not just musical artists but nearly an entire genre of music. His accomplishments with how this little machine sounded and the range of nearly limitless possibilities is what made this instrument timeless. This creation gave way to the creation and experimentation of many more different synthesizers in the way of both hardware and software. Many of our students here at Cogswell, including myself, are all very thankful for the huge step that Mr. Moog took.

All of that aside, if you happen to use “The Google” yesterday, you would have seen their front page doodle of a fully functioning Moog Doodle that is mapped into a 4-track tape recorder. Not only is it extremely impressive but its also super fun…AND you can record a little tune and link someone to it!

So Mr. Moog, we salute you and thank you for your truly amazing work!

Link to Analog Moog Synthesizer: http://www.google.com/doodles/robert-moogs-78th-birthday

-Zombie

Genre Electronica at the Maker Faire

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Genre Electronica at the Maker Faire

I just wanted to throw this out to remind anyone that has forgotten or to let anyone know that hasn’t heard yet. The Maker Faire is in San Mateo this weekend, May 19th and 20th! The Maker Faire is a two-day, family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement. Cogswell’s very own Genre Electronica will have a spot at the faire and will be creating Electronic Dance Music with the sounds that they record at the faire (soooo cool). So, if you have time this weekend, grab a ticket and head out to pay our Cogswell students and all the other Makers a visit. I can promise that it will be worth your time! Have fun!

-Zombie

Halo 4 Music

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Hey Everyone!

I was browsing some digital audio articles today and came across a behind the scenes video for the music of Halo 4. In it they talk about how melding the digital and analog sounds and how creating something different really takes a fresh look at the scene. This is very much what the audio students here at Cogswell do, I have seen them work on projects like Worlds Apart and Genre Electronica and it really reflects what the professionals are trying to hard to do: Create Something New but still familiar. In addition to that, there is the eternal struggle of keeping both sides of a project just as high quality as the other, without a compelling soundtrack, a really pretty visual can fall flat. Anyway, I really enjoyed the video and I thought you guys might like it as well. Hope it inspires you to go out and make more amazing music and sound.

Animation is here!!!

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Animation from students
As promised, I have some final animation from the students! I am going to post a few here on the blog and if you like them, let me know, I’ll put up more if they let me! I love these guys and think they are going to go a long way! Keep on working hard and always learning Jimmy, Taylor and Robert!

Summer Time!!!

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Spring Semester ends!

To all you students who have worked your tails off through this last semester and boosted your skills like crazy… it is finally time… for you to rest! The semester has come to an end and you can now enjoy your summer break!

Also, an even larger congratulations to you recent grads! Not only are you done with school for the summer, you are done FOREVER! (unless you are going to get your masters, haha). We are proud of you and you will definitely be missed! Don’t forget to come back and visit us when you become famous animators, sound designers and game developers!

So again, to everyone, take some time, kick back, enjoy the amazing summer weather and have some fun! Talk to you soon!

-Zombie

Animation COMING!!!

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Final Student Animation Projects

Hey Everyone!

Just thought I would let you know that since this semester is coming to an end I have been talking to a few of the animators here. I asked them if I could feature their final projects on the Cogswell’s YouTube Channel and they said “no way”….. jk, they totally said yes! So I will have three amazing animation vids for you soon! Check back later this week!

Thanks Taylor, Jimmy and Robert!

-Zombie