computer screen showing students working via Skype

Animation/Illustration Collaborates with Texas A&M

computer screen showing students working via Skype

Graduate students at Texas A&M connect with SJSU students with Skype (Alice Carter photo).

By Alice Carter, Animation/Illustration Area Coordinator

This fall, the SJSU Animation/Illustration program started an important collaboration with Texas A&M. Lead jointly by SJSU Assistant Professor Raquel Coelho and Texas A&M Associate Professor and Department Head Tim McLaughlin, a team of seven students are working together to create fully rigged 3-D characters. The characters were designed and modeled by SJSU students and are being rigged by a group of graduate students from Texas A&M with input and feedback from the SJSU animators. Classes are taught virtually using Skype, while blogs and Google Docs are used to keep information flowing between all involved. The group makes use of widely available software to connect creative minds with the goal of generating memorable characters for use by animation students at both universities. Professor Coelho notes that this project “is a way to explore a new model of a virtual classroom, which we hope will benefit students across both campuses.”

red, black and white picture of forest

Animation/Illustration Grads Win Jobs With Gaming Industry Giants

An animated illustration of a forest of trees covered with snow.

Environment model work created by Craig Kitzmann, Animation/Illustration '11, using Maya, Photoshop, Zbrush, Mudbox and Mental Ray (photo courtesy of Craig Kitzman).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Ever harvest fruit from a tree in Farmville or run mafia missions in iMobsters? Then it’s possible you’ve played with images designed by graduate from SJSU’s Animation/Illustration program.

According to Professor Courtney Granner, the department has placed more students into the video game business in the last 15 years than any other public institution in the country.

“Our students tend to be the ones inventing and creating the new visuals for the game play and games or the new visuals you might see in a feature-length film,” Granner said.

Alums in the Field

Craig Kitzmann, Animation/Illustration ’11, models and textures assets for mobile games at Storm 8, a leader in role playing games for the iPhone, iPad Touch and Android devices.

“You need to be able to draw, concept, paint, animate, storyboard, light and communicate your ideas any way possible,” Kitzmann said. “If all you can do is model, then that puts you at an extreme disadvantage.”

Tony Nguyen, Animation/Illustration ’11, works on the Frontierville game as a concept artist for Zynga, the social game developer located in San Francisco. He is one of about 20 SJSU Animation/Illustration alumni who hold positions there.

“SJSU trained us to take the initiative toward things,” Nguyen said. “They taught us how to really mold ourselves within the work environment.”

Animation/Illustration’s long-standing relationship with Zynga and major studios like Pixar and Nickelodeon make SJSU competitive with private schools with much higher tuition, according to Granner.

Workforce Training

The Animation/Illustration program provides workforce training and professionalism in the classroom through workshops, guest speakers, and its innovative distance learning program, now in its 16th year.

“It’s an opportunity where we have professionals review, critique and present work, live one-on-one, through distance learning in the Instructional Resource Center,” Granner said.

Last year’s special guests included Industrial Light & Magic and Nickelodeon.

Another way students receive workforce training is through “DreamCrits,” a bi-monthly critique program hosted at Dreamworks in Redwood City.

“The program pulls students from several CSU campuses to articulate their ideas, present their work, and have close interactions with professionals in the industry,” Granner said.

It’s the support from the faculty, the offerings of the curriculum and the professional speakers that make SJSU’s Animation/Illustration program rise above so many others across the country.

“We just are surprised at how well prepared our students are,” Granner said. “That’s why they get to go to the studios where people from all over the world are competing for jobs.”

family of personal electronic devices posing for photo in front of fireplace

Video: Animation/Illustration Club Creates Applied Materials Holiday E-Card

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

When Applied Materials set out to create a holiday e-card featuring products reflecting its core business, the Silicon Valley giant turned to San Jose State’s Animation/Illustration Shrunkenheadman Club.

“A team of young, impressive, and highly creative students … did an outstanding job of creating a family (literally) of semiconductor and LCD enabling products and made them come to life in a fun and whimsical way! Check it out!” Applied Materials wrote in a Facebook post.

“The students worked closely with Applied Materials’ corporate public relations staff from late-October thru the first week of December, doing so under very tight deadlines in addition to the rigorous demands of class assignments and other film projects,” Professor Courtney Granner said.

“Some of the composited frames took approximately 20 minutes to render, and at 59 seconds running time it means the piece contains over 1, 300 frames. The SJSU A/I Program continues to make inroads with film, gaming, and television studios while also working with local hi-tech firms represented around the globe.”

This award-winning program prepares students for intellectually and aesthetically challenging careers in print, feature and television animation, FX animation, layout, and multi-media. Recent grads work at DreamWorks Animation, Walt Disney Feature Animation and PIXAR. Founded in 1995, the Shrunkenheadman Club was named after a member’s sketch of a man with a comically small head.

“This name proved to be very appropriate in terms of describing the nature of its members. While extremely talented and competitive, the Shrunkenheadmen always remain humble … never displaying big egos, or ‘swelled heads,’” says the club’s website.

CSU Media Arts Festival Features Six SJSU Projects

Spartans Score at CSU Media Arts Festival

CSU Media Arts Festival Features Six SJSU Projects

An image from "Bye Bye bruce" by SJSU animation/illustration student Yung-Han Chang.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Drawing from the excellent work of students throughout the California State University system, the 2011 CSU Media Arts Festival awards competition screened 39 finalist projects including six from SJSU.  A total of $9,000 was awarded to 12 of the finalists Nov. 12 at CSU Fullerton’s Steven G. Mihaylo Hall.

Spartan Wins Rosebud Award

SJSU’s Christine Mahady received a Rosebud Award and $500 check for her feature screenplay “The Domestic Slut.” Other SJSU prize winners included:

Second Place – Bloom, Brian Kistler and Emily Johnstone
Third Place – Bye-Bye, bruce, Yung Han Chang

Feature Screenplay
Fifth Place – Loser, Tony Tallarico
Sixth Place – Turkey Day, Tull Jordan

Video Games
Second Place – MFA Prep Course, Marek Kapolka and John Bruneau

“The students tap into the most cutting-edge and exciting elements of media arts,” said Joanne Sharp, Media Arts Festival Director.  “The competition sharpens student skills and gives them a chance to prove themselves in front of industry professionals and their peers.”

A panel of distinguished CSU faculty and industry professionals reviewed 162 entries before selecting the 39 finalists.  The finalists represent ten CSU campuses: Channel Islands, Fullerton, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and San Marcos.  Entry categories include:  Animation, Documentary, Experimental, Interactive, Music Video, Narrative, Television, Video Games, Feature Screenplay, and Short Screenplay.

Cash prizes during the award ceremony include:  $1,000 and Rosebud Award to winner of best in show; $500 and Rosebud Award to winner in each category; $250 to the campus department of each winning category.  Place Awards are also given in each category.

Animation/Illustration Distance Learning Program Begins 16th Year

Animation/Illustration Distance Learning Program Begins 16th Year

Animation/Illustration Distance Learning Program Begins 16th Year

More than 100 students attended the session, which was broadcast over the university's Academic Technology Network video conferencing facilities (photo courtesy of Alice Carter).

By Professor and Animation Coordinator Alice Carter

On Oct. 11, the Animation/Illustration program kicked off the 16th consecutive year of its innovative Distance Learning Program with a virtual visit to LucasFilm. More than 100 students attended the session, which was broadcast over the university’s Academic Technology Network video conferencing facilities. Two San Jose State alumni, LucasFilm Production Manager Doug Nichols and Concept Designer John Paul Balmet, provided the class content. The program began with professional practice insights from Nichols, whose list of film credits The Incredibles, UP, Finding Nemo, Fantasia 2000 and Mulan. Balmet devoted the last hour to critiques of work from both junior level students and from students in the capstone A/I BFA Seminar.

Professor Courtney Granner, who coordinates the Distance Learning Program, has already scheduled five additional classes with LucasFilm as well as a class with Nickelodeon Studios in Los Angeles. “The DLP is unique in that it regularly connects students with industry professionals,” Professor Granner comments. “This opportunity not only gives our students feedback, but also gives them practice articulating their ideas over distances that are not practical to travel—a practice that is increasingly common in the industry. It takes a lot of work to put this together, but the results make it worthwhile. SJSU graduates are employed in top industry jobs, and I believe that the DLP gives them an edge on the competition while providing artistic skills that will last a lifetime.”

Bay Area Science Festival Features Green Ninja

Bay Area Science Festival Features Green Ninja

Bay Area Science Festival Features Green Ninja

The sign says, "I have plants in my backyard, and I don't watch TV!"

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

The Green Ninja, a climate action super hero created at San Jose State, made a personal appearance at the Bay Area Science Festival Nov. 6 in AT&T Park.

This inaugural event sought to engage Bay Area residents in a region-wide celebration of its scientific wonders, resources, and opportunities by exploring the role of science, engineering, and technology locally and in the world.

The Green Ninja is a climate-action superhero who fights global warming by inspiring informed personal action. A series of webisodes, written and produced by SJSU student/faculty teams, highlight the adventures of the Green Ninja as he negotiates some of the trickiest areas in climate science.

The meteorology and climate science, animation/illustration, and TV, radio, film and theatre collaborated to bring the Green Ninja to life. At the festival, he and his team met participants and staffed a table where they played a carbon game.

SJSU Students Attend the Ottawa International Animation Festival

SJSU Students Attend International Animation Festival

SJSU Students Attend the Ottawa International Animation Festival

Professor David Chai and Lecturer David Yee accompanied a group of 10 Animation/Illustration students to the 2011 Ottawa International Animation Festival (photo courtesy of Alice Carter).

By Professor and Animation Coordinator Alice Carter

Professor David Chai and Lecturer David Yee accompanied a group of 10 Animation/Illustration students to the 2011 Ottawa International Animation Festival. From September 23-25, the group viewed some of the world’s most innovative animation packed into a comprehensive festival program. The four-day schedule included more than 75 short films, two feature films, and a slate of presentations by leading professionals in the field. Animation/ Illustration student Jeannie Chang returned with an expanded world-view. “Going to Ottawa is like taking your eyes and your mind out for a walk. You get to see how artists all over the world use animation in different ways to express their ideas and creativity,” she writes. Alvyn Villanueva was similarly inspired. “The trip to Canada marked a lot of ‘firsts’ for me, first time on a plane, first time in another country, first time meeting so many people working in the same field, and all as part of a positive and broadening experience.” For Leann Hill, the experience was not entirely unfamiliar. “Going to the Ottawa Animation Festival is a lot like animating at SJSU: You stay up all night but you get to learn an incredible amount while spending your time with amazing people.”

Animation Show of Shows With Ron Diamond

Animation Show of Shows With Ron Diamond

Animation Show of Shows With Ron Diamond

The show will be at Morris Daily Auditorium Oct. 21.

Date: October 21, 2011

Time: 7-9 p.m.

Location: Morris Dailey Auditorium

Summary: SJSU Animation/Illustration is bringing the Animation Show of Shows to San Jose State University.

Curated by Ron Diamond, president of both the Animation World Network and Acme Filmworks, Inc., this international showcase features the most creative and technically ambitious animation from around the world.

Special guests accompanying Mr. Diamond are Argentinean animator Juan Pablo Zaramella, Canadian animators Wendy Tolby, Amanda Forbis, and Marc Bertrand, and Swiss film director Georges Schwitzgebel.

The event is free for San Jose State students.

— Submitted by Animation/Illustration Program Head Alice Carter