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.
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.”