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  • NYFA Cine Students Enter the World of Virtual Cinematography

    New York Film Academy Cinematography faculty member and author Mark Sawicki introduced his VFX students to the concepts and step by step process of how to create a virtual set extension that combines on set lighting with virtual lighting in post. The technique was used to great effect in the box office hit “Dr Strange.”
    green screen

    Original green screen set up on the NYFA stage.

    The method involves the clever integration of properly photographed stills coupled with a green screen foreground. The stills are specially processed in Photoshop and then delivered to After Effects to create a synthetic 3D space of texture maps on Polygonal surfaces that can be manipulated in space and time. Mark’s students were instructed to take exacting notes of their lighting and camera set up when they shot the green screen element, so they could take that information and do follow through virtual lighting with computer graphic light instruments and materials.
    virtual set

    Virtual set added.

    Once the footage was processed the students met in post where they were introduced to the strange world of the virtual set. Sawicki gave students a hands-on experience demonstrating lighting simulations where boxes have to be checked to allow shadows to fall and spotlights can defy the inverse square law or even create a light that “darkens” a room. Even Doctor Strange would be challenged in such a world.
    virtual lighting

    Virtual lighting added.

    Sawicki feels it is extremely important for the Cinematographers of today to get a grasp for lighting on set and in the computer, so that they have control over the look of their imagery every step of the way and also have a feel of when they can save time on set by enhancing or modifying lighting in post. NYFA stands out as one of the few schools on the globe that takes their students beyond the envelope to explore the strange and exciting world of virtual lighting.
    green screen

    Final Effect

    March 22, 2017 • 3D Animation, Community Highlights • Views: 1273

  • NYFA Students Attend “Doctor Strange” Screening at Disney Animation

    Last week, New York Film Academy Los Angeles students were offered 50 seats to see Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” at Disney’s theater in their animation lot. After the screening there was a Q&A with the film’s sound team: Juan Peralta, Doc Kane, Jesse Torres and Daniel Laurie. The fifty available spots filled quickly, with students eager to experience this unique opportunity

    As student’s pulled into the lot the first thing they saw was the original Burbank animation building, built by Disney in 1935. Emerging from the garage they could see the seven dwarves looking down on them from their pillars. Security escorted them through the lot, past the water tower and the neon Disney castle sign to the theater.

    Above the entrance, a “Star Wars” banner covered an eighth of the building. Once checked in popcorn and bottled water was handed to each patron before they selected seats.

    There was a slight anticipation in the air. After all, this is the theater where animators screen future classics. This is literally where the magic happens. A smattering of applause as the projector winds up and the curtain is pulled back.

    After the film, chairs are brought out and the guest speakers begin to take questions from the audience. New York Film Academy Animation student Ala Abdelbar said, “I really wanted to see a movie on the Disney Lot,” and after the Q&A, she felt she learned a great deal about the sound design that goes into the film.

    Other students remarked at what a great opportunity the Q and A was to hear from an entire sound design team instead of just a single voice. This event was also a great networking experience since film students and professionals from all over Los Angeles were in attendance.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Disney for this opportunity.

    To learn more about “Doctor Strange” click here.

    February 3, 2017 • 3D Animation, Community Highlights • Views: 370

  • NYFA Animation and VFX Students Visit California Science Center

    Last week, with stops in Santa Monica and downtown, a group of New York Film Academy Animation and VFX students got to go behind-the-scenes at SideFX Software and take in the sites at the California Science Center.

    california science center

    If you don’t know SideFX, well, it’s rapidly taking over the VFX and interactive world with its powerful procedural cg animation and VFX tool Houdini. Gabriel Fernandez and Ujala Saini are one year students in the Animation and VFX program and they made the most out of meeting the people that know Houdini best — the people that make it and use it everyday — and asked lots of great questions.

    Tiffany Victor, a student in NYFA’s Animation VFX BFA program, jumped at the chance to be the first to beta test a new UNITY game built with the powerful Houdini Engine in the Htc Vive Virtual Reality System. Big CG thanks to Ben Mears, Rob Stauffer, Genesis Lee and the rest of the team at SideFX for opening their doors to the NYFA Animation and VFX students here in Los Angeles.

    space shuttle

    After that, the trip headed downtown to the California Science Center with its Science of Pixar Exhibition, and the Space Shuttle Endeavour for the cherry on top. The Pixar show was full of over-sized interactive learning stations that brought the nuts and bolts of CG animation to life. The exhibition gave everyone a chance to see how the tools they use for homework today are the same tools they will use in their careers tomorrow.

    With only time for one last stop, the group took the opportunity to check out NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavor.

    January 13, 2017 • 3D Animation • Views: 1411

  • NYFA Animation Alumna Works on FX for “Suicide Squad” and “Fantastic Beasts”

    alex lorussoSince graduating from the Animation School at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles, Alexandra LoRusso has worked on the visual FX for major Hollywood movies like “Suicide Squad,” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” She currently works for the VFX company MPC Montreal, where she is now working on two other films.

    While the animation alumna has admitted she’s extremely busy with her work, she took the time out to answer a few questions about her career in FX.

    Which film would you say is the reason you chose this profession?

    It’s hard to pick just one. I will always remember the first movie I saw and it was also my first Disney movie. “Dumbo” inspired me to want to work in the world of Animation/VFX, and in films in general.

    Which area of 3D animation and VFX has been your focus since graduating?

    Since completing the 1 Year Animation program, my focus has been in Effects Animation.

    Which films or projects most proud of, and why?

    Out of all the films I’ve worked on so far, I think I would have to say that I’m most proud of the work I did on “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

    suicide squad

    still from “Suicide Squad”

    If you take a look at this still from “Suicide Squad,” I was tasked to do all the tracer hits, so all the sparks/debris/smoke.

    fantastic beasts

    still from “Fantastic Beasts”

    For the still from the final trailer of “Fantastic Beasts,” I was tasked to break the crate when it hit the Occamy, and added in splinters.

    When you’re working on the FX for a film, who are you typically collaborating with?

    I collaborate the most with my lead/leads and other FX artists on the film. We do also have daily review sessions with our FX Supervisors who give us feedback on the shot/shots we are working on.

    Would you say your experience at NYFA’s Animation School was useful in terms of the work you’re currently doing?

    The tools I learned while at NYFA were a great introduction to what I’m currently doing.

    Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?

    Since finishing up on “Fantastic Beasts,” I’ve gone on to work on two other films, which I can’t really say anything about at the moment.

    January 11, 2017 • 3D Animation, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2052

  • Two Animated Shorts from NYFA Alumni to Screen at NYC ACM SIGGRAPH’s MetroCAF

    NYC ACM SIGGRAPH will be presenting the fourteenth edition of its annual metropolitan-area college computer animation festival. The organization aims to foster the synthesis of art and technology while promoting and educating the computer graphics and interactive media community through the exchange of printed and electronic information and innovative ideas.

    Two New York Film Academy student animated films from this past year’s crop of animators have been selected for the MetroCAF Student Competition, with the screening held on Friday, September 23rd.

    The two films that will screen are:

    “Ravage” by Felipe Amaya

    Ravage from Felipe Amaya on Vimeo.

    Amaya says his film is all about the very plausible outcome of what will happen if we allow ourselves to continue producing and consuming en masse without environmentally friendly alternatives and practices.

    “There were two goals that I wanted to achieve with this project: I try to be a very environmentally conscious person and wanted to include a little bit of that aspect of my personality in this short film,” said Amaya. “I consider that humanity, being the dominant species of the planet, has a great responsibility to the environment as well as the obligation to change its practices in order to prevent mass pollution and global warming.

    I wanted to explore the technical aspect of rigging in more depth and in a more mechanical way, therefore the machines. My goal was to learn more about the virtual bolts and screws that hold everything in place and allows 3D objects to move.

    I combined these two goals and came up with the result you will see at MetroCAF.”

    Amaya is currently working at VRAM FX, a visual effects company based in NYC.

    “The Right Way” by Elena Zobak Alekperov & Flavia Groba Bandeira 

    The Right Way from Flavia Groba on Vimeo.

    This short story is about a mom trying to do the right thing raising her child, but sometimes things are not what they seem to be.

    “The inspiration behind this video was taken from my life,” says Zobak. “I wanted to share my experience of being a parent and trying to do the right thing with everyday life choices. And since sometimes we’re a little bit hypocritical with all this ‘right approach,’ this funny scenario just came to mind.”

    Flavia was responsible for environment design as well as the overall look.

    “I tried to fit the environment to the characters personality or, in the case of the girl, her imposed personality by the mother,” said Groba.

    “It sounds trite to ‘write what you know,’ but by doing so, this team was able to tap into the emotions—humor, frustration, love, contradiction—that make this mother-daughter relationship so relatable, and so funny,” said NYFA 3D Animation & Game Design Chair, Phoebe Elefante. “The high level of technical expertise exhibited in the production is seamless, so the audience can be completely immersed in the storytelling. That’s the kind of mastery to which we encourage all students to aspire.”

    “The Right Way” also screened at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

    September 16, 2016 • 3D Animation, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2157

  • NYFA Showcases its Talents at the Venice International Film Festival

    It was quite an honor to take part in the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. The exclusive New York Film Academy Showcase at the VIFF began with a Q&A between NYFA Florence Program Director, Diana Santi, and NYFA alumnus, Giorgio Pasotti, who attended a Filmmaking Workshop in 2003. Pasotti has acted in numerous well-known Italian films, including Paolo Sorrentino’s Academy Award-winning film “The Great Beauty.”

    Held at the Venice Production Bridge platform at the Spazio Incontri of Venice’s Excelsior Hotel, Pasotti discussed his overall education at NYFA, which he described as an amazing learning experience.

    diana and pasotti

    “It was more useful to study 8 weeks at NYFA in NY than the years I’ve spent studying and watching movies,” said the Italian actor. Pasotti used the skills he learned from NYFA to direct his debut film, “Io, Arlecchino.”

    Following the Q&A, the festival screened five NYFA student and alumni films that included two live-action shorts, two animated shorts, and one documentary short.

    The five films that screened were:

    “The Life Of Janka,” by Luis Henriquez Viloria (fiction)

    After the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, thousands of kids went to the streets and became targets for organizations of child traffickers. These kids were traded like livestock. “The Life of Janka” is a fictional story of two brothers who go through such an experience.

    “Fumo,” by Sean Miyakawa (fiction)

    Set in the mid-1920s, a frustrated sound composer works as one of the first sound engineers in the history of cinema, and happens to be madly in love with the main actress of the production. On the day he decides to finally declare his love to her, he finds out about an affair going on between her and the director. The discovery drives him crazy.

    “Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa,” by Lara-Ann de Wet (documentary)

    In Limpopo, South Africa, the village grannies lace up their soccer boots and start kicking their way down the field — and through centuries of oppressive taboos. They play serious soccer and then break into the laughter and traditional song that help fuel their singular struggle for decent lives and a league of their own.

    “The Perfumist,” by Yukari Akaba, Shannon Lee, Daniela Lobo Dias, Sandra Rivero Ortiz (animation)

    “The Perfumist” is a dramatic story highlighting the battle of Machine-Equipped Man against Cosmic Nature. Seeking the perfect scent for his perfume, Benedict Malville runs into the consequences of trampling on sacred, natural ground.

    “The Right Way,” by Elena Zobak Alekperov & Flavia Groba Bandeira (animation)

    A short animated story of the day in a mom’s life of raising her young child. While the child tests the mother’s patience, there is a final moment of relief after the mom reveals her secret oasis within the confines of the home.

    Following the screenings, director Sean Miyakawa spoke in-depth about the making of his original film, “Fumo.”

    Additionally, “The Life of Janka” director of photography Leandro Mouro spoke about his cinematography on Luis Henriquez Viloria’s film, shot in Haiti.

    The prestigious Venice International Film Festival will continue to run until September 10, 2016.

  • Two Animated NYFA Shorts to Screen at Venice Film Festival

    In addition to the two live action shorts and a documentary short, the New York Film Academy will be screening two animated short films at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

    Both films were created in NYFA’s 3D Animation program as collaborative projects.

    the right way

    still from “The Right Way”

    One of the films, “The Right Way,” was created by Elena Zobak Alekperov and Flavia Groba Bandeira. The short story is about a mom trying to do the right thing raising her child, but sometimes things are not what they seem to be.

    “The inspiration behind this video was taken from my life,” says Zobak. “I wanted to share my experience of being a parent and trying to do the right thing with everyday life choices. And since sometimes we’re a little bit hypocritical with all this ‘right approach,’ this funny scenario just came to mind.”

    Flavia was responsible for environment design as well as the overall look.

    “I tried to fit the environment to the characters personality or, in the case of the girl, her imposed personality by the mother,” said Groba.

    “It sounds trite to ‘write what you know,’ but by doing so, this team was able to tap into the emotions—humor, frustration, love, contradiction—that make this mother-daughter relationship so relatable, and so funny,” said NYFA 3D Animation & Game Design Chair, Phoebe Elefante. “The high level of technical expertise exhibited in the production is seamless, so the audience can be completely immersed in the storytelling. That’s the kind of mastery to which we encourage all students to aspire.”

    the perfumist

    still from “The Perfumist”

    The other animated film that will screen at the NYFA Showcase in Venice is “The Perfumist,” which was a collaborative effort amongst several animation students — Yukari Akaba, Shannon Lee, Daniela Lobo Dias, and Sandra Rivero Ortiz.

    “The Perfumist” is a dramatic story highlighting the battle of “Machine-Equipped Man” against “Cosmic Nature.” Seeking the perfect scent for his perfume, Benedict Malville runs into the consequences of trampling on sacred, natural ground.

    “I love this short film for many reasons,” said Elefante. “Its exquisite beauty, its dark humor, its depth. But I am most proud of this short because it is creative collaboration at its best. Each woman worked to showcase the others’ talent, and together they were able to produce something exceptional — even beyond what each could have done by herself. That embodies the spirit of ambition and cooperation I hope to see in every student.”

    The animated shorts will be introduced on September 1st by NYFA alumnus Giorgio Pasotti (“The Great Beauty,” “After Midnight,” “Salty Air”) at the brand-new Venice Production Bridge platform at the Spazio Incontri of Venice’s Excelsior Hotel.

    August 30, 2016 • 3D Animation, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2729

  • NYFA Los Angeles Animation Instructor Highlights

    Our award-winning faculty and instructors continue to shine in both the classroom and the professional arena. Recently, New York Film Academy Los Angeles Co-Chair of Animation and VFX, Matt Galuppo, and ace faculty member, Matt Sheehan, recently created a refugee awareness video for the Ad Council.

    Galuppo’s company produced the beautiful PSA that is both touching and timely in this time of derisiveness. One can truly appreciate the trials and suffering of our fellow humanity around the globe. Sheehan is featured in the PSA as one of the people chosen to engage in the “experience” of being a refugee.

    Meanwhile, NYFA LA Chair of Animation, Mark Sawicki, contributed matte painting work to the award-winning documentary “Inside the Garbage of the World” directed by Phillipe and Maxine Carillo. His work depicts hundreds of dead whales on the sea shore as a premonition of the ecological catastrophe that awaits if the issue of plastic pollution in our ocean is not addressed.

    The film is now available on Amazon Prime and will be distributed by Dreamscape to universities and public libraries. The film will also be translated into foreign languages and distributed internationally by Journeyman pictures.

    August 16, 2016 • 3D Animation, Community Highlights • Views: 1037

  • The Multi-Talented Paul J. Salamoff Visits NYFA’s Business of Screenwriting Class

    Paul J. SalamoffThis past week, multi-hyphenate entertainment professional Paul J. Salamoff joined our Business of Screenwriting class to explain how this kid from Natick, Massachusetts went on to work on more than 50 films, TV shows, video games, comic books, and commercials, wearing practically every creative hat imaginable — writer, producer, director, executive, and yes — make-up artist.

    Salamoff originally began his career as a Special FX/Make-Up Artist, working for years on such iconic films as “Critters 3-4,” “Ed Wood,” “Escape from LA,” “Batman & Robin,” “Doctor Dolittle,” “There’s Something About Mary,” “Dogma,” and “Me Myself and Irene.”

    But, Salamoff was also bitten by the writer bug, and before long his career as a TV and film writer took off as well, with credits including “The Dead Hate the Living” (co-written with Dave Parker), “The St. Francisville Experiment” and “Alien Seige” for the SyFy channel. He was also recently named one of The Tracking Board’s Top 100 Up & Coming Screenwriters and has developed projects with Blumhouse Prod., Ritchie/Wigram Prod., Mosaic Media Group, Hollywood Gang, Silver Pictures, Valhalla Motion Pictures, Vertigo, Unstoppable Entertainment (UK) and Eclectic Pictures.

    Salamoff is also author of the novel “The Silent Planet” and two non-fiction books: “On the Set: The Hidden Rules of Movie Making Etiquette” (which is in its 3rd Edition), and “The Complete DVD Book.” His short stories have been included in acclaimed anthologies including “Midian Unmade: Tales From Clive Barker’s Nightbreed,” and he is a two-time Bram Stoker Award Nominee.

    As a comic creator, Salamoff is the writer of a number of comic book series including “Vincent Price Presents Black Scorpion” and the critically acclaimed “Logan’s Run:Last Day,” “Logan’s Run: Aftermath,” “Logan’s Run: Rebirth,” written with William F. Nolan. He is also the creator of the original graphic novel “Discord” and its prequel “Tales of Discord.”

    In 2005 Salamoff became Vice President of Production for David Lancaster Productions working on Wes Craven’s “The Breed” and “Hollow Man 2.” After a successful merge with Bold Films, he became their Vice President of Production and worked on such films as “Legion,” “Bobby,” and Starship Troopers: Marauders.”

    Having been involved with The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films for over twelve years; he produced the 22nd, 23rd, 33rd, 34th and 35th Saturn Awards. Salamoff has also produced Video Game TV/Web Development Diaries and Trailers working on such high-profile projects as “Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur,” “The Adventures of Tintin, Bulletstorm,” Mass Effect 2,” “Gears of War 2,” and “Dead Space.”

    Salamoff answered a diverse range of questions from students ranging from how one gets into the comic book and video game writing arenas, to his process when he writes his screenplays (he sees the whole movie in his head before he begins, and bangs out the first draft in a mere 4-5 days!), to what it was like working on some of the more racy puppeteering and animatronics scenes for some of the most famous Farrelly Bros. movies.

    A treasure trove of knowledge, as is evidenced by his many successes, the students thoroughly enjoyed his warm energy, breadth of Hollywood experiences, and hilarious anecdotal stories.

    Next up for Salamoff, (amongst other things – no surprise), he is working steadily on his original horror screenplay “Beyond Repair,” currently being produced by Closed on Mondays Ent. (“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”) and is directing a Sci-Fi/horror drama (which he co-wrote with Actor/Producer/Director Noel Clarke) for the UK’s Unstoppable Ent.

    August 11, 2016 • 3D Animation, Game Design, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 2260

  • Lessons From Storyboard Revisionist for DreamWorks Animation

    This past week New York Film Academy Animation students were given an opportunity to meet with Diana Ling, storyboard revisionist for Hasbro’s Transformers. Ling has worked in advertising, storyboarding commercials and on animation projects including Transformers.

    diana ling

    Ling began her career by drawing ten hours a day. She drew over and over until she could sketch at a lighting pace. “Fast is fifteen to twenty clean sketches a day,” said Ling. “So, I decided to go back to school…to specifically learn how to draw, because I still didn’t know what it is I wanted to do. I built up my drawing chops. You sit there for five hours drawing and then you go home and you draw for another ten hours for each class. It’s a lot of mileage.”

    “I took this storyboarding class because I thought, ‘Well, I know how to draw.’ That means I can probably apply it to a practical skill. I used the portfolio that I had, the work that I had for that class, and decided to try advertising boards.”

    She would get a call asking if she could be at the studio in an hour. She’d meet with the commercial director. They’d talk about the look and story. By the end of the day, Ling produced a series of sketches that made up the entire advertisement.

    “In advertising boards you have to be able to draw relatively realistically,” said Ling. “A lot of it’s photobashing if you want it to be. But, for me, I just did everything hand drawn. You also need to know how to draw cars and environments. Your perspective has to be pretty good. And you have to learn to draw really fast too, because the turn around in advertising is one to two days.”

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    “The agent will call you and say, ‘Are you available today at 1:00 PM to come and work at the studio? They need boards for a pitch.’ I would meet with the director, one on one in a coffee shop or a Starbucks. We’d go over the boards and what he wants. I’d do little sketches. It was a really good experience because it introduced me to a lot of different people. It introduced me to what a director’s life is like. Where you just go from job to job. And it introduced me to the advertising world. In the process of doing that I learned to draw, really, really fast.”

    After some time, Ling began to have a crisis. She realized that she wasn’t fulfilled doing promotional work. So, she quit. She took some time to consider what she wanted and decided she wanted to tell stories. This is how she ended up at DreamWorks Animation working on Transformers.

    “In advertising you make a lot of money, but if it’s not fulfilling you artistically then you haven’t really succeeded. So I think my advice would be sit down, go to the beach, relax and think about what it is you want to do. I would write it down. It doesn’t have to be really specific, but if you keep thinking about that thing that’s on the tip of your tongue. If you just keep trying to kneed that dough than it’ll come in to fruition and it’ll be beautiful. And you’ll like it. You won’t be doing things that you don’t like to do.”

    “When I graduated in 2012, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that I really wanted to draw for a living and so I tried finding work as an artist. I realized that it was really difficult. I was kind of just getting these one to two day jobs for about a year or so. It was like one a month. It was very, very little.”

    diana ling

    Ling continued, “I realized, like some people, all they want to do is draw and enjoy themselves doing that. But I realized that I kind of wanted to create something for myself. I wanted to create a name. In the past year I had been starting to think, ‘What kind of mark do I want to put on the world?’”

    Ling then looked over the students’ reels and sketches. She gave them advice and encouragement in applying themselves in the future:

    “A job is really just a job and as an artist you really need to think a little more entrepreneurially because there’s so many great artists in the world. Anyone can pick up a camera nowadays. Anyone can create a film on YouTube. Anyone can draw. There are lots of people who can draw very, very well. I used to be really worried about beating the competition. But now I’m not worried about that anymore. Your career is not really about beating other people. It’s about fulfilling what you want to do in your own life.”
    “If you want to become a master draftsman than you go do that and then the jobs kind of come. So you’re thinking more like an artist, rather than trying to progress your career. I think it’s more important to focus on your internal growth rather than begging for jobs.”
    “I believe the road to mediocrity is conformity. Trying to do what everyone else is doing and just trying to fit in to what all the people at Disney are doing. Rather, if you want to be successful you have to think about your own voice and be a non-conformist and trust that your voice and your skills will take you in the direction you want to go. You want to get job that you want. You don’t want to get jobs that you’re not interested in. You want people to be like, ‘Oh, Diana Ling she does that kind of stuff. We want that.’ They recognize your work and they associate your name with your work, because it’s not like anyone else’s.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Ms. Ling for taking the time to come speak with students. You can find Diana Ling’s work here.

    August 2, 2016 • 3D Animation • Views: 2566