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  • NYFA Los Angeles Welcomes Dreamworks’ Jeff Wike as Guest Speaker

    NYFA college, conservatory, and summer camp students gathered at the Riverside Theater at the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus for a Q&A with DreamWorks chief technology officer, Jeff Wike. Mr. Wike has been with DreamWorks since before the renowned production company ventured into 3D animation. NYFA Chair of 3D Animation Craig Caton conducted hosted the event.

    Caton, also a veteran of DreamWorks, reminisced with Wike on what it was like to work in a space where the employees were provided a free lunch: a seemingly simple gesture from one of the largest animation companies in the world means a lot more than just a nice meal.

    Jeff Wike visits 3D Animation Students at New York Film Academy

    “One thing that’s unique about DreamWorks is the artists and technicians work together,” said Wike. “We work together, we eat together; breakfast and lunch everyday. Which is brilliant, by the way. Let me talk about free lunch. If you think about it, it cost about $10 a day to feed an employee. You’re sitting with the people you work with. I eat lunch every day with my director of boards. Not just because I like them, but also I get to catch up with them. Yeah, we talk about what we did last night or this and that, but a lot of what we talk about is work.”


    “It’s kind of a village and building a family,” Caton said, agreeing that eating lunch on campus fosters a sense of community. At DreamWorks, animators are hired to the company — not for a project. This means teams are working together for years, and every day they foster stronger relationships.

    Jeff Wike atNew York Film Academy Los Angeles

    One student asked which operating systems should be mastered to help garner professional success in animation.

    “We do use Maya for layouts,” said Wike, spotlighting the Oscar-winning software taught in NYFA 3D animation programs. “We have a system we built on top of it called the Tiber. It allows us to do really interactive set dressing. It does a lot of lazy coding. We do use it in some character effect systems. Mostly we’ve been migrating a lot of that stuff to Houdini over the past six or seven years.”

    For rendering systems, DreamWorks has created their own rendering software, Moonray, used for feature films. A look at their logo might give insight to the inspiration for such a name. For TV the company employs Vray, while Maya is a go-to tool for a variety of other projects.

    The takeaway, according to Wike, is that animators need to know a little bit of everything. “You want to constantly explore,” Wike said as he explained that DreamWorks has a license for nearly every type of animation software on the market.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Jeff Wike for taking the time to speak to our students and the kids participating in teen and tween camps. DreamWorks’ “Captain Underpants” is in theaters now, while “Dawn of the Croods” and “Spirit” are currently streaming on Netflix.

    July 25, 2017 • 3D Animation, Guest Speakers • Views: 136

  • Highlights from Disney’s D23 Expo 2017

    This week, Disney held its bi-annual fan expo, D23, in Anaheim, CA. Marvel, Pixar, Disney Animation, Disney Interactive Studios, and Walt Disney Productions rolled out major announcements this weekend, while fans and industry insiders were treated to sneak-peek teasers, celebrity appearances, exclusive merchandise, incredible cosplay, and more. Here are some highlights.

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    A New “Star Wars” Park?

    Disney took the opportunity at D23 to reveal new details about its plans for a new themed-land called “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.” The project is shaping up to be one the company’s most immersive fan experiences.

    The Verge quoted Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek as explaining: “We are working on our most experiential concept ever … It combines a luxury resort with immersion in an authentic environment.” Basically, the goal will be for guests to live out their own “Star Wars” adventure throughout the course of their stay, complete with windows that look into outer space and a hotel designed like a spaceship.

    Celebrity Appearances

    Directors, stars, animators, and Disney giants were all present throughout the D23 Expo, and fans able to enjoy exclusive panels, talk-backs, and sneak-peeks presented by their favorite Disney stars. As Nerdist reported, “We saw the cast of ‘Descendants 2,’ ran into Mark Hamill and Stan Lee as Grand Marshalls of the Ultimate Fan Street Party, and saw ‘Black Panther’sChadwick Boseman running to his meet and greet. It was always good to keep an eye on the D23 app for surprise appearances.”

    Live-Action Films

    This year’s D23 Expo saw two jam-packed presentations, for animated and live-action films, respectively. Trailers, teasers, and A-list stars were in attendance to promote upcoming Disney live-action films.

    Slated for 2018 is “A Wrinkle in Time,” and director Ava DuVernay was there with stars Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling to screen the trailer. Audiences were also treated to a talks and teasers for upcoming mega projects, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

    But that wasn’t all in the live-action arena. The expo also promoted upcoming live-action adaptations of Disney classics slated to be directed by industry giants: “The Lion King” (Jon Favreau), “Dumbo” (Tim Burton), and “Aladdin” (Guy Ritchie). You’ll be able to catch Disney’s n live action adventure, “Dumbo,” on March 29, 2019. “Aladdin” has been cast. Earlier this month rumors circulated online that Disney was having trouble casting the film. Will Smith has been tapped to play the Genie. “Power Rangers” break-out star Naomi Scott will play Jasmine, and jumping on the magic carpet as Aladdin is Mena Massoud.

    Animated Films

    In the animation category, Disney screened a short film called “The Speed Test,” and hosted panels and teasers for major upcoming releases including “Toy Story 4,” Pixar’s “Coco,” “The Incredibles 2,” “Frozen 2,” “Wreck it Ralph Breaks the Internet,” and an upcoming feature from Dan Scanlon, yet to be titled.

    Perhaps the biggest news on the floor was the fact that all of the living Disney Princesses would make an appearance in “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-it Ralph 2.”  The cast includes Auli‘i Cravalho from “Moana,” Kristen Bell from “Frozen,” Kelly MacDonald as “Merida,” Mandy Moore from “Tangled,” Anika Noni Rose from “The Princess and the Frog,” Irene Bedard from “Pocahontas,” Linda Larkin from “Aladdin,” Paige O’Hara from “Beauty and the Beast,” and Jodi Benson from “The Little Mermaid.”

    More details were also released for “The Incredibles 2.” Holly Hunter shared that her character, Mrs. Incredible, will be doing more of the heavy lifting this time around: “Bob’s actually home with the kids this time…”

    “Tangled: The Animated Series” amassed the original cast in the same place for the first time. Mandy Moore and Zachery Levi shared their enthusiasm for the characters. “Disney said they didn’t want to do the show without us,” Levi said.

    Video Games & VR

    The long-awaited third installment of the Kingdom Hearts series revealed a new playable world. Andy’s room from “Toy Story” will be a playable space in “Kingdom Hearts 3,” coming out in 2018.

    Marvel will be releasing a new VR game in 2018 titled “Powers United VR.” The game will allow the player to become their favorite hero, including Hulk, Rocket Raccoon, and Captain Marvel and will be exclusive to the Oculus Rift.

    Free Treats

    It wouldn’t be Disney if magic wasn’t present in every detail. At this year’s D23 Expo, the free swag was cold brew coffee with foam designs of iconic Disney characters — including Darth Vader. Shoppers were treated to exclusive merchandise launches not yet available anywhere else, from limited edition figurines to clothing lines.

    To see NYFA’s behind-the-scenes coverage of live events, follow us on #Snapchat @NYFilmAcademy.

  • NYFA Summer Camp Students Enjoy Special Screening of “Top Gun”

    _A4A1610On Saturday, July 1, teens and tweens participating in the New York Film Academy Summer Camp in Los Angeles took a break from the hard work of filmmaking to see a summer blockbuster classic. “Top Gun” was screening in the field at the Autry Museum.  

    Usually, the students are hard at work developing their film projects. Most days, they are learning the difference between camera lens sizes, rehearsing a new acting technique, experimenting with the latest 3D technology, revising a script or shooting on a professional backlot. On this night, however, their hard work was rewarded with a special screening.

     

    _A4A1611This screening was unique because it was surrounded by some of the top food trucks in Los Angeles. For many of the students, this was the first time they had seen a movie under the stars. The combination of live music and multicultural food trucks made the night an event.

    The head of Summer Camps, Ale Salinas said, “This is a unique and fun experience.
    We’re doing this for the students to bond and watch fun movies in a Hollywood way.”_A4A1582

    The New York Film Academy is proud of the great strides out Summer Camp students are making and hope their night off was a fun one.  

     

  • Behind the Scenes of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” With NYFA Alum & Digital Compositor Francesco Panzieri

    FRAN EDITED IMAGE 2NYFA alumnus Francesco Panzieri has been busy since completing his studies at the New York Film Academy, with credits running the gamut from the realism of “Mad Men” to the visionary science fiction of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Most recently, Panzieri has turned his hand as an in-house digital compositor with Marvel Studios for “Spider Man: Homecoming,” which opens July 7.

    “Spider Man: Homecoming” is the first installment of a new Spidey trilogy created through the first-time partnership between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures.

    According to Panzieri, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” will stand apart due to its combination of great storytelling, and a focus on the superhero’s dual struggles to become an Avenger and survive high school.

    “I believe ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ balances in a very successful way two key-elements of Peter Parker’s life in this movie, which are his teenage life as a high-school student and the struggles of a superhero to become an Avenger,” explains Panzier. “I think that the high-school part makes the character extremely compelling because it gives the audience a shared point of view with Peter, since all of us have been through similar life moments.”

    Panzieri muses that films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe continue to attract audiences not only through their jaw-dropping visuals, but primarily through their great storytelling. “Write something good,” he says, “Something really good, that people can relate to, and then use visual effects to enhance your cinematic vision of that story.”

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    NYFA 3D Animation alumnus Francesco Panzieri (right) pictured with actor Michael Mando (left), who plays Mac Gargan in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

    Along with a great story, Panzieri points to a new colorspace technology created by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences called ACES (Academy Color Encoding System) as a vital ingredient to the look of “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Panzieri says, “It was a cool experience for me to test it for the first time in my career and I look forward to ACES being the soon-standard-to-be on features, episodic and commercials.”

    He describes an atmosphere of camaraderie and excitement on set: “Since Sony Pictures owns the film rights to Spider-Man, the whole post-production process took place on the Sony Studios lot, in Culver City, California. Each morning, I got to walk by the original ‘Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1 car on my way to work, and that was a very stimulating and inspiring environment.”

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    Panzieri pictured with the original “Ghostbusters” Ecto-1 car.

    “In the studio we had every day all the top-notch leadership team of Marvel Studios surrounding us,” Panzieri recalled. “While we were working on the visual effects for the feature film, they were focused on refining and improving editing and storytelling with the director. What surprised me in a truly unique and positive way, was seeing first-class executives such as the Marvel ones hard at work from dawn’s early lights until late at night. In those moments I realized the true strength and secret of Marvel Studios that deservedly brought them to be number one in the entertainment industry: the love and energy that they put into each and every production they make. Everyone who works at Marvel is an extremely genuine, passionate and dedicated fellow; it’s a huge, big family where there is a unique synergy between all the roles.

    Transitioning from film school to major blockbuster productions is entirely a matter of building relationships, according to Panzieri — and being prepared for high-skilled hard work.

    “My job, it’s all about networking,” Panzieri reveals. “So what happened is that a connection that I had from when I worked on ‘Star Wars’ had called me to work on Spider-Man.”

    Panzieri points to his training at the New York Film Academy as playing a valuable role in preparing him for his work: “I must say that the long hours of classes and lab at the NYFA were definitely an advantage to me on every project I worked on thus far … I can definitely say that the instantaneous hands-on environment I found myself in during my time at NYFA was a true testament to how you’ve got to be when working in Hollywood. Visual effects is art, technology and science at the same time, and as such you need to be really focused, dedicated and good at craftsmanship to keep up with its high quality demands you face in entertainment.”

    “Spider-Man: homecoming” is the first installment of a new Spider-Man trilogy created through a first-time collaboration between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios. Box Office Pro has projected a box office opening of $135 million, which ScreenRant notes would make this the 6th largest opening out of 16 Marvel films.

     

  • June Graduation for NYFA Teens and Kids Summer Camps

    On Friday, June 27, the first New York Film Academy teen and kids summer camp programs came to an end. As students waited for their graduation ceremony to start, they took selfies while their parents banded together.

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    As the lights dimmed, the acting students presented their one to two minute monologues. Their head shots were projected before the video began. Filmed against a white background “audition style,” each actor chose a unique piece to perform.

    Then, the student’s short films were screened. Their backdrop was the Universal backlot, the same place “Hairspray” was filmed. Students were given a challenge to make a movie without dialogue. They wrote, directed, filmed, and edited their own productions from start to finish.

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    Their instructors and councilors were in attendance and issued certificates of completion. In their farewells they offered words of encouragement. Camera Instructor Bart Mastronardi offered the wise words of Helen Keller: “Life is either an incredible journey or it’s nothing at all.”

    “In five days you’ve done an amazing job. This is one of the best one-week programs. You’re all so ambitious. Parents and grandparents keep pushing these kids. They really appreciate it. Even if they don’t always show it,” said NYFA Instructor Martin Thompson.

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    After they collected their certificates each student was given a copy of their work to use for reels or to share with friends and family. The graduates and their families finished the night with cupcakes and dancing by the pool.

    Head of programs Ale Salinas described the programs objectively in her farewell, stating, “Some of you may have learned that this isn’t what you want to do at all, that’s valid, too. But I’m being honest when I say we’re going to miss you.”  6B2A0062

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate all of the students in finishing their first film. We look forward to the seeing second film real soon.

  • NYFA Welcomes Hire Heroes USA

    On June 24, The New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) Veteran Services Department was fortunate to collaborate with Hire Heroes USA (HHUSA) to host a daylong exclusive employment workshop for NYFA’s veteran students. The NYFA military students also benefited from one-on-one time with the Transition Specialists from HHUSA.

    Hire Heroes and New York Film Academy

    Hire Heroes visits the New York Film Academy

     

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    Hire Heroes USA is a nonprofit that provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members.

     

    Hire Heroes USA is a nonprofit that provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members, assisting veterans and spouses with finding employment.

    The first half of the eight-hour workshop was a practicum related to resume theory, networking techniques, and how to affectively prepare for an interview. Representatives from Hire Heroes USA, Jamie Rimphanli and Walter Serrano, coached veteran students on how to properly format their resumes and discussed, in-depth, the importance of networking and how to prepare for a job interview.

    For the second half of the workshop, industry professionals from Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Legendary Entertainment, and Plan A Locations joined the workshop for a moderated Q&A panel discussion. Panelists discussed how they began their careers in the entertainment industry and how they’ve navigated their careers for success.

    Highlights from the day included an exercise that had all of the participants do a speed networking session. Also, HHUSA brought a photographer who took professional head shots for the veteran students’ LinkedIn pages.

    “We felt that this training and these types of vet student-centric activities are increasingly important because they help prepare our students to meet with HR/Talent Acquisition teams from the major studios,” explained NYFA Director of Veterans Services Department John Powers.  

    Retired Army veteran and MFA cinematography student Bryan Hudson stated, “The Hire Heroes USA workshop was a fantastic forum to introduce veterans with industry insiders and provide the opportunity to learn from them. The event was beneficial to everyone involved about learning the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the interview process and how to break into the entertainment industry. One thing that I learned from the workshop is to establish relationships that will be beneficial to both parties. Thank you to the NYFA Veterans Department for putting on this marvelous event, and I hope that this will be the first of many events with Hire Heroes USA.”

    The NYFA Veteran Services Department is extremely grateful to Hire Heroes USA for partnering with us to bring this wonderful opportunity to NYFA veteran students.

  • NYFA 3D Animation Students Go on an Art Space Odyssey 

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    The #14th Factory has erected a huge art experience just down the street from the New York Film Academy Los Angeles’ Burbank campus, and NYFA 3D animation and visual effects (VFX) had the opportunity to explore it in the context of their recent studies. The #14th Factory show included the work of 20 artist collaborating on acres of indoor and outdoor space.

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    Most exciting for NYFA students was a very precise replica of the famed “2001: A Space Odyssey” bedroom set from the epic conclusion of the film. With the NYFA animation and VFX students recently viewing Stanley Kubric’s masterpiece in instructor Matthew Sheehan’s matte painting class, this exhibit was impossible to miss.

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    Last week, the animation class got immersive art experience, with artists Simon Birch, Paul Kember, and many others dropping the class in the lead role with endless paths ways and surprises around every corner. The experience, modeled around the Joseph Campbell’s narrative arc of a hero’s journey, was playful at times and scary at others, all the while pushing the imaginations of the group that much closer to the next level.

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    The New York Film Academy 3D animation and VFX students and faculty are very thankful to the artists and the team members who hosted us and for an invigorating four hours.

    June 15, 2017 • 3D Animation, Academic Programs • Views: 1810

  • 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.”
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Final Effect

    March 22, 2017 • 3D Animation, Community Highlights • Views: 2038

  • 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: 824

  • 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.

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    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.

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    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: 1938