3D Animation
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  • NYFA Meets the Hollywood Monster Makers

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    Terminator

    On June 11th, the New York Film Academy Animation department hosted an anniversary screening of The Terminator (1984) to a full house. The film remains exciting as ever as evidenced by the thunderous applause during the end credits. After the film, co-chair of animation Mark Sawicki moderated a panel of artists who created the amazing effects for the film. Guest artists and Oscar nominees Shane Mahan and John Rosengrant were character creators and puppeteers of the Terminator robot for the film. The Terminator was the first film they worked on with the legendary Stan Winston. Upon Winston’s passing in 2008, Shane and John co-founded the Legacy studio to carry on the tradition of excellent character creation and practical effects work on such films as Aliens, Predator, Jurassic Park and Iron Man. Also joining the event was guest artist Ernest Farino who was responsible for the main title and graphics work on the picture. Mark Sawicki worked with Ernest as an optical consultant to help devise the look and procedures to generate the robot’s eye view or Termovision. Ernest is a two time Emmy winner for visual effects and is now directing.

    The group shared marvelous stories from the movie such as rubbing honey into the make up of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face to attract a freshly refrigerated fly as it woke from its frozen slumber. Another trick shared by Ernest was a shot of Arnold pushing his fist through the windshield of a moving car. This was accomplished with a stationary car with a mechanical battering ram in the shape of Arnold’s fist. The illusion of movement was created by having a truck drive by with a fake wall of plastic bricks attached to its side. The bricks moving quickly behind the stationary car made it appear that the car was moving quickly past a static wall as the fake hand shattered the windshield.

    Terminator posterBoth Shane and John emphasized the importance of story and sticking to reality to create believable effects. John said that to make a believable dinosaur you have to obey the laws of physics and have a two-ton dinosaur move with heft and weight and not fly around like a bumblebee.

    After an engaging discussion of trends and techniques, the panel was open to questions from the audience. Many students asked what it was that made older practical effects more appealing than today’s CGI. Shane suggested that in the past horror and fantasy films were overlooked as small pictures and the filmmakers had much more freedom to entertain happy accidents or try bold lighting and other techniques. Today’s multi million dollar blockbusters have a great deal at stake and much more input is given from not only the studios but other large franchises like McDonald’s who use movies as cross promotional vehicles. One student compared older effects to gleaming silver while CGI was more like polished steel. Mark mentioned that lighting is very difficult to mimic in a virtual environment and can create the impression the student mentioned but there are ways to improve upon it such as the use of HDRI imagery to light the CGI characters. John pointed out that CGI could be exceptional if done well with attention to detail and dedication to realism as exampled by Jurassic Park.

    There was a great deal of interest among students to either pursue the field as artists or make use of these tried and true techniques as directors in their own right.
    The event wrapped up with our guests receiving complimentary gift bags from NYFA as they graciously autographed their names to The Terminator poster that will soon adorn the halls of our school.

    Thank you Shane, John and Ernest for inspiring us all and reminding us all about the importance of story and characters!

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    June 13, 2014 • 3D Animation, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 4786

  • Space Effects Seminar at NYFA LA

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    Mark Sawicki

    Co-chair NYFA LA Animation, Mark Sawicki

    To celebrate the Oscar winning work of the ground breaking film Gravity, Co-Chair of the Animation Department at NYFA Los Angeles, Mark Sawicki was invited to give a lecture on Space Effects used throughout cinema history. Mark started with a fond look back at a 1950’s Ray Harryhausen picture 20 million Miles to Earth and outlined rear projection methodology. The next exploration were effects techniques used in the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey that is still an undisputed milestone in space recreation. Made in the 60s, Kubrick’s masterpiece made clever use of sets, wire work, mirrors and miniatures, along with pioneering motion control techniques. From here Mark skipped forward to Apollo 13, where actual weightlessness was filmed, and then on to  From the Earth to the Moon where Mark himself had a roll as Co-Effects Supervisor. Mark outlined how Earth to Moon made use of both miniatures and computer graphics. In conclusion, Mark explained how the amazing effects used in Gravity were based on the tried and true techniques of the past, but executed with current digital precision.

    As a special treat, Mark put the students in the drivers seat on the second day by walking them through the step by step process of how one can take clip art from the Internet and create a realistic animation using the same ideas executed in 2001, except with the ease and access of Photoshop and After Effects.

    A grand time was had by all!

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    April 8, 2014 • 3D Animation • Views: 3724

  • Our Guide to the Best Apps for Aspiring Filmmakers

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    Useful Apps

    With the rise of apps through smart phones and tablet devices, visual storytellers of all stripes have more tools with which to complete a project than ever before. At times, an aspiring filmmaker or photographer can get downright overwhelmed by the sheer volume of useful apps out there. In order to help our students, alumni, and other creative individuals navigate the world of visual storytelling apps, we have launched our Useful Apps resource page where we highlight and review the best and most useful applications currently available. Whether you’re looking to work on a script while on the train or have a quick reference guide for a theatre production, we’ve put together the best apps in the following categories.

    • Filmmaking Apps: As any filmmaker will tell you, there can be sometimes more to keep track of on a film shoot than one person can reasonably handle. To facilitate this, our filmmaking apps cover a wide range of the facets from filmmaking, from location scouting to film scheduling and much more.
    • Photography Apps: With more and more people using their smart phones’ or tablets’ cameras to create original pieces of art, our list of photography apps provide the tools one needs to manipulate and perfect his or her images while gaining greater control over his or her camera.
    • Editing Apps: Though most tend to think of film or photo editing as involving sitting in front of a desktop computer for hours on end, we’ve assembled a number of digital editing apps that allow you to piece together your footage or images quickly and effectively, wherever you might be.
    • Animation Apps: Animators looking for new and inexpensive tools to bring their stories to life can find a world of possibilities in our highlighted animation apps, from time-lapse apps perfect for assembling stop-motion animation to creating original animated films on your smart phone or tablet.
    • Theatre Apps: When putting on a piece of theatre or musical theatre, there are countless variables—from set design to lighting to organizing a cast—that one can now control from his or her smart phone with ease.
    • Screenwriting Apps: As any screenwriter can attest, one can never plan on when a good idea might arise. With our list of screenwriting apps, writers can now guarantee that they can always put their ideas down even if they are away from their computers while also being able to work on a screenplay from any location.
    • Acting Apps: From memorizing lines to rehearsing scenes, there are a number of useful and effective apps available for actors to make their jobs all the easier.

    Regardless of the field you are in, click here to view our list of useful apps that will help to simplify and facilitate your future creative endeavors.

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  • VIEW Conference 2014 Contests

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    View Conference 2014 Turin, Italy 14-17 Oct

    Here are some exciting opportunities for our 3D Animation and Game Design students to not only have their projects reach a wider audience, but also win an award! VIEW Conference, an annual international computer graphics conference, has announced a series of contests for 2014 aimed at both students and non-students.

    Firstly, the VIEW Award 2014 is open to any filmmaker who has made an animated short film using 2D/3D animation and VFX in the past two years. Filmmakers can choose to submit in the following categories: Best Short, Best Design, Best Character, and Best Digital Visual Effects. The deadline for submission is August 31, 2014 and the award for first prize is 2,000 Euros.  More information can be found here.

    For those filmmakers interested in using their art to address social issues, this year sees the creation of the VIEW Social contest aimed at artists who have created a 2D/3D or VFX animated feature, short, music video, and piece of advertising with a focus on social themes in 2013 and 2014. Applicants can submit in the categories of Best Gameplay, Best Art Design, Best Architecture, and Best Music by August 31, 2014 to compete for a grand prize of 1,000 Euros. Learn more here.

    Emerging game designers have the chance to submit their original video games by September 15, 2014 in the categories of Best Gameplay, Best Art Design, Best Architecture, and Best Music. View more here.

    For anyone who has a passion for comics, another new addition to this year’s conference is the VIEW Comics Contest in which applicants are encouraged to create an original comic based on a previous edition of the conference. The deadline for entries is August 31, 2014 and entrants will compete for a 500 Euro prize. Discover more here.

    Finally, for those either from Italy or interested in telling stories about Italy, the ITALIANMIX competition welcomes works across genres and visual forms that, if chosen, will be included in the program for VIEWFest 2014.

    So if you’re looking for a platform to showcase your work and win an award, consider submitting today.

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    February 26, 2014 • 3D Animation, Film Festivals, Game Design • Views: 4980

  • NYFA Grad Animates Instagram

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    Yet again, while scoping the Internet, we stumbled across another talented New York Film Academy Animation graduate. Eliska Podzimkova, who studied here in the summer of 2012, created a very innovative Instagram page called eliskap (formerly animateNY). Though she now resides in Prague, Eliska, like so many of our students, fell in love with New York City during her studies. Her admiration and nostalgia for the city inspired her to create the page in which she offers followers the chance to put her ‘personal touch’ on their image, if they hashtag #animateNY.

    Being that we had an “in” with Eliska (she went to our school), we were fortunate enough to have her collaborate with us on an image. We hope this will be the first of many collaborations as we’re huge fans of her creative work! Be sure to follow the New York Film Academy on Instagram to see more of Eliska’s work and other happenings at the school.

    animateNY NYFA Grad

    animation by Eliska Podzimkova

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    February 20, 2014 • 3D Animation, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3966

  • Which Software Does NYFA Animation Use for Modeling?

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    NYFA Animation

    Robert Appleton lecturing to his Animation students

    Over the past few years there have been huge leaps and bounds in the development of modeling software, especially for us folks doing organic modeling– such as monsters, animals and other strange creatures!

    At the New York Film Academy Animation School we have traditionally based our organic and hard surface modeling on Maya software. Maya is pretty much an industry standard and is used at places like Pixar Studios, who work intimately with Autodesk, the developers of Maya software, to constantly refine and improve its abilities.

    More recently, we have introduced ZBrush for high-end organic and hard surface modeling. I especially enjoy using it for concepting – by that I mean quickly sketching in 3-D format ideas for characters and environments.

    ZBrush is not for everybody because it’s quite a steep learning curve, and it is very different from traditional modeling software. I often tell my students that it was probably created by a race of insectoid aliens! That said, it is incredibly powerful and well worth the time invested in learning it, if you are interested in CG modeling for a profession or if you intend to make it a significant part of your 3-D focus.

    We are also using Mudbox as I and many other fellow professionals believe it to be superior for texturing, especially in relationship to Zbrush. The reason being, Zbrush paints individual polygons, which means that the model has to be divided up into many millions of polygons in order to achieve the desired resolution for creating a texture map. This is in contrast to Mudbox, which does not need the surface to be divided up into such small units, and is more efficient for texture painting.

    For smaller studios, especially in New York, Mudbox may be more frequently used (even for modeling). Mudbox is more user friendly (the hotkeys and user interface are very similar to those in Maya) and is much easier to learn. In the long run, these are just tools and it is a person using those tools that really makes the big difference. Ultimately, I am content to let my students choose the software they wish to use in order to create the models they require for their projects.

    -Robert Appleton, Chair of NYFA Animation School

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    February 5, 2014 • 3D Animation • Views: 3566

  • NYFA LA Announces New 3D Animation Chairs

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    3D Animation

    The New York Film Academy is pleased to announce that Juniko Moody and Mark Sawicki are now Co-Chairs of the 3D Animation Department at the Los Angeles Campus.

    Juniko Moody was a production 3D lighting/compositor for Disney Feature Animation and Sony Imageworks. She was also a 2D compositor for Kodak Cinesite and Warner Digital. Juniko transitioned into teaching through corporate 2D and 3D digital training for Dreamworks Feature Animation and other training facilities. Juniko holds a BA from USC Cinema and an MA from CSULA in Industrial Technology with an emphasis in instruction and has taught 3D animation, digital modeling, lighting, adult instructional presentations/course writng and was involved in curriculum design at CSULA, UCLA Extension, College of the Canyons, Westwood College and DeVry University.

    Mark Sawicki is a veteran visual effects cameraman with a large body of work including The Terminator, X-Men and The Dark Knight Rises. He has taught for NYFA and UCLA Extension for several years and is a contributing faculty member of the Stan Winston School of Character Arts. Mark is the author of “Animating with Stop Motion Pro” and “Filming the Fantastic” first and second edition, both published by Focal Press.

    In addition to co-chairing the 3-D Animation Department, Juniko and Mark will continue to teach animation and visual effects classes in various departments. Juniko and Mark are located at 100 East Tujunga Avenue (Brick Building).

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    January 22, 2014 • 3D Animation • Views: 3864

  • Does an Animation Student Have to be Great at Drawing?

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    Computer animation attracts a wide variety of personalities and incorporates a variety of interests; a glance at the credits of any CG or visual effects-heavy film will show just how many different roles and people are incorporated. Not only are there the artists, character designers, and modelers; there are people in charge of dynamic simulations (i.e. cloth, crumbling buildings, explosions) and developing and maintaining the pipeline (i.e. streamlining the interaction of various departments through programming and scripting). Not everyone has to be da Vinci — or, on the flip side, a computer genius like Pixar’s Ed Catmull — to find a niche in CG.

    Students with skill in drawing (or, again, other areas such as programming) will definitely be able to exploit those skills. Students who have not done much drawing (or programming, etc.) will get the chance to develop and subsequently flex those muscles thanks to the instruction offered, for instance character design, storyboarding and life drawing classes which are all part of the NYFA animation curriculum.

    New York Film Academy’s 3D Animation programs are generalist programs, meaning they will touch on all these aspects, and give students a chance to find the areas which interest them most.

    -Robert Appleton, Chair of NYFA Animation Department

     

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    November 20, 2013 • 3D Animation • Views: 708

  • What Software Does NYFA’s Animation School Teach?

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    robert appleton

    Animation Chair Robert Appleton

    The New York Film Academy is bringing its hands-on intensive Animation School to the brand new Battery Park campus. Headed up by Chair Robert Appleton, NYFA’s Animation School is one of the premier facilities to learn the art of 3D Animation.

    The curriculum provides lessons which incorporate widely used, industry-standard software. During the first semester, the primary program used is Autodesk Maya which focuses on 3D modeling and animation. Although, students also work with Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.

    In the second semester, students begin using Pixologic’s ZBrush for high-poly (extremely detailed) modeling. Working with ZBrush is like working with digital clay, and is often very intuitive for fine artists. Students also learn how to composite using The Foundry’s Nuke industry standard software. Compositing is “putting the pieces together” for a shot. This includes working with green screen footage so live actors can be relocated to CG environments, and in our case culminate in the student integrating a CG character into live action footage. Something we take for granted these days on the big screen. Furthermore, this character will be animated using motion capture, so the students even get a chance to go to a Mo-cap studio and hop around on a stage, getting in touch with their inner actor.

    In addition, the animation program introduces students to scripting— programming specialized for use with CG — using the languages MEL script (a proprietary Maya scripting language) and Python, which is widely used for all sorts of applications.

    NYFA’s classroom computers are fully loaded with the software needed; however, students can frequently benefit from educational discounts that can be found for many programs when working outside of the school. In fact, Autodesk makes most of its programs available in educational, yet fully-functional versions free of cost. After completion of the course, the student will graduate quite the software polyglot and be well prepared for the professional world of animation!

     

     

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    October 29, 2013 • 3D Animation • Views: 5328

  • Congrats to NYFA Instructors Barbara Multer-Wellin & Al Hallack

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    YTTC_hrpeete

    New York Film Academy History of Documentary Instructor Barbara Multer-Wellin recently won an EMMY or Best Public Service /Informational Programming for Your Turn To Care,  a 4-part documentary multi-platform news series and companion website produced by KCET.

    Your Turn to Care explores the challenges facing America’s growing generation of baby boomers who are taking care of ailing or aging loved ones. In addition, the program highlights personal care-giving stories from well-respected actors, television personalities, and journalists including: Patricia Richardson (Home Improvement), Monica Potter (Parenthood), Hector Elizondo (Last Man Standing), Robert David Hall (CSI Crime Scene Investigation), Sandra Tsing Loh (NPR’s Morning Edition, KPCC) and Steve Lopez (Los Angeles Times columnist)
    12
    Meanwhile, Animation Instructor Al Hallack was recently honored by Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy and Burbank Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Bob Frutos for opening his new production facility, Al Hallack Pictures, in Burbank. Al also received commendations from Supervisor Mike Antonavich and the California State Assembly for creating jobs and industry in Burbank.
    Congratulations to both NYFA Instructors!
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    September 13, 2013 • 3D Animation, Academic Programs, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 4649