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  • NYFA Instructor & Alum, Arnold Song, Builds Demo for Houdini Hive Worldwide Presentation

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    On Monday, May 18, 2020, SideFX will host their annual Houdini Hive Worldwide presentation that explores the various techniques used by top studios and artists to meet a wide variety of studio production needs. NYFA instructor & alum, Arnold Song, who works at SideFX, is part of the team testing and building the demos for the presentation.

    Houdini, the premiere procedural animation software by SideFX, is a universally adopted software across animation studio giants like Dreamworks, Disney, and Pixar. (In fact, it is one of the few “off the shelf” pieces of software that Pixar uses).

    NYFA instructor and alum Arnold Song

    NYFA had the opportunity to speak to Song about his work for the presentation, the future of Animation and VFX, and any advice he has for students interested in pursuing a path in this industry.

    When asked about his presentation for the event, Song commented that it will be centered on how things can be done in a new system in Houdini (USD Workflow), called Solaris. USD stands for Universal Scene Description and it allows 3D data to be interchanged among different suites of digital creation applications. The Solaris presentation, Song says, will allow animators and VFX artists to learn “how to bring in USD assets, how to select different models from the one asset set, how you can add effects on the USD asset, and, finally, how to use the new render engine, Karma, to render it.”

    Houdini (USD) Workflow

    “For me, everything is new,” says Song. “I didn’t know anything about USD at the beginning, and Solaris is still under development. Putting two completely new things together, and creating a good result [with his team] is the most fun part.”

    Rendered image using Houdini software

    When asked what advice Song has for students who want to get into effects animation, Song shared this response:

    “Effects animation is unlike other departments like modeling, animation, and lighting. Making an effect is slow. You change some values, and you wait anywhere from ten minutes to a few hours,” he begins. “There is no correct way to make something, which means there could be 100+ ways to make a similar effect. This increases the opportunity to make a totally unique effect but, at the same time, it is really hard to get to know how exactly things should work. So, be patient and just keep practicing.”

    USD could become a replacement for the now standard python language. To see Houdini accepting it so enthusiastically means that it is here to stay and will most likely become the standard of the future. It seems that SideFX, and NYFA alum and instructor Arnold Song, are signaling that USD will become the programming language of the future for Animation and VFX.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) would like to congratulate NYFA alum and instructor Arnold song on his upcoming presentation for Houdini Hive Worldwide and would like to thank him for sharing more about his work on Polaris and his advice to future students.

    For more information on the 3D & VFX Animation School at NYFA, check out our website here. 

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    May 15, 2020 • 3D Animation, Alumni Events, Faculty Highlights • Views: 708

  • New York Film Academy Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) Welcomes David Yazbek and Anna K Jacobs for Musical Theatre Workshop

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    On March 3rd, the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) participated in a master class with Tony Award-winner David Yazbek and New York Youth Symphony Musical Theater Songwriting Program (NYYS). The master class was hosted at New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) New York campus.

    The composers in the NYYS songwriting program vary in age from 12-22 years old.  Under the guidance of the program director, Anna K. Jacobs (2020 Jonathan Larson Grant recipient), the young songwriters chose moments from the animated Pixar film Inside Out to set to music in a verse/chorus musical form. Students from the Harlem School of the Arts, as well as students from the New York Film Academy, were assigned different songs, rehearsed with the composers, and then performed the songs in front of David Yazbek and an audience.

    David Yazbek (Left) and Anna K. Jacobs (Right) share with PCMT, NYYS, and Harlem School of the Arts students

    Yazbek offered feedback on all of the compositions to the NYYS songwriters. Siya Simanga (PCMT) sang a song called “Bing Bong Guide Song”, written by Grace Gamins, in which the character of Bing Bong (Riley’s childhood imaginary friend) offers Joy and Sadness help in getting back to headquarters.  Jordan White (PCMT) sang the final song of the night called “I Miss Minnesota”, written by Kayden Merritt and arranged by Simon Broucke, in which Riley confesses to her parents how sad she sometimes about leaving her childhood home.Jordan was joined by PCMT students Alexis Loiselle as Sadness, Jennifer Molson as Joy, Lucia Caballero as Disgust, Mario Greiner as Anger and Siya Siyamtanga as Fear.

    All of the NYFA PCMT students that participated and attended said it was very refreshing to hear the creative process talked about in a different way. Yazbek’s call to remain curious and explore multiple genres of music and types of culture was a valuable lesson for actors and composers alike and he  encouraged everyone to collaborate constantly with those around them. Several PCMT students commented later that they were struck by his kindness and humility as he offered feedback, even as his obvious expertise shone through.

    NYFA PCMT students perform their musical piece based on the Pixar film ‘Inside Out’

     

    After meeting PCMT’s music supervisor, Anna Ebbesen, at a workshop a few years ago, Anna K. Jacobs has had an affiliation with NYFA in several different ways. She composed music for an original movie musical, Kaya: Taste of Paradise, for the PCMT 2-Year program. The film was directed by NYFA’s Paul Warner, choreographed by head of dance, Michelle Potterf, with a book by Jerome Parker and music supervised and orchestrated by Ebbesen.

    Jacobs also did a reading of her show Echo as part of the NYFA “New Works Series ” with our musical theatre students. Ebbesen has also joined Jacobs at the NYYS Musical Theater Songwriting Program as music director. It’s true, having multiple “Anna’s” on email chains is confusing, but both of them are happy to have such a strong relationship with both the Harlem School of the Arts and the New York Film Academy, and they appreciated this opportunity to share new musical theatre with the next generation of performers and creatives.

    David Yazbek observes as students perform their musical pieces

    New York Film Academy thanks David Yazbek and Anna K. Jacobs for sharing an evening with NYFA PCMT students to provide constructive feedback and industry expertise. NYFA would also like to thank the New York Youth Symphony Musical Theater Songwriting Program for opening up the master class to NYFA PCMT students, and the Harlem School of the Arts for their participation and collaboration.

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    March 31, 2020 • Musical Theatre • Views: 1435

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA 3D Animation & Visual Effects Student Chris Su Wins Pixar Storyboard Contest

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    Xingyu “Chris” Su, a BFA in 3D Animation & Visual Effects student at New York Film Academy-Los Angeles (NYFA-LA), recently won a storyboard contest held by Campus Movie Fest and Pixar Animation Studios.

    Su submitted his work to the contest, which was judged by representatives from Campus Movie Fest and Pixar, the studio behind animation blockbusters Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, WALL-E, Up, and Ratatouille.

    Chris Su

    NYFA 3D Animation & VFX Student Chris Su

    As part of his prize, Su was able to work with Pixar executives and artists in Atlanta, Georgia for four days at the end of June. Su and other contest winners visited the CMF Terminus at the Hilton in Atlanta, where he was able to participate in creative workshops and attend a Pixar SparkShort screening. There was also a mixer where Su was able to network with other artists and experienced members of the industry. The weekend concluded with the Golden Tripod Award ceremony.

    Perhaps most importantly, Su was able to work with these established animators, including producers and directors from Pixar and Disney, who shared their experiences and passed some of their knowledge along to the contest winners.

    “It was a fun weekend and I received so much good experience,” Su tells NYFA. “It was such a good opportunity. And I encourage NYFA students to submit their films to the contest next year.”

    Su is currently working on his thesis project. He plans to work as a storyboard artist after graduating NYFA’s BFA in 3D Animation & Visual Effects program, ideally for Pixar or Disney. His favorite recent Pixar film is Coco. “It’s such a touching story,” says Su, “and I want to tell a story like that some day.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates BFA in 3D Animation & Visual Effects student Chris Su on his win and looks forward to his future career in animation!

    See the award-winning work Chris Su submitted to Pixar below:

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    July 18, 2019 • 3D Animation, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1522

  • ‘Inside Out,’ Pixar’s New Film About Emotions, Is Sure To Play With Yours

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    Pixar's trailer for Inside Out

    Pixar, the animation giants that seem to release hit film after hit film, have put out a 2nd trailer for the upcoming Inside Out. 

    The initial trailer did not reveal much about the plot of the film. Rather, it showed the interaction between a girl and her two parents…and the voices that go on inside each of their heads.

    The follow-up trailer exposes a bit more about the story, however.  The little voices controlling the conversations are actually emotions. There are five to be exact. Inside the girl’s head are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith),  Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), and Anger (Lewis Black).

    Things get messy, however, when Joy and Sadness get sucked out of the brain’s central control system and into the depths of the mind, leaving the other three emotions to operate.

    That leaves Disgust, Fear, and Anger to run the show. That doesn’t sound very pleasant, and you can tell from moments in the trailer that the story isn’t all happy. We won’t know why until we see the film, though.

    Pete Docter, screenwriter and director of the film, has worked on several of Pixar’s other big hits like Toy Story, Monster’s Inc., Wall-E, and Up

    Pixar doe snot shy away from pulling at the audience’s heartstrings, and this film about emotions is sure to play with yours.

    Check out the trailer below:

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    March 11, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 4063

  • 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: 836

  • Pixar’s Rules for Great Storytelling

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    Pixar Animation

    Thanks to department chair Eric Conner of the screenwriting program for this great tip! A story artist at Pixar Animation Studios had been tweeting a series of “story basics” which illustrates the kind of talent that exists at Pixar. Their overwhelming success is easily demonstrated by the numbers. 7 out of 12 Pixar films were nominated for Best Screenplay at the Oscars and the company won the Animated Feature Academy Award 6 times. They have 13 consecutive box-office toppers and 2 Best Picture nominations. If that’s not proof of their genius, then we don’t know what is. Steve Jobs purchased the studio in 1986 for $10 million. It was originally a hardware company with only one animator on its staff. Now it’s widely reputed to be one of the best film studios on the planet. Here’s a quote on Deadline from the producer of the latest Pixar hit Brave, which debuted at number 1 at the Box Office this weekend. They attribute their phenomenal success to the basic wisdom that story trumps all.

    It was not easy. The biggest challenges at Pixar are always the stories. We want really original stories that come from the hearts and minds of our filmmakers. We take years in crafting the story and improving it and changing it; throwing things out that aren’t working and adding things that do work. All of that  is just the jumping off point for the technology and how we are going to make this happen.

    Without further ado, here are 22 pointers from Pixar’s story artists for creating a compelling story and building a mega-successful franchise. Don’t forget to learn more about our animation curriculum and become a top-notch animator for Pixar. Click here to request more information on the program!

    1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

    2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.

    3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
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    June 25, 2012 • 3D Animation, Film School, Screenwriting • Views: 3671