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BFA Computer Art Remote Lecture Summer Series
September 8, 2020
Zoom meeting.

The fall 2020 semester is approaching quickly, and the BFA Computer Art department is preparing to welcome back the SVA community for our first fully remote semester. This will be an unprecedented experience for many freshmen and returning upperclassmen here at SVA and at universities around the world. Social distancing, Zoom meetings and adapting to new plans have become familiar to us over the past six months, and remote technologies have been keeping our community connected.

A character being sculpted in the Zbrush demo with Danny Williams

A deeply important aspect of the BFA Computer Art department is the supportive network of staff, students and alumni who foster a sense of community within the department. The rapid transition to online learning due to the global pandemic in the spring had the BFA Computer Art department turn to remote workshops and lectures to help bring our community together during this unpredictable time. Since then, we have hosted weekly workshops on topics varying from technical demonstrations to freelancing advice hosted by professionals scattered across the country, and attended by students around the world. These workshops have served as a way for alumni to give back to students, for students to learn new skills and socialize, and as a virtual meeting point for our community members during the pandemic.


Due to the wide-range of creative and technical focus in our department, we created a varied series to accommodate these interests. Some of the technical demonstration workshops included a Modeling and Texturing in Maya with Shihan Barbee (Netflix), an advanced rigging in Maya workshop series with Harris Wu (ScanlineVFX), a best-practices of Nuke workshop with David Piombino (MPC), and a Digital Matte Painting Workshop with Jina Lee (The Molecule).  


In Danny Williams’ (Activision/Blizzard) Zbrush modeling series, students were invited to attend 3 sessions in a week-long series about sculpting creatures in 3D. The first session focused on gathering reference and creating a 2D design before modeling begins. The second session was a Zbrush sculpting demo, using the 2D designs from the first session. The last session focused on incorporating the finished sculpt and modeled assets into a project.


Students looking for feedback and areas to pursue growth had the opportunity to submit their work to reviews with industry professionals and alumni. Remote reel reviews that were held this summer included some with Milton Ramirez (WETA), Brien Hindmen (BlueSky), and an alumni panel with Cat McDonnell ‘17, Brett Taggart ‘15, Nicholas Manfredi ‘15, Michael Altman ‘14, and Jonathan Lin ‘12 (all currently at Disney Animation). Students were also invited to attend virtual presentations from animation studios such as Blizzard, CyberConnect2, Unreal Engine, SideFX, and an artist talk with DreamWorks’ Radford Sechrist (creator of Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts). These virtual studio presentations gave students the opportunity to connect directly with studio professionals and to learn about job opportunities during this time.


We are hoping to address the interests our students are passionate about with these workshops, and our community has been vocal about their concerns in addressing social injustices and racism taking place inside and outside of the SVA community. With workshops like Jyoti Gupta’s Colo(u)rism Workshop, which addresses colorism in media, or David Heredia’s, Using Our Creative Space to Talk about Race, we strive to better educate ourselves and bring a more holistic education to the global citizens of our department. 


The remote lecture series has given our community a chance to stay in touch and keep learning in mind during a stressful and uncertain period. Now that the fall semester is fully remote, we are planning to continue working hard to keep our community connected through online workshops, lectures, mixers, and more!  


Here is the full list of the summer 2020 lectures that took place:


April 6th, 8th, 10th - Zbrush Lecture Series with Danny Williams


April 16th - Reel Reviews with Brien Hindman


April 19th - Previs & Layout Lecture with Mike Deliso


April 23rd, 30th - Unreal Engine Lecture Series with Luis Cataldi and Tom Shannon


April 27th, 28th, 30th - Conversations with Business Faculty with Ila Abramson, Amanda Libotte, Kristin Labriola, Cat Gulacsy, Emily Miethner


April 30th - Getting Ready for Industry with SideFX


May 9th - Modeling & Texturing Assets for Commercials and Film with Shihan Barbee


May 19th BFA Computer Art Alumni Panel with Cat McDonnell, Nicholas Manfredi, Brett Taggart, Michael Altman, and Jonathan Lin


May 22nd - Reel Reviews with Milton Ramirez


May 29th - Comping Clean and Keying Dirty Nuke Workshop with David Piombino


June 1st - Recruitment Live Seminar with CyberConnect2


June 1st, 3rd, 5th - Recruitment Lecture Series with Cat Gulacsy


June 2nd - Simple Rigging Techniques for Everyday Animation with Stephen Mann


June 6th - 27th - 4 Part Advanced Rigging Lectures with Harris Wu


June 8th - Reel Reviews with BFA Computer Art Alumni Panelists


June 29th - Lighting Reel Reviews with Charlotte Bae


July 8th - Artist Talk with Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts’ creator Radford Sechrist


July 15th - Matte Painting Workshop with Jina Lee


July 31st - Maximizing Your Degree presented by DiverseToons


August 21st- The Colo(u)rism Project Workshop with Jyoti Gupta


August 28th - Freelance Guide for VFX Artists with Christina Shin