Creating today’s entertainment media demands community, collaboration and teamwork. Community is vital to artists struggling in the current economic landscape. The Industry Giants 2009: Building a Community, Visual Effects, Animation and Game Forum features ten industry professionals. The eighth annual event takes place Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6, 2009 at the Spring Creek Campus (SCC) of Collin County Community College, 2800 Spring Creek Parkway in Plano, Texas. It’s open to the public, students and industry professionals.
2009 Seminar Speakers
Artist and Creative Director
Michel Gagné began a highly successful artistic career in 1985. Renowned for his unique vision, Michel has lent his talent to several animation companies, such as Don Bluth Studios, Warner Bros., Disney, Pixar, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and others. His creative work can be seen in over twenty feature films including The Iron Giant, Osmosis Jones and Ratatouille. His short films, Prelude to Eden andInsanely Twisted Shadow Puppets, have played in festivals throughout the world. He was honored by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA-Hollywood), with four Annie Award nominations. Gagné is also very active in the publishing world having written and illustrated a dozen books, as well as two ongoing comic series: ZED and The Saga of Rex. His work has been published by DC Comics, Image Comics, Random House as well as Michel's own imprint, GAGNE International Press.
James (Jay) Hawkins
Senior Concept Artist, Epic Games
James (Jay) Hawkins has been a concept artist in the game industry for almost 9 years. After working with several companies for a few years, he was given the opportunity to work at Epic Games on the Unreal Franchise. Now a Senior Concept Artist at Epic Games, he lends his passion for games and sci-fi to the Gears of War franchise. As primary concept artist for Gears of War he is responsible for weapon, vehicle and character designs as well as additional work in motion capture.
Jason Manley is President of www.MassiveBlack.com and the Founding Director of www.ConceptArt.org. After years working in games as an artist and art director, he went on to build Massive Black, which does high-profile development for Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, EA, Disney, Blizzard, Id software, Bungie, MTV and a total of 19 of the top 20 video game publishers, as well as film, TV, toy, and advertising companies. Massive Black has completed 232 projects to date for 170 renown clients. Jason is also responsible for the successful ConceptArt.org training programs and workshops, helping found The Next-Gen Atelier, and for creating the vibrant online community which now has 154,000 members sharing 2 million pieces of art and ideas, which receive 110,000,000 page views per year.
Technical Developer, Digital Domain
Tadao Mihashi is a Technical Developer at Digital Domain. Most recently he completed work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, on which he was instrumental in the development of the skin shader library, a critical part of the overall lighting pipeline. Tadao's credits include visual effects work on Mission: Impossible II, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, Catwoman, Constantine, and the upcoming 2012 from director Roland Emmerich. Tadao holds an M.F.A. degree from The Academy of Art in San Francisco, California.
CG Supervisor, Café FX
Will Nicholson was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, far from Hollywood in both the geographical sense as well as metaphorically. After a brief stint at a junior college that underwhelmed his expectations, he learned his craft on his own through books, magazines, T.V. shows, and DVD extras. Open-minded industry veterans became his mentors. Thirteen years later, he has become a CG Supervisor at Cafe FX, a world renowned visual effects facility in the middle of Los Angeles, overseeing the creation of outstanding photorealistic visual effects for some of the biggest movies of the 21st century: Spy Kids, Sin City, The Mummy 3, Seven Pounds, Dragonball, and Night at the Museum 2. Outside of work, he's an aspiring writer-producer with several screenplays and short films under his belt, and is nearing completion of an E-Book on how to get into the visual effects industry.
President, Radar Cartoons
Rita Street is the president of Radar Cartoons, a producer’s representation firm specializing in the development and sales of original animation content. Radar has placed numerous shows into development including Ruby Gloom for YTV and Nelvana, Frankenstein’s Cat for the BBC, France 3 and McKinnon & Saunders, and Hero: 108 for Gamania Digital Entertainment, Mike Young Productions and Cartoon Network Europe. In 2008, Rita completed her first animated short, Mock ‘n Boyd with Dainty Productions. Additional credits include work as publisher of Animation Magazine, editor of Film & Video Magazine and author of the Rockport Publisher hardback, Computer Animation: A Whole New World. Rita is the founder of the international non-profit organization, Women in Animation.
2009 Masterclass Speakers
Lighting and Composting Supervisor, Reel FX
Jeff Alcantara studied Art and Architecture as an undergrad before doing graduate work at the Visualization Laboratory at Texas A&M University. He is currently a Lighting and Composting Supervisor at Reel FX in Dallas. The scope of his work at Reel FX includes visual effects for live action films, feature animation, special attraction rides, and video game cinematics. Jeff’s film credits include Open Season 2, Enchanted, Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter and commercial projects for various DreamWorks’ animation features including Shrek The Third, Bee Movie, and Madagascar 2. Jeff also teaches a computer animation course at Southern Methodist University.
Character Artist, Id software
Brett Briley (a.k.a. “Spark”) was born in East Lansing, MI, and now lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and son. Like most artists, he describes himself as being born “with pencil in hand.” He graduated from Ringling School of Art and Design, where he went on to do Illustration before heading to Disney, then finally into games. He is currently a Character Artist for Id software, working on Doom 4. His projects have included Halo Wars, Age of Empires 3: Warchiefs, Age of Empires 3, Oblivion, NWN 2, Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, Planetside: Core Combat, Planetside, and Anne Mccaffrey's Freedom. Aside from professional work, he also has taught at the Art Institute of Dallas.
Senior Creative Director, Janimation
Greg Punchatz developed his artistic skills at an early age in Dallas, TX, creating creatures and sci-fi/ fantasy clay models. He provided make up/prosthetic effects for A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Robocop (all three films), Coming to America, Beauty and the Beast (TV series) and Spy Kids 2. He also designed creatures for the 1993 best-selling first-person shooter video game Doom. Now Senior Creative Director at Janimation, Greg started his 3D career at the studio where he contributed to the Area 51 game trailer for Midway games. He produces commercials, visual effects, art direction, animation, and pre-viz for clients such as: VH1, Dallas Mavericks, Chick-Fil-A, Firaxis Games, Midway Games, Namco , McDonalds, and Miller Brewing Company to name a few.
Freelance Animation Director and Professor, Art Institute of Dallas
David Tart is currently a professor at the Art Institute of Dallas and Freelance Animation Director. He most recently completed 3 projects for the Henson Studios: Three Pigs and a Baby, Tortoise VS Hare, and Goldilocks. He has 15 years of industry experience for such companies as Danger Productions/ABC, Wild Brain, Pixar and Blue Sky. He has worked in traditional stop motion as well as 3D animation as an Animator and Animation Director. David’s film credits include: Tinkerbell, The Ant Bully, Robots, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., Toy Story, Toy Story II, A Bug’s Life and the German feature film Tamanana. His television work includes the award-winning Lamasil Alive ad and ABC’s Bump In The Night.