Archive for '2016'

    Academy of Art Alumnus Works On New Disney Series

    Mark Seidenberg, one of the school's first animation students, is co-executive producer of Disney Junior's Mickey and the Roadster Racers


    (L-R) Rob LaDuca (Executive Producer, Mickey and the Roadster Racers), Mickey Mouse, Mark Seidenberg (Co-Executive Producer, Mickey and the Roadster Racers). Photo credit: Disney Junior.

    “After seeing the first little film that I made in class, I knew that's what I wanted to do,” said Mark Seidenberg, one of Academy of Art University’s first animation students.

    Seidenberg is now the co-executive producer and supervising story editor of Mickey and the Roadster Racers, the new Disney Junior preschool series, which is set to debut on Jan. 15, 2017. The show will unveil the wild car-racing adventure between Mickey Mouse and his gang.

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    The School of Web Design & New Media’s Fall 2016 Ideate Conference Showcases Innovation and Opportunity


    Photo by Raina Maes.

    The School of Web Design & New Media’s Ideate Conference debuted in Fall 2015, but already the daylong summit has become a must-attend end-of-semester event. With a combination of one-on-one portfolio review sessions, face time with prospective employers and a tech showcase featuring trailblazing projects, the multifaceted conference offers students an indispensable tool for building industry knowledge and highlighting their work.

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    A Special Year for the Academy's Car Collection

    The collection wows with 32 cars on display during the annual auto show


    The 1959 Cadillac 62 Coupe DeVille was in the spotlight at this year’s reception. Photo by Bob Toy.

    For over a decade, the Stephens family has hosted a reception in honor of the annual San Francisco Chronicle International Auto Show, which took place this year at the Moscone Center on Nov. 19–27. 

    Academy of Art University Chairman Emeritus Richard A. Stephens has always had a passion for cars and never dreamed that one day he’d be able to host a collection this huge. Now, at 91 years old, his dream has come true and he is able to share his love for cars with not only his family, but other car enthusiasts in the area.

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    Inside the 21st Annual Faculty + Alumni Fine Art Auction

    Proceeds benefit the Academy’s Student Scholarship Fund


    School of Fine Art Executive Director of Painting & Printmaking Craig Nelson addresses the guests at the Fine Art Auction. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Just one street away from the hustle and bustle of Fisherman’s Wharf, art collectors and enthusiasts were enjoying wines and hors d’oeuvres under the open arches of The Cannery. It was the Academy of Art University’s 21st Annual Faculty + Alumni Fine Art Auction, held on Nov. 12. Between friendly chats, attendees were carefully observing, ready to bid on 424 original paintings, prints, jewelry and sculptures created by Academy faculty and alumni.

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    In Loving Remembrance: Curran G. Engel

    September 23, 1963 – November 22, 2016


    We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our former instructor, colleague, and friend, Curran Engel. Curran was an integral part of Academy of Art University’s School of Motion Pictures & Television for nearly 20 years, first as an adjunct instructor and most recently as Head of the Producing Track.

    Throughout his time at the Academy, Curran helped shape countless students through his unique combination of thoughtful mentorship and keen insight into the world of independent film. A lover of cinema, particularly classic films, Curran’s passion made him a joy to speak with and learn from. More so, his kindness, clever humor, and gracious manner left an indelible mark on each person he met, as evidenced by the enormous outpouring of love and condolences from family, friends, and former students.

    Curran was a beloved member of the Academy Community and will be sorely missed by all of us at the School of Motion Pictures & Television.  We offer our heartfelt sympathy to Curran’s wife and two sons.

    Producer Leky Lin Harnesses Film Festivals' Promotional Power

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    The Lottery team. (L–R) Jialiang He (Director of Photography), Jingwei Zhou (Composer), Xixi Liu (Editor) and Leky Lin (Producer). Photo courtesy of Leky Lin.

    As producer of the short film The Lottery, Academy of Art University School of Motion Pictures & Television graduate student Leky Lin wasted no time putting classroom teachings into practice. The lessons from Patricia Pawlak’s film distribution and film festival preparation class, in combination with Lin’s work ethic and the strength of the film itself, have propelled The Lottery to remarkable success on the film festival circuit.

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    Men's Cross Country Takes 11th at NCAA Nationals

    MXC - Team @ Nationals (photo by Jennifer Tavé)

    Men’s cross country team at NCAA Nationals. Photo by Jennifer Tavé.

    In a fitting end to the best men’s cross country season in Academy of Art University history, the Urban Knights finished 11th overall, the highest ever by a Pacific West Conference team and four spots ahead of their projection, at the 2016 NCAA Division II National Championships on Nov. 19.

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    Landscape Architecture Alum's VR Skills Land Him a Job at San Rafael Studio


    Academy alumnus Youngwook Jason Jeon presenting his work to LAN students. Photo by Bob Toy.

    It’s no wonder Academy of Art University School of Landscape Architecture alumnus Youngwook Jason Jeon (M.F.A. ’16) landed a job right after graduation. His portfolio includes something landscape architecture firms don’t often see (not yet anyway)—a virtual reality experience depicting an urban park he designed for his Master’s thesis.

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    Fall Film Festival Debuts Inspirational Student Work

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    A scene from the Studio X project, Stars. Image courtesy of Becky Johnson.

    Academy of Art University’s Morgan Auditorium had its doors open on Nov. 16, as members of the Tea Time Animation Club welcomed everyone to this year’s Fall Film Festival. Enthusiasm ran throughout the rows, while students loudly discussed what they were about to see and the hosts handed out light up accessories. This annual event is to showcase students’ work to their peers and for their fellow film industry students to get inspired.

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    Animation Students Compete in 24 HOURS Contest

    Typically, the pipeline for an animation project is measured in months or years. But what happens if the timeframe is condensed into a single day? A record 690 animation students from 29 schools across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Australia found out on Oct. 7, during the 14th annual 24 HOURS Animation Contest for Students, which challenges teams of five to create a 30-second animated film entirely from scratch in just 24 hours.

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    School of Advertising's Creative Bootcamp a Huge Success


    School of Advertising students working together at the Creative Bootcamp. Photo courtesy of Jim Wojtowicz.

    At a recent event hosted by Academy of Art University’s School of Advertising, students got a taste of what it’s like to work under the notoriously tight deadlines of the advertising industry. The Creative Bootcamp event was sponsored by the One Club—a renowned international organization dedicated to promoting excellence within the industry. The School of Advertising has hosted the prestigious event for the last four years and continues to grow its relationship with the One Club.

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    School of Jewelry & Metal Arts Exhibition Opens at 435 Jefferson Gallery


    Precious metals and smiling faces were aglow at the 435 Jefferson Gallery on Nov. 3, when a cross-section of works by jewelry and metal arts M.F.A. students and alumni went on view in the exhibition Past, Present, Future.

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    Guest Artist Ira Sherman Holds Pneumatic Hinge Workshop for Academy Students

    Over the weekend of November 12–13, 15 students from Academy of Art University Schools of Jewelry & Metal Arts (JEM) and Fine Art – Sculpture (FASCU) took a break from their coursework to participate in a special techniques workshop hosted by JEM and the Jewelry & Metal Arts Club.

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    Wallace Chan Surprises JEM Students

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    (L–R) International artisan jeweler Wallace Chan, School of Jewelry & Metal Arts Director Charlene Modena and Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens. Photo by Maureen Brady.

    Internationally renowned artisan jeweler Wallace Chan surprised Academy of Art University’s School of Jewelry & Metal Arts (JEM) with a visit on Nov. 7.  Chan’s exciting visit caught the students off guard as he casually approached the studio classrooms.

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    New ArtU Esports Program Offers On-Campus Game Room & Competitions

    Enthusiastic students are taking advantage of new gaming opportunities thanks to new space and events


    Academy of Art University students taking part in the new ArtU Esports program. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Sometimes, a new program aligns so seamlessly with the curriculum and student interests that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t always there. That appears to be the case for the new ArtU Esports program, a collaboration between the Schools of Game Development and Communications & Media Technologies that debuted this fall to immediate and enthusiastic student response.

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    Creating the Ultimate 49ers Fan Experience

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    A screenshot from the Academy of Art University and Zeality collaboration project with the San Francisco 49ers. Photo courtesy of James Egan.

    To emphasize and celebrate the ever-growing medium of virtual reality (VR), students and faculty from Academy of Art University’s Schools of Communications & Media Technologies (COM) and Motion Pictures & Television (MPTV) teamed up with Zeality to create the ultimate San Francisco 49ers fan experience.

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    UKR Wraps up Fall 2016's Tuesday Tunes

    On Nov. 15, Urban Knights Radio held their final Fall 2016 Tuesday Tunes event, which featured San Francisco/Oakland-based band Proto. The Bay Area band, comprised of members Tim, Nick, Mark and Zach, performed a lively 30-minute set at the UKR station, featuring songs off of their 2016 EP, Sofa Prince, as well as their 2015 self-titled EP.

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    Sculptor's Playful Animals Pop up All Over the City

    Academy graduate creates a menagerie of whimsical creatures to encourage optimism


    Sculptor and Academy of Art University alumnus Jihoon Choi's Giraffe in the heart of Union Square in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Jihoon Choi.

    Last summer, you might have spotted a bright yellow, nine-foot tall giraffe resembling a giant Lego toy at some well-known San Francisco locations. Made from sheets of metal by sculptor Jihoon Choi, the whimsical creature elicited plenty of double takes and smiles when the artist took it on a photoshoot around the city. He photographed the giraffe in places such as the Civic Center, Pier 7, the cable car turntable at Powell and Market Streets and Hunters Point.

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    Steam Greenlight Offers Path to Success For Indie Game Developers

    About a year ago, An “Rolf” Chung (M.F.A. ’16) and Fred Lin (M.F.A. ’16) were having dinner together after class when an exciting email arrived. Their game, Magic Masks, had been “greenlit” on Steam Greenlight—an online platform where members of the community vote on the games they like best.

    “All of a sudden this message hit us by surprise. We could hardly believe it,” recalled Chung, Magic Masks lead designer. He clicked the link to Magic Masks' Greenlight page to confirm it was true, and sent screenshots to the rest of their development team—Andrew Miller (M.F.A. ’13) and Yulong “Tobby” Tao (M.F.A. ’16). “We all got really excited and immediately started planning our next steps.”

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    Fashion Campaign Brings Gladys Perint Palmer & Alumna Zhangchi Wang Full Circle

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    Gladys Perint Palmer’s illustration of former student Zhangchi Wang’s design adorns a tram in Hong Kong. Photo courtesy of Gladys Perint Palmer.

    Some coincidences are so amazing that it’s hard to believe they happened by chance. The series of events linking Academy of Art University Executive Vice President of Artistic Development Gladys Perint Palmer and her former student, Zhangchi Wang, to a promotional campaign for Asia-based retailer Joyce, falls into this category.

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    Students Defy Gravity at Out of Bounds

    Timing, patience and determination were key for drone photography competition winners Austin Esposito and Kris Everett

    Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 5.35.42 PM

    Mike Hoppe freebords down Lombard Street in Austin Esposito and Kris Everett’s Out of Bounds overall winning entry. Image courtesy of Austin Esposito and Kris Everett.

    On the night of Oct. 21, an eager crowd of Academy of Art University students and photography enthusiasts packed the 111 Minna Gallery to witness the high-flying video results of the first-ever collegiate drone photography competition and exhibit Out of Bounds. Made possible by the sponsoring partnership of Red Bull and Cyberlink, this challenge of stratospheric skill gave the Academy’s ace drone pilots the opportunity to truly get their heads in the clouds.

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    Banana Republic Empowers Styling Students


    (L–R) Kati Brandt and Marlena Griffin of Banana Republic. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Room 200 at Northpoint was buzzing with fashion forward students on Oct. 12 as Banana Republic’s Human Resource Manager Marlena Griffin and Assistant Manager of Women’s Product Kati Brandt came to talk to the styling and merchandising students of Academy of Art University about what it takes to work at the company’s flagship location here in San Francisco.

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    Disney Animator & Academy Alumnus Jorge Ruiz Cano Gives Students an Insider's Look at 'Moana'


    (L–R) Elham Sepehrjou (Teatime Animation Club), Jorge Ernesto Ruiz Cano (Disney animator and Academy alumnus), Gaby Rojo (Teatime Animation Club), Fernando Penafiel (Teatime Animation Club) and Josephine Sun (Teatime Animation Club). Photo courtesy of Becky Johnson.

    Save for perhaps Dwayne Johnson himself, Disney could not have sent a more charismatic ambassador to introduce its newest animated film, Moana, to Academy of Art University students. Venezuelan animator Jorge Ruiz Cano, who holds a Master’s in character animation from the Academy, visited 620 Sutter Theater on Nov. 1 to discuss the film at an event hosted by the Teatime Animation Club and the School of Animation & Visual Effects.

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    COM Student a Force at Urban Knights Radio

    Terrell Butler steps up at UKR, while finding success at local comedy clubs


    Urban Knights Radio Program Director Terrell Butler. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Terrell Butler isn’t one to sit around and wait for opportunities to come his way. Last spring, for example, the Academy of Art University School of Communications & Media Technologies student took it upon himself to learn the ropes of running Urban Knights Radio by shadowing graduating program director Von Bellows.

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    Hailee Steinfeld Talks 'The Edge of Seventeen'


    Hailee Steinfeld and Haley Lu Richardson in The Edge of Seventeen. Photo by Murray Close. ©2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved.

    Over the past year, Oscar-nominated actress Hailee Steinfeld has established herself as a legitimate popstar with songs “Love Myself” and her current single, “Starving,” with Grey, featuring Zedd. As “Starving” continues to climb Billboard’s Hot 100, the nearly 20-year-old phenom returns to the big screen starring in the highly anticipated coming-of-age feature film The Edge of Seventeen.

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    Meet 'Manchester By The Sea's' Lucas Hedges


    Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges in Manchester By The Sea. Photo by Claire Folger. Courtesy of Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions.

    Director Kenneth Lonergan’s critically acclaimed new film Manchester By The Sea follows the story of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), an apartment janitor leading a simple life in Boston. Following the death of his older brother (Kyle Chandler), Lee returns to his hometown to take care of his 16-year-old nephew Patrick and is forced to deal with his past. Playing Patrick is 19-year-old Lucas Hedges, an up-and-coming actor, who can now add Lonergan to the list of esteemed directors he’s already worked with in his young career, including Wes Anderson, Terry Gilliam and Michael Cuesta. 

    Hedges, who is currently a student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, was in San Francisco last month to promote his emotionally poignant new film, and spoke with Academy Art U News about what it was like working with one of his acting heroes, the dynamic between going from acting in school to acting on a film set, and provided some key advice for our Academy of Art University students.

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    Architecture Students Design Award-Winning Prototypes for Homeless Shelters

    ARH 250 Studio introduces students to the social aspects of architecture


    Exhibition logo. Courtesy of Sameena Sitabkhan & Doron Serban.

    Imagine being homeless and pregnant with no place to go. Academy of Art University architecture student Fernanda Kanamori knew someone once in that position. So, when tasked with designing a homeless shelter for a class project, Kanamori knew exactly what kind of shelter she would design.

    “She got kicked out of her house, she had nowhere to go, and she was having a baby,” Kanamori explained. “I wanted to design something that would make her feel special and protected.”

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    Academy Grad Helps People With Disabilities Find Stylish, Accessible Clothing

    Twenty-four years ago, Stephanie Thomas was competing in a beauty pageant when the director of the event asked her a question that changed her life: “Why do you never button your left cuff?” Thomas, who graduated from Academy of Art University with an M.F.A in fashion journalism in 2013, was born without a right thumb and is also missing toes on both of her feet. 

    “I’d never really thought about it before,” said Thomas “But then it dawned on me—‘Duh, I don’t have a right thumb,’ so I never button my left cuff because it takes too long.”

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    Landscape Architecture Grad Presents at ASLA Annual Meeting


    Photo courtesy of ASLA staff.

    School of Landscape Architecture graduate Eric Arneson presented his award-winning project, Bendway Park, at the American Society of Landscape Architects Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Along with other award recipients, Arneson received his award at a ceremony on Monday, Oct. 24.

    Click here to read more about Arneson's project and recent ASLA recognition.

    Kristin Abbott Carves Successful Career Designing Fantastic Walk-Through Worlds


    A scene from one of Abbott’s worlds for the Forår Festival in Copenhagen (2014). Photo courtesy of Kristin Abbott.

    You wouldn’t find dollar store gift wrap at Kristin Abbott’s house when she was growing up. “If we wrapped a present, it wasn’t just wrapped—we made the paper and decorated it like crazy,” said Abbott, who graduated from Academy of Art University’s School of Illustration with a B.F.A. in 2006.

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    Academy Grad Samar Shool Wins Emmy Award


    Image from Emmy-winning PBS show, The National Mall—America’s Front Yard. Image courtesy of Samar Shool.

    The Emmy Awards, the highest honor bestowed by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, annually recognize excellence in television production across various sectors of the industry, including entertainment, news, documentary and sports programming, as well as craft categories. Samar Shool, who holds an M.F.A. in computer animation from Academy of Art University, was among those honored on June 25, 2016, at the 58th National Capital Chesapeake Bay Regional Emmy Awards.

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    School of Architecture Symposium Tackles Homelessness


    Students at the School of Architecture participate in a symposium discussing the realities of the current homeless situation in San Francisco. Photo by Bob Toy.

    In September, the School of Architecture at Academy of Art University hosted a symposium focusing on the issue of homelessness in the Bay Area and how certain organizations are creating new and inventive ways to build community outreach, architectural concepts that can use the design department’s help, and how this can improve the lives of the homeless in San Francisco. On a panel moderated by Executive Director of the School of Architecture Mimi Sullivan, three guest speakers, Maryann Leshin, Del Seymour and Alejandro Pimentel, shared their personal experiences and how they are making an effort to have a positive impact on this desperate cause. The School of Architecture’s Homelessness and the Built Environment Symposium served as a tie in with the San Francisco Chapter of AIA and the 2016 Architecture in the City Festival: Resilient City.

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    School of Advertising Student Wins Prestigious Clio Award

    Academy of Art University School of Advertising student Hernan Bogado was recently awarded a bronze student Clio Award for his Let Them In campaign. The Clio Awards is an esteemed international awards competition that recognizes creative excellence in advertising and design. 

    The awards were part of Advertising Week in New York City, and Bogado traveled there to accept the award at a ceremony held at the American Museum of Natural History.

    “It’s nice to be recognized by people in the industry,” said Bogado upon his return to the Academy. “Competitions are a huge part of the advertising world, and I was inspired by being able to get a real feel for what happens in the industry; it felt like I belonged there.”


    School of Advertising student Hernan Bogado. Photo courtesy of the School of Advertising.

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    Meet Your Models: Courtney Anne Russell

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    Russell as serpentine inspiration as seen through the eyes of artist Sarah Barrie Fenton. Artwork by Sarah Barrie Fenton.

    Bringing a lifetime of dance experience and the heart of a poet, model Courtney Anne Russell is the definition of a muse. Lovely and intelligent, Russell has studied ballet since the age of three, training with the American Ballet Theater, Lines Ballet and the New York City Ballet company before settling in the Bay Area. As a drag and burlesque performer, Russell is an active member of numerous local troupes from the clownish hijinks of Fou Fou Ha to the soulful Butoh inspired stylings of Bad Unkl Sista. A passionate artist and an individual who cannot be defined by conventions Russell pours herself into her performances regardless of the platform.

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    Creating the World of 'Trolls'

    School of Communications and Media Technologies hosts creative team behind the lovable animated musical comedy


    Trolls director Mike Mitchell and broadcast journalism student Whitley Sandretto. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Twenty years after bejeweled navels and colorful sky-high hair fueled the latest troll doll craze, DreamWorks’ animated musical comedy Trolls offers a window to the world of the lovable ugly creatures. On October 20, director Mike Mitchell, co-director Walt Dohrn and screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger visited Academy of Art University to discuss the film at an event hosted by the School of Communications and Media Technologies.

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    Acting Students Embrace Humorous, Emotional Characters in 'Crimes of the Heart'

    Put three sisters in a room and emotions tend to run high—especially when one’s a would-be murderess, another a former mental patient, and the third is careening toward spinsterhood. 

    Tragic on the surface, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Crimes of the Heart has become one of the most beloved classics of American comedy since its 1981 Broadway debut. The Academy of Art University’s new production, directed by School of Motion Pictures and Television instructor Tracy Ward, runs through November 5 at the theater at 620 Sutter.

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    Jessica Tanner Completes Internship With Cinelou Films, Wins SoCal Screenplay Competition

    One day, aspiring screenwriter Jessica Tanner may look back on the summer of 2016 as the season that jump-started her professional development. In addition to completing an industry internship at Cinelou Films, the School of Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media M.F.A. student also won the inaugural Southern California Screenplay Competition. 

    Already intent on pursuing a writing career, Tanner took an introduction to screenwriting class as an undergraduate at Loyola University Maryland and ended up loving it. At Academy of Art University, she found the mix of industry expertise and financial aid she was looking for in a graduate school.

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    From Page to Screen


    Image courtesy of Brandon Garza.

    Brandon Garza, producer and director of photography for the recent film Before the Fall is an Academy of Art University alumnus, whose career is skyrocketing in the film industry. Garza received his B.F.A. from the School of Motion Pictures & Television, with a focus on screenwriting. However, Garza said that he made sure to take a wide variety of courses to give himself “a well-rounded understanding of filmmaking.”

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    Alumni Q&A: Moonyoung Oh of Riot Games


    Academy of Art University alumnus and Riot Games Character Technical Artist Moonyoung Oh. Photo courtesy of Moonyoung Oh.

    Meet Character Technical Artist Moonyoung Oh, an Academy of Art University alumnus, who is currently working at Riot Games.

    Please introduce yourself.

    My name is Moonyoung Oh. I’m a technical artist who is working at Riot Games in L.A. after graduat[ing from] Academy of Art University in Spring 2016. My major was 3-D animation and visual effects … [I learned] about 3-D arts with engineering languages at school.

    What do you do for Riot Games?

    For 3-D films, games, ads, and also so many media arts need technical support to create them. Technical artists support artist and create arts themselves to use technical tools. In 3-D arts, they have different types of technical artist too. I am a character technical artist; [a] rigger, who is set up character controls for animating characters. I create technical tools for modelers and animators to support them to make art more effectively and also what we want to make it.

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    Linguistics in the Field


    Amy Adams as Louise Banks in Arrival by Paramount Pictures. © 2016 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    You can describe Jessica Coon, the lead linguistics consultant for new film Arrival, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker, as down to earth. Coon shared a wealth of knowledge about the story and linguistic concepts involved in the film directed by Denis Villeneuve.

    Arrival follows the quest of sought out linguist, Dr. Louise Banks (Adams) who joins an elite team of mathmaticians soldiers and astronauts to investigate a mysterious spacecraft. The basics of the language in Arrival is expressed in the short story that the film is based on called, Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang. “This is not the next Klingon,” said Coon. The idea of the language being circular and having no end is more of an integral element to the narrative of the film.

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    Celebrating Achievement in Design

    Academy of Art University students named among the finalists and winners at the competitive Adobe Design Achievement Awards

    The annual Adobe Design Achievement Awards honor the most promising student graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, animators, digital filmmakers, developers and computer artists from around the world. Since its inception in 2001, over 38,000 students from 73 countries have participated in the competition.

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    The Academy Earns Accreditation as SideFX Certified Houdini School

    From feature films, to music videos, video games and live concerts, special effects artists use software called Houdini to make cinematic magic. This summer, Academy of Art University earned the distinction of becoming an official SideFX Certified Houdini School, joining an elite group of 15 international colleges and universities, which meet the software company’s high standards for certification.

    “Becoming a Certified Houdini School is quite significant for the Academy because it lets students know that the Houdini courses meet the standards set by SideFX and teach the skills and techniques that are important in landing a job as a Houdini artist,” said School of Animation and Visual Effects instructor Jonathan Gilbert, who teaches two online Houdini courses (ANM242 and ANM344). “Also, the publicity SideFX provides on their website helps connect people from around the world who are interested in learning Houdini at the Academy.”

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    Touch & Learn: Academy Re-Imagines the Library


    An assemblage of opportunities provides new “ConneXions.’’ Photo by Graham Friedman for Material ConneXion.

    “Look, but don’t touch!” This attitude may fit galleries or showrooms, but for professional creatives, tactile information is a critical part of the design process. To learn about the potential of any material, you must interact with it. Academy of Art University has long recognized this important element in quality education and once again renews its commitment for innovation by hosting the Material ConneXion Library as part of its onsite resources.

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    Strength Through Diversity

    Academy of Art University has always valued diversity. It’s a quality that’s evident in the work of School of Photography international students, whether they’re pursuing their education in San Francisco or online. Many of them use their art to tackle social issues affecting their countries or document traditions and lifestyles that are in danger of disappearing.

    “In my first semester teaching on campus, I had students from Russia, Turkey, China and other countries in my class,” said School of Photography Associate Director Adrienne Pao. “It was an amazing group of people who brought different sets of inspirations and resources based on their backgrounds. We always encourage students to highlight what is unique and individual about the places they’re from—the diversity of our international students’ work is simply stunning.”

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    From Parking To Parks

    LAN students take part in PARK(ing) Day, a global event that uses art and social interaction to encourage discussion


    Visitors learn to fold origami cranes during PARK(ing) Day. Photo courtesy of the School of Landscape Architecture.

    Since 2005, cities all over the world have celebrated PARK(ing) Day annually on every third Thursday of September. PARK(ing) Day is a public event celebrated globally by a variety of people including artists, activists, and landscape architects. 

    The primary objective of PARK(ing) Day is to occupy public parking spaces and transform them into small, temporary parks. By transforming parking spaces into “parklets,” the general public is encouraged to participate and experience their city in an entirely new light. Overall, the purpose of PARK(ing) Day is to make a statement and create discussion among citizens on the value of open spaces in urban settings through art and social interaction.

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    Photography Instructors Team Up On Winning Muni Art Project


    City Walks, the winning Muni Art proposal by School of Photography instructors Lisa Levine and Peter Tonningsen. Photo courtesy of Lisa Levine and Peter Tonningsen.

    Two Academy of Art University photography instructors were recently named one of five winners of the 2017 Muni Art contest. Working together, Lisa Levine and Peter Tonningsen came up with the concept for City Walks, their winning proposal. The pair is now busy creating a series of eight bold, colorful images that will highlight San Francisco’s landscapes and distinctive neighborhoods. From January through April 2017, their final pieces—along with work from the other winning artists—will grace the interiors of 100 Muni buses.

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    Meet Your Models: Claudio Tudisco


    A master of disguise, Tudisco channels his inner warlock. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Claudio Tudisco has provided invaluable performances on the podium for nearly two decades ever since a friend suggested he try artistic modeling. A firm believer that a model’s energy is the key factor in the successful symbiotic relationship between model and artists, he shares a piece of his heart in every pose. A brilliant classical guitar player as well, instructors sometimes request Tudisco to simply sit and strum in order to capture a musician at his trade. When not modeling, he pursues his own creative interests: composing songs and directing soulful music videos to accompany them. Exuding romance and adventure, Tudisco is a true professional, whose passion for storytelling and affecting an ambiance lend to consistently impactful drawing experiences.

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    Academy Instructor Chronicles Her Globetrotting Escapades in New Memoir 'Don't Pee in the Wetsuit'

    In the time between working as a news reporter and starting her teaching career, Michelle Kennedy found adventure and emotional healing on an unforgettable trip around the world

    Seven years ago Michelle Kennedy was a television news reporter at the top of her game when she left her job, packed up her apartment and set off on a six-month trip around the world. 

    Adventure ensued while swimming topless in Costa Rica, wining and dining in Tuscany and careening across canyons in Australia. But as she journeyed through 11 countries with her dear friend, she discovered that the trip wasn’t only about fun and excitement, but about healing as well.

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    M.F.A. Acting Students Bring 'The Misanthrope' to Townsend Street

    In a year where presidential candidates hurl increasingly vicious accusations at one another as Election Day draws near, the theme of hypocrisy that runs through French playwright Molière’s classic 18th century comedy The Misanthrope seems especially relevant. Academy of Art University School of Acting graduate students are busy rehearsing the play in their studio production course. The class is taught by Bruce Williams, who is also directing the play.

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    Academy Alums Help Bring 'BoJack Horseman' to Life

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    An example of work from BoJack Horsemen Lead Storyboard Artist (seasons two and three) and Academy alumnus Giovanny Cardenas. Image courtesy of Giovanny Cardenas.

    Equal parts affecting and absurd, Netflix’s hit animated series BoJack Horseman unites man, woman and beast in the search for emotional fulfillment, while simultaneously skewering Hollywood, celebrity culture and the film industry through blistering dialogue and hilarious sight gags. The title character is not only a washed-up actor hoping to fuel a career renaissance with a memoir and an Oscar campaign, but also an anthropomorphic horse. BoJack’s castmates include a medley of humans and animals. 

    Now three seasons into its run, BoJack Horseman has attracted attention from both critics and actors for its ability to knit an unusual cast of characters into a nuanced animated show. The Critics’ Choice Television Awards recognized the show as the 2016 Best Animated Series. A roster of well-known actors lend their voices to the show, from Will Arnett as BoJack to an ever-growing list of recurring characters and guest stars, some of whom gamely agreed to parody themselves.

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    Meet Your Models: Aaron Bogan

    A drawing session with model Aaron Bogan is like getting caught up in your very own action adventure story. With a background in illustration and a love of comic book lore, Bogan uses his extensive martial arts training to bring his dynamic characters to life. A successful competitive fighter, Bogan took gold in jiu jitsu at the 2014 U.S. Open, beating out the former world champion and solidifying his athletic prowess. However like all great superheroes, Bogan has a big heart and can often be found at his dojo delighting children’s classes with stunts wearing his classic Spiderman suit. You’ll most likely encounter him in one of his numerous comic inspired ensembles (Nightwing, Wolverine or Deadpool!) but his dedication to the craft pushes him to explore new characters, including his ruckus drag persona B-Cup Betty. Bogan’s strength and commitment to excellence makes him a uniquely adept model, while his wit and contagious energy make him a pleasure to work with.

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    Grammy-Nominated Singer-Songwriter Skylar Grey Visits Urban Knights Radio

    The “Love the Way You Lie” songwriter shared her experience of getting back in touch with her authentic self in the Oregon wilderness


    Singer-songwriter Skylar Grey. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Skylar Grey recently stopped by Urban Knights Radio at Academy of Art University before setting out on her current U.S. tour in support of her new album, Natural Causes. Grey spoke to students about her experience in the music industry and described what it was like to not only be young, but to be a female singer-songwriter, who thought her career was over before it even started. She encouraged students to be creative and true to their inner-voice, to experiment with their sound and said that getting back in touch with her true self was what got her noticed by big names like Eminem, Rihanna, Dr. Dre and Nicki Minaj.

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    Academy Grad Wins American Society of Landscape Architects' Student Honor Award

    Eric Arneson’s design reimagines the Healdsburg riverfront as a visitor-friendly, natural place of beauty


    The Bendway Towers have become the symbol of the park and provide a visual link to the town. Overhead conveyors have been repurposed as tree walks immersing visitors into a California woodland with panoramic views of the site and beyond. Photo by Eric Arneson.

    In the past decade, Healdsburg has become one of Wine Country’s most popular destinations. With its charming plaza rimmed with fine restaurants, tasting rooms, shops and stylish hotels, the revitalized downtown has plenty to offer visitors and locals. But according to Academy of Art University graduate Eric Arneson, who grew up in Healdsburg, one of his hometown’s most precious resources is being squandered: the Russian River.

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    Photography Student Wins Chance to Participate in Red Bull Illume Workshop

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    Photo by Matt O'Brien, B.F.A. photography student.

    Academy of Art University photography major Matt O’Brien hadn’t planned on trying to win a spot in Red Bull Illume’s first collegiate workshop for action sports photographers. He was heading out of town when the email soliciting submissions from students at 300 colleges throughout the country arrived in his inbox.

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    Innocence and Authenticity Merge in Margaret Keelan's "Weathered" Works

    The Fine Art instructor’s new ceramic sculpture series, Mystery and Memory, is on view at the Arc Gallery

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    Fine Art instructor Margaret Keelan at the opening of the FourSquared exhibition at the Arc Gallery. Photo courtesy of Margaret Keelan.

    Margaret Keelan doesn’t call herself a storyteller, but the narrative elements that pervade her work provoke the imagination and create an irresistible sense of allure. Her new series, Mystery and Memory, commissioned for Arc Gallery’s FourSquared exhibition, features a range of eerily allegorical images that could very well illustrate a tale by Edgar Allan Poe.

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    School of Acting Grad Returns to the Academy in 'The Gypsy Machine'

    Sean Gunnell plays Patrick in the Pop Up Theatre LA production

    Academy of Art University alumnus Sean Gunnell is returning to the place that helped launch his acting career to star in The Gypsy Machine. “I am so excited to be coming back to the Academy to perform in this play,” said Gunnell, who graduated with a B.F.A. from the School of Acting in 2013 and now lives in Los Angeles. “It feels like coming full circle.”

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    Former Motion Pictures & Television Student's Company Shakes up L.A.'s Theater Scene

    In 2012, Grafton Doyle was using the skills he gained from Academy of Art University’s School of Motion Pictures & Television to build his acting career. “I was in San Francisco, doing industrials and commercials, including a spot for the Golden State Warriors,” he said. “I was doing well, but I wanted to be in Los Angeles because it’s a bigger pond for actors.”

    Doyle moved to Los Angeles, hoping to find more work in film and television. But his career took an unexpected turn after he had the chance to direct a play called The Woolgatherer for the Hollywood Fringe Festival, an annual event celebrating freedom of expression and collaboration in the local performing arts community.

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    Tuesday Tunes x3 Coming Soon to UrbanKnightsRadio.Com

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    Local band Panic Is Perfect performing during the Spring 2016 Tuesday Tunes x3 event. Photo courtesy of at Academy of Art University is bringing back their popular Tuesday Tunes x3 event this fall, and if the last spring's event is any indication, students will be treated to some great live music. 

    Tuesday Tunes x3 will feature three artists in three days; Shelby Lanterman on Tuesday, September 13, Wrecked 880 on Wednesday, September 14, and last fall's Academy Idol winner Francisse Bondoc on Thursday, September 15. Live music will begin at 3 p.m. in the studio at 79 New Montgomery.

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    Writer-Director Justin Tipping Talks 'Kicks'

    In Justin Tipping’s first full-length feature film, Kicks, the writer-director is enthusiastic to share his message of the cycle of poverty causing egotistical decisions, which ultimately lead to violence and a false message of masculinity. 

    Kicks follows 14-year-old Brandon (Jahking Guillory), who is constantly bullied by the fact that he doesn’t wear “cool” shoes. When faced with the opportunity to get one of the hottest pairs on the market, albeit illegally, Brandon jumps at the chance. His friends, Rico (Christopher Meyer) and Albert (played by the Notorious B.I.G.’s son, Christopher Jordan Wallace), are shocked when Brandon garners more attention from the opposite sex. However, the glory is short-lived when a local neighborhood punk, Flaco (Kofe Siriboe), beats Brandon up and steals the shoes. Brandon finds himself “marked as a man” and conflicted by the societal norms of his impoverished neighborhood. It’s up to him to choose whether to do what is expected of him and his community or take a different route.

    Tipping grew up in a similar neighborhood to the one represented in the film. “Growing up there, it’s a very specific world. It’s its own character in the movie and growing up there it was very important for me to represent that,” Tipping explained.


    Director Justin Tipping on the set of “Kicks,” a Focus World release. Photo by Jess dela Merced. Courtesy of Focus World.

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    Mobolade Ajomale, Team Canada 4x100 Take Bronze in Rio Olympics


    Academy of Art University’s Mobolade Ajomale was awarded a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics. Courtesy of ART U Athletics.

    Ajomale helped his team secure a place in the finals, with the third fastest time in Canadian history

    In the final event on the penultimate night of track & field action at the 2016 Olympic Games on August 19, Academy of Art University’s Mobolade Ajomale and Team Canada earned bronze medals following an inspired performance in the 4x100m relay.

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    Hello, Urban Knights!


    Academy of Art University Director of Athletics Ben Jay. Photo by James Wood.

    Welcome Academy of Art University students to the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester!

    For new students, it’s the beginning of your journey at the Academy, and for continuing students, welcome back as you pursue your craft with passion and enthusiasm. You are all now and forever will be the Academy’s Urban Knights!

    I am the new Director of Athletics at the Academy. I come to the Academy with 26 years of college athletics experience at Fairfield University, the Pacific-10 (now Pac-12) Conference, Ohio State University, and most recently, the University of Hawaii. I am very excited to come back to San Francisco to lead ART U Athletics.

    The Academy is a very unique educational institution. Out of 1,281 institutions, we are the only art school in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). n II intercollegiate sport teams and 225 ART U student-athletes.

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    Interactive Magazine Class Immerses Students in the World of Digital Pubs


    Traditional magazines continue to fold as more people rely on their electronic devices for the stories and images they could once find only in the pages of print publications. To help Academy of Art University students—particularly those pursuing a career in illustration—gain hands-on experience in the growing digital publishing market, instructors David Ball and Haydn Adams merged their separate editorial illustration and interactive magazine classes a couple years ago. Today, with additional support from the School of Advertising’s copywriters, the collaborative class (WNM 498.01/ILL 455) produces Peephole, a biannual digital magazine, each spring and fall.

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    M.F.A. Graduate Continues to Dazzle the Jewelry Industry

    Jizhi “Gigi” Li’s prize-winning thesis project earned her a $20,000 scholarship and a spot at the 2017 MJSA Expo in New York City


    Jizhi “Gigi” Li poses with pieces from her exhibition, Perfectly Imperfect. Photo courtesy of Jizhi “Gigi” Li.

    Since graduating from Academy of Art University’s School of Jewelry and Metal Arts with an M.F.A., Jizhi “Gigi” Li’s talent has garnered her a number of honors and exciting opportunities. They include winning a coveted $20,000 scholarship to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for her thesis project. The collection Li created for her project explored her “perfectly imperfect” philosophy on beauty and body image. Recently, a dramatic leg adornment from that collection earned Li another prestigious prize: second place in the Future of the Industry category of the Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA) Vision Awards.

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    Nourishing Creative Minds


    Director of the School of Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media Nancy Nigrosh. Photo courtesy of Nancy Nigrosh.

    Director of the School of Writing for Film, Television & Digital Nancy Nigrosh looks to pass on her experience and prepare Academy students for their careers

    Academy of Art University recently announced that Nancy Nigrosh has taken on the role of Director of the School of Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media (WRI). Nigrosh first joined the department as an online director in 2015. 

    Nigrosh’s career is steeped in the entertainment and publishing industries and she is sure to be an asset to the Academy’s curriculum. She is teaching a new class this semester that will help students learn how to not only nab an agent, but how to survive in the industry. Nigrosh will lean on her professional experience in these areas to pass down the hard lessons that are obtained when working hands-on.

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    Virtual Storytelling

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    Photo by Bob Toy.

    The Schools of Motion Pictures & Television and Multimedia Communications have come together in creating a new virtual reality class open to all students at Academy of Art University. This course provides students with the latest VR technology and opens a gateway to a new storytelling experience that’s sweeping the entertainment industry and Silicon Valley. 

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    Making 'The Hollars'


    Left to right: John Krasinski as John Hollar and Margo Martindale as Sally Hollar. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

    Opening in San Francisco this week is The Hollars, directed by John Krasinski (13 Hours) and written by Jim Strouse (The Winning Season). Krasinski, who initially signed onto the film as an actor, rounded out the all-star cast with Margo Martindale (The Americans), Richard Jenkins (Jack Reacher), Sharlto Copley (District 9) and Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect). The film focuses around John Hollar (Krasinski), a struggling artist and impending first-time father in New York City, who returns to his small town roots upon learning that his mother (played marvelously by Martindale) is in the hospital.

    Krasinski, most notably known for his role as Jim Halpert on NBC’s The Office, and Martindale, who is currently nominated for an Emmy for her work on FX’s The Americans, were in the city recently to promote The Hollars, where they spoke with Academy Art U News about their experiences working on their film.

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    'Southside With You': An Interview With Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter


    Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers in Southside With You. Photo credit: Matt Dinerstein. Courtesy of Miramax and Roadside Attractions.

    With the upcoming release of Richard Tanne’s first feature film, Southside With You, Academy Art U News got to chat with actor/producer Tika Sumpter and actor Parker Sawyers, who play Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson—two people that became iconic political power couple. The film, with it’s detailed character development and careful plot beats, takes the audience on a walk with Barack and Michelle, before they were “the Obamas,” during their first “kinda-sorta” date.

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    Film Review: 'Suicide Squad'

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    (L-R) Jay Hernandez as Diablo, Jai Courtney as Boomerang, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Will Smith as Deadshot, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag and Karen Fukuhara as Katana in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure Suicide Squad, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. © 2016 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC. Photo credit: Clay Enos/ TM & (c) DC Comics.

    ***Warning: spoilers ahead***

    With all of the hype this past year promoting Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ release of the long awaited Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer (Fury, The Fast and the Furious, Training Day), the film is disappointing most likely due to the speed at which the film was produced. That being said, Ayer’s vision for the film needs to be taken into consideration.

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    Mobolade Ajomale Qualifies for Rio 2016

    The Urban Knight accomplishes a personal best at the Canadian Track & Field Championships and Rio Selection Trials

    Mobolade Ajomale First Olympian (by Rachael Smith)

    Mobolade Ajomale is Academy of Art University’s first-ever Olympian. Photo by Rachael Smith.

    The “Road to Rio” begins here.

    Breaking further ground in a historic freshman season, Mobolade Ajomale became Academy of Art University’s first Olympian with an incredible personal best in the 100m dash at the Canadian Track & Field Championships and Rio Selection Trials on July 9.

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    Bathroom Germs Spawn Award-Winning Animated Short

    Animation alum Hans Tsai’s short film, Knob, finds success on the festival circuit


    A scene from Hans Tsai’s award-winning animated short film, Knob. Photo courtesy of Hans Tsai.

    Most people don’t find public bathrooms particularly inspiring or appealing. But for Hans Tsai, these breeding grounds for germs sparked the idea for his award-winning 3-D animated short film, Knob. Before attending Academy of Art University to earn his M.F.A. in 3-D animation, Tsai was a registered nurse who worked in a hospital and spent a lot of time in the bathroom trying to keep his hands germ-free.

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    Graduate's 3-D Artist Career Is a Dream Come True


    Steve Hyunsuk Suh’s model for the telepresence box, a futuristic computing device featured on Fox TV’s Minority Report. Photo courtesy of Steve Hyunsuk Suh.

    Ever since he was a young boy growing up in South Korea, Academy of Art University alum Steve Hyunsuk Suh loved art. “Doodling was my favorite hobby because I could directly express what I wanted,” he said. 

    Suh was also a big fan of Disney animated films. And when Pixar came out with Toy Story in 1995, he was mesmerized by the hit movie’s sophisticated animation.

    “I’d never seen anything like it before,” he remarked. “I learned that Toy Story was made with 3-D computer graphics and dreamed of becoming an animation artist.”

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    Academy Students Get Rare Chance to Attend E3 for Free

    “A Disneyland for video game lovers,” the exclusive trade show showcases groundbreaking technologies, products and companies


    (L–R) Academy of Art Univeristy animation students Leo Cruz and Camille Sloan at this year’s E3 event, posing with a LEGO statue of Kylo Ren at the Warner Brothers Games booth. Photo courtesy of Camille Sloan.

    Each year, thousands of video game industry professionals from around the world flock to the Los Angeles Convention Center to attend E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo). The premier trade show for computer, mobile and video games connects attendees with others in the field while showcasing leading companies, groundbreaking technologies and exciting new products. 

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    Academy of Art Instructors Make Their Mark


    Bettina Pauly’s finished book, Grimm’s Fairy Tale Theater: Hänsel & Gretel. Photo courtesy of Bettina Pauly.

    Three longtime instructors from Academy of Art University’s School of Fine Art, specializing in book arts and letterpress, were invited by the San Francisco Center for the Book to produce artist’s books for the Center’s Small Plates imprint. Macy Chadwick, Jennie Hinchcliff and Bettina Pauly were chosen by a panel of board members, teachers and community members on the strength of their proposals to create the small-scale books, in an edition size of 100.

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    Film Review: 'Life, Animated' - Strength Through Stories


    Courtesy of Orchard Films.

    Roger Ross Williams’ documentary, Life, Animated, delves into the very specific case of autism for Owen Suskind. Based on the book, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism, written by Owen’s father, former journalist Ron Suskind, the film comes from the heart and reveals many close-to-the-chest incidences in the Suskind family’s experiences: how they made a breakthrough with his development, and how they look to the future resilient to the difficulty they have faced.

    Utilizing a hybrid of original animation, animated clips from some of Disney’s most prominent films, archived family video footage and talking head interviews with Owen and his family; Life, Animated paints a very individualized story of how a young boy and his family dealt with early onset autism. Ron and Cornelia Suskind express how they felt when at only three years old, their son stopped talking and regressed to incoherent ramblings. Until he was about nine years old, Owen didn’t speak, but what his parents did notice was he would echo certain Disney quotes and once confronted with his father Ron, with an Iago the parrot puppet from Aladdin talking to him and asking him questions, father and son had their first-ever conversation.

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    School of Interior Architecture & Design Student Wins Prestigious Competition in Chicago

    Chia Chi “Nicole” Chang put her space planning and sketching skills to use at the IIDA Student Design Charette, as part of a team applauded for their uncluttered design layout and innovative thinking


    Nicole Chang poses next to her team’s IIDA Student Design Charette winning design. Photo courtesy of the School of Interior Architecture & Design.

    In 2011, Chia Chi “Nicole” Chang was a shy 19-year-old studying English in Seattle, far from her native Taiwan. But beneath that timid exterior, Chang is undeniably motivated, and during her time as a student at Academy of Art University, the interior architecture and design senior has developed a sense of confidence and professionalism that helped her team clinch the top prize at the International Interior Design Association’s Student Design Charette—a prestigious competition held in Chicago each year during NeoCon, the interior design industry’s preeminent U.S. exposition.

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    Landscape Architecture Student Transforms Derelict Footpath Into Pleasant Neighborhood "Street Park"

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    (Pictured left) Robert Muehlbauer, Ridge Lane Neighbors member and (right) Mohammed Nuru, director of San Francisco Department of Public Works with Nahal Sohbati, School of Landscape Architecture M.F.A. student. Photo courtesy of Eric Arneson.

    On her first site visit to a neglected parcel of public property called Ridge Lane, nearly two years ago, Nahal Sohbati was surprised by all the butterflies.

    “The habitat wasn’t very good for them,” she explained. “I did some research and discovered that the whole parcel is located on a ridge, the highest point on a hill. It’s where butterflies go to find a mate.”

    The butterfly mating grounds on Ridge Lane just got bumped up a notch thanks to Sohbati. The Academy of Art University School of Landscape Architecture graduate student transformed the first parcel of a five-parcel strip in San Francisco’s Ingleside neighborhood into a delightful butterfly-friendly walkway where the winged insects can frolic and local residents can enjoy each other’s company in a safe, attractive environment.

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    Spreading the Word

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    Leky Lin at WorldFest Houston. Photo courtesy of Leky Lin.

    At Academy of Art University, students don’t just produce beautiful, inspiring work, they also learn how to get their work out there in the industry. Teaching students about the importance of marketing and PR, but also taking initiative, is something that instructor Patricia J. Pawlak prides herself on, and it seems to be a recipe for success. Recently, MPTV student Leky Lin found out just how valuable this knowledge is as he started promoting his short film, The Lottery, which he produced alongside a crew of past and present Academy students, including screenwriter Raiza Centeno and director Hanrui Wang.

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    Ben Jay Named New Director of Athletics

    With over 25 years of experience, the “national leader in collegiate athletics” is looking forward to taking teams to championships in the PacWest

    Ben Jay

    Ben Jay. Photo courtesy of Art U Athletics.

    Academy of Art University Athletics and President Dr. Elisa Stephens have announced the appointment of Ben Jay as the department’s Director of Athletics. Jay, who brings over 25 years of collegiate athletics experience and was most recently Director of Athletics at the University of Hawaii, will be handed the baton from Senior Advisor of Athletics Terry Tumey, who departs Academy of Art to become director of Athletics at Claremont McKenna-Harvey Mudd-Scripps.

    “Ben is a national leader in collegiate athletics,” said Tumey. “From his background with University of Hawaii, the Pac-10 Conference and The Ohio State University, we are both confident and honored to have him guide us into this next chapter of Academy of Art University Athletics.”

    At the start of 2013, Ben Jay was formally introduced as the University of Hawaii’s Athletics Director where he would oversee 145 staff members and coaches along with the nearly 500 student-athletes who competed for the Rainbow Warriors’ 21 sports. 


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    A Legendary Contribution to the Art of Filmmaking

    The Contemporary Jewish Museum plays host to an exhibition spanning the career of Stanley Kubrick


    Stanley Kubrick with his 35mm Eyemo camera on the set of Killer’s Kiss (United States; 1955). © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Photo: Alexander Singer. Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition is organized by the Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt am Main, Christiane Kubrick, Jan Harlan, and The Stanley Kubrick Archive at University of the Arts London, with the support of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Sony Columbia Pictures Industries Inc., Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc., Universal Studios Inc., and SK Film Archives LLC. On view June 30–October 30, 2016 at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

    Honoring legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, The Contemporary Jewish Museum is displaying about 1,000 objects including memorabilia, letters, personal notes, production photographs, props and scripts. This is the 15th presentation of Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, taking its turn in San Francisco as of June 30 and continuing to be on display until October 30. The exhibit spans the whole career of Kubrick in film from 1945 to 1999, starting from when he was a photojournalist in the 1940s. Some fun relics from the past include the little girls’ twin dresses from The Shining, Venetian masks from Eyes Wide Shut and Joker’s helmet from Full Metal Jacket.

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    Woman Meets Machine

    Academy student’s innovative designs are honored at Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute event


    Designer Alyssa Watson (left) pictured above with award winning MET Gala dress inspired by melting Arctic ice. Modeled by Noémie Medini. Photo by Fujio Emura.

    The Metropolitan Museum’s Manus x Machina – Fashion in an Age of Technology exhibition has been the blockbuster hit of the season. Sponsored by the Met’s Costume Institute, and curated by Andrew Bolton, it has demonstrated the rare ability to unite the two diverse fields of fashion and tech in a way that does justice to both.

    So imagine the surprise of B.F.A. fashion design student Alyssa Watson when she found out that the project she had created had been selected for an exhibition of student work in conjunction with the show.

    “Every semester in design, there’s a final project that’s a face off for a competition,’’ Watson explained.

    “The Met project was on the idea of taking fashion and infusing it with technology. For the last couple of years, I’ve been extremely interested in 3-D printing, and fiber optics, as part of my designs. My project was inspired by the Arctic ice melting, black ice and the shapes created when ice melts.’’

    After going through a laborious submission project, in which her work was evaluated by Simon Ungless, executive director of the School of Fashion and Gary Miller, director of Fashion Design, it was selected to be sent in to the Met student competition.

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    Student's M.F.A. Project Explores Her Cuban Roots

    Abigail Gomez MSV Art in the Halls

    M.F.A. painting graduate Abigail Gomez. Photo courtesy of Abigail Gomez.

    Long before diplomatic relations between America and Cuba were restored last year making travel to the island easier, artist Abigail Gomez yearned to go there. Her great-grandfather immigrated to the United States from Cuba. And although Gomez never got to meet him, she’s always been fascinated with the country and her Cuban heritage.

    “Cuba was beyond intriguing to me,” explained the 2015 Academy graduate who earned her M.F.A. in painting online. “I’m a third-generation Cuban, and the language and traditions weren’t passed down to me. It was necessary for me to experience Cuba and discover it so I could know more about my roots and who I am as an artist and a Latino American citizen.” 

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    School of Architecture Executive Director Mimi Sullivan's Firm Wins Local & National Awards

    Saida + Sullivan Design Partners are recognized for their contribution to affordable housing project


    Academy of Art University's Executive Director of the School of Architecture, Mimi Sullivan. Photo by Bob Toy.

    The American Institute of Architects – San Francisco recently awarded a Commendation for Social Responsibility to Saida + Sullivan Design Partners (SSDP) and LMS Architects. This award demonstrates a high standard for design excellence and social responsibility. SSDP’s principal Mimi Sullivan also serves as the executive director to the School of Architecture at Academy of Art University. Saida + Sullivan Design Partners served as the Executive Architects for the 474 Natoma affordable family housing community. SSDP worked in collaboration with LMS Architects and BRIDGE Housing, a San Francisco-based property development firm focused on expanding low-income and affordable urban housing options. Nibbi Brothers were the contractors on 474 Natoma.

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    Students' Film Explores Challenges Faced By Iranian Immigrants

    Taraneh Golozar and Farbod Khoshtinat collaborated on short film A Persian Affair

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    (R-L) Producer Taraneh Golozar and director Farbod Khoshtinat. Photo courtesy of Taraneh Golozar.

    Each year, many Iranian families hoping to start a new life in the United States apply for one of 50,000 Diversity Immigration Visas granted by the government through a lottery. On the surface, it would seem that securing one of the coveted visas would be a dream come true. But a compelling short film by two Academy of Art University M.F.A. students from Iran explores why some of these immigrants don’t get the happy ending they envisioned after settling in their new home. 

    A Persian Affair was written and produced by Taraneh Golozar and directed by Farbod Khoshtinat. The story focuses on Iman, a 17-year-old Iranian boy, and his mother, immigrants who live in Los Angeles. After his conservative, sometimes violent father dies, Iman’s relationship with his mother slowly deteriorates. He believes his once subservient mother has abandoned their traditional values—and him—when she leaves him alone at night to work at a mysterious job.

    “The idea for the movie started a long time ago after I talked to [a] woman about the challenges she’d faced after immigrating here with her son,” said Golozar, who graduated from the School of Motion Pictures & Television last year and majored in producing.

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    Celebrity Makeup Artist Ve Neill Talks 'Hunger Games' & Offers Advice For Aspiring Makeup Artists


    Elizabeth Banks (left, as Effie Trinket) and Ve Neill (right, makeup artist) on the set of The Hunger Games. Photo by Murray Close. Courtesy of Lionsgate.

    What do Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen and Hollywood makeup artist Ve Neill have in common? They’re both strong women who know exactly what they want and won’t give up until they’ve got it—even when the odds aren’t in their favor. 

    Back in the 1970s there wasn’t room for women in the film industry’s male dominated makeup department, but Neill wasn’t going to let that stop her. The Academy Award-winning trailblazer whose film credits include Pirates of the Caribbean, Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice, as well as The Hunger Games series, forged a career for herself on her own terms. With no mentors and no schools for makeup artists she took the logical next step and headed to a sci-fi convention where she met some guys dressed up as characters from Planet of the Apes.

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    Collaboration Is the Name of the Game at 2016 Spring Show


    Students mingle while awaiting to show their work to industry guests at the 2016 Spring Show Student Showcase. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Industry professionals were impressed by the quality of the work and the ways students from diverse schools worked together

    Business cards were flying on opening day of Academy of Art University’s Spring Show Student Showcase on Monday, May 23, as representatives from companies like Oculus, GoPro, Restoration Hardware and Industrial Light and Magic explored the vast range of work on view at 2225 Jerrold Avenue. From exquisite sculptures, jaw dropping illustrations, intricate architectural models, and dazzling automotive prototypes, the Academy’s annual showcase of the best work coming out of its 23 schools was certainly impressive. But what struck visitors the most wasn’t only the fine craftsmanship and high level of innovation but the collaborative effort behind many of the works on view.

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    COM Students Who Built Urban Knights Radio Graduate


    The founding core students of Urban Knights Radio. (L–R) Lorena King, Elizabeth Sweeney, UKR General Manager & COM instructor Matty Staudt, Kevin Rosenbaum, Casey Franco and Torina Giannetto. Photo courtesy of Matty Staudt.

    In just a few years, Academy of Art University’s Urban Knights Radio has grown from a little box in a room that no one knew about into a full-fledged station with an eclectic mix of shows and thousands of listeners. When School of Multimedia Communications instructor Matty Staudt joined the Academy to expand its radio program, he envisioned training students how to build and run a real station. With the help of a core group of freshman students who worked with him from the earliest days of the project, he achieved that goal. Staudt couldn’t be prouder of the five students who graduated last month and the legacy they’ve left the Academy: Casey Franco, Torina Giannetto, Lorena King, Kevin Rosenbaum and Elizabeth Sweeney. 

    “Radio is now the cool spot where people want to be, because these students worked hard to create that kind of culture,” said Staudt. “Even after they completed around to produce shows and content. They didn’t have to do that—the classes were electives. They wanted to. This was their station and they cared about it. I helped launch it and mentored them, but the students ran Urban Knights Radio, which was always my goal.”

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    Taking Paper Beyond the Drawing

    Game Of Thrones

    The White Walker (Night’s King) from Game of Thrones. Photo by Jeff Nishinaka.

    The School of Fine Art – Painting course offerings have found an engaging new presence with world-renowned illustrator and fine artist Jeff Nishinaka’s recent contributions to the online and onsite curriculum. Nishinaka’s work leverages the structural properties of three-ply paper, patience and dedicated focus as presented in the refined process of paper sculpture. 

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    When Design Meets Ethics

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    Final model for homeless shelter by Lamiae Ameziane. Photo by Doron Serban.

    Much goes unnoticed in the hectic noise of the city. Even the homeless—some of whom are desperate to be noticed—tend to be pushed to the background of what society chooses to acknowledge. 

    San Francisco’s homeless population is a unique one, but while many are aware of this rarely do many choose to participate in its alleviation. We share the city with the homeless but we pay little attention to them. 

    The same could be said of architecture. We live, play, transit and work in the built environment but many hardly notice the buildings that frame every moment of each day. Homeless shelters tend to be just as forgettable, or even avoided by the public. A decade ago, San Francisco had 1,910 shelter beds, which has since decreased substantially despite an increase in the homeless population (Heather Knight, SF Gate, 27 June 2014). 

    When architecture decides to do better—when we decide we ought to do better—design and ethics merge into exceptional statements about who we are as people and what we’re willing to do for others.

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    Barry Bostwick Dishes On 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' & Acting

    After playing Brad in the 1975 movie, the actor is an authority on the iconic story


    Actor Barry Bostwick with the cast of The Rocky Horror Show. Photo by Bob Toy.

    After the May 12 performance of the School of Acting’s The Rocky Horror Show, a very special guest took the stage to answer questions from members of the cast and audience. Barry Bostwick—who played innocent and geeky Brad in the 1975 movie based on the Broadway musical, The Rocky Horror Picture Show—spent an hour dishing on what it was like to be part of the iconic film, dispensing acting advice and cracking up the crowd with his quick wit and self-deprecating humor.

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    Design in Wonderland


    Models take one final walk down the runway during the finale. Photo by Bob Toy.

    It was 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11. As we arrived backstage at the enormous open warehouse on Jerrold Avenue, we expected to see somewhat of a manic setting as designers were preparing their looks for the first show beginning promptly at 3 p.m. Yet to our surprise, it was relatively relaxed; the atmosphere was quite intense but still very organized. Everyone was prepared, incredibly focused and excited.

    This is the designers’ moment to shine, and it was finally here. As the models were dressed, last minute expertise was given from Simon Ungless, executive director of the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University, and down the rabbit hole we went. The music hit, the florescent lights flicked on and the most anticipated moment had finally begun.

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    Fashion Editors Motivate Students To "Get out There and Do It" at Fashion Media Panel


    (L-R) Executive Director of the School of Fashion Simon Ungless, Visionaire Digital Director Lars Byrresen Petersen, Paper magazine Editorial Director Mickey Boardman and Fashion Journalism and Social Media Center Director Stephan Rabimov. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Reinvention is the name of the game for print magazines vying for attention in the digital age. And if any media outlet knows how to reinvent itself it’s Visionaire—a luxury fashion and art magazine that has experimented with unconventional formats for 25 years, and Paper magazine, whose Editorial Director Mickey Boardman hatched a plan to “break the internet” with a photo of Kim Kardashian in 2014. 

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    'West Side Story' Rumbles Onto Mount Tam


    Photo by Dorothy O'Donnell.

    Rival New York gangs have taken over the top of Mount Tamalpais. This month, you can watch the Jets and Sharks rumble on the Cushing Amphitheatre’s stage during the Mountain Play’s production of West Side Story, the classic musical based on Romeo and Juliet. Now in its 103rd season, Mountain Play is a beloved summer tradition that attracts fans from all over the Bay Area.

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    Kate Beckinsale Reunites with Director Whit Stillman in 'Love & Friendship' – A New Jane Austen Adaptation With a Naughty Twist


    Kate Beckinsale in Love & Friendship. Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

    The first time Kate Beckinsale worked with the director Whit Stillman she had to do an American accent.

    “You can imagine coming from England and not having been to America at all,” the actress said, recalling her role opposite Chloe Sevigny in The Last Days of Disco (1998). “I felt like this foreigner who had to learn about places like Connecticut and all of that.”

    This time around Beckinsale is on her own turf, and she's as confident as ever as the fetching widow Lady Susan Vernon, AKA “the most accomplished flirt in all of England.” Based on Jane Austen's unfinished epistolary novella Lady Susan, Stillman's new film Love & Friendship centers upon the protagonist's quest to secure a husband for herself as well as for her teenage daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) – an activity she pursues with skilled manipulation and irresistible coquetry as well as a tremendous dose of comedic flair.

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    Rodarte to Be Honored at 2016 Graduation Fashion Show

    Founders Laura and Kate Mulleavy will join this year’s prestigious event

    Rodarte photo by Autumn de Wilde

    Laura and Kate Mulleavy, founders of Rodarte. Photo by Autumn de Wilde.

    Academy of Art University is proud to announce that Laura and Kate Mulleavy, founders of Rodarte, will join the School of Fashion as honored guests for the 2016 Graduation Fashion Show on Wednesday, May 11. Kate and Laura Mulleavy will each be presented with Honorary Doctorate degrees during the awards ceremony portion of the event.

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    Academy Students Among Top Finishers in Blizzard 'World of Warcraft' Art Contest


    (L–R) Haoyu Zhang, Ayhan Aydogan and Executive Director of the School of Game Development David Goodwine. Photo by Bob Toy.

    For the fourth year in a row, Academy of Art University students were among the top three finishers in the annual Blizzard Entertainment Student Art Contest. One of the leading video game companies, Blizzard called upon college students to create epic environments and characters for World of Warcraft, its popular online video game, and share their vision of Azeroth, the world in which most of the game is set. M.F.A. senior Haoyu Zhang won first place in the environment category for his submission, Red Roof, while Ayhan Aydogan—also a senior completing his M.F.A—was named overall runner-up for his entry, a comical character he dubbed The Goaty.

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    School of Acting's 'The Rocky Horror Show' Is a Rollicking Ride

    On Thursday, May 5, a packed house at 620 Sutter Street Theatre enjoyed a rollicking, often hilarious ride during the School of Acting’s opening night production of The Rocky Horror Show. Throughout the two-act musical, the room crackled with electricity. Under the guidance of director Clark Houston Lewis, the talented cast drew enthusiastic applause after each song and brought the audience to its feet for a thunderous standing ovation at the end of the play.

    Based on the Broadway hit and cult-classic movie, The Rocky Horror Show pokes fun at B-movie horror and sci-fi films that were popular from the '30s through the '70s. The play also tackles gender and sexual issues that are still timely today. The Rocky Horror Show follows the adventures of Brad and Janet, a naïve young couple who stumble upon the spooky castle of maniacal transvestite Dr. Frank Frank-N-Furter and his ghoulish cronies after their car breaks down.

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    Waterhouse Gallery to Exhibit Alumni Work

    Sung Eun KimTree Lining Oil on Linen30x404800

    Sung Eun Kim’s Tree Lining. Oil on linen, 30x40.

    For more than a decade, Ralph and Diane Waterhouse have attended Academy of Art University’s Spring Show and have expressed not only their enthusiasm in the exceptional quality of Fine Art – Painting and Printmaking that is exhibited, but they have also been extremely supportive by representing many of our current students and alumni at their prestigious gallery in Santa Barbara, California.

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    Key & Peele Pay Tribute to ‘90s Action Films in ‘Keanu’


    Jordan Peele as Rell in New Line Cinema's action comedy Keanu, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Steve Dietl. © 2016 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC.

    On April 20, at the Cat Town Cafe in Oakland, Academy Art U News had the opportunity to sit down with the comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who are behind the hilarious new comedy Keanu. The film follows the very early adventures of a young kitten named Keanu (for the Hawaiian word meaning "cool breeze"), his accidental owner Rell Williams (Peele) and his uptight cousin Clarence Goobril (Key).

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    Film Review: 'The Jungle Book'

    Walt Disney's live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book celebrates the 49th anniversary of the animated film of the same name, which was the last for Walt Disney himself to produce before his passing. Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Chef) and starring a culmination of voice talent: Bill Murray (Baloo), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Lupita Nyong'o (Raksha), Giancarlo Esposito (Akela) and Christopher Walken (King Louie). The film also introduces the real-life performance of Neel Sethi as Mowgli.

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    Film Review: 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'


    (L-R) Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill as Superman in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/ TM & © DC Comics. © 2016 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC., RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC AND RATPAC ENTERTAINMENT, LLC.

    Warner Brothers and DC Comics' long awaited feature, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is an exciting combination of superhero fantasy worlds. We are finally viewing a reality where both Batman's Gotham and Superman's Smallville and Metropolis, exist in the same universe. Written by Chris Terrio (Argo) and David S. Goyer (Man of Steel and the most recent Batman film trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan), and directed by Zack Snyder (Man of Steel, 300, Watchmen), so many of our favorite superhero tropes come into play that the film is explosive from the get-go and is really for the comic book nerd in all of us.

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