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60 feet to 60 inches – Nickelodeon’s Success with Taking Feature Quality from the Big Screen to the Small Screen

Title: 60 feet to 60 inches: Nickelodeon’s Success with Taking Feature Quality from the Big Screen to the Small Screen
Length: 45 min

Nickelodeon Animation Studio’s CG production team, Rusty Tracy (The Penguins of Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, Fanboy and Chum Chum), Jason Stiff (Invader Zim), Jim Schumann (Robot and Monster), Randy Dormans (Kung Fu Panda), Freddie Vaziri (The Penguins of Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, Fanboy and Chum Chum) and Dean Hoff (The Penguins of Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, Fanboy and Chum Chum),   will be speaking publically about its journey and challenges in creating feature quality CG animation for television. From getting their feet wet with Tak and the Power of JuJu to their latest adventures with Fanboy and Chum Chum and collaboration with Dreamworks, Nick has learned a lot about what needs to happen to successfully develop feature quality animation in a fraction of the time! They will discuss the very basics of the CG timeline, how they train and partner with their incredible overseas studios, the process of recreating assets and CG sets from scratch for both The Penguins of Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda, how they have managed to deliver feature quality work using mostly off the shelf software, and create an environment that encourages its employees to discover and develop new ideas to keep them  #1 for kids!

You’ll see clips from our CG shows coupled with feedback from the actual artists who created them. We’ll also spend time addressing what hot jobs are coming up and how to put together the best reel possible for Nickelodeon. This panel is definitely a top stop for anyone interested in working for Nickelodeon or entering the world of CG. Come find out why Nickelodeon Animation Studio’s is The Place To Be!

Freddie Vaziri – VFX Supervisor As a graduate of the Film school at California State University Northridge, Freddie Vaziri has worked in the field of animation and visual effects since 1993. He broke into the business of animation by taking a job with Color Systems Technologies colorizing classic Turner owned black and white movies using proprietary vector based software. The company soon assembled a software engineering department that developed a 2D ink & paint program. As part of the design team, he tackled many issues and helped support the programming team in their quest to bring traditional animation into the digital age.

With the knowledge and experience of 2D software solutions for traditional animators, Freddie went to work for different companies who developed similar, more intricate 2D compositing programs, which led him to a career at Cambridge Animation. There he mastered Animo, a 2D animation program that had been recently bought by Warner Bros. Animation and the newly formed DreamWorks Animation. He was a consultant for both studios for setting up their animation pipeline to mimic traditional animation techniques using digital media to obtain their main objective: creating feature animated films.  After many months of consultation and support, Warner Bros. hired him as a Technical Supervisor for their first Looney Tunes feature film, “Space Jam”.

Freddie remained with Warner Bros. for many years working on animated feature films such as “The Iron Giant” and “Osmosis Jones” where he acquired and mastered his knowledge of 3D software, specifically using Maya. The jump from animation to live action came when he had the opportunity to work on “Scooby-Doo” and “Looney Tunes: Back in Action”. Later, as a visual effects compositor, he worked on several films including “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, “Alien vs. Predator” and Jerry Bruckheimer’s “King Arthur”. Working in live-action gave him the knowledge base needed to apply 3D lighting and effects with his compositing skills to create photo-real environments.

His passion for animation beckoned as he continued his career in 3D as a lighting and compositing artist on animated features including “Barnyard” and “Happy Feet”. But it was the fast pace and rewarding career at Nickelodeon Animation Studios that finally cultivated his talent on shows such as “Fanboy and Chum Chum” and “Kung Fu Panda: The Legends of Awesomeness”. He continues to create new and original animated television programs with Nickelodeon heading up a team of artists as the VFX Supervisor.

Jim Schuman – Supervising Director is an Emmy award winning director with over 20 years experience in the animation industry.  He was the Supervising Director on “Tak and the power of Juju”, and has directed on “Fanboy and Chum Chum” and “Kung-Fu Panda- Legends of Awesomeness”.  He is currently the Supervising Director on “Robot and Monster”, Nickelodeon’s next completely original CGI series, which will air in Fall, 2010. Jim has recently made the switch to grass-fed beef.

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Jason Stiff – Vice President of Post Production Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Jason is a composer who moved to Los Angeles in 1996 to pursue a career in composing for film. He started his Post Production career at Sony in 1997 and then started working on Film Roman’s “King of the Hill” in 1998, where he was the Post Production Supervisor. Jason left Film Roman in 2001 to work on Nickelodeon’s “Invader Zim”, which helped to cement him into the fiber of the Post Production department at the studio.

Upon completion of “Zim”, Jason took on the role of the Director of Post Production, which encompasses many departments including the recording studios, Avid picture editors, Final Cut Pro animatic editors, ProTools EMR editors, machine room, vault, and all of the administrative positions that fall under the Post Production umbrella at Nickelodeon. He oversees the composers, sound effects/foley and final mix facilities, as well as any needs the studio may have in the Post Production realm for Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Nicktoons and the other various partners that make up the family of Nickelodeon/MTV Networks productions in Burbank.

This year, as the VP of Post Production, he continues to grow the department and to take on new challenges including tapeless delivery, HD and 3D content, and the expansion of the CG presence at the studio.  Jason has continued with his love of composing by working on live action short films along with several pieces of animation.

Rusty Tracy – CG Supervisor was born and raised in Southern California. After graduating from California State University Fullerton, he was quickly thrown into the world of entertainment art. His broad knowledge of the medium has allowed him to work in the animation industry while still occasionally teaching at local universities and producing fine art.

In 2005 he began working at Nickelodeon Animation Studio with an intimate team of only 4 artists. During his 5 year run at the studio he has been a major contributor to making Nickelodeon the sole front runner in CG television animation. The studio will be delivering an equivalent to one CG feature film a week at an unsurpassed quality, by the end of 2011. His development work on series such as, “The Peguins of Madagascar” and “Fanboy and Chum Chum” have lead to multiple Emmy Awards, including Best Animated Show. He continues to keep his plate full by acting as CG Supervisor on all existing CG series, and leading development on new concepts at Nickelodeon.

Randy Dormans – Supervising Producer Randy Dormans’ lifelong love of drawing and animation eventually brought him to CalArts in the mid nineties.  Since then, he’s worked for a number of studios including Warner Bros., DreamWorks, Film Roman, and Nickelodeon.  He started his career as a traditional artist and switched to 3D as an animator on “Shrek 2”.  Most of his training in 3D came on the job working as an animator and VFX artist at various smaller houses.

Randy joined Nickelodeon in 2006 at the beginning of their foray into the world of 3D. Originally starting on “Tak and the Power of Juju” as an animator, he quickly moved to the role of animation supervisor.  Following Tak, he spent a year on “The Penguins of Madagascar” as an animation supervisor.  His current role at Nickelodeon is CG Supervising Producer on “Kung Fu Panda- Legends of Awesomeness”.

Dean Hoff – Vice President of CG Production is VP of CG Production at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio and over the last four years has produced the Nickelodeon CG series “The Penguins of Madagascar”, “Fanboy and Chum Chum”, and “Tak and The Power of Juju”.  Having had his start as a Cinematographer and Camera Assistant in live action film, he transitioned over to traditional animation in 2001.  He worked on traditionally animated series “Chalkzone” and the “Holly Hobbie” direct to videos before helping to build the CG Department at Nickelodeon.

He currently oversees all CG production at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio, as well as the work being done at the four vendor studios located in India, Korea, and Taiwan.  He is constantly working with his team to create the most efficient, consistent, and highest quality CG television on the air.


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