Zeb Wood and Travis Faas, both lecturers in the media arts and science (MAS) program in the School of Informatics and Computing, along with 11 students, recently traveled to San Francisco, California as part the Game Developers Conference (GDC).
The GDC, now in its 29th year, has grown from the informal gathering of a small group of developers to what it is today hosting over 24,000 game development professionals, and being the primary forum for those involved in the development of interactive games, to gather and exchange ideas and shape the future of the industry. The conference featured over 400 lectures, panels, tutorials and round-table discussions.
As an added surprise, Wood coordinated a visit with MAS alum Frank Tai, a studio artist for Pixar since he graduated in 2008. “Working for Pixar is a dream job – One that many students in the media arts and science program aspire to. So this was a great opportunity to visit the Pixar studios and for the students to meet a graduate of the program. It was good for them to get a real life view of what life is like in the industry,” said Wood.
AJ Shannon, Wen Krogg, Kevin Jethrow, Stafa Al-Hassani, all undergrads in the MAS program, were the students selected to accompany Wood and Faas on their visit to Pixar and with Tai.
The group was able to tour the Pixar grounds and learn about production operations. They learned about work flow and volume, working on several films at once, as well as pre-production art and the life of studio artists – Everything from eating habits, workouts, yoga, to what it’s like on-the-job.
After the tour, they were able to have dinner and some one-on-one conversation with Tai. “When you watch a Pixar movie, it is normal to dream of one day working there, but to meet someone who was once a student just like me, that is actually working there, it’s like meeting a famous actor. Being able to spend time with him, getting his insight and knowing that he took the time to share his experience with us was one of the best memories of the trip,” said Shannon.