Dane Webster is an Associate Professor and the new Director of the Digital Animation Center in the Department of Visual Arts at CU-Denver. Before coming to CU-Denver, he was an Associate Professor in the School of Visual Arts (SOVA) at Virginia Tech and former Director of the MFA in Creative Technologies there (a program that he helped create). He was also a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT), a research center focused on the intersection of art & design with science & technology. He has taught various courses in 3D computer animation and creative coding.
“As a creative technologist, my research takes a hybrid approach, with my work sitting at the intersection of scholarship and practice, the creation and application of new knowledge. Not only am I comfortable with the blurred boundaries of these enterprises, I enjoy the iterative processes the challenge of interdisciplinary processes introduced in my work. As an artist, I’m passionate about creating worlds, building experiments investigate my own ideas about the overlaps of art and science. My short films and installations, like With Delicate Risk and Always Uncoupled, investigate the intersections of creation myths, evolution, and the simple reactive qualities of a virtual biological form. The still images in Organica are abstractions influenced by my interpretations of the microscopic realm. Elements of this exploration are even found in my pure, escapist short films such as Idea Development. While on the surface, this story might be about an individual confronting writer’s block; under the hood, it allows me to play the role of a scientist, constructing worlds within the computer, exploring the use of virtual physics, anatomy, light, and sound. Recently, I’ve begun to use code as an expressive tool, working with the open-source development environment Processing. The ability to create generative, interactive art has given me new ways to express national concerns related to health, such as onset, which tries to challenge the way we think about individuals with early onset Alzheimer’s.
As a practitioner, I often work with groups outside of the arts, creating visualizations applicable to history, science, architecture, and education. My projects help 4th graders in the state of Virginia learn about the lives and values of a recently unearthed Native American settlement; they allow administrators to embed in a visualization of a single building project their commitment to creating an arts-centered campus that values aesthetic as much as function; and they enable researchers to think through the nuanced impacts of a simulated disaster situated in the heart of an urban population. As an extension of my commitment to collaboration, it is important that I share with my student’s participation in projects that illustrate how art can affect change. In the past, some of my students and I have worked with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to create content for an augmented reality app (we animated a vampire bat skeleton). In a related project, we transformed mechanical engineers into animators by modeling and rigging CT scans of bat noses that they could digitally manipulate to better understand physical morphology as it relates to sound emission. It is in this role as a practitioner that I have been able to identify funding sources that would not be available to me (and my students) if I were trying to operate strictly in a fine art gallery context. Interweaving practitioner and scholar in my artistic practice are one of my strengths, whether it’s exhibiting in national and international venues, identifying funding both as a principal investigator or collaborator, and contributing to peer-reviewed publications.”
Paul Conner is one of the the founding faculty, an Instructor and Program Coordinator at the Digital Animation Center at the University of Colorado. He has been working in the film and broadcast industries for over 20 years. Paul originally started teaching as a Maya Certified Trainer for Alias/Wavefront.
Originally from a broadcast design environment, Paul brings this knowledge of fast-paced projects and strick deadlines to the classroom. Some of Paul’s clients include: The Museum of Nature and Science, Warner Bros, The WB Network, The Discovery Channel, PAX-TV, Starz/Encore, 3D Magazine, Anheiser Busch, NBC, IMAX, Sire Records and Reader’s Digest.
Paul continues to do freelance work, and most recently, he was an IPAX Fellow at Sony Pictures Imageworks, where he had the pleasure of working with assets from The Amazing Spiderman 2, Edge of Tomorrow, Smurfs 2 and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Paul has a passion (or maybe obsession) for modeling, and never stops seeing polygons and potential edge flow in all of the objects around him.
Howard Cook is a member of the faculty at the University of Colorado’s Digital Animation Center since 2004. From 2004-2015 Howard led the DAC as the Director of the program. Having earned a B.F.A. Printmaking, M.F.A work in Painting and an M.F.A. in Digital Cinema, Howard has worked in a variety of creative industries since 1982. After receiving his B.F.A., Howard put to use his technical skill as a photorealist painter and became one of the country’s leading space/aerospace artist.
Working directly with the crews of 12 shuttle missions, Howard helped to develop some of the first Educational/Public outreach programs for the NASA Shuttle program. His graphics have flown over 16 million miles in Earth orbit, and has visited other worlds; Mars, Venus, Jupiter and is currently in orbit around Saturn. Before joining the CU Denver DAC faculty, Mr. Cook served in many leadership roles in a wide array of content creation positions.
In 1983 he formed Airworks and Associates, a design firm aimed at creating content for creative content and exhibits for the space/aerospace and entertainment industries, which he closed in 1996. During this period, Mr. Cook served as a freelance Art Director at LucasFilms LTD., product development and licensing, and at Paramount Studios, where he worked on the Star Trek franchise. Howard was the coauthor, illustrator, and designer of Designs on Space: Blueprints for 21st Century Space Technology.
In 1997, joined the Denver Museum of Nature and Science as the Chief Technologist and Manager of Digital Media Development. In his role as Chief Technologist and Manager of Digital Media Development, he led the design and production of interactive content, media, and technology used in the content rich experience and was also the most responsible person at DMNS for the ideation, design, and implementation of the new $12,000,000 Gates Planetarium.
In 2016, Howard received, along with six fellow College of Arts and Media faculty, certification in the INDEX: Design To Improve Life teaching practice and as such, is amongst the first qualified trainer in North America and member of the Design to Improve Life Academy. designtoimprovelife.dk. Professor Cook is also a Fellow, at the CU Denver Center for Art as Systemic Change.
Steve joined the DAC in 2006. He has a Masters Degree in Architecture (M. Arch) from the University of Colorado Denver and a Bachelors Degree in Construction Management (B.S.) for Colorado State University. He is a licensed architect in the state of Colorado.
For the past ten years, Steve has owned and operated his own computer animation company, The Shepherd’s Workshop, LLC. During these ten years, he has designed and/or visualized more than thirty churches and cathedrals across the nation. Several of his projects have been influential in raising millions of dollars in funds for building projects. For example, his most recent visualization spearheaded the launch of a fundraising campaign and successfully helped raise over twenty-four million in funds.
Steve’s architectural experience includes the areas of CAD, Computer Aided Manufacturing 3D prototype printing and Building Information Modeling. With the aid of these technologies, he has been able to virtually build construction worthy 3D models and construction documents of entire buildings before they are built
In addition to the many years of experience in the 3D visualization industry, Steve also produces 3D animated children’s videos. Most notably is the production of a 30-minute series “The Kings of Christmas” which aired on PBS and still airs annually on cable. He was the director, animator, screenwriter and sound engineer for this two-year production. Coinciding with the video, he published a companion children’s book.
Steve’s professional career reaches across many industries. Some of these varied industries include providing motion capture and character animation services for accident reconstruction for legal presentations to being the Lead Animator for the graphic animations for HGTV’s pilot series TRENDS. As well, he has developed advanced visualizations of furniture and cabinetry designs for manufacturers across the nation. While, most recently his 3D visualizations services helped launch a new product line for Dad Gear, LLC by providing 3D animated simulations of their line of baby handbag products.
Jeremy made his way to the DAC from Boston, Massachussetts where he has worked on feature films and commercials as a digital compositor and a 3D generalist. Jeremy’s credits include over twenty feature films such as The Equalizer and Patriots Day, and many nationally and regionally televised commercials for brands like Subway, McDonalds and Ocean Spray. Jeremy has also created quality visual effects for several short films and print ads.
Jeremy’s passion for computer graphics stems from his studies at Hampshire College where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree. Throughout his career, Jeremy has never been satisfied with simply knowing the answers, preferring instead to seek a deeper understanding of the concepts and practices in use by industry professionals every day. It is with this inquisitive nature combined with his industry experience that Jeremy seeks to train and prepare students for careers in 3D animation, digital post-production and beyond.