Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Fallout" at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival

We are ecstatic to announce that UAT Digital Video's sci-fi opus "Fallout" -after a full year in the making - is an Official Selection of the 2010 International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Tempe, Arizona!

The film screens twice as part of the "Sci-Fi Shorts A" program:

Friday, October 15th @ 8:15 pm
Buy tickets

Sunday, October 17th @ 1:50 pm
Buy tickets

Individual screenings cost $10, or you can purchase various levels of passes which get you into multiple events. (Buy passes here.)

This year's Festival promises to be an awesome one for genre fans, featuring a guest appearance by legendary actor Lance Henrikson, who will be presenting a screening of one of the most iconic films from his filmography, James Cameron's Aliens!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Volunteer for the Horror Sci-Fi Film Festival and Earn EXTRA CREDIT

If you're currently enrolled in a Digital Video course, don't miss this opportunity to earn EXTRA CREDIT. See your instructor for details.

Call for Festival Zombies!

The 2010 International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival is creeping up on us!  The festival takes place at the MADCAP Theatres (Formerly Harkins Centerpoint) from October 14th -- October 17th.  We can’t capture our audience without the help of our amazing Festival Zombies.  In exchange for a commitment of at least Sixteen (16) hours, Festival Zombies will receive a festival t-shirt and a full festival pass (excludes the opening night screening).  In addition to the various positions you can help out with during the festival, there will also be pre-festival volunteer opportunities.

We’re putting a shift schedule together now and will be starting our Festival Zombie Orientations soon.  Those of you who have volunteered with us before will not be required to attend an Orientation (Online Scheduling will be available), however if you will be transforming yourself into a Festival Zombie for the first time this year, you will need to attend an orientation.  The One (1) hour spent at orientation will be credited to your Festival Commitment.   

We've scheduled Two (2) Festival Zombie Orientations to go over the specifics and answer any questions you may have.  This is also an opportunity to sign up for the shifts you'd like to work.

Orientations last about an hour and will take place at the Phoenix Film Foundation offices located in the Metro Arts Institute, 1700 N. 7th Ave Suite 250. The building is on the NW corner of 7th Avenue and McDowell. 

The next orientation will be held on: October 9, 2010 at noon

Please email to reserve a space on the date you’d like to attend or if you have any questions.  For those of you who’ve already emailed to reserve a date, there’s no need to send another request.  We’ll see you at orientation.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fallout Descends on UAT

Story by Trevor Green

An image of a desecrated "Welcome to Phoenix" sign ushers viewers into the bleak, post-apocalyptic world of the movie Fallout. Shots of bombed-out buildings littering downtown Phoenix are awash in sandy orange hues. The jet wash from a military drop ship kicks up dust as weapon-carrying troops hit the ground feet-first. The ensuing events unravel a science-fiction tale rich with espionage, counterterrorism, action and deception.

University of Advancing Technology's Digital Video program utilized its strengths in post-production - editing, computer-generated visual effects, compositing - in making Fallout. The year-long project featured contributions from 31 students and staff to realize the cutting-edge vision, a promotional and educational vehicle for the DV major.

Fallout "The whole thing wasn't so much about the outcome as it was about the process. The outcome is great. What we've got to show for it is just tremendous. It's a tremendous achievement for the students that were involved, and it's a great piece for their portfolio," said Digital Video Professor and Fallout director Paul DeNigris.

Fallout is an Official Selection for the 2010 International Horror and Sci-Film Festival, taking place Oct. 14-18 in Tempe, Ariz.

Fallout 's Wild Cards

Fallout focuses on the investigation of a failed mission by Department of Homeland Security counterterrorism team, the Wild Cards, to stop a group of terrorists holding a suitcase nuclear device. All but one of the Wild Cards appear to die with the nuke's detonation. Military investigator Rawls (played by adjunct professor Steve Briscoe) examines for evidence of betrayal - via questioning and memory extraction - though has his own agenda regarding the Homeland Security department.

DeNigris wove the futuristic story from disparate television and movie sources: military and science-fiction nods to Stargate SG-1; the action and ulterior motives of 24; and minor influences like the colleague tension of The Wire (Rawls was named after a character on the show) and the technology of Minority Report.  He also infused the script with UAT culture - technology and concepts influenced by Leonardo da Vinci Society for the Study of Thinking recipient Dr. Michio Kaku, mystery solving inspired by tabletop games, and virtual reality sparked by the Game Design/Game Programming majors.

DeNigris wanted to have a top-notch team to bring the movie to life. After reevaluating the Digital Video program's focus on post-production, he wanted a project to show his students' talents. In summer 2009, he recruited undergrads from several majors that impressed him with their modeling, texturing, compositing, audio and visual effects work. He sprang the script on them and got an enthusiastic response, and the film took shape over the academic year.

Student Matt Buresh, Fallout assistant video editor/behind-the-scenes editor, came onboard after learning about and seeing the passion of everyone behind the film.

"I naturally wanted to be a part of this awesome project that Paul was presenting to his students. I always take full advantage of any project that Paul presents to his students because it's always nothing but hands on learning that you can really count on to get a well rounded education from," said Buresh.

Fallout The most notable evidence of the team's post-production prowess is the film's imagery. Almost every frame was filmed on the University's green-screen set. The Phoenix sign and city landscapes: digitally manipulated pictures. The drop ship: computer generated. The soldiers setting foot in Phoenix: DeNigris and three crew members in the campus parking lot, jumping off of an apple crate in boots while fans blew sand into the camera.

"It just didn't make sense to do it green screen," said DeNigris of the lone location shot.

The Green-Screen Dance

Filming almost entirely on a green-screen set introduced new challenges. The confines of the small space and blank background forced the actors and crew to plan performer interactions and movements, imagined environments, key lighting and continuous camera movement. For example, filming an over-the-shoulder shot involved switching around actors, lights and props.

"We end up doing this dance every time we do our turnarounds and basically spin the entire room around the camera, which is [the] total opposite of how you would do it on location," said DeNigris.

"We did eventually get over that hump, get over that learning curve and figure out how to be more efficient and really get into the groove of it, and by the end we were just rocketing through our shot list."

While the set's visual challenges could be manipulated, audio distractions could not. Imprecise acoustics and outside noise forced DeNigris to have actors rerecord nearly every line of dialogue. The compromise reshaped parts of the script and performances, and the clean audio was reworked to add reverb and equalization to simulate the movie's environments.

Compositors filled in the green blanks with computer-generated walls, object shadows, particle effects (like fire and glow examples) and motion tracking (ensuring the backgrounds move with the camera). DeNigris had a quality standard to ensure continuity through compositors' works - an assigned area one segment (fight, warehouse and interview scenes) for each artist. The goal was to make sure nothing looked out of place.

"There are some things you never realize are really critical to a movie until you don't have them there," said student Monica Thies.

Educating the Masses

DeNigris plans a multi-tiered approach to giving Fallout exposure. For theaters, the movie will be entered in various film festivals - local and specializing in visual effects, sci-fi and action movies. The movie's physical copy release (on DVD and Blu-ray) will include behind-the-scenes featurettes and options to watch the finished version, green-screen footage and back-to-back versions of both simultaneously.

DeNigris hopes that the labor, experience and spotlight give the cast, crew and DV program positive attention.

"It's designed to be a promotional tool for the DV program as well as an educational tool for future generations of DV students."

The finished movie impressed the creators with how far their vision was captured on film.
"Seeing the final version of it, I was really ecstatic. I couldn't sit still after watching it. It hit everything that we were expecting - plus some. The story sucks you in once you get into the visual effects," said student Mitchell Faherty. "That's what we were hoping for."

Thies was similarly enthusiastic.

"It's a really good project that took three and a half semesters but came out phenomenal for college students and their first time doing it."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last chance to participate in the Slamdance/Adobe Re-cut Competition

Film production students in higher education worldwide are invited to enter the First Annual Slamdance/Adobe Re-cut Competition for emerging editing talent. Entrants will have the opportunity to re-edit a scene from the indie classic MALL COP by Palm d'Or winning filmmaker and GREY'S ANATOMY editor David Greenspan.

Participants will re-cut a selected scene using Adobe Premiere® Pro CS5 trial software. All submissions will receive education copies of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, so everybody wins! Three talented finalists will be rewarded with their own Adobe CS5 Production Premium education software and the Grand Prize winner will also earn round-trip transportation and four days of accommodations to attend the 2011 Slamdance to experience seeing their winning work screened at the Festival. Registrations to participate now open through Oct. 1, 2010. Final submissions must to be received by Slamdance by Oct. 31, 2010.

 Register Now!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Call for Entries: 2010 Fall Showcase

Faculty, staff, students and alumni: it's time to submit your amazing creations, SIP projects, software and other innovations for the 2010 Fall Showcase.

Show off your talents in any area, such as: fabrication, painting, drawing, game design, software engineering, design documents, SIP posters, network security, graphic design/digital photography, robotics, embedded systems technology, traditional photography or digital video/animation. Check the submission form for further considerations.

All work must be submitted by Oct. 1.

(Download Fall 2010 Showcase editable PDF entry form)


Images must be a minimum of 200dpi at 8"x10". Title your entry with your name and entry title. (EX: JohnSmith_SummerSky.jpg)

Videos must be H.264 compression codec, AVI or Quicktime.  Also if it is widescreen please make sure to export it as such. Same naming convention applies. (EX:

SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY using one of three methods:

1) VISIT THE SHOWCASE HELP DESK outside of the theater Wednesdays immediately after Student Government Sept.8- 29.

Download and fill out editable submission form (link above). Email form and entry to:

Download and fill out editable submission form (link above). Send your entry and form to:
The University of Advancing Technology
ATTN: Lane Joplin
2625 W. Baseline Rd.
Tempe, AZ 85283

Monday, September 20, 2010

Alumni Perspective: The Job Market

by Evan Sprague

My being on the cusp of twenty-five makes me “sage old” about as much as almost making minimum wage makes one rich. I don’t profess to have copious amounts of life experience, and I have yet to finish my first lap around the proverbial “block”. That said, I have traversed grades K-12 and weathered the squall of the ferocious undergraduate program. When a budding young teenager is preparing their triumphant foyer into the collegiate realm, I am a Jedi Master (especially considering the journey I took to finally reach my BA).

I know a certain teenager at the point in her life that we all dread; a senior in high school trying to figure out what exactly she wants to do with her future. It can be a daunting task, especially with all the adult figures in your life telling you that the choices you make now will forever seal the inevitable fate of your remaining years on this earth, as if life is the ancient temple in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark and a single bad step can bestow a murderous onslaught of pain and turmoil upon you.

I asked said young person what she wanted to do. She’s not quite sure, but has taken an interest in photography as a creative hobby. Of course I made the humble suggestion of pursuing it as both a major and a career. Her response was straight from the horse’s mouth, like she was quoting from a stock article in the NY Times. She said - and I quote - “Video is a fluctuating job market.”

Wow. You don’t say…

What I’m about to say isn’t necessarily directed at this person, so if you’re reading this - and you know who you are - I know you’ll make the right decisions for you. My point in this post isn’t that this girl should go into photography; I’m not the boss of her life and I don’t claim to always know what’s best for her. However, the comment that she made got me thinking about a more general concept.

This really struck a chord with me. When you’re 17 you’re supposed to have limitless inspiration and imagination. You’re supposed to be brimming with spirit, life, and creativity. You’re supposed to be an allegory for hope and innocence. One thing you’re not supposed to be is tossing your passions and dreams to the wayside because of the “fluctuating job market”. That phrase should not exist in your vernacular.

That said, it does. And this teenager is one of many out there right now who are repeating that same thing to themselves, dodging a shot at greatness to ensure that the paychecks come rolling in steadily. Even many college students in creative programs are switching majors, sometimes even entire universities to pursue a field that yields higher financial promise – all in a blind panic and fear that in ten years they’ll be in a dusty shack with no power or water, sucking beans out of a can.

Our society is dumbing itself down in the hopes of economic reconciliation. Parents are telling their children to search for jobs in high demand, forgetting that creativity and imagination are what breathe life into a dying job market.

I say to hell with what’s in high demand. I say to hell with what’s stable or financially secure. It’s important to find something you’re truly passionate about, research it’s job market and demographic, practice at it until you’re awesome, then make it so.

The biggest problem with our economy is that everything is becoming solely about money. Money is good, it pays our bills, but not at the cost of our humanity. Businesses in the 1800’s were more typically owned and operated by the craftsmen himself. He did the work, he used his skills to put food on his table and a roof over his head, and it didn’t matter if it was painting or making shoes. Then entrepreneurs came along and figured out methods of pushing out as much product as possible and removing the passion and craftsmanship from the business.

Our economy was thriving much more when people were doing things themselves instead of dropping pistons onto engines moving down the assembly line.

Take, for example, a person who aspires to become a musician. If you want a fluctuating job market, professional musician is about as a fluctuating as it gets. If you want it bad enough you might practice your instrument constantly, network, and look at a marketable means of getting your foot in the door. Maybe you can’t pay your bills by straight up playing your music, but what if you got your degree in sound engineering and worked in a recording studio? You’d be close to musicians, you’d get to network, and you might even pull down a decent salary. And who knows, maybe you can get into a band and moonlight playing gigs at jazz or rock clubs. Doesn’t that sound like a more attractive job than simply giving up and getting your degree in accounting or business?

An experienced and talented writer/actor in Phoenix once told me to wake up every morning and make a list of the five things you want most in life. Constantly repeating these things to yourself will breed motivation, discourage stagnation, and the universe will eventually align itself to provide. There’s a job out there for everyone and everything, you just have to find it. That’s one of the trials of life. No job is in such high demand that you can get your bachelor’s in it, march down to the nearest office and hop into a cubical without so much as an application; especially not in this economy. Every job takes work, every job takes countless hours on the phone or on the internet, submitting resumes and applications, weathering interviews (if you’re lucky enough to get that far), and writing cover letters. You’re more likely to excel in something that you’re in love with as opposed to the semi-decent-paying field you got into because it was a stable job market.

Life is about taking risks, and most of the time you’ll come out on top. There are twenty-four hours in a day. If you wake up at 7:00 AM every morning and go to bed at 11:00 PM, you’re waking life has only sixteen-hour days. Your job will work you eight hours a day, plus an hour lunch break, so you’re gone for nine hours a day, leaving only seven hours each day at maximum that you’ll be able to do anything not work related. Other than sleep, we spend more than half our lives at work. And that’s just factoring a standard 9-5 job; most jobs that pay a decent salary require you to put in ten or eleven hours a day, some even more. It’s critical that we spend this precious time doing something we’re passionate about.

I guess what I’m trying to say with all this is do what you love, and encourage your children to do what they love. Accept nothing less, and you’ll receive nothing less. When we get to the end of our lives, the accomplishments that we leave in our wake will be the only tangible things we’ll have to show for ourselves. An economy with no passion will surely wither and die, and no accounting or business job is going to save anyone.

Friday, September 17, 2010

You've Graduated. Now What?

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Seneca, Roman philosopher, mid-1st century A.D.
You've just spent 3 years or so getting your degree. If you're a regular reader of this, that degree is probably in Digital Video and you've been forged in the crucible of one or more projects under my supervision. You know your stuff now. You really know it. You are prepared.

So now what?

Some of you will wait for opportunity to come knocking. Some of you will settle into life here in Arizona, or maybe back in your home town. You'll wonder why you're not working in this field that you love. You might even become bitter that your degree hasn't done more for you, that UAT hasn't done more for you, that I haven't done more for you. And unfortunately you might get stuck in that mode of thinking and if you do, you can rest assured that the elusive opportunity you seek will most certainly pass by your door without knocking.

But some of you - far too few in my humble opinion - will chase the dream and do whatever it takes to grab opportunity by the shirt collars and get its attention any way you can. You'll move to Los Angeles, or New York, or Austin, and you'll slowly but surely make it happen. You'll work for the Discovery Channel or on big-budget films like Avatar or maybe you'll rub elbows with one of our icons Robert Rodriguez. You might even stay here in the Valley and find a way to make a name for yourself here.

So what's the difference between these two groups of alumni? Well, the second group, the one chasing the opportunities - they make their own luck. They know that it's not enough to simply prepare. They know you have to chase it. You have to want it. And you have to be willing to go outside of your comfort zone and take a risk.

This week, one of my recent grads went through a mini-crisis that is both the reason for this blog entry and the proof of what I'm talking about. This grad went out to L.A. for a few days to hang with some of the other UATDV alumni who have landed out there, and he got a dose of how tough this business can be. The guys he spoke with out there - well, they're all looking for work right now. That's how it is sometimes. One day you're working on Avatar, the next you're "between gigs." It's rough, and it's not for the easily discouraged. Add to that the fact that this particular grad - whose demo reel is stellar (see below) - was being told by studios that he'd need four years of professional experience before they'd even consider him. All in all he came back from L.A. feeling very discouraged.

But did that stop him? No. He sat down with the Arizona Production Association guide and started researching postproduction houses here in the Valley. Turned out one of them had an opening for a freelancer with just this grad's skill set, starting immediately. On Monday was feeling like he'd had the wind knocked right out of his sails; but on Wednesday he started his first day working for a high-end post house on a project for a national client. Why? Is it because he's just lucky?

I say yes, he's lucky. Because he's done the preparation for the last three years and now he's actively pursuing the opportunities. He's not letting the business and its fickle ways get him down or stop him from making it happen. So let this be a lesson to all of you who are still waiting for opportunity to knock: You either make your own luck in this life, or you don't. It's all in your hands. Go after those opportunities. Chase 'em. Because they aren't going to chase you.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” - Thomas Alva Edison, American inventor of the motion picture

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

DV Student Blog: The Importance of Coiling Cable

by Monica Thies

I never truly realized the importance of coiling cable and how vital of a skill it is in the video production world…until I was stuck being the sole person coiling a 400 foot cable on a baking hot football field wearing a sweatshirt. The reason for coiling the cable isn’t to clean up, it’s because the person who last coiled the cable did not coil the cable properly, and therefore the coil has to be completely redone in order to have the production go smoothly.

I consider myself lucky to a degree, because this is a skill my dad has drilled into my head since I was about eight years old helping him on the boat, and I tried doing the “wrap around the elbow” technique with a boat rope….didn’t fly with dad. Ended up learning how to coil rope, which then translated into coiling cable.  This skill may seem so minor when you learn it in highs school production class or your first cable experience in Production 101 in college, where 30 ft XLR cables seem annoying to coil that way, and wrapping around the elbow when the teacher isn’t looking just gets it done faster.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way everywhere in life.

I had the privilege this summer to be able to help out on the broadcasts by Seattle Seahawks Sounders FC and the men (and a few women) who freelance and come in as day crews to make the show happen. It requires about a 12 hour day, mostly on foot and about 6 hours of that alone is setting up and “faxing” (testing) the equipment and the connections between an 18 wheeler mobile broadcasting unit and the rest of the stadium (around 15 different cameras…depending on soccer or football). Football is a lot crazier to broadcast than Soccer, but both require a large amount of set up and work. The question that has stuck in my head through all of these, and the question I was asked the most frequently of any other question was “Do you know how to coil cable properly?”. If you answer this question with a no…the person who asked is going to either raise an eyebrow at you in a “what are you doing on a production team” way, or they may be nice enough to show you how to do it quickly. 

Not coiling a cable properly can affect not just the production that you’re working on but the production after that, and the one after that. When that 400 foot cable is hooked up to a parabolic mic dish that is running up and down the sideline half the game, and it gets tangled, or that 400 ft cable is attached to the camera on a fast moving dolly on the sideline of a football game on national television and it can’t uncoil properly, it could cause an issue for the dolly  or easily cause the cable to yank out of the camera, and there goes the entire production because that one camera is the backbone of the broadcast.

So learn to coil cable, and always practice doing it correctly, because anywhere that an entry level position is in production, expect to be coiling cable, lots of it, and if its done incorrectly, it is something that seems so minor, but is major enough to damage a reputation. Over, under, over under, straighten the loops sometimes to make sure they’re all organized, take the time to make sure there are no kinks. Like just about anything else in life, the more you do it, the better you will be at it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

DV Internship: HotSeat Media

This internship opportunity just came over from UAT's Industry and Career Services folks:

Hey there video lovers.  HotSeat Media here -

We are a local media production company and we are looking for a video editing intern to fill an 80 hour internship position available.

We have agreements with most of the local colleges around the Phoenix area for just this purpose. Do you go to UAT, SCC, ASU, or Collins College....among others and would you like to get credit for being in our office?

Its a fun and creative environment just perfect for the media/video industry lovers.  We can coordinate with your school easily so, send over those resumes.

Check out our website for information about our company!

Here is a link to our buzz reel:

Fluent in Final Cut Pro or Adobe After Effects.  Video editing experience and passion is a must.

Knowledgeable of Adobe CS products is a huge plus!

This could also lead to further opportunities with HotSeat Media - we would love to see what you are made of.

If you are interested email: