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ABOUT UAT
University of Advancing Technology is an elite, private college that serves its student body by fostering knowledge creation and academic excellence in an environment that embraces the young technophiles of the world. With three centers of research and a suite of technology-centered undergraduate and graduate degrees, the University is a recognized leader in technology education.

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    UATDV at Phoenix Film Festival 2017

    (Apr. 4, 2017)

    As in past years, UAT’s Digital Video Program will have a significant presence at the 2017 Phoenix Film Festival, including screening 2 short films as well as participating in numerous festival events. ...

    As in past years, UAT’s Digital Video Program will have a significant presence at the 2017 Phoenix Film Festival, including screening 2 short films as well as participating in numerous festival events.

    First up is “Toppled,” directed by Digital Video Program Champion Paul DeNigris. Written by and starring regular UAT collaborator Ayman Samman, the film was shot last year as part of DeNigris’ Production Studio class and also stars veteran actor Tony Amendola in the role of an ousted Middle Eastern dictator.

    “Toppled” screens as part of Live Action Shorts B on Friday 4/7, Sunday 4/9, and Wednesday 4/12, and is the first UAT-produced film to screen outside of the Arizona Shorts program, putting it in competition with films from all over the country.

    Watch the “Toppled” trailer here and read more about the making of the film here.

    Limelight Poster (1)Next is “Limelight,” the winner of Best Film at last Summer’s IFP “Beat the Clock” 48-Hour Film Challenge, directed by student Killian Davies.  As a result of winning the 48-hour challenge the film was selected to be part of this year’s Arizona Shorts A program, which screens on Saturday 4/8 and Sunday 4/9. Watch the trailer for “Limelight” here.

    Digital Video students and faculty will also be participating in several key events. Look for a UATDV booth at IFP’s Industry Night on Friday evening (4/7) where Program Champion Paul DeNigris will be on hand to answer questions about the Program and show clips from various past DV films. Paul will also be on a panel discussion on Sunday 4/9 at 5:30 pm on Comic Book Films.

    UATDV faculty and students will be running a number of stations during the Saturday (4/8) Kids’ Day program, including editing, sound, cinematography, and greenscreen activities for kids of all ages. And finally, UATDV will be running several classes during the Middle / High School Workshops on Wednesday 4/12 and Thursday 4/13.

    All in all it’s set to be a busy week for UAT Digital Video at Arizona’s premiere film event of the year!

     

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    DV Students Make Movie Magic with Mitch Rapp: Off Book

    (Mar. 22, 2017)

    Following up on our post from March 1st, a team of Digital Video students (and some alumni) have completed work on an action-packed epic short film starring Hollywood actors: “Mitch Rapp: Off Book.” The full film...

    Following up on our post from March 1st, a team of Digital Video students (and some alumni) have completed work on an action-packed epic short film starring Hollywood actors: “Mitch Rapp: Off Book.” The full film can be watched on a custom micro-site built specially for the project: https://mitchrappfanfilm.com/

    As usual, DV has also produced some great behind-the-scenes materials, including this documentary on the making of the film, “Rogue Mission: The Making of Mitch Rapp: Off Book.”

    And as is pretty standard for a UAT DV project, there are a lot of visual effects in this one – over 100 visual effects shots in fact, ranging from the simple (replacing English text in the basement location with Russian) to the incredibly complex (a completely digital Blackhawk helicopter). Check out a sample of the VFX work here:

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    James Morrison, Prof. Paul DeNigris, Andy McDermott, and Ayman Samman

    UAT faculty and students collaborate with Hollywood players for action film Mitch Rapp: Off Book

    (Mar. 1, 2017)

    Professor Paul DeNigris, Program Champion for Digital Video at University of Advancing Technology, was recently recruited by Hollywood actor and fitness model Andy McDermott (Hawaii 5-0,...

    Professor Paul DeNigris, Program Champion for Digital Video at University of Advancing Technology, was recently recruited by Hollywood actor and fitness model Andy McDermott (Hawaii 5-0, Sons of Anarchy) to produce a short film based on Vince Flynn’s bestselling novels about All-American counterterrorism agent Mitch Rapp. McDermott, a long-time fan of the 15-book (and growing) series, was disappointed to learn that CBS Films had cast teen heartthrob Dylan O’Brien as the hardboiled hero for their upcoming feature film adaptation of American Assassin, and he wanted to put his own stamp on what he described as his “dream role” before O’Brien’s version hit the big screen.

    Andy McDermott as Mitch Rapp

    Andy McDermott as Mitch Rapp

    McDermott had previously worked on DeNigris’ Iraq War film “Parallax” before moving to Los Angeles, and knew what the veteran filmmaker and his crew of students at UAT could produce on a limited budget. DeNigris called on his writing and producing partner Steve Briscoe and the two of them wrote a 15-page original script inspired by Flynn’s work but not taking specific scenes from any of the books. In the film Rapp butts heads with a bureaucrat (a staple of the novels) over a mission to rescue one of Rapp’s Orion Team members whose infiltration of a Russian terrorist organization in league with ISIL has gone south.

    Mitch vs Vladimir

    Mitch Rapp (Andy McDermott) faces Vladimir (Richard O. Ryan) on the roof of the terrorist lair

    But the story is just an excuse for a rollercoaster ride of action as Rapp and his injured teammate battle waves of bad guys from the basement to the roof of the terrorists’ lair. DeNigris, a self-professed Marvel fan, took dead aim at Daredevil for inspiration in the action. For maximum impact they recruited martial artist, law enforcement trainer, and stunt choreographer Richard O. Ryan to design the action beats.

    Dragovich and Riaz

    Steve Briscoe as terror mastermind Dragovich and Ayman Samman as undercover CIA operative Riaz

    Joining the production as Rapp’s tortured teammate was Ayman Samman, who had a notable turn as a terrorist sympathizer in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper and had previously worked with DeNigris and the UAT students on “Parallax,” “Red Sand,” and “Toppled.” The production team also brought on board iconic actor James Morrison of 24 and Space: Above and Beyond to portray Charles Neimier, the antagonistic bureaucrat with whom Rapp butts heads.

    James Morrison as Neimier 2

    James Morrison as State Department bureaucrat Charles Neimier

    UAT Digital Video students comprised virtually the entirety of the crew, from seniors who took top creative positions to freshman filling production assistant roles in their first time on set. Even alumni who graduated long ago contributed to the effort to make the film, with Hollywood VFX pros Rick Ravenell and William Reges lending a hand in postproduction.

    Student Jordan Wippell served as cinematographer for the film

    Student Jordan Wippell served as cinematographer for the film

    “Mitch Rapp: Off Book” premieres on YouTube on March 6, 2017 at 10 am PST.

    Here’s the trailer!

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    DV students produce Change Agent documentary for One Community

    (Nov. 16, 2016)

    As in years past, the Digital Video Program at University of Advancing Technology has partnered with One Community to produce their annual “Change Agent” honoree video. This year, the video showcases Dennis and Janine Skinner who are the parents of...

    As in years past, the Digital Video Program at University of Advancing Technology has partnered with One Community to produce their annual “Change Agent” honoree video. This year, the video showcases Dennis and Janine Skinner who are the parents of three children, one who is a lesbian and one who is a transgender man. As people of faith and as active allies in their community, they have worked to educate and raise awareness of gay and transgender issues in their community.

    The video was shot by students Andrew Aguirre, Patrick Kebert, and Brandon Scott, and was edited by Aguirre. Professor Paul DeNigris provided faculty guidance. UAT is very, very proud of these students and their contribution to our community!

     

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    Congratulations to Alumni Daniel Sontag on Winning First Emmy Award

    (Oct. 27, 2016)

    Daniel Sontag, a Digital Video Alumnus who attended UAT from 2005-2009, won his first Emmy in the Lone Star Regional Emmy’s for the Promotion/ Program Award category on October 15, 2016. Daniel works as a Manager of Brand Marketing at NBC 5 Dallas/Fort Worth, which is the fifth largest market in...

    Daniel Sontag, a Digital Video Alumnus who attended UAT from 2005-2009, won his first Emmy in the Lone Star Regional Emmy’s for the Promotion/ Program Award category on October 15, 2016.

    Daniel works as a Manager of Brand Marketing at NBC 5 Dallas/Fort Worth, which is the fifth largest market in the United States, which means their viewership is very saturated and has a loyal audience.

    NBC 5 DFW’s veteran Chief Meteorologist David Frinfrock has been with the station for 40 years, but has plans to retire in a few years. To welcome new meteorologist Rick Mitchell to the team, and build trust with generations of viewers, Daniel created this promo as a fun introduction as to how they selected Rick as David’s replacement.

    Daniel wrote and co-directed The Voice Meteorologist Edition, a 1-minute promotional spot combining NBC5′s Weather team in a parody of NBC’s biggest show The Voice where perspective weather talent pitched the weather forecast to experts.

    Daniel said because NBC 5 DFW is owned by Comcast Universal, it’s possible to cross promote with other network shows, such as The Voice. It gives the audience a sense of familiarity and builds trust within the community. That was Daniel’s strategy behind this promotional piece.

    Here's Daniel's obligatory "I can't believe I won an Emmy” selfie.

    Here’s Daniel’s obligatory “I can’t believe I won an Emmy” selfie.

    After hearing the news that he won an Emmy, Daniel immediately sent a group text message to UAT Professors’ Sharon Bolman and Paul DeNigris to thank them.

    Professor Sharon Bolman fondly remembers when Daniel was a student at UAT.

    Sharon said, “Daniel epitomizes the life long learner. He is eternally curious and never assumes that he knows it all. He came to UAT with impressive acting and makeup skills, but still took classes in these subjects with a genuine enthusiasm and an open mind. He could always be counted on to ask questions and take criticism which catapulted his projects to the next level. Also, he is a wonderful human being. We are very proud of Daniel!”

    Daniel’s industry work experience:

    • Manager, Brand Marketing – KXAS | NBC 5 DFW – NBCUniversal, Inc., Dallas/ Fort Worth, TX
    • Creative / Promotions Director – KVII-TV | ABC 7 / CW 11 – Sinclair Broadcast Group, Amarillo, TX
    • Commercial / Promotion Producer – KVII-TV | ABC 7 / CW 11 – Barrington Broadcasting, Amarillo, TX
    • Media and Marketing Director – Hale Centre Theatre Arizona, Gilbert, AZ
    • Freelance Video Production – Sontag Media
    • Media Director – The Arab American Association
    • Media Director – UNIQ Media
    • Executive Producer / Director / Videographer / Editor – The Casting Call.TV/ Destination.TV

    See some highlights of Daniel’s work:

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    DV Awards Scholarship at All-American High School Film Festival

    (Oct. 13, 2016)

    This past weekend, DV Program Champion Paul DeNigris traveled to New York City to present the award for Best Visual Effects at the 2016 All-American High School Film Festival. Just as it did last year, this award comes with a full tuition scholarship for the UAT DV Program (an $84,000 value) for the lucky and talented filmmaker. ...

    This past weekend, DV Program Champion Paul DeNigris traveled to New York City to present the award for Best Visual Effects at the 2016 All-American High School Film Festival. Just as it did last year, this award comes with a full tuition scholarship for the UAT DV Program (an $84,000 value) for the lucky and talented filmmaker.

    AAHSFF co-founder Tom Oliva, UAT DV Program Champion Paul DeNigris, and AAHSF co-founder Brian Lindenbaum on the "blue carpet"

    AAHSFF Exec. Director Tom Oliva, UAT DV Program Champion Paul DeNigris, and AAHSFF Director of Ops Brian Lindenbaum on the “blue carpet”

    This year’s winner is Jason Carman of Vacaville, CA, for his sci-fi action flick “Vacuum Wars,” seen here:

    We look forward to Jason joining us in Fall 2017!

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    DV Way Back Wednesday: Cowboy Dreams

    (Sep. 28, 2016)

    It’s a Digital Video flashback this week! Take a not so big step in the wayback machine to the summer of 2008 when Professor Paul DeNigris and an all-star crew of DV students and alumni got to work with not one but TWO Hollywood stars: Blue Collar Comedy staple Bill Engvall and Machete himself Danny Trejo! Together they made the Western comedy “Cowboy...

    It’s a Digital Video flashback this week! Take a not so big step in the wayback machine to the summer of 2008 when Professor Paul DeNigris and an all-star crew of DV students and alumni got to work with not one but TWO Hollywood stars: Blue Collar Comedy staple Bill Engvall and Machete himself Danny Trejo! Together they made the Western comedy “Cowboy Dreams,” one of DV’s most memorable movies. (Slightly NSFW, by the way.)

    The film was penned by frequent UATDV collaborator Steve Briscoe (seen in Ouroboros, Borderlands: Change of Hart, and CrossRealm to name but a few), who also happens to be Prof. DeNigris’ writing and producing partner and half of Paul’s company Locked Horns Productions. During Briscoe’s previous career as a standup comedian, he became friends with many of today’s top comics, including Engvall. When Briscoe and DeNigris decided to make “Cowboy Dreams,” Engvall was their first, last, and only choice for the film’s star.

    Bill Engvall, Steve Briscoe, and Danny Trejo on the "Cowboy Dreams" set

    Bill Engvall, Steve Briscoe, and Danny Trejo on the “Cowboy Dreams” set

    Another juicy role was written specifically with action movie icon Danny Trejo in mind. Trejo had previously met Prof. DeNigris on the set of a film shot in southern Arizona called Curse of the Seven Mummies on which UATDV alum Jenny Pond-Muckerman worked as Script Supervisor.

    DeNigris, Trejo, and Pond-Muckerman on the “Cowboy Dreams” set

    Once Trejo signed on, DeNigris approached his pals at Ronalds Brothers Productions to help out with producing tasks. DeNigris and his students had contributed crew and VFX help to the Ronalds’ feature film Netherbeast Incorporated and the brothers Dean and Brian lent their skills to make sure the “Cowboy Dreams” shoot went off without a hitch. Brian Ronalds has even taught at UAT from time to time, much like Steadicam operator Webb Pickersgill who contributed to the film’s cinematic look.

    An all-star team of UATDV students and alumni jumped in to help make “Cowboy Dreams” and they can be seen in action in 5 short documentaries about the making of the film (shot by alum Clint Comer and edited by then-current Advanced DV Editing students). Check them out and relive the adventure of making this fun little short.

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    DV Students Win Big in IFP 48-Hour Challenge

    (Aug. 10, 2016)

    UATDV’s entry into the 2016 IFP Phoenix “Beat the Clock” 48-Hour Film Challenge took home THREE awards at the screening on August 4th at the Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theaters! The film “Limelight” took home awards for Best Poster Design, Best Editing (student Andrew Aguirre was the editor) and Best Picture (student Killian Davies directed). ...

    UATDV’s entry into the 2016 IFP Phoenix “Beat the Clock” 48-Hour Film Challenge took home THREE awards at the screening on August 4th at the Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theaters! The film “Limelight” took home awards for Best Poster Design, Best Editing (student Andrew Aguirre was the editor) and Best Picture (student Killian Davies directed).

    Limelight Poster (1)

    Poster designed by students Jordan Wippell and Andrew Aguirre

    By virtue of winning Best Picture at the challenge, “Limelight” becomes the first Official Selection of the 2017 Phoenix Film Festival, next April! And it will be eligible for more awards there!

    Director Killian Davies with the Best Picture and Best Editing trophies!

    Director Killian Davies with the Best Picture and Best Editing trophies!

    You can read more about the making of the film and watch a trailer HERE.

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    w00tstock 8.0 videos online!

    (Aug. 5, 2016)

    For the fifth year in a row, UAT Digital Video was on hand to record the Comic-Con adjacent geek cabaret “w00tstock” at San Diego’s Balboa Theater. Created by Mythbuster Adam Savage, geek icon Wil Wheaton, and comedy music duo Paul and Storm, w00tstock is a little bit of spoken word, a little bit of music, and a lot of nerdiness. This year’s theme was...

    For the fifth year in a row, UAT Digital Video was on hand to record the Comic-Con adjacent geek cabaret “w00tstock” at San Diego’s Balboa Theater. Created by Mythbuster Adam Savage, geek icon Wil Wheaton, and comedy music duo Paul and Storm, w00tstock is a little bit of spoken word, a little bit of music, and a lot of nerdiness. This year’s theme was “TEDtalks” and there are a bunch of ridiculous spoof talks that at times are indistinguishable from the real thing. And there’s plenty of music from Paul and Storm and guests like Marian Call and Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino!

    Check out the full playlist here!

     

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    DV Students New Motion Graphics!

    (Aug. 3, 2016)

    Students in Professor DeNigris’ DVA254 Motion Graphics class are tasked with re-creating an existing title sequence from a film or TV show as one of their semester projects. The exercise is meant to stretch the students by asking them to look at work done by professional title designers, and figure out how to meet the high bar they set. It’s a hands-on way of forcing students to...

    Students in Professor DeNigris’ DVA254 Motion Graphics class are tasked with re-creating an existing title sequence from a film or TV show as one of their semester projects. The exercise is meant to stretch the students by asking them to look at work done by professional title designers, and figure out how to meet the high bar they set. It’s a hands-on way of forcing students to expand their thought processes and also to better learn their software (in this case Adobe After Effects).

    Here’s a selection of this semester’s best title sequence re-creations, including FringeBrooklyn Nine-Nine, Wayward Pines, Parks and Recreation, and the first James Bond film Dr. No.

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    DV Students Short Film The Composer Now on YouTube

    (Jul. 27, 2016)

    Having completed its film festival run, the DV Program’s animated/live action film “The Composer” is now available publicly on YouTube. Written and directed by the student duo of Gwyneth Christoffel and Darien Marion, the film tells the story of an emotionally troubled composer who has lost his motivation to write music until he is transported to a magical realm between the...

    Having completed its film festival run, the DV Program’s animated/live action film “The Composer” is now available publicly on YouTube. Written and directed by the student duo of Gwyneth Christoffel and Darien Marion, the film tells the story of an emotionally troubled composer who has lost his motivation to write music until he is transported to a magical realm between the pages of his composition book where a friendly 8th note takes him on an adventure to get his motivation back. You can watch the full film here, or in the embed below. The film combines live action scenes (including some shot at the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale AZ), stop-motion elements of actor Emmanuel Beniamine shot in the UAT Greenscreen Studio, and animated elements created using Adobe tools like Photoshop and After Effects.

    Cast and crew on location at MIM

    Cast and crew on location at MIM

    “The Composer” served as Student Innovation Project (SIP) for Christoffel, Marion, and other members of the team. Christoffel prepared this excellent video that summarized the project for the SIP Fair and delves into the production process in some detail. You can watch here, or in the embed below. Films like “The Composer” that are off the beaten path of the types of projects produced by the Digital Video Program (we’ve never done one like it before) are where the real collaborative innovation happens. A disparate group of students found a way to combine their various talents to make something unique, and leveraged DV tech to make it all come together. And technology was integral to the way the story would be told, starting all the way back in the preproduction phase. This is what we call “post-centric production,” where the techniques that will be used in post-production actually inform decisions made at every stage of a project’s life. With “The Composer,” this student team put all the tools at their disposal to great use!

    That's a wrap at the MIM

    That’s a wrap at the MIM

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    Digital Video Students Compete in IFP 48-Hour Film Challenge

    (Jul. 19, 2016)

    Last weekend, a team of Digital Video students competed in the IFP Phoenix “Beat the Clock” 48-Hour Film Challenge – something DV students have done every summer since 2005. Two days is all they get to produce a 5-minute film from concept to completion. As in every 48-hour challenge, there were some parameters given by IFP to ensure that the films were actually completed in...

    Last weekend, a team of Digital Video students competed in the IFP Phoenix “Beat the Clock” 48-Hour Film Challenge – something DV students have done every summer since 2005. Two days is all they get to produce a 5-minute film from concept to completion. As in every 48-hour challenge, there were some parameters given by IFP to ensure that the films were actually completed in the allotted time, and not filmed beforehand. Two possible lines of dialogue and two possible props were given; the UATDV team chose “That gives me a tingly feeling” as the line and a plant as the prop – and starting from that inspiration they crafted the film “Limelight.” The trailer can be seen above, or click here.

    The synopsis: A jaded actor speaks with his best friend about what it means to be an artist. As their sporadic conversation progresses, things seem to spiral out of control and the truth is soon revealed.

    The team was lead by student Killian Davies as director, and he worked with fellow students Jordan Wippell and Brandon Scott and with DV Program Chamion Professor Paul DeNigris to craft the story and to conceive of the film’s visual approach.

    In addition to the line and prop, two other bits of inspiration factored into the story. One, the film challenge this year was co-sponsored by Sun Studios of Arizona, a new production facility that has sprung up from the ashes of the former Collins College. Sun Studios offered competing teams the use of their facilities for free, which the DV students took full advantage of. The Sun Studios theater and its adjacent backstage dressing room area provided the spark to make the film about an actor, and to some extent about what drives any artist to do what they do.

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    Director Killian Davies and cinematographer Brett Chapman film actor Vincent Alonzo Jamal in Sun Studios of Arizona’s theater

    A second inspiration came from a film that Professor DeNigris shows his students in DVA274 DV Editing class, a little-known gem from Steven Soderbergh’s filmography called The Limey. The film is edited in a very offbeat and nontraditional style, where conversations can start in one location, travel to another location, be interrupted by a flash forward, and then return to the original location. Actors are often seen reacting to their own dialogue, played as voiceover. It’s delightfully obtuse and compellingly crafted, and is one of the foundational films that becomes part of the shared lexicon of film techniques for each cohort of DV students. The editor on “Limelight” (even its title is an homage to Soderbergh’s film), student Andrew Aguirre, is a huge fan of The Limey and so Professor DeNigris urged him and director Davies to embrace that style for this film.

    As a result, a very loose script emerged. The dialogue was written by Wippell and Scott, but there was very little in terms of what would traditionally go into a script, like locations and action. Davies and his cinematographer student Brett Chapman essentially “played improv” as they put their two actors into different locations and had them run the dialogue again and again. Actors Vincent Alonzo Jamal (recently cast in Wippell and Scott’s “Help Falls”) and Cavin Gray (a veteran of UATDV projects such as “Parallax,” “Red Sand,” and “Covet” and who will soon be seen in Chapman’s “Loyalty Lies with the Dead”) were cast to their individual strengths and were given latitude to play off each other and to embrace the material.

    The film can be seen in its entirety alongside the other competing teams’ films on Thursday, August 4th, 2016, at 7 pm at the Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theaters. Tickets can be purchase HERE and we urge the entire UAT family to come on out and support the film!

    Limelight Poster (1)

    Complete credits:

    Directed by Killian Davies

    Produced by Brandon Scott

    Executive Producers  Paul DeNigris and Dr. David Bolman

    Screenplay by Brandon Scott & Jordan Wippell

    Story by Paul DeNigris, Brandon Scott, Jordan Wippell

    Director of Photography Brett Chapman

    Assistant Director Alex Fillicetti

    Edited by Andrew Aguirre

    Assistant Camera Patrick Kebert

    Sound by Robert San Pedro and Alex Beaver

    Grips Tony Bonano, Paul Lopez, and Ryan Moore

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    Jordan Wippell at SEHSÜCHTE Film Festival

    Digital Video Student Attends German Film Festival

    (Jul. 7, 2016)

    In April, UAT Digital Video student Jordan Wippell flew to Potsdam, Germany to attend the SEHSÜCHTE 45th International Student Film Festival. Jordan had an amazing opportunity to showcase a music video called “Erase” that he produced for the band They Might...

    In April, UAT Digital Video student Jordan Wippell flew to Potsdam, Germany to attend the SEHSÜCHTE 45th International Student Film Festival. Jordan had an amazing opportunity to showcase a music video called “Erase” that he produced for the band They Might Be Giants.

    The music video was originally a submission to a Facebook contest - the band selected Jordan’s as their favorite and used it as their official music video. What a cool beginning for a young filmmaker! Jordan has entered “Erase” in many film festivals around the world and decided to enter the SEHSÜCHTE International Student Film Festival, as well.

    At SEHSÜCHTE, They Might Be Giant’s “Erase” music video was featured alongside other amazing student films, giving each filmmaker the chance to answer questions and connect with the audience. Jordan also spent some time exploring Germany with a friend who knew the area getting a feel for German culture.

    Take a glimpse into Jordan’s incredible trip! He compiled a video montage showing off his experience. Enjoy!

    Currently Jordan is working on the next chapter of interactive horror film “Help Falls” among other projects such as “Rubicon” and “Toppled.”

    Keep up with all of Jordan’s film projects on his website.

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    UAT Alumni Abraham Stopani Publishes First Novel

    (Jun. 24, 2016)

    Abraham Stopani (class of 2004) has hit the Young Adult fantasy literature scene today with his debut novel Terra Soul, under his pen name S.J. Abraham. The book focuses on Ayla, a gawky, photophobic comic book geek who abruptly discovers that the reason she doesn’t fit in on Earth is because she’s not from here. She gets transported to her homeworld of Karanik through a...

    Abraham Stopani (class of 2004) has hit the Young Adult fantasy literature scene today with his debut novel Terra Soul, under his pen name S.J. Abraham. The book focuses on Ayla, a gawky, photophobic comic book geek who abruptly discovers that the reason she doesn’t fit in on Earth is because she’s not from here. She gets transported to her homeworld of Karanik through a fold in space and she soon discovers that she’s meant to be the heir to a noble house that is embroiled in a war with an alien force and in intrigue with the other noble houses of Karanik. Magic, technology, and swashbuckling adventure fuse to make a ripping yarn that is equal parts DuneHarry Potter, and Stargate.

    Stopani graduated from UAT with a BA in Multimedia, focusing on Digital Video, long before the current iteration of the DV Program came about. Abe put his DV skills to good use in creating this trailer for the book:

    Abe was one of DV Program Champion Paul DeNigris’ first students back when he started teaching at the University in 2002. Here’s what Paul has to to say about Abe:

    Abe was always a fantastic student who went above and beyond on all his assignments. His work was leaps and bounds above what an undergrad student could be expected to produce. Before the DV Program as we know it with its emphasis on visual effects and genre movies came to be, Abe was the one who was pushing to do Star Wars fan films and to use the greenscreen regularly. His imagination exceeded the confines of his coursework, so it’s no surprise he’s taken that to the next level with Terra Soul. I’m about a third of the way through a pre-release copy Abe sent me and it’s a fun, fast, entertaining read. Can’t wait to see where this story goes – and I hope Abe is already writing the sequel!

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    To say that we’re proud of Abe S.J. Abraham is an understatement! We wish him the best of luck with the launch of Terra Soul, which just hit Amazon today. Check it out here:

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    Paperback

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    Behind the Scenes of UATDVs Toppled

    (Jun. 22, 2016)

    Back in February the UAT Tech Blog reported that the Digital Video Program had cast veteran film and TV actor Tony Amendola in their latest short film “Toppled.” While the film...

    Back in February the UAT Tech Blog reported that the Digital Video Program had cast veteran film and TV actor Tony Amendola in their latest short film “Toppled.” While the film is still being tweaked in post-production and is awaiting its film festival debut, some behind the scenes videos have been released showcasing different aspects of the production.

    The video above gives the student perspective on the experience of working on the film, which was UAT’s first to be shot on our brand new Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K camera.

    Working at the “Ultra HD” resolution of 3840 pixels by 2160 pixels has presented some challenges in post-production, and the DV team has had to master a different post workflow than on previous films. While the post-production process has generally centered around the editing software Avid Media Composer as the hub for all footage management, “Toppled” is the first DV project to use Blackmagic’s powerful color grading software DaVinci Resolve in that role. Footage for “Toppled” was ingested into Resolve at 4K, and Resolve was used to generate 1080p HD proxies for editing in Avid. Student editor Chase Harper built the film in Avid working with these proxy files, and when the edit was locked the Avid timeline was ported back to Resolve so it could be rebuilt in 4K. Cinematographer Jordan Wippell then used Resolve to color grade the film, dialing up the warmth in the images to convey the desert heat, while dialing down the greens of the Arizona vegetation to create a more arid feel. Visual effects plates were bounced out of Resolve as DPX frames for use in The Foundry’s Nuke software, where Professor Paul DeNigris and DV alumni Alex Dinh and Nick Francia painted out Chevy logos, stabilized crane shots, and even erased the chemtrails in the sky to further help with the illusion that the film is not set in the United States. Completed VFX shots were rendered back out of Nuke and imported back into Resolve as DPX’s for integration into the final film. The end result is that “Toppled” will be completely mastered in 4K resolution and will be ready to show at optimal quality on even the biggest cinema screens.

    Additional behind the scenes videos have been released on the UAT Digital Video and “Toppled” Facebook pages. Here are some of them!

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    Digital Video Students Produce Documentary for Valley Leadership

    (Jun. 20, 2016)

    As part of UAT’s ongoing relationship with Valley Leadership, Digital Video student Andrew Aguirre recently headed up a team of DV students to produce a short documentary about one of VL’s community outreach projects, “Experiences of a Lifetime.” The project was a collaboration between Valley Leadership and the Foundation for Senior Living and was designed to grant...

    As part of UAT’s ongoing relationship with Valley Leadership, Digital Video student Andrew Aguirre recently headed up a team of DV students to produce a short documentary about one of VL’s community outreach projects, “Experiences of a Lifetime.” The project was a collaboration between Valley Leadership and the Foundation for Senior Living and was designed to grant wishes to senior citizens, ranging from makeovers to outdoor adventures.

    Aguirre and his team from DVA323 DV Production Studio class shot the documentary on location at CityScape in Phoenix, using Canon 5D Mark II and 7D digital SLR cameras, Tascam and Zoom audio recorders, and Arri lighting. Aguirre and his co-editor Patrick Kebert turned the project around quickly in postproduction as part of their work in DVA371 Advanced DV Editing class. Avid Media Composer was used as the primary postproduction software, with Adobe Audition and Adobe Photoshop being used to supplement Avid’s capabilities. The project was completed and screened at the Valley Leadership Class 37 Graduation Ceremony on June 4th, 2016, and after the screening the VL team revealed the results of Sandy’s makeover which is discussed in the documentary.

    We are so proud of our DV students for contributing to such a meaningful and heartfelt project!

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    Help UATDV Get to w00tstock 2016!

    (Jun. 14, 2016)

    Every Summer since 2012, UAT Digital Video faculty and students have made a road trip to San Diego to film w00tstock, “a night of geeks + music” hosted by Mythbuster Adam Savage, geek icon Wil Wheaton, and comedy music duo Paul and Storm. Our coverage of w00tstock every year is the best on the web, and we’ve been on hand to capture amazing moments like George R.R. Martin...

    Every Summer since 2012, UAT Digital Video faculty and students have made a road trip to San Diego to film w00tstock, “a night of geeks + music” hosted by Mythbuster Adam Savage, geek icon Wil Wheaton, and comedy music duo Paul and Storm. Our coverage of w00tstock every year is the best on the web, and we’ve been on hand to capture amazing moments like George R.R. Martin smashing a guitar, LeVar Burton leading the audience in the “Reading Rainbow” song, Adam Savage singing “I Will Survive” as Gollum, and veteran voice actor Rob Paulsen singing “Yakko’s World” from memory – among many, many others.

    This year UATDV needs some assistance getting to San Diego, and they’ve started an Indiegogo campaign to raise just $1,000 for the trip. Please visit https://igg.me/at/w00tuatdv/x/271251 to pledge your support!

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    VFX REEL

    New UATDV Visual Effects Reel!

    (Jun. 8, 2016)

    The Digital Video Program has released its latest visual effects reel, highlighting some of the best VFX work by students and faculty over the last few years. Techniques shown: 2D/3D tracking, projection mapping, rotoscoping, miniature photography, chromakeying, 3D modeling and texturing, 3D rendering, rig removal, clean plating, ...

    The Digital Video Program has released its latest visual effects reel, highlighting some of the best VFX work by students and faculty over the last few years.

    Techniques shown: 2D/3D tracking, projection mapping, rotoscoping, miniature photography, chromakeying, 3D modeling and texturing, 3D rendering, rig removal, clean plating, animation, and motion control. Software used: Nuke, After Effects, Photoshop, 3D Studio Max, Maya, Mocha Pro, Unreal Engine.

    Projects represented in the reel: Ouroboros, Geeks Night Out promo, Help Falls prototype, CrossRealm, Buddy System, Borderlands: Change of Hart, Parallax, SCP Secure Contain Protect, Letters Home, Blood Oath, The Composer, Black, Zero Complex, and Afterlife.

    The reel includes the work of Paul DeNigris, Justin Gagen, Alex Dinh, Trevor Spotted Eagle, David Ford, Alexander Broderick, Jacob Glass, Ceara McSherry, Gwyneth Christoffel, Jace Oppie, Cameron Wrightsman, Brandon Scott, Jordan Wippell, Gabriel Vielle, Jonathan Ellis, Dominique Laster, and more.

    Alex Beaver edited the reel using Avid Media Composer.

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    Ouroboros Award-Winning Short Sci-Fi Film Finishes Year-Long Film Festival Tour

    (Jun. 6, 2016)

    After a year on the film festival circuit across the nation, UATDV’s award-winning sci-fi drama short “Ouroboros” is now available for public viewing on our YouTube channel. Based on an original story idea by Digital Video Program Champion Professor Paul DeNigris, “Ouroboros” was directed by student Alexander Broderick from a...

    After a year on the film festival circuit across the nation, UATDV’s award-winning sci-fi drama short “Ouroboros” is now available for public viewing on our YouTube channel. Based on an original story idea by Digital Video Program Champion Professor Paul DeNigris, “Ouroboros” was directed by student Alexander Broderick from a screenplay crafted by student Vanessa Schell. Evanne Carter produced, Annie Winn was the cinematographer, and David Ford oversaw visual effects. All of these students have since graduated and begun their professional careers, building upon their experience making “Ouroboros” among other school projects.

    Cinematographer Annie Winn

    Cinematographer Annie Winn

    “Ouroboros” tells the story of quantum physicist Dr. Faye O’Neill, who creates an artificial wormhole and achieves a breakthrough in teleportation. But the wormhole brings an unexpected visitor – Faye’s future self – with a warning that the teleportation device threatens the fabric of spacetime and the very existence of the universe. The story idea developed when Professor DeNigris saw photos of two of Phoenix’s more prolific professional actors, Amanda Melby and Nancy Mercurio (pictured above), and noticed their uncanny similarities. The idea of casting the two women as time-shifted versions of the same character became the core idea of “Ouroboros,” which Broderick and Schell further fleshed out to become the finished film. In order to tell the story, extensive visual effects were required. At the center of the film is Dr. O’Neill’s teleporter, which was designed in Maya by David Ford, and was built at 1/6 scale through a combination of 3D printing and traditional model-making techniques.

    David Ford works on the 1/6 scale 3D-printed teleporter model

    David Ford works on the 1/6 scale 3D-printed teleporter model

    Much of the film was shot on a partial set constructed in UAT’s Greenscreen Studio, and the environment was extended in post-production through compositing using the professional VFX software Nuke. Photographs of the practical set walls were mapped on to simple geometry to extend Dr. O’Neill’s laboratory well beyond the confines of the Greenscreen Studio. Because cinematographer Annie Winn kept her camera moving much of the time, significant 3D camera tracking was required to keep practical and digital set pieces perfectly married together to create a seamless and realistic environment. The interior of the reactor was created through projection-mapping a photo of the interior of the Large Hadron Collider onto simple geometry in Nuke’s 3D engine.

    Director Alex Broderick

    Director Alex Broderick

    The film’s many motion graphics interfaces were designed and animated in Adobe After Effects. One of the core design principles the student team came up with during the film’s development was the idea that display technology in the film’s future world would be transparent, ubiquitous, and multi-functional. This was implemented in the film as large glass panels (created through VFX), Dr. O’Neill’s handheld transparent tablet (manufactured out of wood and Lexan by the student art team), and even a smart refrigerator with integrated display technology. After completion, “Ouroboros” was submitted to a number of film festivals and made its world premiere at the prestigious Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival. The film also took home the coveted “Best Arizona Short” award at the 2015 Phoenix Film Festival, following in the footsteps of previous UATDV films “Fallout” and “Parallax.”

    2015 Best Arizona Short

    2015 Best Arizona Short

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    New UATDV Film Secure. Contain. Protect

    (Mar. 2, 2016)

    UATDV students have finished their horror comedy “Secure. Contain. Protect” and it’s now on YouTube. There were some very cool “firsts” in the making of this one. We were the first crew to film at the historic Hayden Flour Mill in Tempe (thanks to Kris Baxter-Ging and Chris Hansen in the city government). This was also the first UATDV film to use a drone as part...

    UATDV students have finished their horror comedy “Secure. Contain. Protect” and it’s now on YouTube. There were some very cool “firsts” in the making of this one. We were the first crew to film at the historic Hayden Flour Mill in Tempe (thanks to Kris Baxter-Ging and Chris Hansen in the city government). This was also the first UATDV film to use a drone as part of principle photography (for the “monster vision” sequences in the Mill).

    Director Nick Francia and DP Jacob Glass on location at the historic Hayden Flour Mill

    Director Nick Francia and DP Jacob Glass on location at the historic Hayden Flour Mill

    Synopsis: “A secret government organization called “The Foundation” protects society from supernatural creatures. When one of the creatures classified as “SCP-106″ escapes containment, hapless friends Mark and Lewis find themselves in way over their heads as The Foundation scrambles to contain the threat. Based on the stories of the SCP Foundation (http://www.scp-wiki.net/)”

    The cast includes repeat offenders Kane Black, Amy Searcy, Mark Grossman, Chris Ren, Trey Moore, Benjamin Alan Dickinson, Rio Silas McDowell, Gus Matos, alongside newcomers to UATDV films Tobias C. Jones, and Daniel Blunck. There’s also a suspiciously familiar voice cameo.

    Also there is some very beautiful cinematography from co-DPs Ryan Moore and Jacob Glass, including some shots in and around the Mill that make the all-time UATDV “best of” list.

    Kudos to director Nick Francia and producer Danielle Laster for sticking with the project and getting it finished!

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