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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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    Film Your Final

    Film Your Final

    (Feb 26, 2018)

    Use your skills to your advantage! That’s what UAT Digital Video students enrolled in the Cinematography course like to do.

    With encouragement from their professor, they can omit a written test...

    Use your skills to your advantage! That’s what UAT Digital Video students enrolled in the Cinematography course like to do.

    With encouragement from their professor, they can omit a written test if they decide to film their final exam instead. One who does not know the process of creating a short film may think this is the easier of the two options, but that is simply not the case.

    In order to film the final, DV students will utilize skills they learned over the semester such as color grading, capturing sound effects, smooth and steady camera movement, and digital storytelling as they bring the tale to life. Filming your final also gives the student more practice in their craft of digital filmmaking versus writing a lengthy paper and the film is an asset to show future employers as the paper will not have much use after the class has ended.

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    48-Hour Film Challenge

    48-Hour Film Challenge

    (Feb 26, 2018)

    Students, you have 48 hours. The mission is to include one specific prop and one required line of dialog in your film. Now, go make a movie!

    UAT Digital Video students...

    Students, you have 48 hours. The mission is to include one specific prop and one required line of dialog in your film. Now, go make a movie!

    UAT Digital Video students are up for the challenge! They’ve had lots of practice competing in the Inter-College 48-Hour Film Challenge as UAT hosts the event each spring trading off with Grand Canyon University (GCU) to host in the fall.

    As you can imagine, the rivalry is strong with these two schools as students brainstorm the most creative, outstanding film concepts to bring to the table at each competition. The friendly competition inspires students to bring their A-game as well as to be organized and communicate effectively among the film crew.

    At the spring 2017 event, UAT Digital Video students entered two teams to compete against GCU’s five teams taking home awards for Best Technical and Best Film.

    If you have a passion for filmmaking, consider a degree in Digital Video at UAT and this could be you!

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    “Instinct” Military Survival Film Wins Two Awards

    “Instinct” Military Survival Film Wins Two Awards

    (Dec 05, 2017)

    UAT Digital Video alumni Killian Davies is excited to share updates on his short film, Instinct, a military survival film shot this year.

    Since Killian graduated from UAT in May 2017, his film...

    UAT Digital Video alumni Killian Davies is excited to share updates on his short film, Instinct, a military survival film shot this year.

    Since Killian graduated from UAT in May 2017, his film has been busy! He entered Instinct in a couple of film festivals and has been recognized twice for its awesome content.

    The film won “Drama Student Short” at the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival.

    In addition, Instinct also just won “Best Drama” at the Los Angeles Film Awards.

    Instinct team

    Instinct team

    “I am very proud of the Instinct team for already winning two separate awards: “Drama Student Short” at HIMPFF, and “Best Drama” at the LA Film Awards. The team worked tirelessly to create something special and it feels amazing to see their hard work is being showcased among industry professionals,” said Director Killian Davies.

    HIMPFF Awards

    LA Film Awards

    Instinct is a military survival short film following Marine helicopter pilot Second Lieutenant Foster, and her treacherous journey through the Hadramawt Mountains of Yemen. Using limited resources and the training provided, she must attempt to keep a cool head in the heat of isolation.

    Instinct Trailer

    Congratulations to the Instinct team!

     

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    DV film “Toppled” Now Online

    DV film “Toppled” Now Online

    (Nov 07, 2017)

    Back in 2016, UAT’s Digital Video Program teamed up with repeat collaborator Ayman Samman to produce a short film inspired by the “Arab Spring,” called “Toppled.” Samman, who starred in...

    Back in 2016, UAT’s Digital Video Program teamed up with repeat collaborator Ayman Samman to produce a short film inspired by the “Arab Spring,” called “Toppled.” Samman, who starred in UAT productions such as “Parallax” and “Red Sand” before landing a plum role in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, was inspired to write “Toppled” after a scary brush with the chaos of the Arab Spring in his home country of Egypt. Seeing his homeland erupt into turmoil and being evacuated by the US State Department, followed by what looked to be truly democratic elections in Egypt being undermined by military dictatorship inspired Samman to write the story of a dictator on the run as his country revolts against his rule.

    Working with our regular casting directors at Good Faith Casting, Samman and Professor Paul DeNigris cast veteran actor Tony Amendola (The Mask of Zorro, Stargate SG-1, Once Upon a Time) as the fleeing dictator to play opposite Samman as his last loyal bodyguard. What results is a timely look at how the dream of democracy dies under the boot heel of ruthless power. Enjoy here, or click through to YouTube and watch it in “2160p” also known as “UltraHD.”

    More UAT Tech Blog coverage of “Toppled” –

    Behind the Scenes of UATDV’s “Toppled”

    UAT Digital Video Casts Actor Tony Amendola in New Film, “Toppled”

    UATDV at Phoenix Film Festival 2017

     

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    New DV Work: Calico – Short Sci-Fi Drama Film

    New DV Work: Calico – Short Sci-Fi Drama Film

    (Nov 01, 2017)

    With a near future utopia on the verge of collapse, a troubled man must convince his eldest sibling into reverse engineering a revolution. Written directed by KIllian Davies, “Calico” explores...

    With a near future utopia on the verge of collapse, a troubled man must convince his eldest sibling into reverse engineering a revolution. Written directed by KIllian Davies, “Calico” explores concepts of identity and gender while providing a glimpse into a possible future in which ego prevails. Produced by Davies and Brandon Scott. Cinematography by Paul Lopez. Edited by Patrick Kebert.

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    A Look Back at DV’s “Fallout”

    A Look Back at DV’s “Fallout”

    (Oct 24, 2017)

    8 years ago today on October 24th, 2009, we began production on our first all-greenscreen film, “Fallout” (not related to the videogame series but nonetheless set in a post-apocalyptic future).

    It...

    8 years ago today on October 24th, 2009, we began production on our first all-greenscreen film, “Fallout” (not related to the videogame series but nonetheless set in a post-apocalyptic future).

    It was the start of a new direction for the Digital Video Program, one that placed greater emphasis on visual effects filmmaking and on creating a professional production experience for students that would span the last few semesters of their academic career at the University.

    “Fallout” was an experiment. It could have ended in utter failure but we all still would have learned a ton from it. It would end up taking about a year to complete and in the end it would play film festivals all over the world and win a number of prestigious awards including Best Arizona Short at the Phoenix Film Festival.

    More importantly, the Production Studio experience that was built around the creation of “Fallout” became the gold standard for student-faculty collaboration at UAT and it has continued to create many, many award-winning films in the ensuing 8 years. And the Production Studio modeled by the Digital Video Program has now become part of every program at the University.

    Take a look back at where it all began, with “Fallout.”

     

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    Bringing the AZ Capitol to Life with DV Magic

    Bringing the AZ Capitol to Life with DV Magic

    (Oct 21, 2017)

    A few weeks into the Fall semester, Dr. Bolman emailed me and asked “What do you think about making a talking CGI Arizona Capitol building?” to which I said “Huh?”...

    A few weeks into the Fall semester, Dr. Bolman emailed me and asked “What do you think about making a talking CGI Arizona Capitol building?” to which I said “Huh?” Turned out Thrillist had named our capitol building one of the ugliest in the nation, and Phoenix’s own “Hip Historian” Marshall Shore had taken exception to this. He had mentioned to Dr. Bolman the idea of doing a video rebuttal featuring the puppet version of the Hip Historian interviewing the maligned capitol about the Thrillist article. At which point Dr. Bolman brought it to me and my team of students to make it happen.

    After a couple of weeks of wrangling my schedule, Marshall’s, and that of puppeteer Stacey Gordon of Sesame Street fame, we finally got everyone lined up to produce the necessary elements. Marshall and photographer Marilyn Szabo got us an excellent shot of the capitol to use as the basis for our animation. Marshall also recruited veteran Phoenix actor Greg Lutz to voice the embattled building. (Greg himself is no stranger to UATDV productions, appearing in Jacob Glass’ “Afterlife” and recently filming a stint as the mayor of the titular town in “Help Falls.”)

    Now by week 6 of the semester, students are pretty nose-down into their own projects – and our production slate this semester is rather heavy, shooting 2 new films while completing post-production on 2 others – so I took it upon myself to do the lion’s share of the work for this. I met Greg and Marshall early one Friday morning in our DV Studio and took full advantage of our new “Recording” light we’re sporting outside the door. We did a few takes, making adjustments and having some good laughs. Greg and Marshall were consummate professionals, and having them in studio together (rather than recording them separately and editing their lines together) gave the dialogue an authentically conversational rhythm.

    A couple of hours later Stacey Gordon joined us in the Greenscreen Studio where students Jake Turocy, Paul Lopez, and Gabe Vigil had set up our Blackmagic URSA Mini camera and lit the puppet Marshall to match the photo of the capitol.

    Student Jake Turocy films puppeteer Stacey Gordon

    Turns out filming a puppet is very technical, so we all learned quite a bit from Ms. Gordon’s experience and expertise. That alone made the project worth it! Any time we can expose to students to professionals who can add to their education, it’s a win.

    Once all our elements had been recorded, then I was ready to bring it all together. Tools used for the final product:

    • Adobe Audition – used for sound editing and sweetening, including adding reverb to Greg’s lines as the capitol
    • Nuke – our visual effects workhorse was used to pull the key on the puppet shots (“pulling a key” means to remove the greenscreen and create transparency)
    • Adobe After Effects – used to animate the capitol and bring all the elements together

    Now I could have completed the visuals for the project entirely in After Effects if I wanted to, and in fact the first version I sent to Marshall for approval later in the day after the shoot was executed in AE. But I opted to use Nuke for the keying of the greenscreen footage due to how much better the quality of the keyers are in Nuke versus those in AE. In particular, puppet Marshall’s white hair and goatee were problematic – hair is always difficult to key, and lighter hair is perhaps the worst. Nuke’s Image-Based Keyer is my go-to for preserving hair detail and it worked great here. (You can check out my Nuke keying tutorial for more info, if you’re so inclined.)

    To animate the capitol, I knew I needed to find the most expedient way to handle the lipsynch since there’s so much dialogue. To that end I used After Effects’ Keyframe Assistant and its built in tool “Convert Audio to Keyframes” to generate a series of keyframes based on the relative volume of Greg’s voice track. From there I started exploring options for how to use these keyframes to create some kind of mouth animation. I started digging into AE’s “Distort” category of effects and found “CC Split” which creates a kind of zipper animation with 2 anchor points and a single slider to control the width of the split. Positioning the anchor points to become the corners of the capitol’s “mouth” and using a simple expression to wire the amplitude keyframes to the split slider – I immediately saw the potential for a mouth animation that mimicked how the practical puppet’s mouth moved.

    From there, I used After Effects’ MeshWarp effect to add a series of distortion handles on the capitol building and with them I was able to keyframe some simple expressions to make the capitol mad, sad, happy, etc. Layering this on top of the mouth animation got me the effect I was looking for. Finally, I added the eyes – which actually was the first thing I conceived but I left it until last after I had tackled everything else. To me, the two brick squares on either side of the building’s front section seemed like closed eyes. With some masking, I was able to create the illusion that those squares opened like eyelids, revealing puppet-like “googly eyes” underneath. Some simple animation was added to the pupils to move them appropriately, and blinks were added to give the building a little more life.

    The finished video has since been featured on Downtown Phoenix Journal and AZ Central. People seem to be enjoying it, and it’s certainly getting people talking about one of Arizona’s architectural treasures.

    Arizona State Capitol, Ugly? from RetroSpectacular on Vimeo.

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    New DV Work: Loyalty Lies with the Dead – Walking Dead Fan Film

    New DV Work: Loyalty Lies with the Dead – Walking Dead Fan Film

    (Aug 28, 2017)

    UAT’s Digital Video Program has released its latest epic fan film, this one based on the hit TV series and comic book The Walking Dead. The plot synopsis for “Loyalty Lies...

    UAT’s Digital Video Program has released its latest epic fan film, this one based on the hit TV series and comic book The Walking Dead. The plot synopsis for “Loyalty Lies with the Dead” is as follows:

    Returning home from Los Angeles to Arizona, Noa gets her college friends back together – just as the zombie outbreak reaches Phoenix. Together the five of them must survive the undead and the desert wastes to escape to safety. But is Noa hiding something?

    The film was written and directed by student Brett Chapman, and won “Best in Show” at the UAT Student Innovation Project Fair in Summer 2016.

    Director Brett Chapman

    Watch the film here, and see Brett’s award-winning makeup work, which combined practical and digital makeup effects to create zombie mayhem on a student budget!

    And you can also check out some behind the scenes action in this making-of featurette shot and edited by student Alex Beaver.

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    On Set in 360!

    On Set in 360!

    (Aug 16, 2017)

    Alex Beaver’s Student Innovation Project transports viewers behind the scenes and into the middle of the action for the filming of UAT Digital Video’s upcoming military survival film “Instinct.” Written...

    Alex Beaver’s Student Innovation Project transports viewers behind the scenes and into the middle of the action for the filming of UAT Digital Video’s upcoming military survival film “Instinct.” Written and directed by Killian Davies, “Instinct” tells the story of a Marine helicopter pilot downed in the hostile territory of Yemen, and chronicles her harrowing journey to safe extraction by her fellow Marines.

    “Instinct” filmed in a variety of amazing Arizona locations, including Pima Air and Space Museum which was kind enough to let the UAT students use their helo simulator for crucial scenes.

    If you’ve ever wondered what’s it’s really like on a movie set, now’s you’re chance to experience the next best thing – make sure you watch on your headset display or on a nice big screen.

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    Professor DeNigris produces VFX tutorials

    Professor DeNigris produces VFX tutorials

    (Jul 31, 2017)

    Ever wondered what gets taught in our Visual Effects classes? Or wondered what really goes into making movie magic for Hollywood blockbusters? UAT’s Digital Video Program Champion Paul DeNigris has...

    Ever wondered what gets taught in our Visual Effects classes? Or wondered what really goes into making movie magic for Hollywood blockbusters? UAT’s Digital Video Program Champion Paul DeNigris has been producing video tutorials for his VFX students, taking them step by step through techniques in The Foundry’s NUKE compositing software, and these tutorials are available on Paul’s YouTube channel. Check out a playlist of Nuke tutorials here, and visit Paul’s channel for After Effects tutorials as well as vlog episode’s from Paul’s Hollywood sabbatical a couple of years ago!

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