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Art Institutes

Animation & Effects

Tell stories. In a whole new way.

You’re wired for this. And we’re ready to help push your creativity and build the technical skills you need to create new characters and the worlds they inhabit.

Program Areas

Media_Arts_Animation

Media Arts & Animation

Tony Jimenez

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Media Arts & Animation, Media Arts & Animation , 2014

The Art Institute of Dallas, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design

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The skills and imaginations of animators, 3D modelers, concept artists, compositors, and other creative minds are needed everywhere from film to TV.

Visual_Effects_Motion

Visual Effects & Motion Graphics

Use industry-standard technologies and your own imagination as you combine images, space, movement, and sound to create new worlds in film, TV, and other media.

Meet our Faculty

  • Crystal Bratton Headshot

    C.M. Bratton

    Media Arts & Animation

    "Script writers have to be able to take their internal ideas and turn them into external realities, and that is a process."

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    C.M. Bratton
    What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

    I was 8 years old and my school was putting on a play. I was extremely unhappy that I wasn’t given a lead role – even though other 3rd graders were. I bamboozled my way as a glorified extra in the center stage group but, by that time, I was already hooked. I wanted to perform. Fast forward two years. We had just gotten back from summer vacation and our English teacher asked us to write about what we did over the summer. I decided to recall diving for goggles at the big pool one afternoon. My teacher loved it, and for the first time, I considered writing as a possible passion, right along with performance. But my trinity wasn’t complete until 7th grade, when I moved schools and was placed in a mariachi class. Though I knew little about music, the moment I heard la vihuela I knew it had become an integral part of my life. And finally, at the end of 9th grade, I discovered my voice and haven’t stopped singing since.

    How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

    I became a writer a bit backwards. I wrote poetry as a teen, creative non-fiction in college, and academic papers after. Through theatre, I met another performer who had an idea for a movie and asked for help. Fast forward a few years and that same friend pulled me back to San Antonio to work on a few films, one of which was picked up. It was then that I started seriously working on finishing my first book and, 21 books later, I can firmly say I discovered my life’s task. This somewhat circuitous route has always been steeped in my deep and abiding passion to do what I want and make a living off of it, and I use that to motivate and inspire my students into doing their best work.

    Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

    One of my favorite assignments is called “POV Standoff." Each student by then has a good grasp of his/her story, and so, in class, I have them write the intro to his/her story in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd POVs. This not only stimulates my own writing (I wrote a book based off an example I showed my class), this is an excellent way to explore narratives outside a student’s traditional comfort zone and look at the story from different angles. We start in class so I can go to every student and work with each of them on how s/he is doing and how to improve. I can also help brainstorm with students or nudge them along, as well as catch early grammar and formatting mistakes. Many of my students get excited and/or challenged, because this exercise is designed to help writers grow beyond their pre-conceived styles and begin to develop more fully his/her own distinct voice.

    What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

    As writers in an industry dedicated to audio/visual entertainment, we’re incredibly dependent on the rest of the programs. We can write a film or animation, but it is meant to be seen and heard, not read. So we must rely on artists, directors, cinematographers, actors, and all the rest to help make that idea leave the page.

    In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

    Students have to take their craft realistically. You cannot create without mastering the fundamentals of written communication. You might have an amazing idea, but if you cannot write it well enough to sell it, it might not ever leave your head. Script writers have to be able to take their internal ideas and turn them into external realities, and that is a process. Don’t be afraid to revise. And then revise again. And then tear it down and start over. It all counts.

    Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

    I currently have 21 books published, with another 3 on the way this year alone. I’m also working on several scripts and TV show ideas, and love to discuss them with anyone. And finally, you can see my work online through one of the films I worked on – it is an amazing feeling to watch an actor take your words and elevate them to a level higher than you imagined. That is why I write, and that passion is what I strive to share as an instructor.

    www.cmbratton.com
    www.facebook.com/writercmbratton

    What was the inspiration for your books?

    Dragons. I’ve always loved reading about them, and that has spread to an enduring love for fantasy and sci-fi.

    Please explain what we are seeing in your books.

    There are several themes in my work. Dragons, yes. But also fairy tales, exploring Wonderland, apocalyptic intrigues, post-apocalyptic societies, and of course, zombies.

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  • Nathan Anderson

    Nathan Anderson

    Media Arts & Animation

    "Say yes, and let the journey begin."

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    Nathan Anderson

    Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

    My artistic epiphany happened some time during the Kansas City Art School summer program I attended between my junior and senior years of high school. Realizing that there was a way for me to make a living at what came naturally to me was, in a word, inspirational.

    How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

    I strive to provide students a balanced set of educational goals. While holding their work to the industry standard is a laudable goal, I think it’s more important to help them build the skills, attitudes, and effective work habits that’ll help them succeed—and sustain that success throughout their careers.

    What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

    I assign homework that puts into practice the techniques we’ve covered in that day’s class...then in the next class I share some more advanced techniques that yield better results. I do this to show students that they’re entering an evolving field of art and technology. There will always be some new tool, technique, software or hardware that’ll make them say, "How did I live without this?" The key is to have as many creative tools as possible, so that when there’s a problem you have many options for solving it.

    How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

    No artist should create inside a bubble. Sometimes a fresh perspective on a creative problem yields a better solution. I always urge my students to find that one other artist who they feel comfortable showing their work to...someone who’ll critique their work without the usual platitudes or flattery. That person will be a friend and colleague for life.

    What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

    Say yes to anything a prospective client or employer asks of you—even if you have no idea how you’ll do it, even if the prospect terrifies you. Say yes, and let the journey begin.

    Anything else you’d like to share?

    I take great pride in my students and their accomplishments. This school has done a great job creating a curriculum that teaches the skills to become creative professionals, while fostering an environment of artistic exploration.

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  • Norm Engel

    Norm Engel

    Media Arts & Animation

    "I live the life of an artist... how cool is that?"

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    Norm Engel

    Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

    In the early 1990s I started experimenting with computer animation. That’s when my technical and artistic skills came together to form a perfect outlet for expression.

    How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

    I share my story with students so they understand how they can use their skills in diverse ways. I’ve worked on literally hundreds of commercial productions. Many have aired on network television, PBS, MTV, VH1, and CMT. I also continue to pursue the fine art of painting. My canvases can be found in many private collections and galleries worldwide. All this adds credibility to what I teach, as well as a sense of the possibilities that are available.

    How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

    I teach a variety of classes that involve teamwork. It’s an important thing to learn, as the industry demands that animators work in teams; they subdivide the work to achieve bigger goals than an any one individual could achieve.

    What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

    The reason I enjoy teaching is selfishly simple. This truly is a labor of love. I’m an artist surrounded by extremely creative people. Artists share—that’s what we do. The faculty and students here are all creative artists sharing and growing. The ideas, the energy, the enthusiasm, and the politics of art. Wow. I live the life of an artist…how cool is that?

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  • Saul HS

    Saul Sandoval

    Media Arts & Animation

    "Collaborating allows for networking and brings people with different strengths to work towards a greater goal that might otherwise prove to be unrealistic if approached by one person."

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    Saul Sandoval
    Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

    For the final projects, I give more freedom to students on the subject matter but there still is a list of competencies to hit. I feel too much control can stifle the creative process as each artist has a different style of reaching the same goal, and I encourage students to explore these ideas on their own. Secondly, it allows students to care for their work by connecting to it on a much more personal level. Being able to choose what you are working on adds a level of enthusiasm to the learning process.

    What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project? 

    I think collaboration is a great way to view a problem from different points of view. Collaborating allows for networking and brings people with different strengths to work towards a greater goal that might otherwise prove to be unrealistic if approached by one person.

    In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world?

    “Be a PROFESSIONAL!” I remind my students that their behavior is constantly on display for other peers to observe. The actions of showing up on time, creating work that pushes their abilities, asking questions, participating in open discussions, and taking ownership of their education all helps to formulate their brand as an artist. This brand is what students will remember and take away once they complete the program and graduate. Networking and being a contributing member of a production starts in school. I also remind students that they are competing with artists from around the world for the jobs they want. Reminding students of this perspective suddenly makes them reflect on their artwork as a body of material that might grab the attention of a studio rather than just mere homework.
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  • Vanessa Langton Portrait

    Vanessa Langton

    General Education

    "Work hard and always give your best—your work is a direct representation of yourself and your abilities!"

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    Vanessa Langton
    What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

    As a kid I made drawings regularly. When fellow students and teachers began to recognize my potential, I thought maybe there was something to art and creative expression. My mother nurtured my interests in art by taking me to museums regularly to look at the works of great artists and she bought me art supplies to practice. I knew very young that I could not live without art and art history in my life.

    How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

    Prior to teaching art history I worked as a graphic designer and I know what it is like to be an ambitious art student trying to prep a portfolio to hunt for a job. As an art historian, I also know how important it is to be able to describe your artwork through written and spoken words. Through art history, students learn not only about different eras in art, but they also learn how to talk about art. These skills can be applied to any area of study—graphic design, the culinary arts, game art design, photography, etc.

    Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

    At the end of each quarter, my students are required to give an oral presentation. Not only does the student have to research a specific artist or art era, but they have to put together a slide show, a script, and present this to a room of their peers. This pushes the student towards a goal as they are faced with a deadline.

    What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

    Perhaps when students are assigned to work together they end up discussing their chosen areas of studies through a critical point of view and look beyond the surface to acquire meaning. They could question the who, what, and why using methods of formal analysis to all areas of the creative spectrum.

    In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

    Work hard and always give your best—your work is a direct representation of yourself and your abilities!

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  • Jude Okpala HS

    Dr. Jude Okpala

    General Education

    "Everything is a process; failure comes only when we have given up on the process."

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    Dr. Jude Okpala

    What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

    A defining moment for me was when I wrote my first poem entitled “Africa” and submitted it for publication. It was accepted and was included in an anthology dedicated to Black Poetry. Such a feat fed my creativity, more so, to fashion meaning with words and reflect on human reality.

    How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

    I am a published writer, but I did not get published the first time I submitted my work to the editor. I was rejected multiples times and still get rejection letters today when I submit my work to publishers. I never gave up; I do revise the work and resubmit; at times, I search for outlets that cater to my work. Rejection letters like that, and any form of challenge, are opportunities for improvement; they are ladders for a higher plateau, and must be seen as such than as anything else. So, I tell my students that getting feedback on their work is an opportunity to improve on it. 

    Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

    My approach to teaching is essentially Socratic, and that means I function as a midwife giving birth to students’ learning; it means also that I do not see any of my students as tabula rasa, empty slate, that I have to fill in. They have their knowledge, which I must validate. With that position, my assignments call for critical thinking and dialog; it requires students to present what they already know about a topic and then align that learning with an opposing perspective.

    What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?   

    Collaboration is key to students’ success in my writing class; such a position serves the cliché that “one head is better than one.”  On a more clearer perspective, collaboration offers exchange and building of ideas through dialog; it fosters civic engagement, which is crucial to proper engagement in the society. Coming from different cultural and disciplinary backgrounds, my students collaborate to navigate their different experiences and build on them; they see how interdisciplinary a specific area of study is, and they gravitate more confidently and comfortably to each other. They come to understand that no discipline is really a silo, but an integration of others. A photography student sees a connection with a film student; a culinary arts student sees a connection with a design student; and they all see a connection with “English Composition,” where composition serves as a metaphor for integration of perspectives to build a new reality.

    In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

    I teach writing, so I want my students to understand that good writing comes through a process: I want to add a process of revision, which offers the opportunity to develop and improve on an idea. It would not be unreasonable to say that life goes through such a process; an encounter with failure should not define a person; it should be rather an opportunity to grow, to revise one’s perspectives and amend uncouth structures and styles. I would want my students to see life as such. Everything is a process; failure comes only when we have given up on the process. 

    Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

    I want students to know that my classroom is a learning community, where every voice counts and is empowered to speak and write about his or her perspectives. My classroom, as such, takes the shape of my students’ learning styles and builds on them with the goal of achieving active learning.

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