Posts

Letter To His "Future Employer" Breaks Hearts and the Internet

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The profound effect one's authenticity can have on the world should never be underestimated. And authenticity, a word that is often used in an effort to be so, more often than not just happens. It however seldom happens by design and almost always happens unexpectedly and in the most delightful ways. In the case of 20 year old Ryan Lowry, a young man with autism and a whole lot of ambition, he took to LinkedIn to share a direct, authentic appeal: "I am interested in a job in animation. I realize that someone like you will have to take a chance on me, I don't learn like typical people do...but I learn quickly, once you explain it, I get it. I promise that if you hire me and teach me, you'll be glad that you did." In this handwritten letter, Ryan is simply asking for a shot! And not the shot we are all eager to have in our arms but a shot at a life of personal, professional, and financial freedom and efficacy. With nearly ONE MILLION people Ryan's age on the ne

How to Create Like Our Students: Make a 3D Cube in Minutes

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Today we revisit one of our favorite  How-To's , as  Exceptional Minds ' instructor Randi Derakhshani, Head of 3D instruction at Exceptional Minds, walks us through the program Autodesk Maya. In addition to teaching VFX, Randi is a practicing 3D and visual effects artist with 20 years of experience in film, television, and game development.  Randi loves working with students and helping them realize their dreams.  Today you are one of her students!  Randi will teach you how to create a "cube" in Maya, a 3D modeling software our students and artists use to create characters and worlds.  For this exercise, you will need to  download a free 30-day trial of Autodesk Maya. Here is the YouTube instructional video to learn the basics of the Maya Interface by creating a "cube" figure. Now, have fun! Jump right in and start with creating your first object. Go up to the poly modeling shelf and click on “cube.” Reviewing the cube through the viewport camera.

"WandaVision" Brings our Academy and Studio Together!

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WandaVision is the 15th Marvel Cinematic Universe project our EM studio artists have completed work on since we opened our studio in 2014! And while it's only number six for Thomas Harmonson, a lifelong fan of Marvel and now a professional artist in the studio, if it’s up to him it will be 25 in no time! (Or as quickly as Marvel can make them…) A visual effects and end-title artist in the Exceptional Minds studio , Harmonson added number six to his list of superhero movie credits (during the pandemic no less), with the release of Marvel’s WandaVision series now streaming on Disney+. Thomas worked on his first Marvel film, Avengers: Infinity War, as a 2018 graduate fresh out of the Exceptional Minds academy . “I had just a few days in the studio as an apprentice when I was told that one of the biggest Marvel releases of all time just came in. That was a little like trial by fire, but we had fun with it,” he said. Attending a Marvel friends and family screening of "Infinity Wa

On Our Minds: What is Creative Diversity?

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Exceptional Minds is uniquely positioned in that pivot between contributing to content for major studios and creating original content for those studios and other platforms. As we continue to cultivate a diverse talent pool of notable creators and storytellers, it is critical that this growing group harness every opportunity to explore their voices and skills. From Disney+ and TikTok to IGTV and YouTube; with endless streaming, binge-watching and yes, tuning in to old school "linear television," we’re seeing creative diversity in the deepest and broadest sense. And with that comes new career opportunities for our visual artists on the autism spectrum. Original content is high on our list of priorities as is game design and development. As we continue to leverage what we’ve learned from the creative masters in Hollywood, we are migrating that learning to new platforms and outlets.  Creative diversity is at the very heart of Exceptional Minds and it has greatly evolved at our

Our Studio Work: A Space to Create

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" A Space to Create " is exactly what happened when our friends at Toon Boom asked our graduate artists to produce an original story to demonstrate the animation software company's brand new Storyboard Pro 20 software. Toon Boom not only funded this animatic, or “moving storyboard,” but also provided training for Storyboard Pro 20. After speed learning the program (thank you to Toon Boom's Karine, Stephanie, and Bradley) our creative storytellers and designers in the Exceptional Minds animation studio did the rest. Twelve artists contributed to the project. Among them were Jacob Lenard, who served as assistant director as well as co-creating the story and script with David Miles and Ryan Oldis. Andrew Turney delivered a “first” for the Exceptional Minds studio, contributing 3D modeling for a scene. The inspiration for A Space to Create came from iconic space adventures, like Calvin and Hobbes, Star Wars, and Space Balls. SPOILER: The little boy in this imaginary t

Staff Spotlight: Meeting the Other Rock Stars of Trolls!

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Meeting with the rock star director, production designer, and art director of DreamWorks’ Trolls World Tour was music to our tribe’s ears! On the evening of December 9, Exceptional Minds staff, faculty, students, and graduates huddled around their respective monitors to tune into the live WebEx call with Trolls World Tour Director Walt Dohrn, Production Designer Kendal Cronkhite, and Art Director (and character designer extraordinaire) Tim Lamb.   The event was the result of weeks of planning by DreamWorks Front End Production Coordinator Janie Kahan, who called one afternoon to introduce herself and to see if we’d be interested in meeting members of the Trolls crew. At the time, I recall thinking, “The rock stars just called the fans, and they want to do a live show for us!”   During the WebEx, the three “rock stars” spoke of their experiences working on Trolls and engaged with our artists about everything from the diversity and relatability of the characters to animation effects,

Autism’s impact occurs without consideration of skin color.

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By Kim Kaiser Director of Programming The Color of Autism Foundation Autism’s impact does not know inequity. It occurs without discretion or consideration of skin color or ethnicity. Within this diagnosis however there are gaps in equitable access to early interventions and services that assist with transition to adulthood. The Black community has lagged behind because of chronic systemic gaps in access, quality, and impact in autism focused systems and community based interventions. Within the world of autism there are unique and creative minds, exceptional children with gifts that exist beneath the surface. With the right tools, we can unveil these gifts to the world and build efficacy, joy, and positive life experiences for individuals with autism. The Color of Autism is one such organization. Striving to provide training, advocacy and education within the Black/Brown autistic community, one of our key strengths in service delivery is to teach parents/caretakers and communities to