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Showing posts from February, 2021

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

Instructor Tutorial: Language Shapes with Mr. Hayz

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Mr. Hayz teaches Advanced Animation at Exceptional Minds and  is a former animator on King Of The Hill and The Simpsons as well as being an active freelance animation artist. Mr. Hayz will show you how to use simple shapes to make fun cartoon characters in this YouTube tutorial (or instructions below). You will need Photoshop ( free trial here ) to draw in and a tablet to input drawings. Or you can use other input devices or even go old school and draw this on paper. Now let's get started. Create a New Document The very first thing we're going to do is create a new document. Once you open up Photoshop you are going to create a document that is 1920 x 1080 in pixel size. Then we want to keep the document pretty small, so it's easy to load up. (Once we get into digital painting or we have to start adding a large amount of detail we can bump the size.) But for now, we're just going to make it seventy-five DPI or pixels per inch. Now our second step is to create a brush. B

Student Spotlight: Rolly Crump and the Art of Amusement

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Our Exceptional Minds creators are extraordinary artists. Many are also excellent writers. Here’s an excerpt from our quarterly student-run publication, Write and Forge , written by one of our distinguished minds and members of this year's graduating class of 2021, Max Everett. When you hear the word “Imagineer,” who’s the first person that comes to mind? Most people would usually say someone like Tony Baxter, Marc Davis, Joe Rhode, or Bob Gurr. But one of the most unique and talented Imagineers out there has to be Rolly Crump, a man who has learned to think kinetically outside the box.  He was the youngest employee at WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering). His real first project, the ever-popular “Enchanted Tiki Room,” was considered a technological advancement at the time with its earliest use of audio-animatronics. Rolly’s work impressed Walt so much, he tasked him to be a key designer for the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York. His use of kineticism in his work

Love Keeps Us Dreaming

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πŸ’™πŸ–€πŸ§‘πŸ’œ We hope this finds our Exceptional Minds friends, families, students, graduates, and team members healthy, hopeful and full of love. ❤️πŸ’› 🀍 πŸ’š We wanted to take a moment to share  our  love for you all and how we are sharing love these days. Every Friday our Exceptional Minds staff and members of our board Zoom together to share news for the week, developments in curriculum, fundraising updates, new partnerships, current events, plans for our future.  It's our staff meeting and it gives each team a chance to address the good, the challenging, and everything in between.  We value this time as it can be tough these days to connect and stay connected.  But we do our best to maintain connection in any forum possible. On Friday, we devoted our meeting to love. ❤️ Some shared the love they have for a family member. πŸ’› Others confided they had recently lost a loved one. πŸ’™ We shared pictures of friends we haven’t seen and videos of our children doing silly things. πŸ’š It was a r