Monday, October 29, 2018

Kaye Visit Press

Check out the full article online HERE

‘Fortnite’ animator to Austin Peay animation students: Be humble, persist 
“Fortnite” lead technical animator Kaye Vassey’s art origin story involves her grandfather’s tractor doodles and, of course, Bob Ross. 
“My grandfather was a World War II Marine Corps vet – full on Marine Corps tattoo on the arm, the South Pacific war horror stories, the whole thing,” Vassey recalled to an animation class at Austin Peay State University. “But what he really wanted – his family were plumbers, so he became a plumber – was to be an artist. 
“When I was probably between 4 and 6, I’d always get him to doodle, and I would love it, and I would copy it,” she continued. “I’d always get him to doodle this little tractor, with this little guy in there, and it was every day. ‘Draw it. Draw the thing. Draw the thing.’” 
Later, the two watched Bob Ross’s “The Joy of Painting” together. 
“My grandfather and I tried to copy his paintings, to my great frustration,” Vassey said. “Fighting through that frustration, I just kept going and going and kept coming back for more and more punishment.”  
Vassey – who worked on such movies as “Shrek,” “Madagascar” and “How to Train Your Dragon” before joining Epic Games and the “Fortnite” team – visited APSU on Oct. 23 to give a public lecture about her work and artistic practice. She also gave two workshops in animation classes before the lecture.  
She was the second artist to visit during the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts and the Department of Art + Design’s Visiting Artist Speaker Series.  

Vassey visited Austin Peay associate professor of animation Scott Raymond’s class the morning of the public lecture. The classroom and equipment in the new Art + Design Building impressed her. 
“You guys have an insane classroom,” Vassey said. “This is amazing. I’m super jealous. I’m blown away by this insanity. I was an art student in a basement.” 
Vassey and Raymond met while working on secondary animation, such as crowds, at DreamWorks Animation. They worked on “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” for example.  
“If you want to work in the industry, I would say the best thing that I could tell you is to be nimble, you have to be able to pivot,” Vassey said. “Get in, get your foot in the door, and work from there to get to where you want to be. Stay humble, it’s truly a team effort. 
“But enjoy every minute you have in this classroom,” she added before pointing at Raymond. “And you have an amazing resource who is awesome.” 
“Fortnite: Battle Royale” passed $1 billion in sales in less than a year from its September 2017 release. Most people know somebody who plays the game.  
“When you step into the creative endeavor, you never know what’s going to be a huge success,” Vassey said. “You hope you have successes. We’re super lucky to have ‘Fortnite’ to be such a huge success.  
“It feels good to work on something that other people enjoy so much.” 
Even though working on movies and on video games is similar – “Underneath it all, it’s 3D computer graphics” – working on video games offers a more constant pressure, Vassey said.  
“The video game model now is very much a living, breathing thing,” she said. “You have to keep it fresh, keep it relevant. 
“In movies you have a relationship with the audience for an hour and a half or two hours,” Vassey said. “Whereas video games, you have a long-term commitment to the player base, and you want to be sure they’re happy and having a good time.”  
For the record, Vassey isn’t a good “Fortnite” player.  
“Actually, when I started working in the video game industry, I didn’t play them anymore,” she said. “When I get home, I do not want to think about or see a video game.” 
After her grandfather died and Vassey and her family went through his belongings, she found a doodle of the tractor he used to draw for her when she was a child. 
“The drawing was folded up on a sheet of paper inside a city-delivered manual of how to survive a nuclear attack,” Vassey told the students. 
She held up her arm and pulled back her sleeve. 
“That’s the tractor,” Vassey said, displaying a tattoo on her inner wrist. “It’s colored in, those are actually crayon marks that were on the drawing I found. 
“That’s how I got started.”

Friday, October 5, 2018

APSU Animation + VFX Instagram

We started an Instagram account - check us out at:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Look I'm On A Wall

Maybe you remember the photo from last year that APSU took to accompany a press release.  Well, a student told me it was up on the wall in the Student Services building on campus, across from the Financial Aid Office.  So I took a trip to see for myself, and yup - apparently Matthias and I make for good stock photo material :)

Monday, July 2, 2018

More TN Art Conference Photos

The conference posted a huge selection of photos taken by the talented Karen Orozco (who I also had as a student once!).  Fun seeing all the reactions to people trying VR for the first time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

VR at TN Arts Conference

This past week I had the awesome chance to hold several VR workshops for the artists and art educators at the Tennessee Arts Commission’s 2018 Tennessee Arts and Arts Education Conference.  The event was titled "Design Thinking: A Pathway for Innovation in the Arts" and was held at APSU this year.  It was a lot of fun to have people explore virtual painting, sculpting and animation for the first time and talk about the possibilities that VR opens up for students. APSU featured us in a video and press release that you can read below or HERE

APSU’s CECA highlights art innovations on campus during state conference 
More than 200 art educators, administrators and artists from across the state visited the Austin Peay State University campus this month to discover new, innovative ways to teach and advocate for the arts in the coming year. Austin Peay’s Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts (CECA) hosted the Tennessee Arts Commission’s 2018 Tennessee Arts and Arts Education Conference, which allowed CECA to show off the groundbreaking projects taking place at Austin Peay. 
“It was an honor to host this conference at Austin Peay and be able to showcase our amazing facilities and faculty, many of whom were session presenters,” Dr. Janice Crews, CECA director, said. “Providing meaningful resources to arts professionals and getting such positive feedback made it all worthwhile.” 
Scott Raymond, APSU assistant professor of art + design and former DreamWorks animator, unpacked two of the University’s new virtual reality systems so attendees could walk through 3D virtual paintings they made. 
“Coming from digital animation, virtual reality is really taking off,” Raymond said. “They’re making interactive cartoons and shorts. And for artists, you can now paint and sculpt in a three-dimensional space.”   
Educators from public and private schools took turns donning the VR headsets and hand controllers, and then they created wild, three-dimensional works in their own personal worlds. Down the hall in the APSU Art + Design Building, a group of music teachers huddled in a classroom, learning to play the Beatles’ “Let It Be” on ukuleles. 
Other sessions included incorporating visual arts in elementary music, presented by APSU music professor Eric Branscome, and improv for everyone, led by APSU theater professor Talon Beeson. Arts administrators participated in sessions on grant writing, strategic planning and more. 
The three-day event, titled “Design Thinking: A Pathway for Innovation in the Arts,” marked the first time APSU has hosted a Tennessee Arts Commission Conference.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Highway Rat at Annecy

The Highway Rat is screening at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival this year - and has been nominated in the TV Films category!  Congrats to the whole Triggerfish crew who put together some amazing animation.