Wed 6:30-8:30 PM, 1 unit SCA 108 / SCB 104

Professor: Sheila M. Sofian    Email: Office Hours: Wed 1pm-4pm

SA: Juan Camilo González      Email:


The John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Art (Hench-DADA) Seminar serves as a weekly academic forum in which guest animators, visual artists and filmmakers discuss their work and ideas. Distinguished special guests, as well as USC faculty and alumni, will engage the class on various aspects of animation, new media, and the moving image. It is hoped that exposure to a diversity of careers, ideas and creative output will inspire the students and facilitate a clearer vision of their own career goals.

Seminar also provides an opportunity for the DADA program to gather as a community once a week to discuss specific issues that pertain to classes, productions, and events; and to make announcements of general interest.

The class will sometimes run as late as 9pm. Please be prepared to stay on those occasions.

Participation and Attendance

This is a credit/no credit class based on attendance, class projects, and the presentation senior BA and MFA 3rd Years’ animatics. Participation and attendance is mandatory.

There are no final exams, however, the last two Seminar classes are held during exam week and are designated for Hench-DADA student critiques and the presentation of the seminar group projects. On November 10 and November 17 undergraduate seniors will be presenting animatics of their senior projects for a group critique. On December 8th 3rd Year MFA students will be required to screen their animatics for a group critique.

All Hench-DADA students are expected to attend these critiques.

Students will sign in when they enter. Cell phone calls or stepping out to make a call is not acceptable while seminar is in session. Please turn off all cell phones. No food, drink, water, or gum will be allowed in the theater.


This is a credit/no credit class based on weekly attendance and completion of a class project supervised by an Annenberg Fellow. There are 17 class meetings. To pass the class, you must attend at least 15 classes and participate in the seminar blog each class: Click on the button “Leave a comment” at the top right corner of the post. A text box appears. To leave a comment type in your email and name. (You do not need to create an account to be able to post comments.) Please leave thoughtful observations on the week’s seminar presentation.

Aug 25: SCA 108: Welcome and Introductions. Student Screening

Remarks by Eric Furie .

Production 1 and undergraduate senior films. Welcome back Party! Located on the balcony of the second floor in the new building. Please post a comment on the blog about one of the films viewed this evening.

Sept 1: SCA 108: Ciro Nieli Director

Ciro Nieli was born in London close to midnight. His childhood years were spent in Philadelphia watching Horror and kung-fu movies on UHF while tending the telephone at his father’s pizza shop. Drawing constantly at an early age, comic books and cartoons soon forged a definite path

for his future. He graduated from The University of the Arts with a BFA in animation. His thesis film Last Exit played to a host of indy festivals including the “Chicago Underground Film Festival” and “Medicine Wheel”. In 1999, after years of teaching children, animating local used car commercials and a Wu-Tang video from his bedroom, he moved to Hollywood, where real cartoons are made.

His Hollywood cartoon career began with a storyboard revisionist position on Family Guy. Ciro eventually opened his own animation studio, Nebulous Films, producing content for the Flash explosion online. Eventually, he returned to television, directing Teen Titans for Warner Bros. and Cartoon Network. In 2004, he created Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, which he executive produced 52 episodes for Walt Disney television, splitting his time between Los Angeles and Tokyo. He has since directed and or designed many projects including The Transformers, Dawn of the Dead, Marvel’s Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, DC comics’ SUPERFRIENDS, and most recently, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to be released in 2012 for Nickelodeon.

Sept 8: SCB 104: William Lebeda Creative Director at Picture Mill

William Lebeda is a graphic designer, animator and director who has worked in the field of entertainment design for the last fifteen years. Currently he is Creative Director of Picture Mill, a Hollywood-based motion design studio. Since joining Picture Mill in 1995, William has designed and directed projects for motion pictures, advertising agencies and television, ranging from Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds to Citibank to HBO. In 2007, William directed the 2nd Unit for M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening. William has recently completed work for The Last Airbender, Jonah Hex, and The Other Guys as well as countless other film and television projects. He is particularly delighted to have been named the best and worst film title designer (The ID Forty, February 2003) for two wildly different projects: Panic Room for David Fincher, and Signs for M. Night Shyamalan.

Sept 15: SCB 104: Chen-yi Chang Story Artist at DreamWorks Animation

Chen-Yi Chang is probably best known for his design work for Disney’s Mulan. He has been in the animation industry since the age of 15, working in his native country Taiwan for various productions and for US companies. After graduation from CalArts, he joined Warner Brothers Animation, doing character design on Batman, the Animated Series. Later he joined Disney Feature Animation, working on animated features like Mulan, Tarzan, Atlantis, Home on the Range, Bolt, and many others, mainly as a character designer and story artist. He has beenhonored by a Reuben Award for his design, and received an Annie Award nomination for his story work. He is currently working at DreamWorks as a story artist.

Sept 22: SCB 104: ADOBE DAY

Academy Award winning VFX artist Mike Kanfer and Adobe’s leading demo artist Karl Soule showcase the latest innovations in CS5 including the new Cineform 3D stereo plug-in for Premiere Pro.

Sept 29: SCB 104: Hench-DADA VISITING ARTISTS: Alberto Hermida and Birgitta Hosea

Alberto Hermida is a graduate in Media, a researcher and professor in the Department of Audiovisual Communication and Advertising (School of Media, University of Seville, Spain) and a visiting research fellow in the School of Media, Film and Music (University of Sussex, Brighton). Under the FPU research scholarship (a researcher and professor four-year training scholarship granted by the Spanish Government), Hermida is visiting the USC Hench-DADA program for a short-term research period. His thesis examines the deep impact that digital technologies have in the evolution and transformation of moving-image-collage, turning it into a key technique around contemporary audiovisual culture. Birgitta Hosea is an artist and animator based in London and working in the field of expanded animation. Her work investigates hybrid forms of practice in which animation meets live presence. She has coined the term ‘post-animation’ to describe her practice, because it uses the tools of animation, but does not take the form of an animated film. Rather she creates interdisciplinary works that de-construct conventional notions of animation. Her interest is in exploring animation as both performance and performative act. Is it possible to be both ‘animator’ and also ‘animated’ at the same time?

Oct 6: SCB 104: Brooke Keesling Director of Development, New Deal Studios

Brooke Keesling is an award-winning filmmaker, animator, educator and overall lover of life. She has worked in visual effects for nearly a decade and is currently the Director of Development at New Deal Studios, a full-service visual effects commercial and film production studio, best known for their work on feature films such as The Dark Knight, The Aviator, Iron Man, I Am Legend, The Departed, Watchmen, Alice in Wonderland, and Shutter Island.

Oct 13: SCB 104: Alumni Panel

Panel discussion with USC Hench-DADA alumni representing different areas of the animation industry. This is your opportunity to learn and ask questions from a wide network of Hench-DADA alumni! Join us for a reception with the alumni following the panel discussion.

Oct 20: SCB 104: John Andrews Executive Producer/Creative Director, ka-chew!

John Andrews is based at Klasky Csupo, Inc. where he serves the duel roles of executive producer/creative director of ka-chew!, the company’s spot-making operation, and head of production for all animation projects at the studio. Since joining in 1998, Andrews has developed a large roster of animation directors ( and produced commercials for clients including Samsung, McDonalds, Gogurt, Campbells, Nature Made, Burger King, Mucinex, Keebler, Nabisco, and Minute Maid. The studio has also created promos and show opens for networks including MTV, Nick, A&E, Bravo, E!, and ABC. John was formerly at MTV Networks in New York from 1992-1997 where he produced Beavis and Butthead. He became VP of Animation in 1994 and supervised series including Daria, Aeon Flux, and MTV’s Oddities (The Maxx & The Head) as well as commissioning station ID’s and overseeing pilot production. He was also the co-producer of the theatrical feature Beavis & Butt-Head do America. John is also the Co-Director of the Los Angeles Animation Festival which will have its second incarnation this December 3-5 at the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax.

Oct 27: SCB 104: Heather Kenyon Vice President, Project Development & Sales, Starz Animation

Heather Kenyon is the Vice President of Project Development and Sales for Starz Animation, a Division of Starz Media. She is the former senior director of development, original series at Cartoon Network, where she focused on the development of animated comedy, comedy adventure, action adventure and live-action series for children 6-11 years old. Prior to joining Cartoon Network, she was editor-in-chief of Animation World Network <; , a leading Internet publisher of animation news, information and resources, and was responsible for managing the site’s editorial and writing efforts. Kenyon began her career in animation at  Hanna-Barbera Cartoons. As Manager of the Production Information department, she was responsible for providing information and materials from current productions to all TBS departments worldwide, as well as artistic staffing and festival involvement. She graduated magna cum laude with a BFA from the Filmic Writing Program at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television.

Nov 3: SCB 104: Justin Rasch and Shel Rasch Stop Motion Animation filmmakers Blog:

Before teaming up with Shel, Justin wrote, directed and animated several short films on his own. With over 12 years of professional animation experience, Justin now works as a Lead Animator at for Sony Video Games as well as periodically contributing animations to various feature film and TV show projects. He graduated from Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1996. Shel has a background in theater and dance; her Choreographic Works have been widely commissioned and well received throughout the US. Together, Justin and Shel own the production company Stunt Puppet Pictures, which is currently producing several projects including pre-production on a new Stop Motion Animation Feature Film. Justin and Shel live in Los Angeles with their three continual motion kids.

Nov 10: SCB 104: Senior undergraduate work-in-progress critiques, Part 1

Instructor: Trixy Sweetvittles. All Hench-DADA students are expected to attend.

Nov 17: SCB 104: Senior undergraduate work-in-progress critiques, Part 2

Instructor: Trixy Sweetvittles. All Hench-DADA students are expected to attend.



Dec 1: SCA 108: PUBLIC EVENT- The 11th Annual Animation Show of Shows!

Presented by ACME Filmworks founder Ron Diamond, the 2010 program features cutting-edge animation in a variety of styles from all over the world.

Dec 8: SCB 104: MFA 3rd year critiques.

All Hench-DADA students are expected to attend.

Dec 15: SCA 108: Screening of student films

Including work from Inner-City Arts class and Documentary Animation class.

STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure that the letter is delivered to the Professor as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: The School of Cinema-Television expects the highest standards of academic excellence and ethical performance from USC students. It is particularly important that you are aware of and avoid plagiarism, cheating on exams, submitting a paper to more than one instructor, or submitting a paper authored by anyone other than yourself. Violations of this policy will result in a failing grade and be reported to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. If you have any doubts or questions about these policies, consult “SCAMPUS” and/or confer with the professor or teaching assistant.

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