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Animation & Visual Effects

Chris Armstrong

Executive Director, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Chris Armstrong worked as an Animator and Animation Supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic for more than 10 years.  He worked on many major projects at ILM, including Star Wars Episode I, Star Wars Episode II, The Mask, and Galaxy Quest. His work experience includes CG Supervisor, Senior CG Animator and Director on various animated concepts, as well as layout, animation and storyboard artist on Traditional Animated projects. He is a graduate of the Animation Program at Sheridan College.

Sherrie Sinclair

Graduate Director of 2D Animation, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Sherrie H. Sinclair joined the Academy over ten years ago, after almost nine years as a clean-up animator with Walt Disney Feature Animation in Orlando, FL. Her film credits include The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tarzan, and Lilo and Stitch.

Tom Bertino

Graduate Director, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Tom Bertino is a renowned animator with more than three decades of experience. Tom worked at Industrial Light + Magic for nearly 20 years and was nominated for an Academy Award and BAFTA for Best Achievement in Visual Effects for the CG imagery he created for The Mask. He is credited with animation direction on Men in Black II, Star Wars: Episode I, and many other films. He has also worked for Toon Disney, Nepenthe, Hanna-Barbera and Colossal Pictures in a number of capacities.

Charles Keagle

Online Director, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Charles has been part of the Academy family since 2003. He currently lives in Los Angeles after many years in San Francisco as the on-campus Animation Lead during that time.

A doodler since birth, Charles came to the amazing realization while at Northwestern University that adults, not kids, created cartoons. He promptly dropped his political science major and majored in art, creating his first animated short using only Disney's The Illusion of Life as guidance.

His first job in animation was as a production assistant on the film Ferngully, the Last Rainforest. He then attended the Character Animation program at CalArts, where his animated short "Are We There Yet?" was selected for the "Best of the Year" show as well as the Spike and Mike Festival of Animation. After Cal Arts, Charles worked on The Ren & Stimpy Show.

Charles was hired as an animator at Pixar and then given the opportunity to work in story on Toy Story 2. Later, he storyboarded and animated for South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. As Story Supervisor for Pulse Entertainment, he oversaw production of Kung Fu 3D, an online series for Warner Bros, and co-designed an interactive Coyote and Roadrunner project.

Charles' work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

During his free time Charles likes to write. He has written a screenplay and is currently working on children's book ideas so that he can read them to his son Charlie and his daughter Alex.

David Nethery

Online Director of 2D Animation, School of Animation & Visual Effects

David has been teaching at Academy of Art University since 2007. Prior to teaching for the Academy, David enjoyed 25 years of experience in the field of classical animation specializing in theatrical feature film projects as an animation artist for various studios, including a long stint at Walt Disney Feature Animation. His work has been featured in animated films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear among others.

David has said that as a teacher he still considers himself a student of animation and is constantly interested in learning new techniques about the art and craft of drawn animation. In recent years he has focused on adapting his classical pencil-on-paper animation training to digital paperless animation using a graphics tablet and is enthusiastic about inspiring his students with innovative applications of classical hand-drawn animation principles to modern production pipelines.

George Pafnutieff

Graduate Associate Director, School of Animation & Visual Effects

George teaches courses in Maya fundamentals and pre-production principles, and was previously a Senior Systems Engineer at Apple Computer, Inc., Technical Supervisor for ILM, and Systems Administrator for Reliant Integration Systems. George holds a BS in Information Systems Management from San Francisco State University.

Elizabeth Sousa

Undergraduate Director of 2D Animation, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Beth has been teaching at Academy of Art University since 2003. She started her career as a professional artist in 1978 and double majored in Painting and Metalsmithing at the University of Houston where she also studied animation. She has created work for ABC, Fox, NBC, Paramount, Virgin, Maxis and Disney and specializes in teaching stop-motion and experimental animation. In addition to teaching at Academy of Art University, she also works on her own art and animation projects in her San Francisco studio.

Dennis Blakey

Online Associate Director, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Dennis Blakey is a visual effects and computer graphics artist, inventor and producer that began using Wavefront 3D software in 1986, and Side Effects Software since its beginning. His early computer graphics work includes Project Galileo at JPL, creating the morphing effects for the security character "Odo" on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for which he received a visual effects Emmy in 1993, and film visual effects and animation for Digital Domain and Walt Disney Feature Animation, now Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Robert Steele

Undergraduate Associate Director & Portfolio Coordinator, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Robert studied Fine Arts at Santa Monica College, and is an accomplished art director for animation, storyboarding, and computer animation with a wide range of traditional and interactive entertainment production knowledge. Credits include Disney's Jungle Book, NFL '97, numerous commercials, and the Terminator and RoboCop vs. Terminator games. He has worked at Sega Technical Institute, Virgin Interactive, Cinemawave Inc. and Captivation Digital Laboratories and has over 12 years of professional experience and game credits include Half-Life, Diablo II, and Die Hard Arcade.

Diana Coco-Russell

Associate Director of 2D Animation, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Diana Coco-Russell has spent most of her artistic career in animation, with her longest run at Walt Disney Feature Animation as a clean-up animator. Beginning with Beauty and the Beast in 1992 and ending with Home on the Range in 2003 her credits appear on most films from that decade. She was known for specializing in animals and villains, and focuses her skills on costumed gesture drawing for animation and storyboard in addition to introducing students to the skills and craft of classical hand drawn animation.

Gilbert Hannibal Banducci

Pre-Production Lead, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Gilbert Hannibal Banducci majored in Film and Animation at Academy of Art University. He produces, writes, and directs commercials, documentaries, and animated projects, and is CEO of Helpful Bear Productions, Inc., a visual development company. He is interested in how the entertainment industry works and teaches graduate level courses on the science and nature of the industry. In addition, Gil has edited several books on concept art, and is the producer and creator of Tales of Amalthea, an online interactive epic adventure that combines science, art, and storytelling.

Virginie Michel d'Annoville

Online 3D Animation Coordinator, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Virginie Michel d'Annoville is an animation supervisor, animator, rigger and professor of animation with over 25 experience in feature animation and visual effects, commercials, and games for various studios with most of that time spent at Industrial Light + Magic in San Francisco in addition to Lucasfilm Animation in Singapore and Sony Pictures Imageworks in Los Angeles. She was a technical animation supervisor on the Academy Award winning animated film Rango as well as a sequence supervisor and a character lead. Virginie has also worked on a large variety of other films such as Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Hulk, Superman Returns, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

Virginie has been teaching at Academy of Art University since 2011 and she currently lives in San Francisco.

Tareq Mirza

Online 3D Modeling Coordinator, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Tareq Mirza has been creating since his parents bought him his first LEGO set at the age of three. For hours each day throughout his childhood he would build whatever came to his mind and create a story to go with it. Lego was eventually replaced by a love of comic books and a desire to create his own characters and content. He received his BFA from George Mason University in studio art and computer graphics and went on to work in the visual effects industry.

After several years in Los Angeles working on television visual effects and animation, Tareq relocated to the San Francisco bay area to work at Industrial Light + Magic on Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. His other credits include Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions, Pirates of the Caribbean and Van Helsing.

Tareq left the film industry to pursue a career in education. His faculty position as Online Modeling Lead at Academy of Art University in San Francisco allows him to create curriculum, improve his teaching skills and become a better artist. He is currently exploring possibilities in 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing for artistic and educational purposes.

Peter Bakic

Dynamics Coordinator, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Peter Bakic received his degree in 3D computer graphics from the University of Toronto. Prior to teaching, Peter was a VFX Supervisor at Rocket Studio and worked on advertising projects for Lexus, Apple, Nissan, Gucci, Subaru, Southwest Airlines, and Sprint. Peter also worked at ILM on a variety of movies, including Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones, Harry Potter, Minority Report and Sleepy Hollow. He founded the Chiron School for Creative Technologies in Yugoslavia and is a member of ACM SIGGRAPH and the Visual Effects Society.

Derek Flood

Associate Director of Visual Effects, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Derek Flood received his BFA in Painting from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He has also had intensive training at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago where he focused on classical and computer animation. He has over 10 years of experience in character animation, directing, and photorealistic lighting/texturing. Prior to becoming full-time faculty, Derek was an Independent Director and Animator at Sharktacos Studios, which he founded in 2003. Derek has also worked at Dreamworks and various companies in Munich and Berlin. Film credits include The Pianist and Shrek2. Derek has been the recipient of the Audience Favorite at Animago, Germany's premier CG animation award. His Say Cheese has been an official selection at festivals and they include SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater, World Animation Celebration, Anima Mundi in Brazil, Edinburgh International Film Fest in the UK, Art Futura in Spain, Hiroshima in Japan, and many more. Say Cheese has been aired on television programs in Holland, Japan, the UK, and the US.

Shaun Featherstone

Freshman Studies Coordinator, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Shaun Featherstone is currently the Storyboard Coordinator at Academy of Art University where he has taught since 2003. As a full-time instructor in the university's Animation & Visual Effects department, Shaun works with undergraduate and graduate students in the following areas: animation pre-production, history and techniques of visual effects and computer animation, character animation techniques and theory.  Shaun holds a BA in Art & Education from the University of Leeds. He also holds a post-graduate certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education from Teesside University.

Catherine Tate

Collaboration Lead, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Catherine Tate is an accomplished Visual Effects Artist and Compositor who has worked on some of the industry's most recognizable films and video games. Catherine Tate is currently the Compositing Lead in the Animation & Visual Effects department at Academy of Art University where she has been teaching since 2004. She established a collaborative class in 2006 at the Academy known as "Studio400A" which has produced visual effects on numerous independent films. Her objective is to connect visual effects students to filmmakers to create a more real world experience in the classroom. Some of Studio400A's most recent work includes Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was nominated for four Academy Awards including best picture, 2013 Sundance and Festival de Cannes winner Fruitvale Station, and the feature Bluebird, which opened the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. Studio400A also worked on the features Half-Life and Circumstance, along with the short Crazy Beats Strong Every Time, which were also official selections at the Sundance Film Festival.

Some of her studio feature film credits include: Men in Black, Contact, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Sleepy Hollow, Galaxy Quest, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, Hulk, and Hellboy.

Jason Patnode

Technical Lead, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Jason Patnode has taught at Academy of Art University since 2001 and he is currently Full-Time Faculty/ Maya Coordinator for the school's Animation & Visual Effects department. He teaches graduate and undergraduate students in 3D modeling, visual effects, and animation for video games and film. Jason has written several books on the subject of Maya and Zbrush. Prior to joining AAU as full-time faculty, Jason was a Lead Technical Artist for LucasArts Entertainment where he worked on various games: Star Wars Episode 3, Full Throttle 2, and Star Wars: Jedi Fighter. Jason received his BA in Film Production from San Francisco State University.

Daisy Church

Full-Time Faculty, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Daisy Church works and lives in San Francisco as an artist and illustrator.

She has worked extensively for over 10 years as a 2D animator for both television and mobile games. Her work has been seen on Cartoon Network, HBO, MTV, Adult Swim, Nick Jr, Disney Interactive Games and Disney Playhouse.

She loves to paint and work on her personal fine art, and actively exhibits her work in galleries worldwide. She also loves to curate and organize group art shows in San Francisco.

In her free time, Daisy loves to travel with her husband and artist partner in crime, Damon O'Keefe.