ATEC short films impress animation studio with intricacy

screen-shot-2015-10-17-at-3.10.01-pm-1050x591Summer animation class rushes to finish two shorts in 11 weeks

ATEC’s first summer Animation Studios class completed and screened two short films created under the guidance of Dallas-area animation company, Reel FX.

The students showed the shorts, entitled “Snatch” and “Terminal B,” first to representatives from Reel FX and later at a premiere at the Angelika Film Center in mid-September.

Peter Dang, an ATEC senior who came up with the original idea for “Terminal B,” directed and worked on the animation for the film. He said collaborating on the projects with experts from Reel FX was an excellent chance for students to get a taste of the real film industry.

“It’s a really great opportunity for you to work with people in the industry,” Dang said. “I, personally, learned a lot just because you get all these people from different departments that actually work in the industry, so they know how it works.”

Dang said he was going for a “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” aesthetic with the animation style used in “Terminal B.” He said the class had a lot of fun animating in that fashion because they hadn’t done anything like that before.

Because the course was only 11 weeks long, Dang said he and the team working on the shorts really felt the pressure of a time crunch.

“We just made decisions and the short just had to be finished,” he said. “And it was finished and I think it was a success.”

Asya Mantey, another ATEC senior, came up with the original story idea for “Snatch.” She primarily worked on lighting for both of the shorts and was the director for “Snatch.” She said it was the lighting that really suffered under the pressure of the deadline. Although the course finished in the summer, she and the rest of the lighting team worked well into September to complete their jobs.

“We were all working every hour we could to work on the lighting of these shorts,” Mantey said. “So my first few weeks of school were literally me going to class and then going right to the lab to work on lighting … Now I actually know it’s really tough making animations and it’s something to really appreciate.”

Normally, the ATEC Animation Studios classes have two semesters to finish just one short. Mantey said she felt the harsh deadline was actually helpful in forcing them to work quickly and efficiently.

“I think it’s necessary to be under a time crunch or else you’ll never get it done,” she said. “I thought it was really impressive we did manage to do two shorts in a summer.”

ATEC junior Ethan Crossno credited the help and guidance of the Reel FX team with the class’s ability to finish two shorts in such a small amount of time.

“They had a lot of helpful little tricks that really sped it up,” Crossno said. “Without the stuff that they gave us, we probably wouldn’t have been able to make them in 11 weeks. It’s a pretty big feat to do two shorts in 11 weeks.”

Crossno was involved in the lighting and texturing of both shorts. He also was in charge of setting up a pipeline — a way for clips to move between departments like lighting and animation smoothly — for the project. For this class, Crossno reworked the existing pipeline to allow lighting and animation to be done at the same time.

“There are hundreds of things that could go wrong and all of them go wrong,” he said. “It’s just a lot of teamwork with the other departments.”

Once the two shorts were complete, the team showed them to Reel FX to hear their feedback on the finished products. Crossno, Dang and Mantey all said the representatives from the company were really impressed with the shorts.

“It was really nice having them around and hopefully we’ll be able to have future projects with them,” Mantey said.

Originally published in The UTD Mercury

Cybersecurity Expert to Explore Designs Behind High-Tech Crime

Peter W. Singer
P.W. Singer

To explore both the current and future landscape of cybercrime, one of the leading experts on 21st-century security issues will give a talk at UT Dallas.

P.W. Singer will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, as the second presenter in this season’s ATEC Distinguished Lecture Series.

Singer is a strategist and senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank, and author of multiple award-winning books. He was named one of the 100 leading innovators in the nation by the Smithsonian Institution-National Portrait Gallery, one of the 100 most influential people in defense issues by Defense News, and made Foreign Policymagazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers List.

Singer’s talk, “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know,” shares the same title as a book he wrote last year with Allan Friedman, who is the director of cybersecurity initiatives at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce. The book was named to both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy professional reading list.

“In the past year, cybercrime has blossomed into a pandemic, consuming more than $445 billion in lost time, jobs and intellectual property,” Singer wrote in the March issue of Popular Science, where he is a contributing editor.

Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, director of UT Dallas’ Cyber Security Research and Education Institute, said she is excited to have Singer on campus.

“At UT Dallas, we are taking an interdisciplinary approach to cybersecurity and have joint projects with faculty from other areas of study. It is essential that we bring political sciences, policy, economics, risk analysis and ethics into our cybersecurity research and education programs. Therefore, our faculty and students will benefit a great deal from Dr. Singer’s talk,” said Thuraisingham, Louis Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor and a professor of computer science in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Singer is the founder of NeoLuddite, a technology advisory firm, and has worked as a consultant for the U.S. military, Defense Intelligence Agency and FBI. He also has advised the creators of a wide range of technology and entertainment programs, and the video game series Call of Duty. He is a member of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy.

His past work included serving as coordinator of the defense policy task force for President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, in the Balkans task force at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as the founding director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution, where he was the youngest person named senior fellow in its nearly 100-year history.

His other books include Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, Children at War and Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.

Singer received his PhD in government from Harvard University and a bachelor’s from the Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.


ATEC Lecture Series logo

The lecture series, presented by The Dallas Morning News, is held in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building, which houses programs that explore topics at the intersection of arts and technology.

Tickets and Parking

Prices vary between $10 and $20 for seats in the lower level of the ATEC Building’s lecture hall.

Staff and faculty members can purchase up to four tickets that will be discounted by $5. Emails with a discount code were sent to staff and faculty.

Students with a valid Comet Card can get free balcony tickets at Ticketing Assistance, ATC 1.201, beginning one hour before the lecture. One ticket per student. First come, first served.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here using a desktop or laptop computer.

Valet parking is $5. For directions and parking, see this map.

Spring 2016 EMAC Courses


3284555653_203ddf91c8_z (1)We hope you’ve cleared any holds you may have in Galaxy because it’s time to register for Spring 2016 courses. As always, you can find course listings in Coursebook (, and you can access your registration appointment time in Galaxy. The following course descriptions may help you choose among courses emphasizing specific topics this spring:

  • COMM 3342.001 CHILDREN AND MEDIA (Drogos): This course will examine the role of media in the lives of children. Special attention is given to developmental differences in how children process and respond to the media. Major areas of consideration include children’s responses to media violence, educational media, and play with media. Each topic is examined in terms of major issues, research findings, and theoretical explanations of the findings.
  • COMM 3342.002 and COMM 3342.003 PHOTOJOURNALISM (Lester): This course explores through lectures, guest appearances, and field experiences the creation of words and images to tell stories for publication in print and screen media. The history, theories, ethical considerations, practices, and production techniques for analog and digital displays of journalism-based visual storytelling presentations are the main elements covered by this class. You will not only learn how to tell your own stories but also how to critically analyze work produced by others. Prerequisite: Junior status.
  • EMAC 3328.001 DIGITAL SOCIETY – Health, Disability, and Media (Banner): This course examines how emerging media and cultural representations shape the meaning of health, illness, and disability. We will consider how medical and psychiatric concepts are represented in film, television, the news, social networks, and digital knowledge publics such as Wikipedia, and we will examine how people use the affordances of digital media to define health, illness, and norms for bodies and minds in ways that challenge mainstream concepts. Our primary texts will include films, YouTube videos, social-networking sites, online news publications, cell phone apps, digital media health campaigns, and online memoirs. Throughout the semester we will be storming Wikipedia by joining Wikipedia’s Disability Project and improving Wikipedia’s representations of health and disability.
  • EMAC 6342.501 DIGITAL CULTURE (Lee): Drawing on a journalism ethics perspective, this course will examine a range of emerging media practices and dilemmas that make salient the benefits and confines of digital technology. Topics may include institutional norms and business models on online news, audience behaviors, media effects, and data journalism.
  • EMAC 6374 DIGITAL TEXTUALITY (Knight): One of the definitions of text is “something, such as a literary work or other cultural product, regarded as an object of critical analysis.” ( If we drill down far enough into any form of digital “text,” we arrive at the level of binary code: 1s and 0s. This includes other objects of critical analysis, such as digital images, sound files, animations, videos, etc. This material commonality draws our attention to the fact that any digital object has multiple layers – from the surface representation to the source code, down to those 1s and 0s. In addition to this kind of fundamental multi-mediality, it is very rare to encounter a digital text that is composed on the surface of only one type of media object. In other words, in digital textuality, words almost always co-exist with images, links, sound, and video, all built atop a foundation of code. This course takes these types of multi-mediality as its starting point and asks students to reconceive “digital textuality” as a more broad form of cultural product that can occur in multiple media formats and that explores the unique affordances of different kinds of text objects. Through this production-intensive course, students will explore the theoretical and material connections between analog and digital textuality, centered on text, image, sound, and moving image. Students will apply their theoretical understanding of digital textuality to the production of a portfolio, composed of four separate digital media objects and a short paper, each of which foregrounds certain modes of making meaning. The goal is to examine the shifts in writing and representation in digital environments.  The course situates “writing” within a networked, digital environment and, as such, will focus on the production of “texts” in different media forms.
  • EMAC 6381.001 PERSUASION (Guadagno): The course is a graduate-level, selected survey of theory and research on the social influence and persuasion process. As such, we will concentrate on the interpersonal factors that affect change–for without change we cannot lay claim to influence–in two principal domains: attitudes/beliefs and actions/behavior. In keeping with this division, the course will cover the psychological and communication literatures on persuasion and on compliance resulting from one’s exposure to some form of interpersonal pressure for change. Coverage is broken down further into a number of topics and connected readings. The role of technology-mediated interactions on social influence and persuasion will also be covered in this course. In addition, a serious effort will be made to consider how the material of the class may be applied to the construction of effective information campaigns of various sorts. Accordingly, time will be allotted toward the end of most class periods for students to collaborate in small groups on the development of a pair of information campaigns on topics of their choosing.


Also, undergraduates may use COMM 3352 Media and Culture as a prescribed elective.


Finally, undergraduate students planning to enroll in EMAC 4380 Capstone Project should check their UTD email for the application, which is due November 10. Undergraduates interested in pursuing major honors should consult with their academic advisors to determine their eligibility. Graduate students planning to register for the Advanced Project should contact Ellen Curtis.


Image: From Flickr @rcade