DAGD Guest Speakers and Workshops

Our Goal

Created to give our students insight to the current state of the industry, Ferris State University - Grand Rapids has been able to line-up several guest speakers to come in and speak about the industry and their chosen professions. Several workshop topics have been planned and we are currently searching for qualified people to come and teach these skills.

Michael Paxton

Michael PaxtonAcademy Award® nominee Michael Paxton has been writing, producing, and directing intriguing and unique projects in the entertainment industry ever since he received his Master of Fine Arts degree from NYU's Graduate Institute of Film and Television. Bringing his eclectic background in philosophy and film to create a diverse body of work, Michael has been involved in a wide range of live action feature films, animation, theatrical, and literary works.

Michael's passions have led him to challenges which have produced award-winning results. Through each successive project, he confirms his love for working with actors, artists, dancers, and musicians. From documentaries like the Academy Award® nominated, AYN RAND: A SENSE OF LIFE, to stage plays to his current project – an original film musical – his writing and directorial style continue to evolve.

Tony Benedict

Tony BenedictTony began his cartoon career in 1956 when he arrived on the Walt Disney lot as an apprentice animator on Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmations. UPA pictures followed with animation and writing gigs on Mister Magoo. Hannah Barbera was a new cartoon studio in 1959 and Tony came aboard as a storyboard artist and writer on shows like Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Top Cat and other HB hit shows. Tony struck out on his own to make a few theatrical shorts (The Early Birds with Jonathan Winters and The Jabberwocky with singer/songwriter Donovan) and a couple of animated feature films: Santa and the Three Bears (1970) and Guitar Picks (1973). He also produced some animated segments for Sesame Street on PBS. Tony worked for Friz Freleng in the seventies on The Pink Panther as a writer director and on a couple of Looney Toons television specials. He returned to Hanna Barbera as a story editor on The "New" Jetsons before returning to Disney as a story editor on a Saturday morning TV show called The Wuzzles. Tony was introduced to the electronic gaming world as a digital artist at Sierra Entertainment in the early nineties and the moved on to Disney Interactive. For several years in the late nineties Tony served as an Art Director at Getty Images before retiring in 2002. Tony now is living happily ever after with his wife, Anney, in Toluca Lake, California.

Allen Turner

Allen Turner has been involved in storytelling and education in one way or another for most of his adult life. In the non-profit world he has coordinated youth and adult programs focusing on literacy, storytelling, role-playing activities, and team dynamics as a mechanic for developing inference and problem solving skills. A student of acclaimed storytellers Shanta and Marcie Telander, Allen has also been active a storyteller. He was Teller for the Chicago American Indian Center and Native American Studies College in Chicago (where he also provided storytelling workshops) in the early and mid 90's. He also provided regular cultural performances and presentations for the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Public Library in addition to performances for the Illinois Teacher's Conference, the Newberry Library, the Chicago Historical Society, and myriad other organizations and institutions. Allen's involvement with the video games industry began at Bungie Software where he started off as Tech Support and eventually grew to help out with the production polish of Myth II. He later went on to Day 1 Studios where he worked as a level designer for MechAssault on the X-Box. Allen now works at Wideload were he hopes to bring his years of interacting, entertaining, and educating people to the table in designing games that are engaging and approachable for a wide variety of users. Allen's hobbies include pen and paper role-playing games, martial arts, filmmaking, animation, illustration, mythology and theology.

Chris Vuchetich

Chris has over 10 years of professional experience in game development working in different capacities including Art Lead, Art Director, Lead Level Designer, and Lead Game Designer. Shipped credits include: Buena Vista Games' Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man's Chest for PSP; Activision's Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events for PC; EA's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone; EA's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; and EA's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Visit him at Griptonite.

Mark Kistler

Mark KistlerOver the past 25 years, Mark Kistler has taught millions of children how to draw in 3-D at over five thousand elementary school assembly workshops around the world, including Australia, Germany, England, Scotland, Mexico and the United States. His starring roles as Commander Mark and Captain Mark in the hit children's public television series The Secret City,The Draw Squad, and The New Secret City Adventures, have been enjoyed in eighteen countries by over forty million viewers. His most recent self-produced public television series, Mark Kistler's Imagination Station, is currently airing on nearly one hundred Public Television stations nationwide. Mark has written and illustrated many popular children's drawing books, including Learn to Draw with Commander Mark,Mark Kistler's Draw Squad,The Imagination Station, and his latest, Drawing in 3-D with Mark Kistler. As a result of his television series and drawing books, Mark Kistler has generated over one million letters containing 3-D drawings from children around the world.

In 2009, the Ferris State University Grand Rapids helped to create 26 episodes of the latest Mark Kistler's Imagination Station including animated interstitials, show opens and closes and along with set design, camera work and editing. Watch for episodes in Fall of 2010 on your local PBS station.

Terry Shakespeare

Terry ShakespeareTerry began working at the Don Bluth Studio right out of art school and his new wife Sue soon followed as a writer for the famed Studio. It was under that very roof that Sue and Terry met David Molina. David was also an ambitious young animator and protégé of Bluth's. After only a short time together, Terry and David began sharing an office where they discovered, almost instantly, that they shared a unique sense of humor, as well as a global vision for the future of animation. Their partnership was prolific right from the start, as the two produced an astounding amount of animation content. Among their early achievements were their participation in the early concept design of the principal characters in Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and MULAN. They also helped design two seminal video games, DRAGON'S LAIR and SPACE ACE, games that continue to inspire future generations of designers.

Sue Shakespeare

Sue ShakespeareWith apologies to the 16th Century playwright, the fact that the name Shakespeare has become synonymous with animation excellence in the last 20 years has nothing to do with William, and much to do with Sue, a brilliant visionary producer who has worked hard to expand and revolutionize the business of animation over the course of her triumphant career. Beginning with her work with Don Bluth in the early 80's, continuing with the founding of CREATIVE CAPERS ENTERTAINMENT with her husband Terry Shakespeare and David Molina in 1989, right up to the present day as CCE is deep in production on BIONICLE III – THE CITY OF SHADOWS (due in the fall of 2005), Sue Shakespeare has been one of the chief architects of Hollywood's towering monuments of animation and family entertainment. Sue is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science.

Dale Myers

Dale K. Myers is a 34 year veteran of radio and television who has been at home in the world of computer animation for more than twenty years.

Myers was honored in New York City with an Emmy ® award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his stunning computer animated recreation of the Kennedy assassination featured in ABC-TV's 40th anniversary special, Peter Jennings Reporting: The Kennedy Assassination - Beyond Conspiracy. The computer reconstruction allow viewers to see the crime of the century from all angles.

Myers' forensic work determined that Kennedy was killed by a single sniper who fired three shots, scoring two hits, from his perch in the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. In addition to an Emmy ® award, the ABC special also garnered the network the celebrated CINE Golden Eagle Award for excellence in historical programming and the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for Best News Documentary. Details of Myers' forensic work on the assassination can be found at Secrets of a Homicide: JFK Assassination.A character animator at heart, Myers was awarded 3 Emmy's ® from the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the early 1990's for his computer creation, Robo Jr. The six-minute short subject - produced, directed and animated by Myers - was one of the first entirely computer generated 3D cartoons and was featured at SIGGRAPH's annual computer festival. Additional honors include the Gold Camera Award from the 27th annual U.S. International Film and Video Festival.

Myers has worked as a freelance animator for clients around the country for more than 20 years, telecommuting from his home near Detroit, Michigan. Clients have included Will Vinton Studios in Portland, Oregon (now Laika Entertainment) where he served as Lead Animator on five of the computer generated M&M spots. Two of the 30-second M&M spots (Run and Falling in Love) were seen by over 17 million viewers during the 1996-97 Super Bowls.

Martin Murphy

Martin Murphy graduated from Ringling School of Art and Design with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts. He has worked in the entertainment business since 1992. His work has included production of feature films, theme parks, Saturday morning cartoons, nationally aired commercials, broadcast graphics, and video games for companies such as Warner Brothers, Disney, SEGA, Activision, CNN, CBS, and international television networks. Martin joined Midway Games in 1997; he has held various artist and managerial roles including Cinematic Team Manager, Technical Art Director and Studio Art Director for the Chicago Studio. In his previous role as Director of Art, Worldwide he was responsible for overseeing and coordinating the art efforts for all next generation games in development by Midway.