Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Decline of AET's Entertainment Technology Courses

In our last blog article, "How AET Manipulates its Curriculum & Certificates," we demonstrated how Santa Monica College's Entertainment Technology ET 12 and ET 13 courses have steady lost their respective sections. Let's look at some other classes at the Academy of Entertainment and Technology. All course listings are taken from SMC's Schedule of Classes. The other data is taken from SMC's and AET's official websites.

In the Spring 2001 SMC Course Schedule for Entertainment Technology, it states the following:

The following courses are open to all students. Please call (310) 434-4700 for information on admission to the Academy of Entertainment and Technology, which offers comprehensive course work and entertainment industry internships in Animation, Interactive Media, and Entertainment Production Management.

Here's a screenshot confirming this information:

SMC Spring 2001 Schedule of Classes for Entertainment Technology

Now, Santa Monica College is stating that there is both course work and industry internships in Entertainment Production Management. But, according to a cached version of AET's website for the same semester, "The Entertainment Production Management curriculum is under revision and is not being offered at this time." Here's a screenshot from the AET curriculum page:

AET Spring 2001 Curriculum page for Entertainment Production Management

You can read more information on the disappearance of the Entertainment Production Management occupational certificate in our blog article, "
AET's Questionable Vocational Career Certificates."

Let's return to SMC's Spring 2001 schedule of classes for Entertainment Technology. ET 11 is a 3 unit course entitled, "Computer Skills and Software for Animation and Interactive Media." There is no prerequisite. Bill Lancaster teaches several sections. Here's the course description:

This introductory course covers the computer skills, concepts, and essential software needed to work successfully in the fields of computer animation and interactive media. Students will learn the use of general computer skills such as file organization for projects, keyboard shortcuts, using local area networks, and using proper file suffixes. Digital image concepts such as vector and rastor images, color bit depth, and pixel dimensions will be introduced. Key software applications will be covered for rastor image editing, vector image editing, audio, web browsing, and spreadsheets.

ET 14 is a 3 unit course entitled, "Interactive Design for the Web 1." The prerequisite is ET 12. Philip Van Allen teaches several sections. Here's the course description:

This computer-based course is focused on the design and implementation of successful web site design, web graphics and audio, HTML, dynamic HTML, and authoring tools. Design issues such as effective communication, technical constraints, typography, navigation, and information architecture will be addressed. Students will design and implement web sites that can be included in their portfolios.

Let's track the history of both these courses from Spring 2001 to Spring 2006.

ET 11: Spring 2001: 6 Sections
ET 14: Spring 2001: 4 Sections

ET 11: Fall 2001: 6 Sections
ET 14: Fall 2001: 5 Sections

ET 11: Spring 2002: 7 Sections
ET 14: Spring 2002: 5 Sections

ET 11: Fall 2002: 6 Sections
ET 14: Fall 2002: 3 Sections

ET 11: Spring 2003: 4 Sections
ET 14: Spring 2003: 3 Sections

ET 11: Fall 2003: 3 Sections
ET 14: Fall 2003: 2 Sections

ET 11: Spring 2004: 2 Sections
ET 14: Spring 2004: 2 Sections

ET 11: Fall 2004: 3 Sections
ET 14: Fall 2004: 2 Sections

ET 11: Spring 2005: 2 Sections
ET 14: Spring 2005: 2 Sections

ET 11: Fall 2005: 2 Sections
ET 14: Fall 2005: 2 Sections

ET 11: Spring 2006: 2 Sections
ET 14: Spring 2006: 2 Sections

At AET's peak in Spring 2002, ET 11 had 7 sections and ET 14 had 5 sections. For the last several years, ET 11 and ET 14 both remain at only 2 sections each. During this same period, ET 12 went from 5 to 2 sections and ET 13 went from 3 to only 1 section. ET 12 is now only worth 1 unit of credit. These are allegedly the core computer-based courses for the Entertainment Technology department at Santa Monica College.

Also notice that ET 14 is now called "Web Design I." The ET 12 prerequisite has now been kicked down a notch to only an advisory. This was done to help recover lost enrollment by allowing anyone to jump right into this course. Consider also that AET has lost both the online and ground versions of its ET 61 History of Animation and its ET 4 Interactive Design For e-Business. Also, ET 7 Entertainment Law is also not being offered in Spring 2006. The following courses also lost credits: ET 12 Principles of Web Design, ET 42 Principles of Game Development, and ET 72 Career Exploration. Finally, ET 95 Animal Drawing and ET 96 Costumed Figure Drawing have been combined into one course called ET 95. In Fall 2002, both courses had the prerequisite of Art 21 A. Now, the new ET 95 course has no prerequisites.

What about all those Academy courses in Fall 2002 that required passing a portfolio course prior to admission? Let's see what happened to them in Spring 2006. ET 16 Interactive Design for the Web II has been renamed ET 16 Web Design II. Anyone can now take this class if he or she has taken ET 14. The Storyboards courses were divided into ET 18A Storyboards I and ET 18B Storyboards II. Now it is just ET 18 Storyboarding. The course description has been conveniently modified to include "videogames and visual effects" since AET is trying to push its pending certificates in Game Development and Visual Effects. Since AET lost its Theme Park Major, it has dropped the "theme park rides" wording from the 2002 description. Since Professor Keeshen teaches ET 18, there is now the corequisite of his ET 2 Storytelling course.

ET 23 Character Animation, another portfolio by admission only course in Fall 2002, has disappeared entirely. In its place is ET 24B 3D Character Animation. AET is slowly gravitating away from traditional 2D animation in lieu of 3D computer generated animation using Alias Maya. ET 28 Animation Final Project is also gone. Since ET 28's course description was "designed to produce a portfolio piece that will help get the student a job in the industry" and AET obviously hasn't done too good a job in this regard, it would make sense that this course would no longer be offered.

So, from this raw data, it seems that the Academy of Entertainment and Technology's program is slowly declining through the years. Where once it was a program open to a select few, now it is open to anyone who wishes to pay the price of admission. It will be interesting to continue to track this progress over the next few years to see if the program survives at all.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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Monday, January 30, 2006

How AET Manipulates its Curriculum & Certificates

Many of us strive for exciting lucrative careers in the video game or animation industry. Schools, seeing dollar signs in their eyes, are quick to jump on the bandwagon and parade their programs as the "launchpad" to our inevitable success. One such school is Santa Monica College's Academy of Entertainment and Technology (AET).

In a
SMC press release, dated January 31, 2005, AET announced that it was offering a "cluster of new classes in game development and special effects this spring." According to William Lancaster, chair of the design technology department at SMC's Academy, "The game industry is exploding, and we’re jumping on this so that we can get students trained and into exciting careers." Of course the press release refers to the AET program as "widely praised." Praised by whom? The press release does not say.

The new courses will allegedly "lead to three new certificate programs that will officially be launched in fall 2005. The certificate programs are in game development, special effects and post production." As usual, AET couldn't deliver on its promises of new certificates. (See our previous blog article, "
AET's Questionable Vocational Career Certificates). According to the SMC Spring 2006 Guide for AET, the Game Development Certificate is "pending approval." This doesn't stop SMC from providing the following statement:

This career certificate is a comprehensive study of the design and implementation of interactive media for the game industry. Areas of study include storytelling, visual design, audio and video production techniques, software authoring, 3D animation, and project management.

It also didn't stop SMC from cutting AET Professor's brand new ET 42 Principles of Game Development course from 3 to 1 units either. Nor did it stop SMC from doing a bit of deceptive advertising online in their
Winter 2006 Schedule of Classes. This definitely warrants a nice screenshot:

SMC AET's Winter 2006 Schedule with False Advertising

As usual, I have made a handy chart. You can view our AET Curriculum Chart

Notice that Santa Monica College is advertising that their Entertainment Technology department "offers career certificates in Animation, Game Development, Post Production, Visual Effects and Web Design." Now, how can AET offer a game development vocational certificate in Winter 2006 when a semester later in Spring 2006, this certificate is still pending approval? Even AET's official website under
Career Certificates states that Game Development, Post Production, Visual Effects, and Web Design are all "pending approval."

Well, the schedule of classes is usually what students use when figuring out what courses take. So, this is the perfect place for SMC to forget to omit those two little words "pending approval." The SMC
Spring 2006 Schedule of Classes mirrors the Winter 2006 proclamation of a Game Development career certificate. Why is SMC advertising this non-existent certificate and not the Interactive Media certificate that actually does exist? Compare the screenshots of the Entertainment Technology SMC schedule for Fall 2004 with the one for Spring 2006. Notice how SMC is completely abandoning the legitimate certificates with the pending ones. Is SMC planning to jump ship with the program it already has? Is this because this program isn't working and bringing in all those high paying jobs and potential students? Is history yet again repeating itself at AET as it did with the Theme Park and Entertainment Business majors?

Perhaps another SMC AET history lesson is in order. Let's begin by studying the Entertainment Technology Spring 2006 course offering. Notice there's a course called ET 13 Game Authoring I. The course description is as follows:

This computer-based course is focused on the design and implementation of successful prototypes for gaming platforms and the Internet. Students will learn the fundamentals of software authoring for these platforms including interactive story telling, navigation metaphors, technical constraints, gaming basics, and usability. Students will gain experience working with media (text, graphics, animation, video, and audio), using authoring environments, and writing scripts to control interactivity. Students will design and implement game and software titles that can be included in their portfolios.

Sounds really exciting, eh? Oh, this must be one of those "cluster" of new courses offered, right? Wrong. This course is just a repackaging of a course Professor David Javelosa has taught for several years. In Fall 2000, AET called ET 13 "Interactive Design for CD-ROM/DVD/Interactive TV 1." By Fall 2003, ET 13 is again renamed to "Interactive Design for CD-ROM, and Interactive Entertainment I." In Fall 2004, it simply becomes "Design for Interactive Entertainment I." Here's the Fall 2004 ET 13 course description:

This computer-based course is focused on the design and implementation of successful multimedia titles for the CD-ROM, DVD, and interactive television platforms. Students will learn the fundamentals of design for these platforms including interactive story telling, navigation metaphors, technical constraints, gaming basics, and usability. Students will gain experience working with media (text, graphics, animation, video, and audio); using authoring environments; and writing scripts to control interactivity. An emphasis will be placed on incorporating media from the Internet into multimedia titles. Students will design and implement multimedia titles that can be included in their portfolios.

Compare the Fall 2004 ET 13 course description with the one from Spring 2006. Here's a nice
screenshot with the two ET 13 courses side-by-side.

The Fall 2000 ET 13 prerequisite was ET 12, "Principles of Interactive Design." Of course ET 12 was also a course Javelosa taught when I took it around Spring 2003. It was the same course as Graphic Design 60. ET 12 has also now been renamed to "Principles of Web Design" in order to place it under that pending certificate in Web Design. But really, hasn't the study of web design always fallen within the category of Interactive Media? When I took ET 12, we made a small web site as one of our required projects. Here's the ET 12 comparison

The 2006 ET 13 Game Authoring advisory course is ET 42 Principles of Game Development. The course description for ET 42 is as follows:

This course is an introductory overview of the electronic game development process that underlines the historical context, content creation strategies, and future trends in the industry. The course will also explain how games are produced, tested, and released.

Here's the ET 42 course comparison
screenshot. This course has dropped from 3 units to 1 unit, as previously indicated. Even though the course description is identical, AET expects to condense sixteen weeks of valuable information into eight weeks. Neither do the game development students or the course material benefit from this downsizing. Instead, SMC is able to cram in more students per semester.

What is even more disturbing is that Professor Jeannie Novak has been replaced by AET Interactive Media Associate Professor
David Javelosa for Spring 2006. ET 42 was Professor Novak's academic brainchild. She herself wrote the textbook, Game Development Essentials, which we used in the course. Now, Javelosa not only has taken control of both ET 13 and ET 42, but he has managed to make the ET 42 course the advisory for the ET 13 course. For more information on the ET 42 course, see our blog article entitled, "ET 42 Game Development."

SMC has also killed Professor Novak's ET 4 Interactive Design for e-Business course as well. This has cut her salary yet again and taken away an extremely valuable course for AET students. Here's the course description from
SMC's Fall 2003 Schedule of Classes:

This lecture course covers the design of web sites combining the power of the web with information systems to improve the success of business, non-profit, educational, and government organizations. Students will study the use of private Intranets, shared Extranets, and the public Internet to connect organizations with their customers, vendors, suppliers, and employees. Topics will include electronic commerce, customer service, marketing, human resources, business to business applications, inventory control, and collaborative tools.

If AET is now pushing a web design certificate, wouldn't ET 4 be a course that SMC would fight tooth and claw to retain? When I took this course around Fall 2003, it was packed with energized students. Professor Novak was a powerhouse of information and encouragement. She also had solid experience in e-business with her website
Indiespace. In fact, her co-founder and business partner, Peter Markiewicz, was the first full-time webmaster for Santa Monica College. He resigned from SMC around July 15, 2000. Here's the November 12, 1997 SMC Press Release on Markiewicz:

Peter Markiewicz began Nov. 6 and brings several years of web experience to his new position as Webmaster -- the first time the position is full-time at SMC. Before coming to SMC, he worked three years at Kaleidospace in Los Angeles, a promotion company for unsigned musicians artists that uses the web as its primary marketing tool. Prior to that he spent five years as a post doctoral fellow at UCLA, handling computer network management in the biology department. He is the author, with Jeannie Novak, of the book "Creating Internet Entertainment." He received his doctorate in biophysics and theoretical biology from the University of Chicago and a bachelor's in biology from Loyola University in New Orleans.

Jeannie Novak isn't the only AET professor to have her courses cut. Jan Nagel's ET 72 online Career Exploration Course has been slashed from 3 to 2 units. Here's the
screenshot I made. Notice how SMC has dropped the part of the course title that reads "Animation and Interactive Media." The course descriptions are strikingly similar, yet AET has pumped it up a notch by adding that the "videogame" and "television" industries as part of the package. SMC is also promising to "assist students in preparing to apply for these positions." What assistance SMC's Distance Education or Academy vocational program will provide is not specified. What does it matter as long as it sounds nice enough to convince these cyber students to part with their cash.

Now Professor Jim Keeshen's ET 61 History of Animation online and ground courses have seen the administrative axe at SMC. Both are no longer being taught effective Spring 2006. Here's another
screenshot showing the two courses in Spring 2005 and their absence in Spring 2006. As Keeshen's teaching assistant, I worked hard to get the ET 61 ground course launched. It lasted a mere two semesters. Like Professor Novak's two courses, ET 61 also deserves to remain on AET's curriculum. Keeshen places the blame for ET61's untimely death on AET Dean Katharine Muller.

However, to compensate Professor Keeshen, the ET 2 Storytelling course (in which I also worked as Keeshen's teaching assistant) has been re-written to allegedly integrate "moral issues." Here's the ET 2
screenshot comparison I made. AET has added the sentence: "Guest lectures from the entertainment industry will come to share with the class their ideas on storytelling in modern media." Again, like in ET 72, AET is trying to push its entertainment industry partnership in students' faces. The truth of the matter is that these same guest speakers have always been there through the Mary Pickford Series. For more background information see our blog article, "Mary Pickford Foundation AET Scholarship Endowment." AET also fails to mention that it hasn't been able to recuperate its lost entertainment industry partners. Nor has it been successful in internships or job placements for students.

Since AET can't allegedly maintain its enrollment figures, it needs to create larger enrollment by doubling the course offerings per semester. It is able to achieve this while also paying its part-time instructors less money. This is neither conducive to learning nor is it a successful business model which retains quality part-time faculty, many of whom actually do have connections and jobs in the entertainment industry. By alienating our part-time instructors, we deprive our students of the education they deserve.

Jeannie Novak's book Game Development EssentialsSMC AET Faculty and Curriculum Committee Members

From Top, Clockwise: David Javelosa, Bill Lancaster, Jeannie Novak, and Chris Fria.

Additionally, how can AET plug a Game Development certificate when its main course is only 1 unit? Why do other introductory courses such as ET 2 Storytelling warrant 3 units while ET 42 only warrants 1 unit? Why is Jeannie Novak's ET 4 e-Business course cut while Javelosa's ET 12 Principles of Web Design course remains? Is it because full-time AET faculty members such as Chris Fria and David Javelosa sit on the curriculum committee? Is this a bit of job security for Javelosa? Let's look at
David Javelosa's SMC profile for Spring 2002. I quote in part:

“‘Multimedia’ is kind of a misnomer,” says David, who actually wrote a successful book on the subject. “It all started out as a convergence between computer and entertainment. But then the game industry came along. And cable TV. And DVD and video games and…. It all just keeps merging and speeding up relentlessly. So it’s been very exciting to be teaching what I’ve learned.” ‘Principles of Interactive Media’ is David’s new ‘game,’ and he reports that his new ‘playing field’ is nearly ideal. “For where we are right now, the Academy is about as state of the art as it gets,” he says. “I’ve got a computer in front of every student and overhead projectors for all I’m teaching. And the staff and support we have are just solid.”

So, with all that state of the art technology, how well did David Javelosa play his "game"? Let's view the stats from the AET playing field:

ET 12 Spring 2002: 5 Sections; (3 of which are taught by Javelosa)
ET 13 Spring 2002: 3 Sections (all taught by Javelosa)

ET 12 Fall 2002: 4 Sections (2 of which are taught by Javelosa)
ET 13 Fall 2002: 3 Sections (all taught by Javelosa)

ET 12 Spring 2003: 3 Sections (1 of which is taught by Javelosa)
ET 13 Spring 2003: 3 Sections (all taught by Javelosa)

ET 12 Fall 2003: 3 Sections (all taught by Javelosa)
ET 13 Fall 2003: 2 Sections (all taught by Javelosa)

ET 12 Spring 2004: 3 Sections (all taught by Javelosa)
ET 13 Spring 2004: 2 Sections (all taught by Javelosa)

ET 12 Fall 2004: 2 Sections (1 of which is taught by Javelosa)
ET 13 Fall 2004: 2 Sections (all taught by Javelosa)

ET 12 Spring 2005: 2 Sections (all taught by Javelosa)
ET 13 Spring 2005: 0 Sections (The course is not offered)

ET 12 Fall 2005: 2 Sections (none of which are taught by Javelosa)
ET 13 Fall 2005: 1 Section (taught by Javelosa)

ET 12 Spring 2006: 2 Sections (none of which are taught by Javelosa)
ET 13 Spring 2006: 1 Section (taught by Javelosa)

In Fall 2005, the name changes take effect with ET 13 resurrected and ET 12 losing two-thirds of its unit credits. What were two interactive media courses under Javelosa's jurisdiction now become subdivided into web design and game authoring. In four years, both courses steadily declined in student enrollment as is evident in the decrease of sections offered.

Where Javelosa taught six courses between ET 12 and ET 13, he now teaches only one. Has this hurt his salary in the number of courses taught by him? Not in the least. In Spring 2002, he taught six courses for 18 units pay. Four years later, in Spring 2006, he teaches six courses for 16 units pay as shown below:

(2 Sections of ET 44A both taught by David Javelosa)

Notice how Javelosa has now expanded his playing field by dividing his course load among more classes. Also, most of these courses somehow relate to study in video game production. The only problem with this scenario is that there is no established Game Development certificate at AET. If Javelosa was unable to succeed in keeping the Interactive Media certificate afloat, how can he succeed in something more complex as Game Development? Same faculty, same courses, same facilities, yet nothing but a new name and his slick marketing slogan: "Ready! Fire! … Aim!"

And if Javelosa is aiming the curriculum gun at us, AET 3D Animation Professor Chris Fria is providing the "ammunition" as he claims in his
SMC Spring 2002 Profile. I quote from Fria's profile this relevant statement:

It’s like this little world unto itself where incredible things are happening. It’s a small, fiercely focused program with great potentials. We’re very deliberate in choosing our applicants,” he says. “But you’ll get out of the Academy what you put into it. There’s just a lot of opportunity here for you.”

Fria claims that AET is "very deliberate" in choosing its applicants. Yet, on or about March 2, 2005, in SMC's Curriculum Committee Minutes, it is apparent that Fria is taking the opposite approach and opening up the AET program to anyone who stumbles along. Here's the
screenshot I made. Here's the text from Chris Fria's presentation to Jeff Shimizu entitled Entertainment Technology Curriculum Overview:

AET proposes to restructure the ET curriculum into several certificate programs: Animation, Web Design, Game Development, Post Production, and Visual Effects. These certificate programs will be open to all students removing all enrollment restrictions on ET courses except for prerequisite requirements. Spreadsheets were distributed showing the proposed changes. Several new courses (and some revisions of current courses) will be coming forward to the Curriculum Committee.

Bill Lancaster was also present for Fria's proposal, so as Chairman of AET, he very well knew what was going on. He knew that AET wasn't expanding its program, but diminishing it. Where are those "spreadsheets" that were distributed by Fria showing the proposed changes? They haven't been provided to us by SMC under the California Public Records Act? (See our SMC Public Records Request,
Set Three, Request No. 7 re: Bill Lancaster).

Well, it appears that AET is not presenting us with anything new with all these pending certificates. Rather, the SMC vocational Titanic is sinking while the faculty re-arranges the deck chairs. It reminds me of Jim Keeshen's poignant quote: "I feel like the baker on the Titanic who got to stand on the last part of the ship before it went under."

And while Javelosa retains his 16 units course load, Keeshen is knocked down to only 4 courses totaling a mere 10 units. And Keeshen's been teaching at SMC far longer than Javelosa. Here's Keeshen's courses for Spring 2006:


Professor Novak only has one class left: ET 3 Principles of Project Management. At least for now it is still three units. Fria retains 9 courses for Spring 2006, totaling 25 units as follows:


Notice that none of Professor Fria's courses are renamed "game animation." Perhaps he doesn't need to bother, as his 3-D animation program appears to be a success with the students. Also, Fria's 3-D animation courses warrant a fat four units while Keeshen's traditional 2-D animation and storyboard courses only receive 2 units. From what I've heard, each is about the same amount of work and the same amount of class time per week. Perhaps Keeshen's courses will be slashed to 1 unit each and renamed "Interactive Storytelling for Video Games" and "Storyboarding for Video Games." Perhaps ET 61 History of Animation will resurrect itself as "History of Video Games." Maybe I shouldn't give Javelosa and Fria any more encouragement.

All that re-packaging of courses still won't help the failing interactive media track or the slowly disintegrating traditional animation track. As we mentioned before, the Chancellor's Office doesn't even have the Game Development Certificate slated for approval any time soon. Only
web design may be approved in 2007.

And as our last blog article, "
The Harsh Truth About Video Game Industry Careers," revealed, even if a student was to obtain a game design or development degree, job competition is fierce, work is unpredictable, and salaries vary. Additionally, most companies see onsite job training as superior to vocational training. It seems that the best investment an inspiring game developer can make is not in an education, but in a Sony PlayStation, Nintendo, of XBox next generation game console. Game testing is still the best entry-level position.

If you desire the more lucrative salaries, major in computer science at a university or college that offers a four-year degree. DigiPen has Nintendo's funding and proximity and the University of Southern California is supported by game giant Electronic Arts. SMC's Entertainment Academy only has pending certificates, repackaged courses, and semantic trickery. Someone should point this out to Bill Lancaster before he makes any more glowing promises to us.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Harsh Truth About Video Game Industry Careers

In a June 2005 online publication entitled "The Next Big Thing," the Chamber of Greater Baton Rouge Louisiana Technology Park found out a few things about the video game development industry. Here's some points they made in Chapter 3: Video Game Development Workforce:

Like many high technology sectors, jobs within the video game development industry are constantly changing. Additionally, jobs also vary a great deal between studios. For these reasons and more, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not keep employment and earning data for specific jobs in the video game industry. This makes tracking industry information difficult.

Jobs within the industry can be summarized into four general categories: design, art, programming, and testing (Crosby, 2000). Development studios also employ producers, and like other large companies in the private sector use services like marketing, finance, management, and intellectual property attorneys.

So employment and earnings are difficult to track in the video game industry. The video game industry also likes to employ business and legal positions. So, Santa Monica College's Academy of Entertainment & Technology (AET) lost that chance when its
Entertainment Industry Business occupational certificate fell to pieces. The study also noted that there are very few entry-level game designer jobs available.

As to 3-D game artists, these are divided into the following categories: character artists and animators, background modelers, and texture artists. Under Necessary Skills, the study found that on the job training was more important than vocational training. I cite the following:

Artists need a visual creativity. If an artist is doing 3-D work, then she needs to be able to use modeling and animation software. This often requires math skills. Artists usually have formal training in art, or more specifically in animation, industrial design, or sound design. Although this training helps, artists really gain much of their knowledge while working in a studio.

Programmers are an integral part of game development. A degree in computer science and advance courses in artificial intelligence is needed. So, a vocational certificate from AET in Game Development wouldn't help anyone interested in being a programmer. DigiPen would be a much better choice of schools. (See our blog article, "
Got Game? A Look at Game Design Schools").

What about job stability and rising up the career ladder? The study found the following:

The survey also found that there is a high turnover rate in the industry. The instability of jobs is clear: only 56 percent knew where their next job would come from and one-sixth reported that their company hired and fired on a project-by-project basis. Luckily, employees feel fairly mobile in the job market, with over one-third of respondents feeling that the gaming industry is not their only employment option. Many expect to leave the industry for other jobs: 34 percent within five years and over half within ten years.

The difficulty that employees face has not gone unnoticed. Recently a group of employees filed a lawsuit against EA claiming that the company was required by the state of California to pay overtime. An online essay published by a disgruntled spouse was enough to receive 4,000 responses from other angry employees. Two other lawsuits have been filed, one against EA and one against Sony. Industry leaders have responded, holding an all-day meeting in San Francisco in early 2005 to discuss quality of life issues in the games industry. The focal point of talks was the “crunching” period (Richtel, 2005). Despite these efforts, it is clear in discussing the issue with developers that quality of life – and in particular overtime worked – remains a concern for video game developers.

As to salaries in the video game industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not maintain data. However, I visited the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics website and found their
Occupational Outlook Handbook for Artists and Related Workers. This handbook includes multi-media artists and animators who "create special effects, animation, or other visual images on film, on video, or with computers or other electronic media." This would fall into the category of certificates either offered or proposed at AET. Here's the Significant Points by the BLS:

About 63 percent of artists and related workers are self-employed.

Keen competition is expected for both salaried jobs and freelance work; the number of qualified workers exceeds the number of available openings because the arts attract many talented people with creative ability.

Artists usually develop their skills through a bachelor’s degree program or other postsecondary training in art or design.

Earnings for self-employed artists vary widely; some well-established artists earn more than salaried artists, while others find it difficult to rely solely on income earned from selling art.

Over half are self-employed, competition is keen even in the freelance arena, and earnings vary widely. Importantly, job opportunities for 2D animators "could be hampered as these jobs continue to be outsourced overseas." Even our own AET animation professor, Jim Keeshen elected to outsource his "
Day of the Dead" animation project to NIC Entertainment, Inc. in Korea. I have heard he is not the only AET professor to do so. If our own professors do not even believe in us, who in the entertainment industry will?

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

SMC AET 2001 Career Fair Flyer and Advertising

Here's a bit of interesting visual history from SMC's Academy of Entertainment and Technology. On or about May 17, 2001, SMC put out a flashy color flyer entitled "Career Fair." According to the flyer, "students [were] encouraged to bring portfolio and resume." AET also proudly boasts that there will be "top name industry companies" for "Animation and Interactive Media." Who were these top companies? AET doesn't bother to list them. Here's the flyer below:

SMC AET May 2001 Career Fair Flyer

Notice that there are nice images transplanted from the AET four folder flyers we compared in our recent blog article entitled, "
SMC AET Deceptive Advertising Practices." Also, keep in mind that this exciting event to meet top name industry companies in animation is exactly one week prior to AET Professor Jim Keeshen making his presentation to Rice University. As we discussed in our blog article, "Jim Keeshen's Studio Animatics SMC Contracts Exposed," Keeshen obtained secret consultant contracts with SMC by using the fictitious company Animatics. Pursuant to the contract, he was to develop animated language modules with Title VI-A federal grant money.

According to the May 16, 2001 cached website for AET, Gloria Mottler was the Internship Coordinator while Katharine Muller was Dean of External Programs. James Keeshen is listed as professor of computer animation. You can view the 2001 AET Entertainment Industry Partners from our
chart. Here's a snapshot I made from AET's May 16, 2001 AET's program page:

SMC AET May 2001 Program Webpage

AET states in their Mission section: "Classrooms have a computer at every desk." Well, I've been at AET since Winter Session 2003 and AET definitely does NOT have a computer at every desk in every classroom. Is this a bit of deceptive advertising or did someone at AET make off with all those computers?

In 2001, AET proclaims: "Our mission is to develop flexible professionals who can adapt to a variety of projects and roles in rapidly changing fields." Compare this to the Academy's Mission Statement only three years earlier. In 1998, AET's website stated that it was "dedicated to educating students in the latest digital entertainment technical, artistic, and business skills." (See the 1998 AET program screenshot from our blog article, "
AET's Questionable Vocational Career Certificates"). The former mission seems to be more conducive to AET's promises of "the goal of immediate employment."

However, as we've shown again and again, AET's
Internship and Job Placement records do no reflect immediate employment for most of AET's graduates. Was it that they did not "adapt" in the Darwinian job marketplace or that AET failed to provide them with those skills necessary for employment? And that fancy Career Fair flyer didn't seem to help matters much.

From a cached AET webpage around June 11, 2001 entitled "Santa Monica College Academy of Entertainment & Technology Admission Requirements FAQ," AET states: "The program is designed to provide students with the skills needed for immediate employment." However, this same page also proclaims: "The Mary Pickford Foundation has established a scholarship endowment for Academy Students." Here's a screenshot I made:

SMC AET June 2001 Admission FAQs

As we've discussed in our previous blog article, "
Mary Pickford Foundation AET Scholarship Endowment," SMC claims that it cannot find any public records pertaining to this alleged $200,000 endowment. Pursuant to Robert Sammis' January 9, 2006 letter: "The District has no documents relevant to this request. The District has complied with this request." (See our SMC Set Three CPRA Request, No. 28.) Either Sammis is lying or SMC never made this endowment available to AET students. If this latter is true, then one could construe this as yet another example of false advertising by AET. Keep in mind that Jim Keeshen claimed in his biography and resume that in 1999 he "was awarded the Outstanding Teacher Certificate by the Mary Pickford Foundation for his classes in storytelling, animation and storyboards."

Regardless of any of the promises made by AET back in 2001, the AET entertainment industry partners made a mass exodus by 2002. As of 2006, only a handful of industry professionals still sit on the AET advisory board. Yet, Gloria Mottler, Katharine Muller, Jim Keeshen, Bill Lancaster and Joan Abrahamson remain in their respective lucrative high paying positions. Meanwhile, the promises of "immediate employment" have vanished from AET's current mission statement. Here's a screenshot from the
AET Programs webpage:

SMC AET January 2006 Programs Mission Webpage

According to the Federal Trade Commission guidelines for Private Vocational and Distance Education Schools, it is deceptive to: "misrepresent the availability of employment while the student is undergoing instruction or the role of the school in providing or arranging for such employment." It is also deceptive to "misrepresent the availability or nature of any financial assistance available to students." Additionally, it is deceptive to "misrepresent that certain individuals or classes of individuals are members of its faculty or advisory board; have prepared instructional materials; or are otherwise affiliated with the school." Finally, here's an important FTC message:

It is deceptive for an industry member, in promoting any course of training in its advertising, promotional materials, or in any other manner, to misrepresent, directly or by implication, whether through the use of text, images, endorsements, or by other means, the availability of employment after graduation from a course of training, the success that the member’s graduates have realized in obtaining such employment, or the salary that the member’s graduates will receive in such employment.

Applying these FTC guidelines to AET's publicly funded vocational school, AET may have deceptively misrepresented the availability of immediate employment, the availability of financial aid through the Mary Pickford Foundation endowment, and the true involvement of their alleged 2001 advisory board members. AET's alleged deceptive practices and misrepresentations may have occurred to the California Postsecondary Education Commission as well as to potential students via its printed advertising materials and online websites. In any event, I will leave that to both you and the FTC to ultimately decide.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL: http://savesmc.blogspot.com/

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Jim Keeshen's Profile

The SAVE SMC Key Profiles section of the website is currently under development. You can view our first profile on Jim Keeshen HERE. Since I've written the most blog articles about him, his profile was the first to launch. It includes photos, images, links to relevant blog articles, and other pertinent background information.

I will add other key SMC people as time goes on. Additionally, I will add a Profile Index page to help you search for everyone. As more information is ascertained, more blog articles are written, and more documentation is made available, I will update the respective profiles.

Don't forget to check out our SMC AET Advanced Search Database for detailed information about Santa Monica College's Academy of Entertainment and Technology.

If you missed it, I've added a Day of the Dead Gallery. (The Spanish title is "Dia De Los Muertos"). This includes screenshots of various phases of the animated film with descriptions of the person involved in that aspect of production. You can see who worked for Jim Keeshen Productions and what each person did.

I still have more blog articles slated for the future, but I wanted to take the time this week to organize this vast maze of information. Hope this helps to unravel the story behind SMC.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

SMC AET Advanced Search Database Launched

After 8 months of hard work, little sleep, and endless support from all of you, I have finally launched the Phoenix Genesis Save SMC Academy of Entertainment and Technology Advanced Search Database. Click HERE to access the database.

Bookmark it now!!! It will be updated frequently. We've got about 500 plus pages on the blog and website, not including PDF documents scanned and uploaded. Since I threw up the site traffic meter, I've gotten almost 3000 hits to the main blog. Thanks for all of you who read all this stuff I write. Here's the
homepage to the blog again.

And here's another page worth bookmarking, the
Phoenix Genesis SAVE SMC Search Guide. This is the official search page for the SAVE SMC Blog and Website. I have added dates to all the blog entries. You can search the blog archive by month or by a specific article.

The SMC AET Advanced Search Database is easy to navigate and is divided by various topics. There are web pages, charts, screenshots, and PDF documents.

Want to know how much we pay our public employees? See what they do to earn their pay. Get the inside scoop on AET professors' hidden consultant contracts and industry partnership kickbacks. See who has left our school and who remains. Want to know if AET has kept its 1997 promises to the California Postsecondary Education Commission? Read the CPEC Report! Read our brief history of AET and the people behind its creation.

Or follow the money to missing scholarships, wasteful spending, and creative re-financing of federal funds. Take a peek at tax returns and forged documents. Learn how SMC has concealed vital public records, doctored AET internship and hire records, and tampered with its online courses.

Want to know how AET has become the digital playground for several SMC employees? Learn why SMC has cut our classes and can't maintain enrollment numbers. Read about deceptive advertising practices and misrepresentations to the U.S. Department of Education. Learn why AET students never received due credit on Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy Pilot Pitch Episode.

Check out the status of our quest for public records. We've gotten over a thousand pages so far from SMC. Learn why SMC is wrongfully withholding records that should be disclosed to the public. Want to know about questionable sabbaticals with AET faculty? Learn how Klasky Csupo benefited being on our AET Advisory Board.

What about those vanished and pending AET vocational certificates? If you're waiting for that Game Development Certificate, don't hold your breath. See how our Animation program compares to other art schools. Want to know what former President Piedad Robertson is up to now? Learn why eCollege is SMC's worst "nightmare" and subject to SEC investigations for fraud.

How does the Governator fit into all of this? Why was he boycotted by SMC faculty and chastised by SMC students when he spoke at his former school's June 2005 commencement ceremony?

Santa Monica College: Public corruption, political intrigue, and campaign bribes to our Board of Trustees... and this is just the beginning of the story.

In order to make necessary changes and SAVE SMC and the AET Program, we must become informed. Knowledge is power. Together, we can hold our public officials accountable, retain our good teachers, shape our future education, and save our tax dollars and student tuition.

For those of you at SMC, I will see you all in the Spring 2006 Semester. For everyone else, I will try to stay in touch.

Thanks Again for Your Support,

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Family Guy Database

I've added an advanced search "Family Guy" database to the SAVE SMC Website. You can also access the hyperlink to the database on the Phoenix Genesis SAVE SMC Search Guide page. This is the official search page for both this blog and the related website. I highly recommend bookmarking this search page. Keep your eyes out for an advanced SAVE SMC search index page slated for the near future.

This "Family Guy" index includes all the SAVE SMC weblog articles in chronological order. It also includes the "Family Guy" pilot episode chart with five pages of screenshots from the short animated pilot episode produced by Jim Keeshen and Seth MacFarlane. Through Jim Keeshen Productions, Inc., Keeshen used several Santa Monica College students from the Academy of Entertainment and Technology to create the pilot. This animated pilot was pitched to Fox Broadcasting Company. Fox eventually used a portion of it on one of their "Family Guy" DVDs, but did not include the credits.

Fox eventually decided not to employ Jim Keeshen Productions, instead choosing Film Roman. The show aired on prime time television and became an instant hit. Although "Family Guy" was eventually cancelled, public outcry and protests from fans revived the show on Fox. This was a milestone in television history. Keeshen eventually sued Fox, Seth MacFarlane, his agent Irv Shechter, and John Goldsmith. I've included the key legal pleadings from Keeshen's lawsuit.

I want to thank everyone who helped me piece this story together. It took a tremendous amount of time and effort. Hopefully, Fox will eventually put aside their discontent with Jim Keeshen and give credit to all the talented individuals who worked on this animated pilot.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL: http://savesmc.blogspot.com/

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

SMC AET Deceptive Advertising Practices

Around 2003, when I first attended Santa Monica College's Academy of Entertainment and Technology (SMC AET), I visited the student services center. I picked up a four-fold two-sided color promotional flyer / pamphlet for AET's vocational school. Here's a black-and-white Adobe PDF version I made of the flyer. Sometime around 2004, if my memory is accurate, AET revised their flyer. Here's the black-and-white Adobe PDF version of the revised flyer. Sometime in 2005, the flyer disappeared altogether. To the best of my knowledge, there have been no other versions since then.

Now, if a potential unsuspecting student reviewed one of these AET flyers, nothing out of the ordinary stands out. It is only when you place the flyers side-by-side that a few things jump out. It also helps when you know a bit of history behind the Academy. Let's examine them and see what we find. For convenience sake, I've made another
handy chart.

Here's the
screenshot of the covers of the two flyers. The original flyer is on the left and the revised one is on the right. Other than the different color scheme and the addition of the AET logo, both seem identical.

Notice that both flyers advertise AET as an "Industry Partnership Program." This refers to the Academy's alleged entertainment industry partners. However, keep in mind AET Chairman Bill Lancaster's statement: "We need to become more active with industry partners. Currently, industry partners do not do more than serve on advisory boards." (See our blog article, "
AET Advisory Board and Industry Partnerships"). But this isn't what Santa Monica College allegedly told the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC). Some of the promises made to the CPEC, according to the June 1997 Commission report, include the following:

The Academy will intensely collaborate, not only with neighboring institutions at all levels from high schools to universities, but with a wide variety of both technology companies and the entertainment industry.

The curriculum will be designed as much by the entertainment industry as by the faculty. The Academy's fundamental purpose will be to produce graduates who will be employable by the entertainment industry immediately upon graduation. Industry collaboration in curriculum design will be strong and will be supplemented further by a wide array of internships.

In the Commission report, under "Estimates of employment opportunities in the entertainment industry," Santa Monica Community College "district submitted copious documentation - some statistical and some anecdotal - to support its claims." Well, where is this "copious" documentation? We requested it from AET Dean Katharine Muller under the California Public Records Act (see our
Set Three CPRA request). Four months later, Santa Monica College alleges it does have any public records, at least according to Vice-President of Planning and Development Robert Sammis' January 9, 2006 letter.

Let's compare the actual AET advisory board members from the two respective flyers. Here's the
screenshot from the two flyers. Notice the drop off of entertainment industry partners in the revised flyer. Shouldn't the AET program be growing, not decaying, especially with all that infusion of state and federal funds? If it's allegedly providing all these lucrative jobs to its students, shouldn't its alleged "prestige" be increasing rather than diminishing? See all those familiar names such as John Brooks, Todd Hess, Bob Hoffman, and Terry Thoren? Keep those in the back of your mind for a moment.

In the
CPEC Report, John Brooks of Brooks/Flemming Associates, Communications Engineer Consultant, states:

In terms of retraining, anywhere from 5,000 to 25,000 existing employees of design firms will need specialized instruction to fully implement the computer-based tools available to them. Unfortunately, much of this is now "on the job" training, with little or no formal instruction. Our estimate is that, overall, we can see upwards of 40,000 new jobs being created in the next five years in this arena.

Well, Brooks/Flemming was rewarded by SMC for the part in deceiving the CPEC. According to the SMC
Board of Trustees Minutes for January 8, 2001, Brooks Flemming received a consultant contract with SMC in the amount of $2,000. Here's the relevant excerpt:

Consent Agenda: Academic and Student Affairs
Recommendation No.4

Distance Education Consultant for Virtual Multimedia Center Grant

It is recommended that the Board of Trustees authorize a contract with Brooks Flemming Associates/Limited Liability Corporation (BFA/LLC) to provide intensive multimedia training to staff and faculty for distance education classes. The period of the contract is January 15 through January 30, 2001 for an amount not to exceed $2,000.

Funding Source: Virtual Multimedia Center Grant

Comment: BFA/LLC will provide two days of intensive training to SMC technical staff and faculty on Director, an authoring software, including its interaction with editing software. The training will enable the authoring of multimedia products for distance education classes to be done on campus. Training will also enable the development and enhancement of multimedia products for traditional classes.

To date, SMC hasn't produced the related documents under the CPRA for the Brooks Flemming consultant contract. (See our CPRA Request
Set One, Request No. 16). The contract provided to us is an "Agreement for Personal Services" between "BFA/LLC Communications Technology Consultants" and Santa Monica Community College District. No tax identification number is provided. The signature of the "Senior Partner" is unreadable. The address is given as 14925 Ventura Blvd., #208, Sherman Oaks, CA. 91403.

I ran a search on the California Business Portal and found one company with the same business address:
BFA, LLC. The agent for service of process is John W. S. Brooks. The corporate records were filed on January 1, 2000 (Number: 200000810022). I'm a bit curious why Brooks Flemming Associates is advertising itself as a company on AET's Advisory Board on July 1997 when it did not in fact become an official business until January 2000, two and a half years later. Is this yet another example of misrepresentations to the CPSC and potential AET students?

Regardless of these facts, John Brooks, BFA, Brooks Flemming Associates, or "BTA Technology Consultants" is listed as offering not a
single internship of job to AET students. Also, why is "BFA" Technology Consultants listed as "BTA" Technology Consultants on the two AET flyers, especially since the registered name is BFA, LLC? BTA Technology Consultants is not a listed company in California, yet John Brooks is listed on AET's website as such.

Other cries for jobs come from Janet Striemer, Vice-President of Human Resources for Castle Rock Entertainment and Jeffrey Zabludoff, Manger of Professional Staffing at Universal Studies Recreation Group. Barry Armour, head of Technical Directors at Industrial Light & Magic projected that "up to 800 new jobs might be created in computer animation and visual effects over the same five-year period in the film industry." However, Janet Striemer isn't even listed on either flyer as an advisory board member. Castle Rock Entertainment left the AET advisory board by December 1998. Striemer briefly appears again on or about August 2002 under Capital Records but disappears by February 2003. Barry Armour isn't listed on the AET Advisory Board either and Lucas Digital Ltd. is gone in the revised flyer. Industrial Light & Magic ran for the hills by August 2002.

What about Jeffrey Zabludoff? He told us: "Because of the influence of those of us in the entertainment industry, this program is going to work." But that was also in a propaganda profile of him on Santa Monica College's website for
Winter and Spring 1997, right before the Academy opened its doors. Zabludoff promised 14,500 jobs through Disney. Zabludoff stated in his profile:

“Here’s a college that steps up to the plate and says to us, ‘We want to train people for your industry and we want you to tell us how to train them.’ I’m working to do this with a great bunch of talented people from entertainment,” he continues. “And the people at SMC—like Dr. Robertson and Rocky Young—have been great. We’re focusing now on developing the faculty and curriculum. And then we’ll be concentrating on the internship aspects of the program, a very strong component. Skills are needed in communication, numbers, design and services,” he adds. “And these internships—funnelling people into pretty high-paying jobs—won’t involve standing around by the coffee maker. The people we take into our companies will be going to work. The bottom line here is that we're having to hire people from all over the world to be involved in our industry, and we’d rather hire locally. SMC is building a program like no one has ever made before.”

Why shouldn't Zabludoff make those promises to us? After all, he sat on the AET Advisory Board. But by August 2002, he's quickly vanished as well. How about a little something SMC forgot to inform us: Students at the Academy of Entertainment & Technology received no jobs from Disney or MCA Recreational Services, according to AET's
Internship and Job Placement public records. MCA Records did hire one single intern from AET. (See our blog article entitled, "AET's Degrees of Deception.") And the theme park occupational certificate met its swift death at the Academy. Castle Rock Entertainment is listed as providing no internships or jobs despite their alleged commitment to the CPEC and AET.

Finally, CPEC states: "As often noted in this report, industry will be an active participant in the Academy's operations." Santa Monica College also advertised online on its webpages announcing the new Academy of Entertainment & Technology that "The Advisory Board will help design the curriculum, provide internships, serve as guest lecturers or adjunct faculty, provide in-service training for SMC faculty, and assist in the acquisition of equipment and the design of the facility." [EntnTechPage05, cached on June 19, 1997]. Don't forget the promises made on AET's website on or about Dec. 6, 1998: "The Academy curriculum is designed through a public-private partnership; educators and entertainment industry leaders working together with the goal of creating courses to train students for real jobs in the entertainment industry. The curriculum continues to develop to meet industry needs."

Compare these false promises with Lancaster's quote above: "We need to become more active with industry partners. Currently, industry partners do not do more than serve on advisory boards." Now, Lancaster made his statements to SMC's Occupational Committee on or about September 18, 2001, a mere four years later. Take a quick peek at that
AET Advisory Board & Entertainment Industry Partners chart we made. By August 2002, most of the industry partners had completely abandoned AET.

Remember, too, that most of the
original AET faculty had left as well. Is it any wonder that the Entertainment Business and Theme Park majors fell apart and that most of the other occupational certificates are "pending" approval? See our blog articles, "AET's Questionable Vocational Career Certificates," "Jim Keeshen's Great Big Show," and "AET's Degrees of Deception."

Lancaster also stated: "AET through the job internship coordinator needs to work more closely with the Job Center." (See our blog article, "
Got Game? A Look at Game Design Schools"). AET promised the CPEC:

Beyond the training itself, the district has presented convincing evidence that every graduate from the Academy will have ample opportunity to obtain a well-paying career in a vibrant and growing industry. The number of available jobs can probably be measured in the tens of thousands, which suggests that the Academy of Entertainment and Technology may well be expanded in future years if sufficient resources can be secured to do so.

On March 7, 2003, the Tri-Regional Meeting of Co-Op Work Experience Educators held a meeting at Southwestern College. According to the minutes, AET Internship Coordinator Gloria Mottler attended on behalf of Santa Monica College. At this meeting, one of the topics discussed was faculty load issues as they relate to internships and employment for students. According to the survey: "Gloria Mottler stated that she did not know the number of students." It appears as if everyone else was able to provide specific information.

Now, those tens of thousands of jobs for AET students dropped to only 217 hires between 1998 and 2005. But we shouldn't even trust this meager total given the fact that the internships and job placement information for AET Animation Professor Jim Keeshen's "Keeshen Productions" has been shown to be inaccurate. See our blog article, "
Family Guy Pilot Episode Scandal and Lawsuit." In any event, if you compare these two flyers with our AET Advisory Board chart, taken from AET's websites, they don't seem to match up, making us question the validity of both advertising vehicles deployed by SMC to seduce students with promises of an "Industry Partnership Program."

Now, let's take a closer examination of some of the quotes used inside the two flyers. First, let's look at the quotes from industry partners. Here's the
screenshot I made. The first quote is from Bob Hoffman in his capacity of Director of Public Relations for Digital Domain.

Bob Hoffman quote on AET original flyer

Now here's the quote from Terry Thoren in his capacity as CEO and President of Klasky Csupo:

Terry Thoren quote on AET revised flyer

Re-read each of these quotes again. Can you see that they are almost identical? So, whose quote is this? Did either of these individuals make these statements or did someone at AET conveniently fabricate them and slap the respective Advisory Board members' names on them?

Keep in mind that when the revised flyer came out, AET Professor Jim Keeshen had allegedly received a sabbatical in Fall semester 2003 with the help of Klasky Csupo. Also remember that SMC is claiming that Keeshen never filed the mandatory sabbatical report with SMC. Additionally, Vice-President of Planning and Development, Robert Sammis, is refusing to disclose Keeshen's sabbatical application and supporting documentation as required under the California Public Records Act. Recall also that AET professor Dave Fontana worked for both Jim Keeshen Productions and Klasky Csupo while Terry Thoren sat on the AET Advisory Board. Accordingly, Fontana and Thoren could have supplied the necessary information without Keeshen allegedly going on this sabbatical. See our blog articles, "
Dave Fontana and Jim Keeshen Productions" and "Jim Keeshen's Fall 2003 Sabbatical."

Well, Terry Thoren comes to the table with unclean hands. Prior to allegedly fabricating quotes on AET's propaganda flyer and entering into a questionable sabbatical with Jim Keeshen, Thoren was featured on Keeshen's 2001 SMC ET 72 online Career Exploration CD-ROM. Since we'll be discussing more about the ET 72 CD-ROM and course in future blog articles, I made another
handy chart. We'll be adding to this chart in the future. Notice Jerry Hamby's name in the ET 72 CD-ROM credits as well. Recall that he worked on Keeshen's Studio Animatics CD-ROM, thanks to Title VI-A federal grant funds. See our blog article, "Jim Keeshen's Studio Animatics SMC Contracts Exposed."

Let's now look at the two respective quotes from students. Here's the
screenshot of student quotes. The first quote on the original flyer is from AET student Daniel A. Laurie.

AET Student Daniel A. Laurie quote from original flyer

The second quote is from former AET student Richard Greenspan from the revised flyer.

Former AET Student Richard Greenspan quote from revised flyer

Just like the Advisory Board members' quotes, these two quotes are almost identical. Except this time, AET pumped it up a notch and added "Sony Computer Entertainment." Remember that Sony Pictures is credited on the
AET Donor plaque and Sony continues to sit on the AET Advisory Board under Peter Anton.

According to Richard Greenspan's
online resume, he did in fact attend the Academy of Entertainment & Technology between 1999 and 2001. In 2001, he did become a junior artist at Sony. Between 1997 and 1999, Greenspan also studied graphic design at Santa Monica College. However, from AET's flyer, it appears that Greenspan gained his job at Sony solely from his education at the Academy. What AET fails to inform prospective students is that Greenspan also had studied computer animation at Gnomon 3D. And unlike AET, Gnomen 3D has a nice gallery of students' work. AET's student showcase is "under construction." See our blog articles, "Got Game? A Look at Game Design Schools" and "AET's Questionable Vocational Career Certificates."

And Gnomen's Advisory Board includes several people from Sony Pictures Imageworks. Overall, I would believe that Greenspan was far more groomed for a job at Sony from his education at Gnomen than he was from his studies at AET. Take the time to compare
Gnomen's website with AET's website and decide for yourself.

On or about March 22, 2005, Greenspan was credited as a technical artist on Sony Computer Entertainment's Santa Monica Studio PlayStation 2 game "
God of War." If you look further down the credits, you will see special thanks to two AET employees, Chris Fria and Gloria Mottler. However, according to the AET Internship records kept by Mottler, Sony Computer Entertainment of America provided no internships and only two job placements for Academy students in seven long years. Yet, by the deceptive advertising practices on the revised AET flyer, a prospective student is given the illusion that attending the Academy will help him or her obtain a career at Sony Computer Entertainment. And, finally, if Greenspan himself had reached his "career goal" as AET's flyer indicates, then why is he seeking employment outside Sony?

Returning to the AET flyers, we see that AET Professor
Jim Keeshen takes the limelight once again. He's credited as "James Keeshen" on both flyers. Here's the screenshot I made. The original flyer features AET instructors Philip Van Allen and Jim Keeshen. Keeshen is the one pointing to storyboards on the right. The revised flyer has an AET student staring into a computer screen on the left and Keeshen again on the right.

It is interesting that no other professors are shown on the AET flyer. Another reason for revising the AET flyer is that Van Allen left AET in 2002 to teach at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design. For a complete background on Van Allen's role at AET, read our blog articles, "
AET's Degrees of Deception" and "A Brief History of the Academy of Entertainment & Technology." Keeshen would not only use the opportunity to promote himself at AET's expense, but he would promote one of his former employees of Jim Keeshen Productions as well. Here's another screenshot from the revised flyer of a figure drawing.

Antonella Pozzo-Ardizzi's figure drawing is shown on both AET flyers. According to her online resume at
AWN's Animation Industry Database (the same database Keeshen used), Pozzo-Ardizzi lists one of her clients as "Keeshen Production" under "Animation." Her company description includes the following: "Concept, Design and Development for 2d and 3d Animation. Specialized in Character and Background design, Digital Set and Environmental design. VoiceOver in French and Italian. 12 years experience in Scenic Painting."

According to the website "
Women in Animation":

Antonella is a multi-faceted animation artist who draws upon her background as a painter, sculptor, actress and dancer to breathe life into characters and architect reality into fantasy worlds. After working as a scenic painter for Eurodisneyland in Paris (and for private residences and commercial sites all around the world), she turned her talents toward traditional and digital animation. She is currently working on concept, design and FX for a variety of projects.

According to another online resume at
Career Corner, Pozzo-Ardizzi states that she graduated from AET in 2D and 3D animation in the year 2000. Her work experience includes "Concept & design for Live action & Animation Keeshen Prod." for the years 2001 to 2002. So, she was working for Jim Keeshen Productions, Inc. at the time the original flyer was produced.

Like AET student Richard Greenspan, Pozzo-Ardizzi came to SMC's Academy of Entertainment & Technology with prior education in the arts. She apparently studied scenic painting in a school in France as well as fashion design in a school in Milano, Italy. Pozzo-Ardizzi also had work experience in scenic painting and architectural design for Disney between 1992 to 1996. In fact, according to her website
Animato, Pozzo-Adrizzi states: "I worked for 4 years at Disneyland, in Paris. In addition to directing a team of professional painters, I was responsible for all faux finishes, scenic painting & murals, and for documenting/cataloging the color palette used throughout the resort. I also worked as a Designer in the Imagineering architectural team on various retail, signage and merchandising projects." Given this talented woman's education and work history prior to her attendance at AET, I seriously doubt it was AET that gave her the skills she needed to reach her career goals. If anything, AET and Jim Keeshen were the benefactors of her enrollment at AET.

How did AET Professor Jim Keeshen benefit from Pozzo-Ardizzi's talent and skills? According to her
3D animation webpage, Keeshen used her on two Jim Keeshen Productions: "Quantum Science" and "Incas Legend." Remember in our blog article, "Who Created Jim Keeshen's DangerWorld?" that the snapshot we provided from Jim Keeshen Productions' online resume included "3D design for Quantum Physics Documentary/Lord of the Winds Pics." Well, as usual, Keeshen employed the work of an AET student and took the credit for himself. Here's a screenshot from her webpage regarding the "Quantum Science" project and another from Animanto's homepage:

Snapshot from Animato's webpage for Quantum Physics Snapshot from Animato's webpage

Here's another screenshot from Pozzo-Adrizzi's webpage entitled "
Sacred Science: The Quantum Project." As is evident in this screenshot, Pozzo-Adrizzi created the concept, design, and modeling. So, what did Jim Keeshen do on this project? His resume is silent on this project.

Snapshot from Animato's webpage for Keeshen Productions Sacred Science

And here's the screenshot from Animanto's website for the "Incas Legend" project:

Snapshot from Animato's webpage for Incas Legend

And here's an image for "Incas Legend." Notice that Antonella Pozzo-Adrizzi's name appears on this project along with the caption: "Short Animated Movie for Keeshen Production." Of course AET wouldn't put this image on one of their flyers.

Still from Animato's webpage for Incas Legend

A confidential source confirmed that Jim Keeshen Productions was working on a project called "Inca Mythology." Even Keeshen himself had discussed this project with me and shown me artwork. To the best of my knowledge, the Inca project is still unfinished.

Pozzo-Ardizzi's appearance on the AET flyer brings up several issues. First, why is Keeshen continuing to use AET as his own personal hiring pool for talent? Second, why are current and former AET students allegedly using school facilities and software to work on Keeshen's outside business projects? Third, why is Keeshen continually appropriating his students' work as his own without due credit?

Lastly, why do the AET internship and job hire records fail to list all these students' he's taken advantage of under Jim Keeshen Productions? As we previously discussed in our blog article, "
Family Guy Pilot Episode Scandal and Lawsuit," Keeshen had employed a number of AET students for the Family Guy pilot while simultaneously listing only one internship and one hire for Keeshen Productions between the years 1998 to 2005 inclusive. Did any of these students even get paid for their work? If they did, did they receive fair compensation?

Given AET's deceptive advertising practices, its questionable vocational career certificates, and its underhanded
concealment of Keeshen's Studio Animatics consultant contracts combined with Keeshen's various convoluted corporate veils, his continual use of student labor for his own self-serving purposes, his nepotistic hiring practices of faculty, his online quiz tampering, and his questionable sabbatical, it seems that AET and Keeshen were meant for each other. Unfortunately, we, the students of AET, are the ones caught in the crossfire of deception. For the potential student, just be thankful that AET hasn't put out another one of its flyers.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL: http://savesmc.blogspot.com/

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