MARCH 9: Mike Patterson & Candace Reckinger

mike and candace

Michael Patterson is a director, designer and animator working in visual music. While in graduate studies in animation at Calarts, he developed his impressionistic style of animating which led to a 10-year career as a director in music videos. This was followed by 20 years of directing award-winning blended media TV commercials at Rhythm + Hues and other studios. He’s been creating visual music work and teaching at USC since spring 2007.

Candace Reckinger is an artist-director creating blended media and visual music using animation and photography. She has an undergraduate degree in painting and an MFA in film from UCLA. Her work ventures beyond the boundaries of conventional narrative exploring the border between the figurative and abstract, the mythic and experiential, and the tension between movement and stillness. Candace’s professional directing career has spanned independent film and video, music videos and TV commercials. She’s been teaching at USC since fall 2007.

Candace and Mike began their professional careers as co-directors. Their music video career started in 1985 with the animation for the MTV hit Take on Me for A-Ha. Together, Patterson and Reckinger directed a string of MTV hits that include, Suzanne Vega’s Luka and Opposite’s Attract, featuring Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat, which won the Grammy Award for Best Music Video.  In 2006, 7 of their music videos, along with Mike’s animated film Commuter, were added to the Museum of Modern Artʼs permanent collection.

While at USC, Patterson+Reckinger collaborated with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and a team of their students and animation graduates to create a 5-screen visualization of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for the gala opening of Frank Gehry’s New World Center in Miami Beach, Florida in 2011. They produced and co-directed the live immersive events, Rhythms + Visions / Expanded + Live I and II in 2011 and 2013. The large-scale outdoor events gathered internationally renown visual music artists work from the US, Europe and Japan for architectural projection, installation and live performances with a curated gallery exhibition.

In 2015, Patterson and Reckinger directed 7 new visual music works for contemporary music, 3 of these pieces were created in collaboration with a team of their USC animation students. They continued their work in immersive visual music design with Measures + Frames, a concert for live string quartet and multi-screen projection. The visualizations were created in collaboration with the composers, Thomas Ades (Arcadiana), Veronika Krausas (Mideragami) and Jeffrey Holmes (Kirurgi). Other visual artists in the event included David Lynch and Agnes Varda.

The other 4 pieces were commissioned by concert pianist Gloria Cheng for Beyond Music: Composition and Performance in the Age of Augmented Reality. These new works were for live music performance and surround projection at the Broad Experimental Digital Arts space at UCLA, November 2015. Other visual artists in the program included Refik Anadol and Bill Viola.

Since 2014, Candace and Mike have engaged in collaborations with the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and the Thornton School of Music. In September 2015, they worked with the Thornton School to re-stage Pictures at an Exhibition for panoramic projection at the Granada Theater in Santa Barbara. The concert featured the USC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Carl St. Claire and was the first time new Museik iPad controller was used to sync projection media with live symphonic performance.

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MARCH 23: Jun Falkenstein


Jun Falkenstein is an experienced animation director, writer, and story artist. Jun grew up in Laguna Beach, California and graduated with a B.A. from USC’s School of Cinema-Television.


Throughout her professional career, Jun has worked at nearly every major studio and at many indie/smaller houses as well in either television or theatrical animation, including the Walt Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, Hanna-Barbera, Sony Pictures Animation, and Dreamworks. She made her television directorial debut in 1994 with the Hanna-Barbera TV movie, “Scooby Doo in Arabian Nights” and in 2000, she made her theatrical directorial debut with Walt Disney’s “The Tigger Movie,” and also earned a writing credit on the film. She has extensive development experience, having worked for many years in development and pre-production on both original and derivative properties at all of the above studios and more.


A prolific creator and storyteller across mediums, she created, wrote and directed an original Nickelodeon television short entitled “Kyle + Rosemary,” as well as being a two time Grand Prize winner of the Blizzcon machinima contest. Not content with visual story telling alone, Jun is also an accomplished song writer and musician, playing bass in various bands around Los Angeles.


Jun is currently the Supervising Director of the Monster High long form television series at Mattel, and is also currently working on a Young Adult title graphic novel for Scholastic Books.

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kyle bedroom

MARCH 30: Kathy Smith


Time, Space & Animation: An Expanded Journey Across Fine Art Practice and New Media Technologies

Kathy Smith is an Australian artist who has been working with painting, animation, installation and sound since 1982. After graduating from Sydney College of the Arts in 1985, she studied and worked in Europe at the Dr Denise Hickey studio residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris and under the Dyason Bequest study grant at Studio Art Centers International, Florence, Italy; awarded by the Art Gallery of NSW, the Australia Council and The Sydney Morning Herald Traveling Art Prize. Since 1984, Kathy’s works have been screened internationally, including SIGGRAPH N-Space Art Gallery, Sundance Film Festival, New York Digital Salon, Hiroshima, Anima Mundi, and Ottawa International Animation Festivals.

She has a record of achievement in research and creative work spanning thirty years. This includes international research residencies in France, Italy and the USA funded by the Australian Network for Art & Technology, the Australia Council and Screen Australia. Kathy has exhibited at group and solo exhibitions such as Institute of Contemporary Art, London, Conservatorio di Santa Maria degli Angeli, Florence, Italy, the Australian National Gallery, Canberra and Tamarind Art Gallery New York City, NY. Kathy is currently working on her new animation about time, non-local consciousness and expanded awareness at the point of death.


Kathy is Associate Professor at the John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts, where she chaired the Division from Fall 2004 to Spring 2009 and from Fall 2010 until Fall 2014 establishing the BA in animation and digital arts, creating the semester abroad with Studio Art Centers International Florence, Italy and establishing the research collaboration with the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies in 2004. Kathy was Co-Chair of REDEFINING ANIMATION The 25th Annual Conference of the Society for Animation Studies hosted at the School of Cinematic Arts, USC 2013. Kathy teaches Expanded Animation, Master’s Thesis and irregularly Animation Seminar and Contemporary Topics in Animation & Digital Art. Her teaching focuses on expanded animation practice and animation as consciousness.

University and Academic Awards:

  • Mellon Award for Mentoring Graduate Students USC 2013
  • Impact Award for Education from Adobe Sytems Inc.2011
  • Interdisciplinary Zumberge Research Grant, University of Southern California 2010
  • Interdisciplinary Zumberge Research Grant, University of Southern California 2008
  • Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award in the Creative Arts, USC
  • 2005 Individual Zumberge Research Grant University of Southern California 2005


APRIL 6: Dennis Tupicoff


Dennis Tupicoff is an Australian independent animator. After graduating from Queensland University, Dennis worked as an archivist and teacher before making his first film in 1976. Since then he has made many award-winning films as writer, director, producer, and animator. These have been both fictional and documentary, animated and live-action, comedy and drama – and often in various combinations. Retrospectives of his work have screened at festivals in Brisbane (2008), Kecskemet (2009), Krakow (2009) and Poznan (2010). Dennis’ work is discussed in many books, including standard works such as Introduction to Documentary (Nichols 2010) and Animation: a World History (Bendazzi 2016). His most recent documentary THE FIRST INTERVIEW (2011), screened on national television in Australia and in France. A new animation/archival short film is now in production.

Filmography: (writer, director, producer/co-producer)

  • Please Don’t Bury Me (1976) 16mm
  • My Big Chance (1977) 16mm
  • Dance of Death (1983) 16mm
  • The Bear (1990) 16mm
  • The Darra Dogs (1993) 35mm
  • His Mother’s Voice (1998) 35mm
  • The Heat, the Humidity (1999) 16mm
  • Into the Dark (2002) 35mm
  • Taringa 4068: Our Place and Time(2003) Digi Beta
  • Chainsaw (2007) 35mm
  • Silly and Serious: William Robinson and Self Portraits (2008) Digi Beta
  • The First Interview (2011) HDCam

Here are clips of five films by Dennis Tupicoff.

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APRIL 13: Buck Creative Director Joe Mullen and 2D Lead Animator Laura Yilmaz

Buck is a design-driven production company comprised of an integrated collective of directors, producers, digital artists, graphic designers, illustrators and animators, who believe in the power of collaboration—the special alchemy that only happens when working together toward a common purpose. Buck has offices in LA, NYC, and Sydney.

Joe Mullen is the Creative Director at Buck L.A.. He is a designer, animator and director. He’s been involved creatively with many of Buck’s award winning projects for the past ten years, including Goodbook’s Metamorphosis, Childline NSPCC, Google Offers and Facebook Factory. He received a BA from California Institute of the Arts.
Joe will talk about Buck’s general process creatively, including how mixed media work fits into their process.

Laura Yilmaz is a 2D lead animator and art director at Buck Design (LA). Prior to Buck, she freelanced at numerous commercial studios around LA, including Mirada, Logan, Psyop, and Royale. Her personal films have been screened in festivals around the globe, including Animafest Zagreb, TAAFI, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Animation Block Party, and the Seattle Film Festival. Her USC MFA thesis Places Other People Have Lived was awarded Best Animated Film of the 2012 Black Maria Film Festival, a Spirit Award at the 2012 Seattle Film Festival, and was a featured as a Vimeo Staff Pick and semi-finalist in the 2012 Vimeo Festival Awards. Laura holds a BA from Harvard University and an MFA from the John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts, USC (2010). She is also a Hench-DADA adjunct professor.

Laura will speak about how to brand and present a portfolio with a broad mixed media background to make oneself marketable in the commercial animation world.

buck4buck5buck 1buck3buck2



PES is the creator of some of the most widely viewed stop-motion films of all-time including Roof Sex, KaBoom!, Game Over, Human Skateboard, Western Spaghetti, and Fresh Guacamole.  On YouTube alone, his films have been viewed over 150 million times.

PES‘s uncanny knack for transforming familiar objects through stop-motion animation has earned him global recognition and dozens of honors, including an Academy Award® nomination for Fresh Guacamole in 2013. (It is the shortest film ever nominated for an Oscar.)

In addition to his original content, PES has also directed over 50 commercials for major international brands including Google, Honda, Orange Telecom, Kinder Surprise, PlayStation, Sprint, Samsung and Bacardi.





APRIL 27: Dr. Katherine Pieper, Ph.D.

Katherine Pieper Headshot

Dr. Katherine Pieper received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Her research interests include employment patterns in film and television, with a particular focus on diversity in key production roles. She has worked with Dr. Stacy Smith and Marc Choueiti at the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism since 2012. In addition to research on diversity, Dr. Pieper has assisted with several content and effects studies related to frightening and prosocial media portrayals.

Dr. Pieper graduated with a B.A. in Communication from Michigan State University (2003). Dr. Pieper’s dissertation focused on the role of social support in a three-year maternal and child health intervention in Cambodia. Between 2007 and 2011, she worked in communication and resource development, including proposal writing, reporting, and design of monitoring and evaluation activities for a non-governmental organization based in Phnom Penh.


Annenberg’s Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative produces cutting-edge, timely, and theory-driven empirical research on different entertainment-based minority groups. Roughly 20-30 undergraduate and graduate students are conducting research on gender and race to assess portrayals of males and females in popular media. Educators, advocates, and activists can access and use the research to create sustainable industry change on screen and behind-the-camera.

Examining 5,839 characters, a recent study of 129 top grossing G, PG, and PG-13 films theatrically released between 2006 and 2011 showed that less than 30% of all on screen speaking characters are girls or women. The ratio of males to females on the silver screen is 2.53 to 1. Other findings revealed that females are still more likely than males to be depicted in a stereotypical (i.e., caregivers, romantically involved, lacking employment) and hypersexualized (i.e., sexy attire, nudity, thinness) light. Further, females are far less likely to be shown in films as holding clout and powerful positions in political (e.g., Senators, Representatives), financial (e.g., CEO, CFO, COO, GM), or legal (Supreme Count Justices) arenas.

While on screen portrayals are skewed, the percentage of females working behind-the-scenes is even more abysmal. Across 1,100 top-grossing films between 2002 and 2012, only 4.4% of directors are female. This investigation also examined the total number of unique directors after removing individuals that helmed more than one film. In comparison to the 625 unique male directors, only 41 unique females emerged across the 11-year sample. This translates into a gender ratio of 15.24 males to every 1 female director!

Recent research reveals that the independent sphere is more female friendly. Commissioned by the Sundance Institute/Women in Film in Summer of 2012, Dr. Stacy Smith, the director of the Initiative,  and her research team assessed female involvement as content creators at the Sundance Film Festival between 2002 and 2012. Across 11 years, 16.9% of all directors, 20.6% of all writers, and 29.4% of all producers of U.S. narratives are females. These percentages are all substantially higher than those found in some of Smith’s earlier work on top grossing studio films or Academy Award Best Picture Nominated Films. The Sundance study also qualitatively explored barriers facing female directors and producers in the independent space, with gendered financial impediments, a male dominated environment, and work family conflict the three most frequently mentioned obstacles by the 51 content creators and industry thought leaders interviewed.

Given these and other similar statistics from the lab, recent research by Dr. Smith, Rene Weber & Marc Choueiti, has focused on the economic success at the box office of feature films with women on screen and behind-the-scenes as well as interviewing over 110 content creators (i.e., directors, writers, producers, executives, etc.) about the reasons for the under representation and hypersexualization of girls and women in popular movies. (Funding for Dr. Smith’s research has come from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Sundance Institute, and See Jane.)

Please see this article in Cartoon Brew: “Crashing the Boys Club: Women Speak Out About Gender Inequality in Animation.”

And Buzzfeed’s: “Inside the Persistent Boys Club of Animation.”

Boy Club by Monique Steele