Our Faculty

CJ SARACHENE–ANIMATION

CJ Sarachene, Animation Director, Tau Films, brings over 20 years of film, television, and game production experience,  and has used that experience to help train many animation artists.  She began her career as a traditional animator working for various studios including Disney, MTV, Lifetime, and Nickelodeon. In 2001 she moved into digital animation and in 2003 joined the team at Rhythm & Hues Studios, working on projects including The Chronicles of Narnia, Night at the Museum, Evan Almighty and Alvin & the Chipmunks. In addition to being a lead animator, CJ Sarachene served as an animation supervisor on Land of the Lost and Hop.


Across her animation career CJ has had the great fortune of working with many high profile Award winning directors and artists including Ralph Bakshi, Emily Hubley, Bill Kroyer and Bill Westenhofer.

RUTH DALY–ANIMATION

Ruth Daly, Animation Supervisor - Tau Films, has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with students and professionals as a veteran of both traditional and CG animation. She began her career In 1996 as a traditional animator at Warner Bros Feature Animation, where she most notably worked on Brad Bird’s critically acclaimed The Iron Giant in 1998. Ruth then transitioned to CG in 2001 at Rhythm and Hues studios, where she worked her way up to a supervisory role over a period spanning twelve years. She was involved in an array of different feature films in varied styles and her credits included The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Night at the Museum, and The Golden Compass which received an Academy Award for VFX in 2008.


Over the past few years she has been helping productions develop their animation talent by mentoring junior animators to prepare them for the rigors of production work. She played a central role in growing the animation teams in the Rhythm and Hues India and Malaysia facilities by training animators for production on many projects, including Ang Lee’s Award winning Life of Pi and Academy Award nominated Snow White and the Huntsman in 2013. Rhythm and Hues has been an industry pioneer in producing feature quality animation in Asia and Ruth has played a pivotal role in this effort. 

SENTHIL VELAN–ANIMATION

Senthil Velan, Senior Animator - Tau Films, was also a Senior Animator at the Oscar-winning studio, Rhythm &Hues, where he worked on several award-winning projects, including Life of Pi (2012). His recent animation credits also include his work in prominent Hollywood projects, such as, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) and The Golden Compass (2007).


Senthil was one of the pioneering animation instructors at Rhythm & Hues University (RHU) where he trained animation apprentices at Rhythm & Hues Studios facilities in Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kuala Lumpur for projects, such as, Yogi Bear (2010) and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009).

ANDREAS JABLONKA–COMPOSITING

Andreas Jablonka is Compositing Supervisor at Tau Films where he leads a team of artists worldwide involved in VFX for feature films, commercials, and themed entertainment. His career in VFX, has involved working with prominent Hollywood productions and VFX studios in projects ranging from features, music videos, VR, and commercials. As a VFX supervisor, Andreas has overseen all aspects of a project -- from bidding to scheduling to preproduction,  and on-set supervision to final post production approval. Andreas has an M.A from The German Film School for Digital Production - Elstal, Germany. 

WALT JONES–CREATIVE DIRECTION/SUPERVISION AND GLOBAL PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT

Walt Jones is the overall creative lead for the computer graphics work at Tau Films. He has over 20 years of experience in production and design and has contributed to over a dozen feature films in the past decade alone, as well as numerous music videos and commercial projects. Walt has worked extensively with international teams throughout Asia, North America and Europe. He was nominated for Visual Effects Society awards for Life of Pi and Movie Park Germany’s The Lost Temple. Walt was part of the teams that won Academy Awards for their work on The Golden Compass in 2008 and Life of Pi  in 2013.

KEITH GOLDFARB–IMAGE MEDIA, COLOR THEORY, AND DESIGN

Keith Goldfarb is one of the three co-founders of Rhythm & Hues Studios as well as the chief architect for its proprietary software. While working at Robert Abel &Associates in production, and writing special software for custom applications, Keith and several co-workers decided to form Rhythm & Hues Studios in 1987. In addition, Keith grew up during the computer revolution and his intuitive knowledge has been exceptionally helpful in the foundation of the studio’s general purpose software.

Keith has a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and an M.A. in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley).

JON MEIER–LIGHTING AND LOOK DEVELOPMENT

Jon Meier is a CG Supervisor at Tau Films, specializing in look development for creatures and environments.  He leads the work of a global team of artists for feature films and themed entertainment. Jon has supervised lighting and environments on award-winning feature films, including Life of Pi (2012) and Happy Feet (2006) at Rhythm & Hues Studios. 

Before joining Tau, Jon completed work at Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) on Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) and at MPC for the feature film Jungle Book (2016), winner of the Oscar for Best Visual Effects in 2017.

SETH PETERSON–LIGHTING

 Seth Peterson has had the privilege of working with many talented people whom have had a positive impact on his growth due to a decade of experience in both practical and digital visual effects.


Seth’s career in visual effects began in 2001 during his last year at CalState-Long Beach, where he majored in Film & Electronic Arts. After completing an internship working on commercials and music videos at Strange Engine, a boutique digital effects house, he began a second internship at New Deal Studios, a miniature effects studio specializing in fabricating and filming miniatures for feature films, music videos and commercials. For the next 4 years Seth worked as a miniature effects technician on blockbuster films such as The Chronicles of Riddick, The Day After Tomorrow, and National Treasure.


In 2005, Seth transitioned again to digital effects and eventually landed a position in the 3D Tracking & Matchmove Dept. at Rhythm & Hues Studios. Soon after, Seth found a place in their Lighting Dept. where he spent the next 8 years working as a Lighting Artist and eventually Lead Lighting Artist on projects such as the Academy Award winning The Golden Compass, and the Academy Award nominated Snow White and the Huntsman. In 2013, Seth segued from live action visual effects to feature animation while working as a Lighting & Compositing Artist at Reel FX on their first animated feature length movie Free Birds.


As a Lead Lighting Artist, Seth was involved in working internationally with Lighting and Compositing Artists in Malaysia and India as well as training and mentoring Jr. Artists in Los Angeles, many of whom were preparing to work on their first feature film projects.

Dr. SUE LEWAK, Ph.D–CHAIR of LITERATURE AND MEDIA STUDIES/FACULTY

Dr. Sue Lewak holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where, as both a Lecturer and an Instructor/Doctoral Candidate, she taught courses in 20th and 21st century American literature, film, critical writing, and literary/cinematic analysis.  Her teaching was recognized by the UCLA English department, from whom she received both aTeaching Excellence Award and an Outstanding Teaching Recognition Award. She also holds an M.A. in Visual Anthropology (film and anthropology) from the University of Southern California (USC), an M.A. in English Literature from CalState-Los Angeles, and a B.A. in English Literature (Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude) from Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, MA).


Sue is a specialist in visual/literary narrative and cinematic adaptation, with an emphasis on visual effects. Works in her classes have included the literary and cinematic versions of Metropolis (film only), Howl (Allen Ginsberg), 2001: A Space Odyssey, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep/Blade Runner, The Hunger Games, and Life of Pi

BRADLEY SICK–MODELING

Bradley Sick is a veteran modeler with over 17 years of experience in the visual effects industry, having worked as a modeling supervisor on television commercials and many feature films while at Rhythm &  Hues Studios, including the Oscar-winning film, Life of Pi. He was also the modeling supervisor on the Lego Batman series and Peter Rabbit (2018).


Brad is a graduate of Rice University in Houston, Texas and has a Master’s  in Architecture from  the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

MANDEEP SINGH–PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT

Mandeep Singh is the producer for all international aspects of Tau Films production. From 2009-2013, he managed production for Rhythm and Hues (R&H) Malaysia before leading the production management at R&H for over 15 films including the Academy Award winner, The Golden Compass. At R&H Malaysia, he supervised all production beginning with Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 (2009), and culminating in work on the Academy Award winning Life of Pi (2012). Mandeep plays a pivotal role in staffing and resource-planning for Tau Films’ international facilities. 

MING-QIU-PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT

Ming Qiu has a B.S. in Machine Intelligence from Peking University, Beijing and an M.F.A. in Producing from The American Film Institute, Los Angeles (AFI). She is currently a production coordinator at Tau Films, and sometimes makes cameo appearances as a pipeline developer. She believes in love stories, greedy algorithms, and Confucius.

SAM CLARK–PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT

Sam Clark has been involved with several global, post-production houses in a range of capacities and roles — Production Coordinator, CG Production Manager, On-Set Motion Capture Production Manager, and Visual Effects Data Manager. He has worked on a variety of Hollywood studio pipelines featuring proprietary and off-the-shelf tools for motion-picture and episodic-television projects. Sam was a member of the VFX post-production crew for the OSCAR®-winning motion picture, Life of Pi (2012).

ERIKS VITOLINS–RIGGING AND ANIMATION SET UP

Eriks Vitolins is an animator, developer and the Founder of RGB Notes , a cloud-based application for artists to communicate globally with professional media annotation tools. Eriks has a decade of professional visual effects experience as a former Lead Animator for Rhythm & Hues Studios (R&H) Animation Department.  His work has contributed to many films including two OSCAR-winning features, Life of Pi (2013) and The Golden Compass (2007).


While at R&H, Eriks helped establish the groundbreaking ‘Animation Development Group’ (AnimDev) to assist the collaboration between the animation and other involved departments. As a key member of the AnimDev group, Eriks designed and developed tools, rigs, workflows and education in an effort improve artists’ efficiency for  a number of tent-pole Hollywood projects including Snow White and the Huntsman (2013), Hunger Games (2012), The A-Team (2010), Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009), and The Incredible Hulk (2008).

SHISH AIKAT–TECHANIMATION/CFX

Shish Aikat was originally  trained as a mechanical engineer at Jadavpur University, Kolkata (B.M.E.). He received his M.F.A. from the Division of Animation and Digital Arts, School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), University of Southern California (USC), where he was also a Nickelodeon Fellow. In addition, he has an M.A. in Communication Management from the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California.


For a decade stretching from 2003-2013, Shish ran the Education and Global Learning department at Rhythm & Hues Studios (R&H) worldwide to train creative and technical artists in the art and science of VFX for over 50 Hollywood feature-film projects. He was also on the TechAnimation/CFX team for Night at the Museum and the Character TD group at South Park Studios. He was also formerly the Vice Principal of Exceptional Minds School and Studio, a vocational academy/studio in animation and VFX for young adults on the autism spectrum. Shish has also taught as a Lecturer in the School of Film and Television (SFTV), Loyola Marymount University (LMU), Los Angeles, and in the Master of Professional Writing Program (MPW), University of Southern California (USC).