International Technological University Located at
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Digital Arts Faculty

Jake Wachtel : Interim Department Chair

Jake Wachtel

Interim Department Chair

Email: jwachtel@itu.edu

Jake Wachtel has been producing, writing and directing for television, film and new media for over a decade. An award-winning international journalist and producer, Jake began his career as a news producer reporter for Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS), CBS’ partner in Japan. He has covered stories across the Americas, lived for two years in Japan and speaks Japanese. His coverage includes presidential elections, social issues in South America, the Academy Awards and the Olympics.

Jake has interviewed an array of celebrities from Christina Aguilera to Bill Gates and as a hard news producer he received the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Citation for coverage of 9/11.

Jake runs No Worries Entertainment (NWE), a company that produces content and develops programming for domestic and international clients.

Prior to founding NWE, he was an Executive Producer for NBC Universal. He has produced and directed documentaries and independent features as well as the comedic sports current affairs show Sports Soup for E! Studios. He was also a producer for CNBC's Dennis Miller show and developed, directed and produced programs for Zee TV's Veria Network, including its tentpole series The Incurables.

A CORO Fellow in Public Affairs, he serves on the Media Advisory Boards of Santa Monica College and the Claremont Colleges. He is a member of the Writers Guild and the International Press Academy.

Dave Lo : Core Faculty

Dave Lo

Core Faculty

Email: dlo@itu.edu

Dave Lo is a seasoned CG artist specializing in 3D modeling, creature rigging, hair and cloth simulation as well as rigid dynamics. Some of the major studios that he has worked at include Walt Disney Feature Animation, Digital Domain, ILM, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Rhythm and Hues. Some of his past films include Big Hero Six, Jack the Giant Slayer, Iron Man 3, Transformers 3, Rango, Cowboys and Aliens, 2012, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Speed Racer, Beowulf and Superman Returns. His education consists of a Computer Science degree from Georgia Tech and a Computer Arts degree from Academy of Art University.

Michael Kimball : Core Faculty

Michael Kimball

Core Faculty

Email: mkimball@itu.edu

Michael is a third generation multi Emmy and Oscar winning Hollywood Sound Design veteran and music composer. He has been involved in creating soundscapes for film, television and interactive entertainment products for well over 25 years. He has worked with cutting edge audio technologies and professionals from the days of celluloid film through analog tape, and was a core part of the team that developed the first digital audio workstation used in motion pictures.

Michael's soundscapes have been an element in many Iconic films and television shows such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the X-files. He has worked for such notable companies like, Columbia Pictures, Midway Studios, Electronic Arts, THQ, Marvel Studios, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon and Sony Entertainment. As an incredibly diverse sound designer and composer, Michael treats music and sound design the same, “music is just sound design with rules”. It is this approach that gives him the ability to create such distinctive aural textures and memorable themes that not only complement and enhance the numerous projects that he’s worked on, but are also recognized and praised by the people who enjoy them.

His father and grandfather both, were both film and audio industry pioneers in their own rights, they gave the young Michael the desire and the tools to pursue his dreams in film and computers. Michael scored his first assistant night shift editors job on the Columbia Studios lot and has never looked back. Shortly afterward, Michael became an in-house audio designer at West productions in Burbank and spent the next 15 years working on the X-files and a number of other feature films, television shows and animation projects.

However, Michael soon felt the world of video games calling and after leaving West productions. Michael traveled to far off Alabama to work with a software development team on a MMORPG called Wish. After 4 years Michael emerged with new skills and insights in to audio and software and how design and mix within the interactive 3d environment. This was a pivotal point in Michael’s career. He then went on to work with some of the biggest names and titles in the video game industry all over the world.

He was also was involved in developing multiple audio middleware solutions as well as work flow processes that incorporated collection of motion capture data during voice over and Foley sessions.

Since then, Michael has been an entrepreneur owning his own media company, an innovator developing meta-tagging and pre-visualization software and systems, but most importantly he is currently striving to pay forward his many blessings, by helping build the ITU media arts department, and teaching Audio, virtual and augmented reality classes. Michael is also involved in research and development of new and innovated technologies at ITU.

Michael Snyder : Adjunct Faculty

Michael Snyder

Adjunct Faculty

Email: msnyder@itu.edu

Michael Snyder is a journalist, editor, broadcaster, educator, screenwriter, and animation developer who splits his time between Los Angeles and San Francisco. After leaving his longtime position as entertainment critic/nightlife columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle to co-develop the Cinemachine movie-review search engine for Sonicnet/MTV Interactive, he moved from a terrestrial radio gig at KITS-FM to join the on-air team at Sirius/XM Satellite Radio’s Sirius/XM Left channel where he reviewed new films and covered pop-culture on “The Alex Bennett Program” every Friday morning. He subsequently returned to terrestrial radio as a critic and pundit on Pacifica Radio/KPFK’s “David Feldman Show,” which is syndicated in various American markets and can be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes. Michael is also the host, writer, and producer of “Michael Snyder’s Culture Blast,” a weekly online show covering the best in cinema, television, pop music, comedy, comic books, and web content.

On the print front, he is the film reviewer and columnist-at-large for the Marina Times in San Francisco and editor-in-chief and film columnist of Bon Voyage – an English-language family-travel magazine published in Brussels, Belgium for the European market. Currently consulting on film and TV projects in Hollywood, he was part of the creative team that developed the CW network’s cartoon series “Eon Kid” and has done television series development for WildBrain Animation, Wild Hare Studios, Storytime Pictures and Alligator Planet. He co-authored the scenario to the ballet “Lear” — featuring a score composed by former Police drummer Stewart Copeland — for the San Francisco Ballet. Michael also co-wrote songs for the legendary theatrical rock band the Tubes, including the top-40 hit “Tip of My Tongue” and the Halloween perennial “Attack of the 50-Foot Woman.” In addition, Michael was an editor for the ground-breaking online music publication Addicted to Noise; on-air commentator over CNET Radio; nightlife editor for San Francisco Focus magazine; and contributing writer for San Francisco magazine. Plus, he has written for such publications as Salon, GEO, High Times, Creem, and the British pop-music weekly New Musical Express.

Tom Rubalcava : Adjunct Faculty

Tom Rubalcava

Adjunct Faculty

Email: trubalcava@itu.edu

Tom Rubalcava began his career as Art Director on a series of independent feature films in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1982 to 1990. He was also recognized for his sculpting skills and ability to design for prosthetic make up and physical effects. It was on Commercial Pictures/Zoetrope’s 1988 release of Live-Action Feature ‘Clownhouse’ that Tom wore the hats of concept designer, storyboard artist and effects designer. His main role as Art Director on the project wasn’t his only credit – he was also credited in the make-up effects category.

Tom’s sculpting talent brought him to Premavision, Inc. in Sausilito, CA and the ‘Gumby Adventures’ television series in 1987. He was hired on the spot to head up the main character department. Soon after having reorganized the department, he was promoted to design and sculpt props and additional stop-motion characters. After 1 1/2 years of Tom’s departure to television production, Premavision kept a small crew on board to produce the ‘The Gumby Movie.’ It was on this project that Tom migrated back to feature work, giving him the chance to revisit 2D FX animation that he had trained for years before under then Don Bluth Studios’ veteran Bruce Heller.

In 1991, Tom joined the team at Colossal Pictures to continue his stint with similar materials called for in stop-motion design. He sculpted and prop finished on a series of ‘Nabisco’ and ‘Pillsburry’ television commercials headed up by Director Henry Selick. Later, he joined the Colossal animation department. For the 9 years that followed, Tom assisted and animated on numerous animation projects and eventually, he was elevated to Animation Director status. He debuted in this new role, heading up an animation crew for COKE ‘Watch’, a Clio Award winning Coca Cola television commercial. Tom continued to help develop Colossal’s mixed media Blendo technique until the studio closed its doors in August of 1999.

Once the gloomy fog cleared after the closure of one of the world’s premier animation studios, and a short freelance foray at Wild brain, Inc, Tom co-founded the animation boutique, Way Out West with the talented Animator Ricardo Barahona. For nearly 3 years, the small crew continued to generate diverse works for a dozen or so companies from around the U.S., which included, Turner Learning, Atlanta GA., Frog Design Inc. SF., Multimedia Games Inc., Dallas TX., Macromedia, SF., Calpine, Mendocino, CA., Clicksafety, Oakland, CA., Sun Microsystems, Santa Clara, CA. and Drumbeat Digital, NY, New York, to name a few.

Tom joined the dynamic and diversely talented Maverix Studios group in 2002 and became a principal partner of the LLC in July 0f 2003. The company continued to provide quality production art and animation until the studio’s closure in September of 2011. Clients included Iwin, Inc., Leap Frog, Intuit, Super Secret and more. Tom is now freelancing as a Designer, Director, Animator and Storyboard artist.

Allen White : Adjunct Faculty

Allen White

Adjunct Faculty

Email: awhite@itu.edu

Allen White is a filmmaker, screenwriter, and film journalist from San Francisco. He has authored film criticism and history and interviewed cinema luminaries for numerous publications, including Film Threat. For About.com, he ran one of the first major websites for screenwriting education and information, and he has been a screenplay consultant for numerous clients. He has done TV series development for WildBrain Animation, Wild Hare Studios, Storytime Pictures and Alligator Planet. Allen has been a programmer for the San Francisco Independent Film Festival (SF IndieFest) and the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival (SF DocFest). He wrote the original screenplay for the 2001 feature film Me & Mrs. Jones, starring Kim Fields, released on DVD, which screened at numerous festivals and won several awards; the film featured a score by D'Wayne Wiggins of Tony! Toni! Toné! and included vocals from Alicia Keys and India.Arie. He has directed, shot, and edited numerous short web films, documentaries, and narratives. Allen currently publishes the webcomic Filth Biscuit.

Koji Steven Sakai : Adjunct Faculty

Koji Steven Sakai

Adjunct Faculty

Email: ksakai@itu.edu

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai, a graduate from the University of Southern California’s Masters of Professional Writing program, has written five feature films that have been produced. He has also produced three feature films, a comedy special for Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. In addition, Koji’s novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback and in audiobook and his graphic novel, 442 was released in 2017.

Last modified: June 15, 2015