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Challenging Ideas

by Art U News

Motion graphics user group SF Content Creators recently featured Academy of Art University alumnus and Adobe After Effects UX Designer Ramiz Sheikh for its monthly Meetup event at the Adobe headquarters.

School of Web Design & New Media (WNM) Motion Graphics Lead Colin Sebestyen and Digital Anarchy CEO Jim Tierney run SF Content Creators as a forum for casual conversation, networking and discussion among motion graphic and production artists of all skill levels, with a specific emphasis on professional product breakdowns and speaker series.

While the user group is not Academy affiliated, Sebestyen estimated as much as a third of its most recent events are students. “My argument for coming would be that there is no reason not to. It’s free and you get industry exposure,” said Sebestyen. “User groups pre-date Meetup to a time when it was actually hard to learn software. It was a totally different era before YouTube, but you still have to start interfacing with industry. It’s big for that.”

Sheikh, WNM alumnus and speaker of the evening, is a former student of Sebestyen’s. In the final leg of his academic career, he secured an internship working on Adobe Dimensions, the company’s 3-D graphics application, before transitioning to the After Effects team as a full-time employee.


Photo by Bob Toy.

“Professionally, I was doing a lot of UX/UI stuff, but personally, I was really into 3-D motion graphics and some VR stuff as well,” Sheikh said. “I love the super high polish fantastical world you can come up with in 3-D. Also, just the way those tools work, it’s like guitar pedals where you can take this one effect and stack it along a chain and you can get something new from procedurally stacking it out.”

While Sheikh enjoys the work, there are obstacles that come with developing software that has been integral to the lives of working professionals for over two decades. “After Effects has been around as long as I’ve been alive. How do you keep on the edge and please people but also not interrupt the workflows people have been used to and have made their livelihoods for so long? A lot of people here know so much more than I do,” Sheikh said.

“It’s all about the conversation and really just challenging everyone’s ideas and getting the best solution we can.”

Jake Herbig is a second-year WNM B.F.A. student that attended this most recent user group meeting. “I transferred here because my teacher at Northern Arizona University said I should come to a private art school because the quality of education is much better. I never regretted moving here,” Herbig said. “It’s great to see users being heard. I believe it’s important to have a voice. There’s no point in designing if you can’t have it be representational of everyone around you.”

Pizza and refreshments aside, it is this type of dialogue among the community of users that is the heart of the SF Content Creators user group. “For our students, this SF Content Creators event represents a clear connection to industry and the professional design community in general. It’s great for networking, gaining additional knowledge about software and design, as well as having a good time socializing. Colin is a leader in the motion design community, an inspirational teacher and a positive mentor to students such as Ramiz,” said WNM Director Ryan Medeiros. “I’m so impressed with the way Ramiz has taken full advantage of the opportunities presented to him at Adobe. While he has already accomplished so much, I see even more great things ahead for him in the future.”


SF Content Creators events are open to the public and free to attend. For more information visit SFCreators.org.

Featured photo: Adobe After Effects UX Designer and Academy of Art University School of Web Design & New Media alumnus Ramiz Sheikh. Photo by Bob Toy.

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