of Ninja

To get a sense of DMD’s possibilities, consider the following projects by its students and alumni:

Heroes of AIDS in Africa, a documentary by Neil Halloran EAS’01 that chronicles the life and work of five individuals in southern Africa dedicated to “bringing health to their people in the midst of the African AIDS epidemic.” His Web site ( provides interactive epidemic maps that display a grim range of statistics of HIV levels now and in the future among the various African nations.

An interactive chat room, in which participants created their own characters and could see the “people” they were talking to. It was the senior project of Kevin J. Martin EAS’01, now co-chief executive officer of 4e Consulting, a business-technology consulting firm.

Crime Stoppers!, a highly entertaining animated crime-show spoof by Salim Zayat (

Wired Awake, a poetically surreal digital film by Neil Chatterjee EAS’01 about a crashing insomniac who allows himself to be connected to a machine that takes his consciousness to an even more hallucinatory dreamscape. Chatterjee and Omer Baristiran EAS’02 CGS’04, incidentally, are co-creative directors of AlternativeNRG Media, which Chatterjee describes as a “mom-and-pop industrial video house” doing high-end animation, sound, and production, as well as writing, editing, and distribution (

The Heart Sense Game, which targets heart-attack patients and teaches them how to deal with their condition. Though conceived by Engineering Professor Barry Silverman, DMD’s Kevin Chan EAS’02 helped develop a dynamic animation system for the game’s characters, so that their movements could be “easily programmed on the fly by a more user-friendly editing application.”

Hellbound, a computer game that one of its creators, Paul Kanyuk EAS’05, de-scribes as an “irreverent adaptation of turn-based military strategy gaming to biblical melodrama.” Kanyuk’s description of the problems involved in creating and animating devils, angels, imps, cherubs, and the like is hilarious—and somewhat mind-boggling in its detail. (“After about 20 hours or so of work,” he notes, “I could get devils to poke their pitchforks on command in a manner independent of their body movement.”)

A Web-based mapping program by Craig Modzelesky EAS’05 that mines thousands of different news sources for references to locations and, based on the frequency of citations, represents the data visually, in the form of a map. “Locations that appear in the news (with respect to their frequency in aggregate—over those thousands of sources) pop up in appropriate positions on the map,” says Modzelesky. “Clicking on those event markers brings up a list of corresponding articles. It’s a reversal of the norm. You see an unfiltered view of global events and then choose to read about what’s important to you.” (He hopes to have it up and running on his Web site by the end of August: (

A cockroach arrives at his freshman dorm in“Dink!,” created by Omer Baristiran, Ray Forziati, and others.

Dink!, an animated 3-D video about a group of suspiciously Penn-like student cockroaches arriving in their tin-can “dorm” for the first time ( The creation of a DMD-dominated group of students at the University Television Station (UTV-13) led by Omer Baristiran (who hopes to become “the Steven Spielberg of Turkey” some day) and Ray Forziati, it won an award from the Association of Higher Education Cable Television Administrators, and was chosen to be displayed at this summer’s annual SIGGRAPH convention in San Diego. (That convention, incidentally, is an annual destination for Penn’s DMD students, who make contacts, check out the latest high-tech toys and tools, schmooze, bond, and generally have a ball.)

Julie Saecker Schneider, director of the fine-arts undergraduate program and the School of Design’s DMD representative, notes that DMD students “will so easily move from drawing or painting to video or animation.” She thinks for a moment, then adds: “It’s as if they’re no longer bound by traditional media. It’s all open to them, because they have established a comfort zone with this piece of plastic on the desk.”

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2003 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 09/02/03

FEATURE: The Cult of DMD
By Samuel Hughes



Insomnia rules in Neil Chatterjee’s “Wired Awake.”