Jeff Spoonhower

Jeff Spoonhower headshot

Assistant Professor of Film and Digital Media Production
B.A., University of Notre Dame
M.F.A., Rochester Institute of Technology

Phone:  574-631-2815

Areas of specialization:  Computer Animation, Post-Production, Sound Design

Classes:  3D Digital Production, Advanced 3D Digital Production, Making 'Em Move: The Art and Craft Of Animation, Sound and Music Design for Digital Media

Jeff has worked in the video game and animation industries since 2002. Jeff has worked as a Lead Cinematics Director, Animator, and Senior Video Editor for Electronic Arts, Sony Computer Entertainment, 2K Games, and THQ/Deep Silver. As both a staff employee and full-time freelancer, Jeff's work has been featured in more than fifteen games, including Evolve, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Bioshock 2, Borderlands 2, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, Saints Row I-IV, Mafia II, Spec Ops: The Line, Resistance: Retribution, Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow, and NFL Street. Jeff is currently working on his debut independent video game titled Anew: The Distant Light (
Jeff's MFA thesis animated film from RIT, Intelligent Life, screened at more than fifty film festivals internationally. It won more than twenty awards, including a Best Animation nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Student Academy Awards, and the Best Animated Short Film award at the South by Southwest Film Festival.
Jeff graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1999 with Bachelor's degrees in Film Production and Computer Applications, and from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2002 with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Computer Animation. 
3D Digital Production for Animation and Video Games
Interested in pursuing a career in feature animation, special effects, or video games? This class will be your first step in learning the tools and techniques of 3D digital content creation for the entertainment industry. Students will learn the basics of modeling, texturing, animation, lighting, and rendering using the industry-standard program, Autodesk Maya. Through video tutorials and production lessons, students will get hands-on, practical experience in the major areas of digital content creation in Maya. Students will also learn the foundations of animation and 3D design through weekly lectures, screenings of feature animated films, and interactive play-throughs of modern console video games. This class will require a significant amount of individual work in the DPAC 3D Animation Lab outside of class time.
Making 'Em Move
This course addresses the unique medium, film genre, and technique of animation. It is a form of expression that uses individually generated graphic images and sound to create motion pictures. Students will master the basic methods and tools for making their own short 2D computer animated works using Adobe software. In addition, they will explore animation concepts and learn about the historical evolution of animation in film and video.The technical components of the class will be taught by Professor Jeff Spoonhower, an expert professional designer of video games and animated films. The historical and critical components will be taught by Professor Donald Crafton, an expert in animation history and theory. Their instruction will be an integrated approach that combines reading about, writing about, discussing, and creating animation.
Sound and Music Design for Digital Media
Sound and music design for digital media is an often overlooked art form that is critical to the effective telling of a story. Writer-director George Lucas famously said that “sound is 50 percent of the movie-going experience.” Director Danny Boyle mentioned in an interview that “the truth is, for me, it’s obvious that 70, 80 percent of a movie is sound. You don’t realize it because you can’t see it.” At its root, sonic design creates mood and setting - it engages the audience on a primal, emotional level, in ways that imagery alone cannot achieve. A cleanly recorded and creatively edited sound effects track can immerse an audience in a fictional world. Music, whether used sparingly or in grandiose fashion, can enhance or subvert the visual component of a film or video game to create cinematic magic. Through feature film screenings, video game play-through sessions, and hands-on production assignments using Adobe Audition CC, students will learn how to direct the emotions of an audience through creative recording, mixing, and editing of sound effects and music.
Advanced 3D Digital Production
You have learned the basics of 3D digital production in Maya, and your insatiable thirst for digital content creation cannot be quenched. Welcome to the next level - Advanced 3D Digital Production! In this class, you will move beyond the fundamentals of 3D production and tackle advanced concepts such as complex object and character creation, digital sculpting, high dynamic range (HDRI) image-based lighting, keyframe and motion-captured character animation, and more. You will create a portfolio of high-quality 3D assets which you can use for graduate school and job applications. You will dig deeper into the Maya toolset as well as learn new programs such as Mudbox and Motion Builder. Students will be treated as professional 3D artists, and expectations for timely, quality final deliverables will be high.