Sat, Apr 13 at 9:00 AM

Big 10 Theater, IMU or Online via Zoom.

Largest animation and gaming conference in the Midwest.

Free and open to the public featuring professionals in animation, game design, writing, music and sound design, programming, arts, and business; all giving talks, tech demos, master classes, Q&A sessions, and more.


  Room 348 (Big 10 Theater)


(Free Breakfast)

Opening Announcements

Tyler Owen: 

Title: A Game From Nothing

Abstract: Game development has never been more accessible. The tools and resources to make your own games are plentiful, but daunting. Where do you start? Do you need to know how to program? How can you set yourself up for success? This discussion is intended for those that want to get a foot in the door of the games industry or start making their own independent titles.


Timothy David Orme: 

Title: Working for Free to Pay the Bills: How Passion Projects Expand Beyond the Individual

Abstract: It’s easy to see personal/passion projects as a self-indulgent, demanding, or even a waste of time. You’re not getting paid to make them, and they may cost you money on top of the time you spend on them. So, what gives? Why engage with them in the first place? Come learn why creating personal projects may be one of the most important things you can do to build your skillset and boost your career.


(Free Lunch)

Chris Burrows: 

Technical Director from Pixar Animation Studios who has worked on films like Incredibles 2, Finding Dory, and WALL-E


Jon Hathaway: 

Title: From Iowa To AAA Q&A Session: What Helped, Hurt, and Didn’t Matter

Abstract: Briefly talk about my background: education, internships, first few jobs, game jobs before going into an open Q&A session.


Shannon Thomas & Rakan Khamash: 

Title: The Journey from Student to Professional

Abstract: Everyone’s career path is interesting and unique.  For some folks it’s a very clear choice that manifested from an early age.  In other instances, it’s a realization that comes later in life.  In either case, following your creative passion will lead you to incredible places.  In this talk Shannon and Rakan will discuss their individual career journey and share some advice along the way.  (Topics covered include - Goal Setting, Networking, Imposter Syndrome and General Tips for a successful career working in games, film, animation, or any creative profession.  Some personal and professional work will also be shown).


Steve Jennings:

Animator and filmmaker, and Founder of Grasshorse Studios


(Free Dinner)

Rich Vreeland:

Title: Synths Come Alive : A Workshop for Injecting Organic Feeling into Electronic Music

Abstract: In this workshop Rich will spend an hour demonstrating his process and thinking around making organic, expressive sounding synthesizer parts for music.


Brian Ferguson:

Title: Samples of Brian Ferguson's Career Path.

Abstract: A description of how Brian Ferguson entered and traveled through the field of Animation.


Kevin He: 

Product Designer at RallyCry, an eSports focused startup, and a former Product Manager at Blizzard Entertainment


Tyler Owen

Tyler Owen: Tyler has over a decade of experience in games and software development. He has developed several commercial titles - to varying degrees of success - under the Random Seed Games banner. His largest project was the Mars exploration and survival game, Lacuna Passage, first released in 2017. He is currently employed as a full-time web application developer with AgWorks in Davenport, Iowa.

Timothy David Orme: Timothy David Orme is a writer, filmmaker, and animator. Although he uses his full name for credits and publication, he goes by Tim. His last name is pronounced O-M (like the sacred hum of the universe).
Chris Burrows
Chris Burrows: Technical Director from Pixar Animation Studios who has worked on films like Incredibles 2, Finding Dory, and WALL-E
Jon Hathaway: Jon Hathaway (University of Iowa class of 2009) has spent the last decade building video games for a living. Working on titles like Halo, Destiny and Fortnite, Jon has found a calling in creating order from chaos and navigating the organizational complexities of large scale interactive entertainment. Jon is currently working as a Senior Producer at Epic Games on Unreal Engine and is excited to talk about the path from Iowa to AAA, Production as a career choice and what it's like to work at huge game companies.
Jon Hathaway
Shannon Thomas
Shannon Thomas: Originally from Pittsburgh, PA and formerly on the professional track to become a veterinarian, Shannon has now been working in the VFX/Animation and Film industry for the past 16 years.  Working around the globe, he has contributed to multiple Golden Globe and Oscar winning feature films along the way. Currently, Shannon is greatly enjoying his role as Modeling Supervisor within the award-winning Cinematics Department at Blizzard Entertainment.  In his free time Shannon enjoys traveling the world with his wife, online teaching/mentoring and writing/directing his own short films.
Rakan Khamash: Rakan is a highly motivated self-taught 3D artist fueled by a relentless passion for creativity.  Making his way from his home in Jordan to the States he now has over 10 years of VFX experience.  Rakan’s artistic and technical expertise have propelled him to succeed working on high quality 3D models for games, cinematic and more.  In 2018 he fulfilled a career dream and landed a role at Blizzard Entertainment on the Cinematics’ Team.  Since then, he’s contributed his talents to many titles including Overwatch , Diablo and World of Warcraft.  Currently enjoying his role as Senior 3D Artist on the Overwatch team.
Rakan Khamash
Steve Jennings
Steve Jennings: Stephen Jennings’ unique combination of savvy direction and technically-challenging animation and visual effects work is the result of layering early career experiences with his natural visionary outlook on where animation can go. His inventive spirit and upbeat energy has ignited developments in technology and created new aesthetics through combining the disciplines of animation, animatronics, and digital puppetry. Early on in his career, Jennings worked for visual effects studios Digital Domain and Sony Pictures Imageworks on many productions including O’Brother Where Art Thou, Fight Club, and Spiderman. He was trained as a compositor and managed technicians. There, he gained knowledge of studio operations, technical infrastructure, and pipeline development. In 2002, Jennings opened Grasshorse, a boutique character animation and visual effects studio in Atwater Village, CA. His unique take on visual effects and hybrid animation techniques led to collaborations on Craig McCracken’s Powerpuff Girls, Genndy Tartakovsky’s Star Wars: Clone Wars, and other broadcast animation television series. Through Grasshorse, Jennings has worked for many notable animation networks including Cartoon Network, Walt Disney Television Animation, Warner Bros. Television Animation, and Mtv. Since relocating Grasshorse to Iowa in 2007, Jennings has direest as well as animated shorts for 20th Century Fox. Jennings has been a Visiting Artist for the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History and currently instructs at Southeastern Community College where he aided in the development of the curriculum for the Animation for Television, Film & New Media program. He continues to serve on the advisory board for the program. Awarded by the Iowa Department of Economic Development, Jennings received the Demonstration fund in 2008 for his advanced stop motion technology ProtoMotion, which leverages robotics, 3d printing, CNC, IOT and 3D animation technologies. Acknowledged for his direction, Jennings won best animated short at Dragon*Con in 2010 for The Sacrifice. His work has received 50+ awards and featured in print and online by the publications People, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Fortune, 3D World, and Animation World Network. Jennings received his BFA from California Institute of the Arts with a major in Film & Video, where he was awarded the Princess Grace Foundation Film Grant and selected to be the Graduating Film School Student Representative to the CalArts Board of Trustees. Jennings has also completed a German language immersion program at Southern Illinois University at Bregenz, Austria.cted music videos for Fitz and the Tantrums, The Josh Abbott Band, and Colbie Cailat’s band Gone W.
Rich Vreeland: Rich Vreeland ties the name Disasterpeace to the things he sends into the sonic ether. Disasterpeace has over 50 albums to its credit, in addition to having designed, scored and programmed sound and music related things in a number of mediums including games, film, television and theatre. Rich is particularly interested in creative novelty and lives in Los Angeles.
Brian Ferguson
Brian Ferguson: Brian Ferguson is a 25-year veteran film animator whose filmography includes 15 feature films, several as supervising animator, for Walt Disney Animation Studios, including Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan, Fantasia 2000, and Winnie the Pooh.  Brian is currently teaching in the Animation department at DePaul University in Chicago.
Kevin He: Kevin serves as the team's resident Product Designer across technology and experiences. He worked at Blizzard for five years as a product manager for Tespa’s community program, which supported hundreds of student leaders and communities around the world. Kevin also teaches project management at UC Irvine, snowboards every weekend, and has a deep love for human-centered design and hand-brew coffee.
Kevin He