Kicking off with Creativity

We kicked off the semester with our first faculty workshop for the 20/20 Teaching Innovation program. Mike Wiggins, Art & Design, and Kyle Dickson, director of the Learning Studio, introduced a range of approaches to creativity to faculty from across campus. Participants worked together in a series of hands-on projects to consider creative processes from entertainment and design with potential applications to research, teaching and learning.

ACU 20/20: Envisioning the Future of Education is a 5-year program of Teaching Innovation Grants “builds on the skills and insight of our excellent faculty, strategically exploring new models of teaching and drawing from existing bodies of research in order to impact student learning across campus.”

The Learning Studio will partner with the Adams Center for Teaching and Learning to support individual grant recipients and to offer a series of faculty development workshops for the campus. Thanks to Mike Wiggins for helping us kick things off this fall.

If you missed out this semester, email us at to get on the waitlist for future workshops.

FilmFest brings Filmmakers to Abilene

Last week, ACU’s 12th Annual FilmFest gave students the opportunity to screen original films at a red-carpet gala at the Paramount Theatre. This year also provided students unprecedented access to training and feedback from filmmakers on campus and around the country. Production teams began work in the fall developing story ideas and technical skills through workshops led by Nathan Driskell and Mathew Bardwell in the Learning Studio.

For the first time this fall and spring, students had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with returning judges to develop their films. In November, Randy Brewer, class of 1993 and founder of Revolution Pictures, came to campus to work with production teams as they began to refine story ideas.

FilmFestJudgesBrentThen in March, Brent McCorkle, whose recent work includes editing the 2015 feature Woodlawn, spent the day with directors and editors to talk about rough cuts of their films, leaving several weeks for them to fine-tune and in some cases rewrite and reshoot portions of their films before the April 1 premiere.

Again this year, the FilmFest weekend concluded with critique sessions on Saturday morning, allowing each production team to hear from judges about everything from basic story structure to the technical aspects of their finished films.

We’re grateful to the remarkable panel of filmmakers and writers who joined us in Abilene this year—including Will Bakke (director, Believe Me [2014]), Randy Brewer (Revolution Pictures), Al Haley (writer in residence, ACU), Brent McCorkle (director, Unconditional [2012]), Adrian Patenaude (writer), and Kyle Smith (writer).

If you missed FilmFest, you can see this year’s student films and a list of winners at the FilmFest Blog.

Still from "Ultra Super Secret Spy"

Portait Photography this Spring

This weekend the Learning Studio brought in Asia Eidson to lead two workshops in portrait photography. Asia is an ACU grad and LS alum now running a wedding photography business in Dallas. This was our first advanced photography workshop focused on portraiture, and we had talented groups of faculty and students who worked with student models to gain experience shooting their own natural-light outdoor portraits.

option4-2Powered by Adobe Lightroom CC

One powerful part of both workshops was getting to hear a professional walk through her workflow for bringing hundreds of photos into Adobe Lightroom to organize, edit, and export high quality images for print and web. Many who picked up Adobe’s advanced image editing software for the first time were producing striking images by the end of the workshop.

If you’re looking for a way to jump-start your own image-making this spring and can’t wait for our next workshop, check out Lightroom CC Essentials on

Special thanks to the ACU student models and to Rachel and Chris Riley for a great couple days of location shooting.

Web Portfolio

Design workshop back in LS

This last week the Art & Design department brought Andy Pratt back to campus to lead a workshop on Interactive Design. He led the workshop with ACU alum Paige Baumgartner who met Andy on a trip to New York City in 2013 led by Mike Wiggins and Ryan Feerer where students visited a number of agencies. We were glad to have both of them back on campus and sharing their work in the main studio.

Andy Pratt WorkshopAbout Andy

Andy has fifteen years of experience creating award-winning interactive media. He is an Executive Creative Director for Favorite Medium, a global design and technology agency with offices in Seoul and Singapore. Prior to this, he worked as a creative director at Funny Garbage, an interactive agency in New York City. This position afforded him the opportunity to work with some of the largest brands in the world, including the Smithsonian Institution, Cartoon Network, Noggin, Lego and Turner Broadcasting. His vision and strategy is showcased in apps, websites and on air content for these powerhouses, among many others.

Web Portfolio

Emmy Award Winner, Global Media Award Nominee (x2), Webby Award Winner (x4), Webby Award People’s Voice Winner (x2), Webby Award Honoree, Webby Award Nominee (x10), Times Magazine Top 50 Sites, 21st Annual Mark Award Gold (x2), 21st Annual Mark Award Silver, Creativity 34 Winner, Interactive Media Award (x3), Print Regional Design Annual, Communicator Award, W3 Award (x3), HOW Interactive Design Award (x3), Spark Award Nominee


Episode Xmas Premiere

Thanks to the ACU faculty and students who joined us in the Learning Studio last week to audition for Star Wars: The Final Exam.

The #EpisodeXmas event went well and we wanted to share a quick trailer before you head to the theatre to see the actual film. The students brought great energy, costumes, and some mad jedi skills to the event.

In case you’re looking to create your own Star Wars trailer over the holidays, here were a couple blog posts on adding some Adobe CC magic to your next project.

    Special thanks to faculty who joined us on the day (hoping not to leave anyone out): Cole Bennett, Dena Counts, Brad Crisp, Cherisse Flanagan Houston Heflin, David Kneip, Andy Little, Steven Moore, Jason Morris, Laura and Mark Phillips, Brent Reeves, Tracy Shilcutt, Jessica Smith, and Jeanine Varner.