Project X is a one of a kind, invitation-only opportunity for students to integrate their coursework skills and experiences in an industry standard, rigorous production pipeline. The hours are long and the work is grueling, but the total immersion experience creates an environment conducive to quality, camaraderie and the highest value of production.

Project X was created by and lead by visual effects industry veteran Michael Zachary Huber, on staff at Cogswell Polytechnical until 2016. During this time 3 unique short films were produced: The Offering (2010), Worlds Apart (2013), and Driven (2015). 

As part of the immersive, real-to-world nature of the program, industry leaders & professionals are invited to serve in an advisory capacity as a resource to students, as well as participate in a hands-on way that directly shapes the vision of the project. For these three films, I was asked to collaborate on important structural decisions, help guide technical execution of developing animation and composite effects, handle music supervision, and oversee the final edit of each film.

Since its completion in 2010, The Offering has screened at over thirty international film festivals and been proclaimed as an amazing piece of art and cinema. The Offering’s production value is so high and comparable to Hollywood films that it has never had to enter a student film festival to garner awards. Nearly every alumni that worked on the film is employed in their area of expertise.

Completed in early summer 2011, Worlds Apart was created by a talented and motivated group of Cogswell students. The latest software, production pipeline, and studio techniques were utilized in the creation of this animation tour de force. Worlds Apart is a unique short film with production value that is unseen at the undergraduate level.

Driven is a 6 minute animated short completed in 2013 by Cogswell College students in the Project X course. It involved the participation of 18 Digital Art and Animation students, 4 Digital Arts and Engineering students and 11 Digital Audio Technology students over the course of its production. The students worked in a tight knit group in a dedicated lab which replicated a studio environment, facilitated communication and enabled the students to produce exceptional quality work.


  • Hands-on team management with young aspiring professionals

  • For most, if not all of the crew, this was their first time pooling and coordinating their talents to create something that as a whole was greater than the sum of its parts

  • Limited resources, but managed with real-world logistics in mind

  • Lots of trial and error, learning “as-you-go”

  • Required resourcefullness and creative solutions to fully realize director’s intent


Stepping into a project not only as a consultant, but as an external influence on a team’s internal creative direction was very much an exercise in tactful, strategic collaboration. These projects resulted in tremendously fun and rewarding work, but required finesse in balancing my own viewpoints and opinions with that of the director and those of the team. When a conflict of opinion presented itself, striking a balance between conviction and ensuring ownership still rested in the hands of the students was priority. Maintaining the learning aspects of the project took precedence, which meant mitigating mistakes or inefficiencies didn’t always make for the best learning experience.


  • Producing a final product intended to compete in festivals while ensuring the experience remains educational and not purely dictatorial required patience and finesse.

  • Functioning as a consultant but also a guest “crew member” doesn’t grant unconditional autonomy, so despite ranking higher on experience scale, must remain open to all ideas.

  • Production in animation is a highly iterative process, and a constant state of perfecting each frame. However, it’s important to understand prioritization of tasks, resource budget, and how to recognize when something is more than good enough.