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The cover of the Spring 2007 SF State Magazine features two penguins, heads bent together as they view their offspring on the ground below.

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The "Happy Feet" penguin Gloria belts out a song, flippers outstretched.Creating a Singing Penguin

SF State alumna Victoria Livingstone helped give life to our cover bird, the star chanteuse in this year's Academy Award-winning feature film "Happy Feet."

Livingston served as lead animator for Gloria. "I was responsible for how she looks, how she moves, and most importantly, how she sings," Livingstone says. She was part of a team that studied more than 80,000 photographs taken on research trips to Antarctica. The images helped the artists develop processes for rendering realistic looking feathers -- the smallest penguin in the film had 6 million -- as well as the feathers' appropriate reactions to light and moisture. The film took almost four years of work on the part of more than 1,000 cast and crew members.

"A lot of people don't sit through the credits, so they don't see the whole army of people working on these things," Livingstone says. "There's somebody who's focusing on the skin, somebody who's focusing on the skeleton. Somebody who's focusing on hair. It's all taken for granted. People think there's an animate button or a make-real button. The true artistry is not really well known."

Livingstone is one of many SF State graduates who have gone on to successful careers in film. Alumni of the Cinema Department include Academy Award winners Steven Zaillian (Best Screenplay, "Schindler's List," 1994), Christopher Boyes (Best Sound Effects Editing, "Pearl Harbor," 2002; "Titanic," 1998; Best Sound Mixing, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," 2004), Steve Okazaki (Best Documentary, "Days of Waiting," 1991) and Gloria Borders (Best Sound Effects Editing, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," 1991). Alumnus Shawn Murphy (Best Sound, "Jurassic Park," 1994) was the scoring mixer for "Happy Feet."

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Last modified January 2, 2007, by the Office of Public Affairs and Publications