The Department of Digital Arts and Film Production will teach students, through theoretical and practical work, all the productive processes in the field of animated film and video game production. This includes animations, modeling, rigging, and creation of 3D scenarios. For this purpose, they will be using industry-standard programs and processes.
Depending on the individual or team size as well as the academic year, students will create film and video game projects with the aim of achieving academic excellence that later allow them to find a place in the professional world. Students will be taught by teachers who are close to the digital industry and learn to develop a script, cinematographic techniques, storyboard, layouts, and more.
Department Chair - Digital Arts and Film Production
Sergio Martinez has a degree in Fine Arts from the University of the Basque Country specializing in audio-visuals and multimedia. He completed his animation studies at the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK. While living in Bristol, he collaborated with Aardman Studios contributing to Gulp, a film recognized by Guinness World Records for having the largest ever stop-motion animation set. On his return to Bilbao, he joined the Motion Graphics Department at Euskal Irrati Telebista (EITB), where he contributed with his experience in puppet animation. Several years ago, Martinez became a regular member of the animation collective Hauazkena Animazio Taldea, a group formed by Basque animators that combine conventional animation techniques with the most experimental techniques. The Ditch, or Areka, was a short he helped create within the collective.
Thanks to his skills in composition, drawing, and painting, his personal work has been seen in multiple exhibitions and festivals. With more than 13 years of experience as a teacher, he trains students in traditional painting and digital art disciplines. Due to his experience as a software developer, he is also a tutor for 2D video game projects.
Fernando Velasco (Piru)
Senior Associate Lecturer
Piru Velasco is a professional art director, animation director, illustrator, concept and character designer, storyboarder, and layout man who has worked for countless national and international audio-visual production companies for more than 25 years.
Velasco has contributed to the creation of two animation studios and has dealt with the supervision of several animated feature films, TV series, and TV Spots in the pre-production, production, and post-production phases.
He has collaborated with the likes of Don Bluth (Anastasia), Joanna Quinn (Famous Fred), Charles Grosvenor (The Land Before Time V and VI), and others and has garnered several national and international nominations and awards, including two Goyas for Best Animated Film for Goomer and ¡Qué vecinos tan animales!
Currently he combines his professional work in the media with teaching at DigiPen, instructing students about the importance of storyboarding in audio-visual projects and narratives in video games. He also provides a broad experienced vision on all disciplines involved in the industry.
Before becoming a teacher and devoting his career to sharing the extensive knowledge gathered through his years in the animation industries, Daniel Ruiz completed a degree in Fine Arts at the University of Salamanca and a Master in Image Synthesis and Computer Animation at the University of the Balearic Islands. Prior to his studies, Ruiz travelled around the world working with a passion in the film and video game industries.
Through his travels, Ruiz lived a life eating delicious meatballs at Sony Pictures Imageworks in Vancouver, had amazing adventures with Tadeo Jones and friends in Madrid, and played soccer and table soccer with workmates in Buenos Aires while sharing the studio with the great Juan Jose Campanella while creating Metegol. He also slayed loads of CGI orcs at Electronic Arts in Redwood City as he proudly animated cinematics in the video game adaption of The Lord of The Rings: The Return Of The King for the PlayStation 2.
Now Ruiz enjoys teaching basic and advanced animation at DigiPen and hopes to share his experience to his beloved students.
Gerardo Basabe has worked on series, movies, and TV commercials as an animator, character designer, and story boarder through his cartoon studio for about 15 years. He has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, and graphic designer, but he also paints, sculpts, and collects miniature figures. Because he is self-taught, Basabe is very demanding with his work.
Basabe likes to be accompanied by music, especially classical, jazz, or punk rock. He loves classic movies, playing war games, collecting action figures and miniatures, and finding comics and books by master illustrators. From time to time, he is passionate about watching cyclocross, rugby, or American football, especially with his son Mikel. His favorite artists include Beethoven, Miyazaki, Paul Bonner, Frazetta, Uderzo, Maradona, Michelangelo, Groucho, Moebius, Lennon, and Billy Wilder.
Ignacio Santalla started in the world of 3D in 2009 when he collaborated in the Goya-winning short films La Bruxa and Cuerdas. He went on to supervise the rigging department in Las aventuras de Tadeo Jones and its sequel, as well as in Atrapa la bandera, all which were awarded with a Goya. His expertise in rigging led him to start his own company offering services in diverse areas such as animation, movies, and TV shows. Some of the projects he has been a part of include the movie Dolittle, the Netflix series Oni: Thunder God’s Tale and Altered Carbon (anime), the Talking Tom & Friends children’s show, and video games such as Blacksad and Legend of Solgard.
He also has an ample experience in production, team management, and task organization. He offers a mixed type of profile as he is highly qualified in the technical area as well as the artistic one, which helps understand the requirements needed in both areas. The combination of these two worlds is easily and efficiently blended in his daily work.
As a DigiPen Europe-Bilbao faculty member, he is responsible for the areas of rigging and video game project supervision in senior year. He shares his knowledge and expertise with students to best prepare them for the challenges they might have to face in the near future.
David Puertas is a professional artist with more than 17 years of experience in the digital arts industry. Since 2014, he also focuses on digital sculpting for statues and collectibles, and he stands out for his great dynamism and detail in his art pieces. He works for companies like Ryu Studio, Tsume, and HEX Collectibles to bring iconic characters to life from big brands like Blizzard Entertainment, Capcom, Naruto, Dragon Ball, Bleach, and more.
Puertas is also involved in art direction and 3D modeling of characters and environments for video games, concept art, editorial and cover illustrations, and traditional painting. Due to his background in computer engineering, he has also worked in the development of video games, augmented reality, and educational applications in collaboration with DeustoTech Learning and schools in the Basque Country. Taking a technical and artistic point of view has provided him a technical artist profile with experience in the area of video game engines.
Jon Bazo graduated from DigiPen Europe-Bilbao and, as a former student, has returned to share his talent and skills back to the next generation. His professional experience has led him to work in a multidisciplinary capacity for companies such as the Havyard Group, Siemens Gamesa, Ghenova, BowVision Engineering, and Oliver Design, performing work that has included 3D modelling and digital art.
As a 3D artist, he also works for the naval industry since starting in 2017. Bazo creates artistic impressions and video animations for marketing campaigns, and he also models vessels using general arrangements designed by professional naval architects as references.
As lecturer, his main disciplines are focused on cinematographic productions. He teaches how to create from scratch and contribute to all development stages until the end, including post-production and the introduction to special effects.
Currently, he contributes his talents to subject areas in computer graphics by presenting specific lectures on topics like background design and character modelling.
Senior Associate Professor
Mikel Rueda is a graduate in audiovisual communication from the University of Navarra (UNAV) and a post-graduate in filmmaking from the New York Film Academy. Izarren argia (2010), otherwise known as Estrellas que alcanzar, was first his first feature film, and it competed within the official section for Nuevos Realizadores at the San Sebastian International Film Festival that same year.
His second feature film, A escondidas (2014), was produced by Baleuko and distributed in Spain by Vertigo. The film competed in the official section of the Malaga Festival and has won several international prizes and premiered in over 15 countries, including the USA, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
His first documentary feature film, Quinta Planta, told a story that narrates the life of a young idealist who immigrated to New York with the intention to change the world. It premiered in the latest edition of the San Sebastian International Film Festival. His third fiction feature film entitled El doble más quince, which translates to double plus fifteen and starred Maribel Verdú, competed in the official section of the Malaga Festival and was released in more than 25 countries.
His first work on a TV show involved two chapters of Veneno where it received worlding recognition on HBO Max. Mikel is currently working on the second season with a release date set for the latter half of 2023.