Academy of Art University Student Wins Student Academy Award

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Academy of Art University 2014 3-D Animation graduate Alyce Tzue wins a Student Academy Award for her animated short film, "Soar"

We are proud to congratulate Academy of Art University 2014 3-D Animation graduate Alyce Tzue on winning a Student Academy Award for her animated short film, "Soar," her thesis project for the School of Animation & Visual Effects. Alyce was among 33 finalists voted for the honor from a record 1,686 submissions by 282 domestic and 93 international colleges and universities. She and another 14 student-filmmakers will be honored at the 42nd Annual Student Academy Awards ceremony on September 17 in Los Angeles, where they will receive their medal placements – gold, silver and bronze – in five award categories. "Soar" was singled out in the Animation category alongside two other films by students from California Institute of the Arts and Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts.

"Soar" tells the story of Mara, a precocious engineer who befriends a tiny boy pilot, after he drops from the sky on a broken flying machine, and sets out to help him take flight again and go home before it is too late. The stunning film was produced in class at the Academy’s Studio X during a three-year period. Approximately 100 Academy students – including Alyce’s producer and classmate, Anson Yu – had a hand in translating her vision into the festival darling and award-winning project it has become.

“I am excited to see the work of Alyce and the many other students who worked so hard on the film acknowledged by the outside world at this level,” says Derek Flood, Associate Director of VFX in the School of Animation & Visual Effects. The Studio X program, led by Catherine Tate, the school’s Collaboration Lead, Flood notes, “emulates a studio experience where students learn to work in a production pipeline as part of a team with real projects challenges and real deadlines, preparing them for work at places like Pixar or Industrial Light & Magic.”

As represented by "Soar," Academy of Art University is among five California universities with students nominated for 2015 Student Academy Awards. The Student Oscars were established in 1972 to provide a platform for emerging global talent by creating opportunities within the industry to showcase their work. Past winners include Pixar’s John Lasseter and Pete Docter, Academy Award nominees Spike Lee and Trey Parker, and Oscar winner Robert Zemeckis. Academy of Art University previously saw 3-D Animation MFA alumni Bernardo Warman ’10 and Shaofu Zhang ’10 strike gold at the Student Academy Awards with their 2011 animated short, "Dragonboy."

“When I first heard of "Dragonboy," I was amazed that a student film could win an Academy Award,” says Alyce,currently the studio director at Smule, a San Francisco-based musical app developer. "But it was only after my mentors encouraged me to dream big that I allowed myself to hope for the same for 'Soar.' Now that it’s happened, it’s surreal!”

To view the trailer for "Soar," visit

Founded in 1929, the Academy offers AA, BA, BFA, BS, B.ARCH*, MA, MFA, and M.ARCH degree programs, as well as continuing art education, pre-college art experience programs, and teacher grants. Our faculty is a team of award-winning creative professionals and industry veterans committed to providing education rooted in practical, hands-on applications. Whether students are studying film, advertising, or industrial design, the chance to apply their skills in classes that simulate real production and design studios gives them an incredible edge. The chance to collaborate on significant projects with other students, faculty, and professional companies opens the gateway for many exciting opportunities post-graduation. For more information, visit

Visit to learn more about total costs, median student loan debt, potential occupations and other information. Accredited member WSCUC, NASAD, CIDA (BFA-IAD, MFA-IAD), NAAB (B.ARCH*, M.ARCH), CTC (California Teacher Credential). *B.ARCH is currently in candidacy status.

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Martin Haro

Erika Couric