What Students Say About Dan

Christina Arnold
ITP '12

He is by FAR the most helpful, knowledgeable, caring professor I have EVER had. He is approachable, brilliant, committed to his students success and always good humored. He ROCKS... 'nuf said! Oh, and he just came out with a new book and processing library to boot!"

Molly Schwartz
ITP '11

Daniel Shiffman is the most interesting, patient, helpful and inspiring teacher I have ever had. I wish that he had taught me high school math! He is unbelievably generous with his time, diplomatic and encouraging while maintaining an incredibly high standard of graduate level teaching excellence. He can explain algorithms with humor! He has an ability to distill math and physics concepts into manageable, understandable building blocks to use for creating your own code, yet doesn't dumb anything down. Both advanced and beginning students gain something from each class. I'm thrilled to be able to program every day and use the concepts I learned in his classes towards my other projects. His books and examples are amazing resources. He himself is an amazing resource and incredibly approachable. He deserves this honor as a small measure of thanks for all of his time he offers to the students in his classes and extends to all of the students in the department."

Alex Vessels
ITP '11

Many students like me came to ITP terrified of coding. We were judging ourselves against fellow students who have been programming for 10+ years. Dan quickly put us at ease with his encouragement and a level of enthusiasm that is simply contagious. One of Dan's gifts (there are many) is his unique way of taking highly technical information, and transforming it into tools that we can use to realize the creative goals our projects. Last fall in Big Screens class, Dan was an inexhaustible resource. He often spent nights and weekends helping students take their work from rough ideas into artwork that made excellent use of the IAC building's dazzling 120-foot video wall. Dan is every ITP student's go-to professor, and it's not only because of his immense technical knowledge. Dan's excitement about the possibilities of his students' work has helped make so many ITP projects fantastic."

Josh Clayton
ITP '11

The level of Dan's patience, availability, humor, and expertise is rare in higher education. I would credit him with introducing me to programming and its potential for application in art and design."

Dave Boyhan
ITP '12

I started out as a CS major in undergrad almost 29 years ago. I quickly discovered that anything that was fun, exciting, interesting or enjoyable about learning computer science had been carefully and thoroughly excised from the program. I turned my back on computer science and instead became a lawyer. "Lost to the enemy" as someone once said. Over the intervening 25+ years, I tried, without much success, to keep current with programming and computer science. Several years ago, someone referred me to Dan's book. It was, frankly, transformative. I was lucky enough to meet him the following year and applied to ITP shortly afterward in no small part based on that meeting. In less than 4 weeks, Dan Shiffman was able to re-instill that sense of joy that I first experienced when I began using computers at the age of 13 (about 33 years ago!) and allowed me to grasp concepts, such as Object-Oriented Programming, that had eluded me for almost a quarter century. He is without a doubt, one of the finest professors I have ever had."

Jason Aston
ITP '11

The obvious: Daniel Shiffman is an affable, approachable brain. Not so obvious: I have always received a response from Shiffman from some email inquiry I've had. No matter what time of night I email (and generally it tends to be before midnight) I can always expect a reply with a couple hours. This has spoiled me a bit as far as instructors go. The attention he devotes to his craft and the students he teaches is unlike any I have experienced before in higher education. And he does this with a modesty and personality I find conducive to learning. Mind you — he does all of this while writing a book, getting funding for that book, testing new technology and innovating on that technology, creating new libraries for Processing, and juggling a family (and Intro To Computational Media knuckleheads). Usually, someone like Shiffman will put in minimal time in the academic setting to pursue his dreams as some creative coding rock star (which he already is). But he has shown a verifiable commitment to his students, and I find that to be one of the most amazing ITP impartations."

Minette Mangahas
ITP '11

Big Screens is probably one of the monumental classes at ITP — it takes a lot of dedicated time, diplomacy, expertise, logistics and patience to run it well. I dont know of any other professor — at ITP or otherwise — who would run it so well and with as much love and poise as Dan Shiffman. He was always a pleasure to be in class with. A soft and honest leader, teacher, and all around lovable man. He is a model teacher in every way."

Nikolas Psaroudakis
ITP '11

Dan is an amazing and charismatic teacher. He is devoted to his students, he always finds time to help, he is always smiling and making difficult concepts appear simple. You need to love what you do in order to be really good at it and Dan certainly loves teaching. He is energetic, inspiring and smiling. Whenever I assess how good a teacher is, I use Dan as the golden standard, I compare other teachers to Dan. Many approach his level but none surpasses it."

Nick Santianello
ITP '12

Dan's classes feel much more like a conversation (or an inadvertent stand-up routine) than a lecture; it's rare that a teacher can be so inviting, jovial, and hilariously detail-oriented while still retaining an extreme effectiveness in teaching, but somehow, Dan Shiffman does it!"

Sean Fitzgerald
ITP '11

It is hard to imagine a more supportive teacher than Dan Shiffman. I am a well-below-average student, but Dan's enthusiastic style of teaching has never failed to carry me through any class I have had with him. His energy and engagement in the material he teaches is truly inspiring, and his classes will be what I remember about my time at ITP in the decades to come."

Paul May
ITP '12

Dan Shiffman is the most passionate, organised and creative teacher I have ever had — and I don't say that lightly. Dan's passion is the use of computer software to produce creative and inspiring outcomes. Dan's "Introduction to Computational Media" (ICM) class at ITP is the crystallization of this passion; in 14 weeks he brought a group of students of varying abilities through the fundamentals of computer programming to a point where they could build expressive, thoughtful software applications. This is no mean feat, and is a testament to his passion, skill and sheer hard work. Dan prepares *meticulously* for each class — each one has crystal-clear learning objectives, well-defined activities, room for discussion and experimentation - Dan's classes are models in and of themselves. He sets homework and projects that challenge us to know fundamentals, but then to go further — to let our imagination take over. He is always available to offer insightful commentary on our work and projects — encouraging us to build on what we've achieved. Dan goes further than any teacher I've ever had to inspire us to do great work."

Morgen Fleisig
ITP '11

ITP has great faculty and Dan Shiffman shines there. He is an excellent teacher: funny, energetic, organized and very accessible. His introductory class serves as an excellent overview of the field of computational media. His "Nature of Code" is one of the most popular classes at ITP, looking at how computer algorithms can emulate and model natural and "chaotic" systems. His Big Screens class focuses on the significant differences between large format computational media and cinema, and its role in architectural space. He wrote one of the fundamental books of his field, and is currently finishing another. The one published is not only the classroom text, but also an invaluable study aid, and it is useful to anyone interested in the material--not just a student in that class. He is a valuable asset to the faculty at ITP, to Tisch, and to his rapidly growing field."

Patrick Hebron
ITP '11

Dan Shiffman is an incredible teacher, mentor and person. In the classroom, Dan's lessons are profound, exciting and perfectly organized. When students are having difficulty understanding a complex idea, Dan is able to address the concept from a variety of angles, meeting each student at his or her own way of seeing, while expertly managing to keep the lesson focused and on track. Dan has a deep and nuanced understanding of math, physics and computer science, but is also able to picture how students who are new to those subjects will perceive the ideas being conveyed. I believe that this quality, which is so abundant in Dan is an exceedingly rare gift and I have never had another teacher in math or the sciences who has been able to make those subjects so alive and palpable. Over the last year, I have had the honor of working as a research assistant to Dan. One could not ask for a better mentor or boss. He is an excellent manager — focused, efficient and organized — as well as generous and encouraging. Working for him is an absolute pleasure because his enthusiastic devotion to the subject makes the experience as intellectually exciting as one of his classes. As a mentor, Dan offers advice that, like his teaching, is thoughtfully tailored to its specific recipient. He delivers this guidance with a gentle, sincere and selfless demeanor."

What Students Have Made with Dan's Help

Replica by Jeff Howard and Alex Vessels

Replica is a performance using live image processing to explore how the awareness of time affects the perception of self-image. Patterns unfold creating a dialogue between the performer and her representation, bringing the contrast of control and authenticity into question.

Read more: jeffhoward.ca: Replica

Kanchenjunga by Molly Schwartz

Kanchenjunga is an interactive diorama. Through a wooden porthole window, you see a physical collage of wooden mountains, bits of drawing and glowing lights all suspended in front of a screen of airplane & submarine animations.

Read more: Fall 2009 Final Project: Kanchenjunga

Channels by Alvin Chang, Ginny Hung, and Suzanne Kirkpatrick

Channels is a full-body immersion installation in which you can navigate through a virtual water scene by physically interacting with tanks of water. Sit in a boat and organically control your virtual environment with natural gestures -- paddle, row, and float your way through space and time.

Read more: water-channels.com

The Balloon Visuals by Rune Madsen and Paul Rothman

The Balloon Visuals is a set of interactive visuals projected onto balloons, made for the Danish performer Ohland. Ohland has toured extensively in the US and Europe using the visuals, including a national appearance on the Late Night Show with David Letterman and a performance at the Danish Grammy's in 2011.

Seasonally Affected by Calli Higgins

A blustering winter landscape is accompanied by a seesaw in the center of the room. When two individuals start teetering back and forth, they control a wave of summertime imagery that soars and stretches across the wall. This is surreal therapy for those of us suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Read more: Seasonally Affected

Aphorism Machine by Miguel Bermudez

A sampling of aphorism were picked from "Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists" and turned into SVGs. Done in Processing, particles are created giving flocking behavior. The particles then "flock" to the outlines of the SVG, revealing the aphorism.

Read more: Aphorism Machine

Meantime by Eric Mika

Meantime is a real-time clock for the web. Our daily use of the web consists of a call / response model that makes the web seem relatively stable and even a bit static. However, new content is dumped on at such a remarkable rate that it might be more useful to think of the web as a real-time stream.

Read more: Building a Real-Time Web Library for Processing

Darkness Map by Genevieve Hoffman

The Darkness Map App finds the average brightness of each frame of video then graphs that value as a vertical line to create a histogram. Each frame is tagged with a GPS location so it can easily be added to the map.

Read more: darknessmap.com

Monkey Adventure by Michael Knuepfel

A platform jumping game built in processing. This prototype game shows the potential of using smart phones to control interactive games and installations.

Read more: Monkey Adventure

Value of House Loans Approved (1980-2010)

IrishData.org by Paul May

In 2010, in the wake of Ireland's devastating financial crisis, I built a project called IrishData for Dan's ICM class. IrishData offered important data about Irish society and its economy in accessible formats — something that had not been done up until that point. The project then built a series of simple visual tools which used this data to show patterns and trends. This is the type of work that Dan enables us to do; using the computer as a tool for learning, exploration and inspiration for the future. I could only have completed this project in the supportive, creative environment fostered by Dan.

Read more: irishdata.org

Meandrica by Patrick Hebron and Morgen Fleisig

This generative piece uses a Mississippi river meander map and Eames' Powers of Ten as launch points. We developed algorithms to generate natural behavior such as the meander as a means of composing the screen primarily across its length, and then a shape grammar of pixel blobs to explore depth of focus, shifting scale and movement in and out of the screen.

Read more: Meandrica

Boom Shakalaka by Lucas Werthein and Jason Aston

As Rube Goldberg showed us in his now notorious cartoons depicting complex devices performing the simplest of tasks in the most roundabout ways, precision, timing, and creativity are tantamount to making such a machine functional and enjoyable. Invoking a popular physics engine, Boom Shakalaka creates a real time world with real time physics that portrays obstacles faced in the real world.

Read more: theboomshakalaka.com

Ozone Command by Nick Santaniello

Ozone Command appears to be a traditional arcade-style video game at first: the player moves two dials that control 'paddles' onscreen to deflect projectiles from striking the Earth. As the difficulty mounts, an abstract vision of the player at the helm of the controls (as captured by a camera in the controls) begins to appear onscreen. Players must work together to defend the earth while competing for the highest score!

Read more: Ozone Command