The minds behind The Man in the High Castle


There are few students who don’t dream of being successful in their fields once they’ve graduated college. And there are even fewer who don’t often doubt whether or not that will actually happen. After all, getting a job post graduation is a notoriously difficult task. But there is one UT alumus who proved that it is possible: David Andrade, ‘07.

Andrade graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts. He had the opportunity to graduate a year early but decided to take that year to take classes that interested him beyond just his major, such as art history, dance, storytelling and even Shakespeare.

“UTampa is a great school, if you put the time into it,” said Andrade. “There’s so many different courses you can take that totally enriches you.”

Two weeks after graduation, Andrade started working at an animation studio called Tri-D Studios, where he began his career in making “cool stuff.” Then in 2013, he co-founded the world’s first virtual animation studio, Theory Studios. The purpose of the studio was to try and get the best in the industry in one place. Fast forward three more years in March of 2016 and they began one of their biggest projects yet: a show called The Man in the High Castle. And it was this project that got him and his studio nominated for a special effects Emmy this year.

The Man in the High Castle is about a what-if scenario, asking the question of what the world would be like if axis powers Japan and Germany had won World War II and ruled the United States.

“We began as casual conversation to see if we had the bandwidth to tackle a little bigger of a project than we usually do, a stadium,” said Andrade. “Little did I know that the stadium [would] actually turn out to be the giant interior of the Volkshalle that became our tour de force for season two, and the very piece that got us nominated.”

The day that Andrade and his team found out about the nomination began normal enough.

“I was having lunch at one of my favorite spots in Orlando, Jimmy Hulas, with our artists when my phone buzzed with everyone freaking out that we got nominated,” said Andrade. Andrade also said that while they’d known about the submission for the nomination, it was quite a surprise to receive the news.

This nomination was indeed proof of all the hardwork that Andrade and his team had put into the making of High Castle. Artists, such as the Lead Shading Artist Ben McDougal, had to work to make it appear as though all of the scenes in the show had been actually filmed. McDougal himself often had to go out of his comfort zone, taking on multiple disciplines beyond his main role in order to help achieve the high quality animation that they were going for.

“Details like car tires flattening against the road, digital actors walking and swaying realistically, and keeping a unified look with the filmed elements were all aspects we needed to pay close attention to,” said McDougal. “Sometimes we got it right on the first try, other times it took more iteration, but in the end I think we did a pretty good job.”

Unfortunately, Andrade and his team did not win the Emmy. Andrade expressed that while it was bittersweet, it was still an amazing experience, a sentiment shared by at least one member of his team, Michael Richardson, ‘16, another former UT student.

“To get nominated for an Emmy on the first project we’ve really had a shot to apply ourselves fully on is plenty, and only points to even better outcomes in the future,” said Richardson.

Richardson had been working with Theory Studios for about a year and a half on minor projects around the time that the idea for High Castle came about, so he had managed to establish a good reputation as a hard worker. He also expressed how life after graduation was a bit of a wake up call.

“I learned very quickly how hard you have to work to advance outside of college,” said Richardson.

The first two seasons of The Man in the High Castle are currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime, with the third season already in the works.

Andrade had this advice to give for other aspiring artists: “You will have horrible days, you will have great days. Finding a way to show up and do the work to practice your craft on both of those days are what defines you as a success.”

Ivy Velazquez can be reached at

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