Mike Patterson

    Professor of the Practice of Cinematic Arts



    Mike Patterson is a director, designer and animation artist working in visual music. His animated film Commuter, along with 7 of his music videos, are in The Museum of Modern Artʼs permanent collection.

    After graduate studies with Jules Engel at CalArts, Mike was brought to the attention of record executives with his Student Academy Award-winning animated short Commuter. Employing his unmistakable drawing style, he began his career in music videos in 1985 by animating the epic MTV hit Take On Me for A-Ha. He teamed up with his wife Candace Reckinger to direct a string of MTV hits that include, Suzanne Vega’s Luka, Sting’s Be Still My Beating Heart and Opposites Attract, featuring Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat, which won the Grammy Award for Best Music Video in 1990. Their videos have received MTV, Billboard, MVPA, and American Music Awards, and continue to appear on top 100 music video lists.

    In 2010, Patterson collaborated with symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and Candace Reckinger to create an expansive 5-screen visualization of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an ExhibitionThe 35-minute live work immersed the classical music audience in animated imagery. Pictures premiered in 2011 with live orchestra at the gala opening of Frank Gehry’s New World Center in Miami Beach, Florida. The animation team included 11 USC animation students and recent grads.

    Mike produced and co-directed Rhythms + Visions / Expanded + Live in 2011 and 2013. Expanding his work in visual music and experience design, large architectural spaces were transformed into virtual ones using animated projections, inflatables, live music and lighting. Audiences were immersed in a physical experience as they viewed sound visualizations, performances and interactive installations. The events also gathered internationally renown visual music artists work from the US, Europe and Japan in a curated gallery exhibition.

    Pattersonʼs 20 years of directing in television commercials combines storytelling with his animation expertise. While at Rhythm and Hues Studios he worked extensively in a mixed media style, merging live action with animation and motion graphics. As part of a hands-on style, he works as his own storyboard artist, designer, and on-set effects supervisor. His national spots have appeared on the Superbowl and received numerous awards including two Clios.

    In 2012, Mikeʼs original animation artwork for the A-Haʼs Take on Me music video was featured in the groundbreaking museum exhibition, Spectacle: The Music Video, the first ever to celebrate the art form of the music video. The traveling exhibit opened at the Zaha Hadid designed CAC Museum in Cincinnati and is now at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York. Also in 2012, Mike and Candace directed Mr. Blue Skya new fully animated music video for Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra. Students from USCʼs animation program teamed up to animate the video.

    Patterson received his BFA from University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana in 1980, attended the MFA program in Film Graphics at CalArts in 1981/84 and has been with the Directors Guild of America since 1993.