Profile image of Michael Widener
Michael Widener
Mac® Multimedia Graduate
Read My Story


Welcome to my personal site. This is my tiny news section. (My professional portfolio has moved to a domain matching my professional name:

Now that that's out of the way, let's get to the news. You may not be aware, but this site's design includes customization not originally included in the Photoshop template it's based on.

A Note to Template Bashers:
Yes, this site is based on a template like many designs. Even when I make a design from the ground up, I still turn it into a template so I can use parts of it later more quickly. Templates can be bought or made from scratch. The end result, no matter who they are created, is to save time. Developer and Programmers use "code snippets" as templates for programming coding to save time. Developers use tempates too. All knowledge work uses templates to comlplete repetitive or derivative work. Lawyers have contracts and fill in the blanks. But that doesn't mean the lawyer didn't write the contract from a blank page. Using a template successfully means you know what the end result should look like, and that you recognized a tempalte that would save time. Saving time without loosing quality is the goal of knowledge work, science, and business interests alike. So stop treating templates as if they lack original customization. That's only true in the hands of a novice.

Now back to this site's design. This template, which comes as a set of Photshop files, and was sourced from France, includes graphics, effects, and font selection. It was what recruiters and employers were responding to at the time I made this site based on feedback. It didn't take long to locate the template, download it, and make use of it. It was free; and it was located in France.

Which leads me to the interesting back story to this site's real purpose. While the site is based on a template, this was not readily shared. It was proposed that this design was an original design and was presented as the style employers sought. It turns out, this design is not original, and diligent research online revealed that fact, and the fact that it was not a matter of making original designs that led to an employer choosing another candidate. It was simply the employer's bias. By discovering the template, and making use of it, it was easy to prove the bias, and that was the goal. It took two years to prove but there's little doubt now.

The true issue is not whether or not I am qualified, it has to do with bystander views on how I create my work and accusations my work is not original due to not understanding how I accomplish my tasks and due to consulting others to explain my work instead of asking me directly. It has led me to receive offers which are setup for me to work outside of my skillset and due to disinterest in me joining the team in the first place. So now I seek remote work only. There are employers who will offer candidates jobs just to have them spend money relocating and then terminate them to cost them the relocation cost, and make them responsible for the rental or lease they signed, as a malicous act. It has happened. It continues to happen. I persoally lost $15,000 in 2012 from one of these malicious hirings. (Hence remote work only.)

Now there's a conversation on LinkedIn about the roles in Design and Development and I'm commenting on them from my experience and this description should give context to anyone from LinkedIn who reads this.

The group perpetuating tension is the group that originally did the same thing before I graduated because that group majored in Grahpic Design while I majored in Multimedia Design, and the group didn't want that degree at the school. It's school politics. And it's why you'll see tension whenever you read about role definitions that include anything other than Graphic Design, UX, UI, Front-End Development, or Back-End Development. It's because that group seeks to find roles that do not suit Multimedia Graduates like me because they want to prove my custom-degree was not valuable, which is a malicous mindset and is not supported by the University's administration.

It is an internal issue that's became external. In recent weeks, hate crimes have increased and it only serves to prove that the bias that I've faced for several years comes from the same place as the hateful acts that were timed for final exams and intended against students of color. It happened to me because I did something never done before at the University, and, although I didn't know it at the time, that made hateful students jealous and angry. They've done the same thing against students of color following another student making history, the first black woman to become Student Body President in the school's history. It's just hate and jealously. I know because I have the only degree of its kind in my University's history so I know how it feels when hateful students attack because someone like me makes history. And mine was far less high profile than hers. But it still drew hate. It's why you won't see any Bachelor of Science in Multimedia Design degrees from my school. There's only one: mine.

I hope this sheds light on the comments on LinkedIn for those viewing this from LinkdedIn, and for those curious about this site's origin and purpose.


Read my story to see where I've been and how far along I am.

  • cps emblem cps campus


    Honors High School

    Not everyone goes to a high school famous for honor, integrity, and creativity. Michael attended CPS in Oakland, California acclimating to intellectual rigor, problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork through sports. The University of California recognizes CPS as an honors institution because all classes are taught at the honors level. Michael graduated with a 3.5 GPA. GPAs from honors high schools are calculated one grade point higher than the transcript when applying for admission at post secondary institutions and Universities. This means Michael's high school GPA is a 4.5.

  • mac plus se image graphics office

    1988 - 1989

    Image Graphics

    Michael got his first job in Graphic Design for a small design firm in Oakland, California. Back then, computers were slower and relatively more expensive. Michael learned to design on a small black and white screen using Super Paint and ran the mail merge for the office's marketing campaign using Microsoft Word.

  • usf logo usf campus

    1989 - 1994

    Community College & USF

    After deciding he would like to become better at Graphic Design, Michael left the workforce to focus full-time on education. He enrolled in Community College in Oakland, California majoring in Desktop Publishing. Michael transferred to the University of San Francisco to continue his education. He was elected Freshman Class President in his first year and won as a write-in after memorizing the names of 200 freshmen he had just met. He is the only one who has ever done that in the school's history.

  • george lucas thanks skywalker ranch

    1994 - 1995

    Skywalker Ranch & George Lucas

    Michael left the University of San Francisco for a once-in-a-lifetime internship at Skywalker Ranch with his idol, George Lucas. Michael became an IT Assistant at the George Lucas Educational Foundation where he improved his computer support skills while studying the convergence of education and technology in the Foundation's specialized education technology library. He also used Mozilla during its first launch and was excited about his future. Researching the Foundation's library revealed a computer animation school in Sunnyvale, California. Immediately following his internship's end, Michael moved to Sunnyvale and enrolled.

  • cogswell art cogswell art

    1995 - 1996

    Cogswell & Domino Computer

    After feeling disconnected from the workforce for too long, yet realizing he needed to remain current with evolving technologies, Michael decided to take a new approach: to work while going to school. He took a job at a computer store as a salesperson and technician so he could personally build the products he sold. He also attended animation school to continue his pursuit of digital design. He learned customer service and technical support and then moved on to network administration, obtaining his Novell Netware Certification and earning $60 an hour doing network "house calls." Michael's boss called his computers "bullet-proof." It may have had something to do with Michael's 27-step preparation plan used on every computer he built.

  • old christchurch new zealand

    1996 - 2000

    New Zealand & WWW

    When traveling between school and work became too grueling, Michael's high school friend invited him to move to New Zealand for a change of pace. There, Michael created an online video game retailer that received 1.2 million hits in its first year. He and his partner made the front page of New Zealand's largest newspaper and were featured on television as an innovative, technology-based retailer. At the time, theirs was the only website featuring videos of gameplay to overcome buyer's reluctance and give customers a preview of gameplay before purchasing. Click here to dig around Google and see some of the articles about Michael in New Zealand. One of the links reveals a little known fact about Michael: Jeff Bezos of cited Michael's website, in his Patent document. View the document here: Patent document.

  • silicon valley traffic los gatos, california

    2000 - 2003

    The Start-up Bubble

    During the time Michael was in New Zealand, the dot-com bubble started growing. Unemployment in the U.S. hit an all-time low of 4.6%. Tech companies were searching high and low for creative talent to fuel innovative start-ups. Michael moved back to the United States to leverage his experience in his New Zealand start-up and grow his experience in the larger, more competitive U.S. market. In Los Gatos, California, Michael learned the value of separating the front-end from the back-end so specialized talent can be more productive. Michael was promoted to Product Manager after creating a prototype to redesign his employer's software interface based on user feedback. Later, he was promoted to Director of User Interface Design. Michael's work helped sell their web application and their start-up for several hundred thousand dollars and won Michael an invitation to join the same executive team at their next start-up.

  • au emblem katzen arts center

    2003 - 2011

    American University
    & Phantom Records

    Shortly after getting hired at the new start-up, the tragedies of 9/11 led investors to pull the funding at Michael's new employer. With start-up funding ending all over Silicon Valley, Michael decided it was time to return to school. Feeling dissatisfied with the educational opportunities in California, Michael moved to the East Coast and enrolled in American University. There, he created a custom-made degree combining Graphic Design, Multimedia, and Web Programming. Michael graduated with the only Bachelor of Science in Multimedia Design and Development in the University's history. While going to school part-time, Michael also worked part-time to apply what he learned directly to the work world. He graduated on May 8th, 2011 with a 3.49 GPA but the school had him walk with the honors students.

  • the fountain in downtown silver spring, maryland downtown silver spring, maryland

    2011 - 2015

    Experience & Education Applied

    After graduating from American University, Michael applied his education and experience to develop Phantom Records' website into a rich, multimedia, database-driven site. After updating the site to the most modern it can be, his employer, Phantom Records, moved the site into maintenance mode. Without a site to apply his talents, Michael negotiated the option to take on contracts that would allow him to remain current and broaden his skill set. Between 2013 and now, Michael completed several contracts building sites for the TSA, the Glenmont United Methodist Church, and a start-up government contractor.

  • full sail university logo nih nightline

    2015 - Present

    Full Sail University &
    The National Institutes of Health

    Now that Michael has demonstrated his ability to create modern, database-driven websites, he is broadening his skill set with bleeding-edge Web Design, JavaScript Web Development, and Data Visualization Programming for the NIH. Michael's longer term plan is to master both the creative and technical aspects of creating electronic experiences. Additionally, he is under the direction of his mentor, learning the software development lifecycle to round out his skills with project management and business development. In a few years, his expertise will equip him to contribute to enterprise-level, web-based projects and step in at any stage to ensure the beauty of its design, the soundness of its programming, and the success of the project through professional project management. He will be a valuable asset on any web-based project.

  • Who's Side
    Are You


See my designs and skill set.

HTML5 thumnail


Intermediate Skill

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Intermediate Skill

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Intermediate Skill

Poster Design thumbnail

Lindsay Eythe

Poster Design

Stamp Design thumbnail

Lindsay Eythe

Stamp Design

Ad Design thumbnail

Ross Nover

Ad Design

Game Design thumbnail

Brian Davis

Game Design

DVD Menu thumbnail

Randall Packer

DVD Menu & Video Editing

Production Bumper thumbnail

Kylos Brannon

Production Bumper Design

Glenmont Methodist Church thumbnail

Glenmont UMC

Website Design & Maintenance

Double O Technologies thumbnail

Double O Technologies

Website Design & Maintenance

Frag-tastic thumbnail

Frag-tastic Travel

Website Design

Phantom Records thumbnail

Phantom Records

Website Design & Maintenance

Phantom Records thumbnail

Phantom Records

Web Application

Phantom Records thumbnail

Phantom Records

Compact Disc Packaging Design

Phantom Records thumbnail

Phantom Records

Commercial DJ Mix
"Wild Wild West"

Phantom Records thumnail

Phantom Records

Commercial DJ Mix
"My Love Is Your Love"

Phantom Records thumbnail

Phantom Records

Commercial DJ Mix


Know my passion.

Michael created this section to share his passion. Animation (or motion) caught Michael's attention as a distinguishing feature between Graphic Design and Multimedia Design. Michael majored in Multimedia because he loves movie animations, titles, special effects, and everything connected to them.

As an avid movie-goer and video gamer who can play them one month and then not play one at all for two years (cynics don't believe but I hardly care), Michael follows his dreams by applying grit, law, money, and any other tactic available to him to do what everyone else tries to do: live their dream. Although he avoids underhanded tactics, the underhanded philosophy the drives that is hard to miss. His unwanted education in betrayal and treachery continues.

Michael wanted to know what makes animations beautiful, and how creative minds in the field earn a living. He's learned a lot about the differences between working in corporate settings where there is little understanding of creative work due to the ironclad corporate focus on coroprate profits over personal ones. Unfortunately, most corporations, except Google, don't really understand that profiting financially actually comes from the bottom up. It comes from the health of your workers, not just leveraging them to act healthy out of fear. Fear is a terrible motivator. (It builds anxiety.) Michael's dream of understanding enough about animation to appreciate it will never end but he's at least achieved enough and done enough to feel like he's a part of the profession. He's a newbie compared to the other guys, true. But that doesn't stop him from fighting for what he feels, and fighting the obstacles in his way.

Animation, motion, & sound, all are parts of Michael's emotional connection to crafting experiences you can feel becuase you can hear them when he DJs see when he animates. While he's no world-class anything, he's true to himself and he's true to what he says. You may not understand why he feels the way he feels. You may disagree. But you'll always know what he thinks if you're integrity is obvious to him and if you're business practices, when working with him, are sound.

While Michael's not the best designer in the world, and there are always better ones, Michael follows his heart and chooses based on what feels right. For example, Michael chose the right school to attend and graduated from a University with the respected administration and staff and that's still true today. It's unfortunate that the racial tensions at the school exist but it's due to what Michael terms as "malicious competition." That's when a competitor feels like using everything, including hate are fear, is just the way it is. Michael believes progress has gone far enough to do better than this and companies like Google are proving it. From a design perspective, Apple has already proven what the combination of creative grit and technology can do under the right leadership.

His strong social views get him in trouble but what creative professional hasn't had that problem?

If you share your beliefs in a noticeable, public way, you'll always find critics and opposition. Michael will just have to learn to live with it.

Look around if you want to see, feel, and hear what makes life worth living for him. If you get it, you should reach out. (But don't if you act like a bully.)


  • mini-game sketch step stand disarm mini game

    Flash Animation

    Step Stand Disarm

    Michael created an interactive "mini game" animation to represent the "Peace Process" in an interesting way. He bought a dance pad with a USB cable connection. The dance pad is three feet by three feet wide. He then designed a "cover" for the pad. His "cover" was also three feet by three, designed in Adobe Photoshop and created at full print quality: 300DPI. That is an extremely large file and it was very time consuming to work with but Michael believes in quality and flexibility so he did it anyway. He had the "cover" printed at FedEx Office on to vinyl paper. The then "stuck" the "cover" on top of the dance pad so that his "pictures" precisely covered the dance pad's contact points. In other words, a dancer stepping on his "pictures" would activate the "hotspots" beneath the "cover" and send a signal into the "mini game" he created. The "mini game" was made in Adobe Flash, and he used a small Mac OS X utlitity to interpret the dance pad's "buttons" to send keyboard keystrokes depending on which one was "stepped on" or "pressed." The keystrokes were then mapped, within Flash, to activate certain animation sequences. During his design process, it was told to Michael that moving within Flash from one "Scene" to another the way Michael wanted was impossible. Michael searched Google for three days and found the same claim. So what did he do? He guessed. Based on the "syntax" of ActionScript, Michael created an original code sequence and it worked! He still won't even share it! Because he wants to see if anyone else can figure it out. See his animation here. Fair Warning: His "Mini Game" was not made to be a full game. It was an animation that was supposed to "pretend to be an museume exhibit but then surprise a user who stepped on the nearby dance pad." So there are no instructions that popup. Simply click anywhere on the game's screen to make it start. You will have to figure it out, just like you'd have to figure out the "Peace Process" if you were a Diplomat. There are not manuals! Click here to see the artistic statment.

  • mac plus se image graphics office


    Kinetic Type

    "Kinetic Type" is a type of animation with moving text. Movies that have opening sequences with elaborate movements, such as the Spiderman movies, where the camera moves around the web hopping from one text phrase to another, are using "Kinetic Type" or "moving text." Michael used Adobe After Effects to create this animation. But with this one, he also used his DJ-skill to "time" the animation to the audio in the attached sound file. An author read their famous passage from "Lenore," and Michael animated the entire portion. This is only a portion, as the project was split between Michael and others. This Michael's portion: Lenore Kinetic Type Animation.

  • animation3 thumbnail animation3


    AARP Amimations

    After creating hollywood quality animations for this project, Michael received feedback that he only had to make very simply, slow-moving animations because the senior customers viewing the animations were likely only interested in that, instead of something too fancy. Michael created these to accomodate the Client's request. These are very easy to make and fun to make in various colors or to make various alternatives such as ones that play normally and ones that play on holidays with different animation that's festive. To make the Ads "aware" of the holiday, Michael uses PHP to detect the date and then swith the animation file to that holiday's version. Then it switches back when the holiday is over. See one of them here. NOTE: The animation is very slow!

  • Want to
    Hire My


Check out my degrees & certifications.

HTML certification thumnail

HTML5/HTML Developer

W3 Schools
Active since 2015

CSS certification thumbnail

CSS Developer

W3 Schools
Active since 2015

JavaScript certification thumbnail

JavaScript Developer

W3 Schools
Active since 2015

Photoshop Certification thumbnail

Certified in

Adobe Systems, Inc.
Active since 2012

Flash Certification thumbnail

Certified in

Adobe Systems, Inc.
Active since 2012

Ad Design thumbnail

Certified in

Adobe Systems, Inc.
Active since 2012

A plus Certification thumbnail

IT Professional:
A+ Certification

Active since 2012

Computing Fundamentals certification thumbnail

IT Professional:
Computing Fundamentals

Active since 2012

Microsoft Office certification thumbnail

IT Professoinal:
MS Office User Specialist

Active since 2012

Bachelor's degree thumbnail

Undergraduate Education:
B.S. in Multimedia Design

American University
Washington, D.C. (On Campus)
Graduated in 2011

Master's degree thumbnail

Graduate Education:

Jack Welch Management Institute
Herndon, Virginia (Online)
Expected Graduation: 2018

PhD thumbnail

Doctoral Education:
Ph.D in Computer Science

Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland
Expected Start: 2019

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