Computer Graphics World

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66 cgw | e d i t i o n 3 , 2 0 1 8 E D U C A T I O N & R E C R U I T M E N T tudents enrolled at education institutions offering instruction in the digital arts, particularly art, animation, and modeling, graduate with the expectation of being prepared for the next step in their life: the start of a career in the industry. The unspoken arrangement is that students work hard, and schools provide the necessary instruction and guidance to prepare them for that journey. Schools teach students how to capitalize on their creativity. They learn the nuts and bolts of their cra, whether that's modeling, texturing, lighting, compositing, animation, rigging, or a related skill. They are taught storytelling principles. And, they are shown how to combine those skills into a final product. Indeed, there are a plethora of concepts that animation students today need to learn in order to secure a job in their respective field, and schools are committed to ensuring that students have those skills and knowledge. Nevertheless, there are areas – some tangible, some not so much – in which students oen are lacking when it comes to a solid, well-rounded educa- tion that will lead to future suc- cess. These are issues that seem to touch many students at many schools, and are not confined to a particular institution. Marilynn "Max" Almy, dean of Savannah College of Art and Design's (SCAD's) School of Digital Media, observes that, in general, students are new to academic rigor. "Their lack of experience about what it takes to succeed in the industry and in their careers may be evident. However, they make up for that in time, with preparation and experience, to launch their careers," she says. SCAD tries to remedy this problem by providing real-world experiences for its students. "The students work on real projects with the demands and timetables of working with real clients. They oen work in teams, where they learn to communi- cate effectively and collaborate collectively," Almy points out. Moreover, SCAD has many career advisors who make sure that students are fully prepared with career training, great port- folios, websites, and resumes, and then help usher them into exciting internships and jobs at major companies. Derek Flood, associate direc- tor of visual effects for Academy of Art University's Animation and Visual Effects Education, agrees that real-world experi- ence is a necessity. He believes that students coming straight out of school oen lack the practical real-world experience to handle demands of a produc- tion, including the ability to work on a team and under a deadline. "For this reason, we have developed what we call 'StudioX,' which are a series of advanced-level classes that em- ulate a production environment, but are faculty-mentored," Flood says. In these classes, students work on actual shows, with real deadlines, and encoun- ter real problems and challenges that surface during the course of making a film. Here, the students learn how to work together as a team, how to work well under pressure, and how to creatively solve problems. "The work that comes out of these classes speaks for itself. But beyond that," Flood says, "the experience the students gain in these StudioX classes (where the X stands for experi- ence) has been tremendously important in preparing them to be ready to transition from school into a studio job." Pete Bandstra, program director of 3D Arts at Full Sail University, says there are three main factors all students need in order to be successful: the abil- ity to work with others, a strong portfolio, and a strong work eth- ic. The latter, he says, can carry an individual a long way in life and make them a valuable asset to any production house. I M A G I N A T I O N A N D P R O C E S S While all the schools inter- viewed here acknowledge the importance of teamwork and real-world structure, others main- tain that process is of utmost importance, too. Jazno Francoeur, program director, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Art and Animation at DigiPen, is one of them. When asked what students today seem to be lacking in terms of their education at any given school, Francoeur responds, "That is a difficult question, as the answer will vary greatly depending on the type of student and institution. For instance, many vocational/ tech schools will only instruct a student in the nuts and bolts of a cra, but will not provide a varied curriculum with general education classes germane to their passion, nor will there be continuity between courses." Any art/animation program worth its salt, according to Francoeur, will have a serious foundation that addresses skills such as perspective and anatomy, as every traditional discipline can be extrapolated to the digital world. "For instance, if we note that our students are struggling with 3D lighting, the initial remedy is not to double up on the technical issues with the soware, but to look further upstream in the foundation year and address the problem as it relates to hand skills and theory." As Francoeur points out, the hardest thing to teach is pro- cess, since technical knowledge is readily accessible online – many companies, such as Auto- desk, have granular tutorials available for free, which means that anyone who is self-moti- vated can learn the interface and functionality of a program. "This is why we are soware agnostic at DigiPen and do not put faith in the tool insomuch as using the tool." Process, as DigiPen sees it, entails a few specific areas: investigation (relevant and actionable research), inspiration (how to iterate thumb-nailing and sketching based on that research), execution (how those designs evolve into polished, professional assets), and PREPARING FOR A CAREER SCHOOLS WEIGH IN ON WHAT IT TAKES TO FIND SUCCESS AFTER GRADUATION BY KAREN MOLTENBREY S

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