Computer Graphics World

Education Supplement 2009

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Innovations in Education Institutions infuse computer graphics curriculums with novel programs, unique methods, and the latest technologies to enhance the classroom experience By Courtney E. Howard "I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn." Those are the words of Albert Einstein, but many of today's top professors in the digital content creation field share the sentiment. Now, and perhaps more than ever, instructors and pupils alike recognize that a great education extends beyond the lecture hall. Progressive educators are intent on delivering innovative programs to students, providing the opportunity to interact with the latest technologies, realworld production scenarios and workflows, and peers and experts with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. may experiment with this form of real-time performance animation to explore extending the possibilities of their art." PhaseSpace's Impulse motion-capture system combines hardware and software in a portable solution that delivers real-time tracking of 128 unique active markers, 3600x3600-pixel resolution, and a 60-degree field of view. Used for a wide range of applications—including those in the entertainment (television, video game, and music video), research and defense, and sports and medical markets—the mocap tool provides students with a working knowledge of Learn by Doing A comprehensive and effective education, especially one in the field of computer graphics, encompasses far more than time spent reading textbooks and attending classroom lectures with myriad slides. Although both have their place, students increasingly are learning through practice. Educational institutions offering courses and degree programs in computer graphics and animation increasingly are providing students a hands-on education with novel, advanced hardware and software systems. "While strong keyframe animation skills are an essential part of our curriculum—and of primary importance to the education of animators—we offer the chance to work with motion capture using a PhaseSpace Impulse active marker system," explains Michael Scroggins, Computer Animation Labs director and Program in Experimental Animation faculty at the California Institute of the Arts' (CalArts') School of Film/ Video. "The goal is not to supplant keyframe animation in any way, but to add to it. Students Chris Nabholz harnessed innovative tools and an education at Ringling College to create eyecatching imagery. another form of animation in addition to what's accomplished through typical 3D animation software programs, such as Autodesk's Maya, 3ds Max, and Softimage. Multiple Uses of Mocap One application of motion capture, Scroggins describes, is as a form of 3D rotoscoping. As with 2D rotoscoping, in the hands of a good artist, the technique can be very effective. He cites as an example Michael Patterson, who used the technique for his CalArts MFA thesis and Student Academy Award-winning film "Commuter," as well as subsequent professional work with the famous A-ha video "Take on Me." 3

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