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n n n n Education hen it comes to 3D education, companies in the film, TV, and games industries are no different from their brethren in the medical, scientific, and construction fields. “Em- ployers in our industry are looking for candidates who come out of 3D programs ready for pr oduction,” says A utodesk’s David Della-Rocca. “Tat’s their number one concern.” Della-Rocca, Autodesk’s Education Industry and Business Develop- ment Manager for Media & Entertainment, has a unique perspectiv e. “As a technology provider with a heavy focus on grooming the next gen- eration of 3D digital artists, we sit in between the education and produc- tion communities. We bring these parties together to identify challenges to the production-readiness goal and come up with solutions.” While the goal r emains consistent, the challenges of achieving it morph at a rapid pace. Della-Rocca shared some of the issues and trends that are top of mind for educators, studios, and Autodesk alike. “With the fast growth of 3D, there’s a real need for professional de- velopment to build the instr uctor base,” Della-Rocca says. “Tere is also a need to better equip instructors to address industry requirements more quickly and to update programs more frequently as things change. At Autodesk, we’re always looking at ways to help educators anticipate what’s coming six months down the road so they can incorporate it into the curriculum.” What’s That Mean? Another challenge to turning out pr oduction-ready graduates is de - fining what ‘production ready’ really means. “Tere is really no glob- ally accepted baseline competency yet,” says Della-Rocca, noting that Autodesk is activ ely working with educators and the industry to establish some measurable base- line guides. A change in students’ learning styles is also driving ne w appr oaches to 3D education. “Te current crop of students learns and inter- acts with material very differently than previ- ous generations,” notes Della-Rocca. “Tere is a lot more emphasis on creating the most effective, dynamic learning environment.” For its par t, Autodesk invests heavily in r esources, tools, and ongoing programs to help educators deliver pro- duction-ready graduates to a hungr y animation and VFX community. Della-Rocca emphasizes, however, that while Autodesk bridges the two worlds, “we’re not educators, and we’re not in pr oduction. We develop tools and r esources to complement what and how instructors teach. We provide re- 36 November 2010 sources to move programs along and prepare students for the production challenges defined by our customers.” Pete Bandstra, director of the computer animation and game-ar ts programs at F ull Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, shared his institution’s approach to the “ production-ready” challenge. “We staff our team with production veterans. I don’t accept the adage that ‘Tose who can’t do, teach.’ My adage is, ‘Tose who can, teach here.’ ” Full Sail, like most 3D education institutions, has an active advisory board made up of industr y pros from studios like B lue Sky Studios, Turbine Games, Raven, and ILM. “Tat gives us a nice diversity across visual effects, gaming, broadcast, and film, and helps us see a bit into the future. We’re able to continually bring r elevant production knowl- edge into the classroom, both on campus and online.” Bandstra’s staff also taps into Autodesk’s Online Education Commu- nity and suppor t materials to aid in pr ofessional development. With programs that run in month-long sessions, F ull Sail is able to quickly integrate curriculum changes. “If there’s a new version of software out, we can have it in students’ hands in 30 days.” Greg Berridge, head instr uctor of Vancouver Film School’s (VFS) digital character animation program, offered some insights on develop- ing production-ready graduates. “An animator needs to kno w a little bit about many things. We provide a foundation aspect that includes modeling and texturing as they relate to animation.” Belinda Fung, a r ecent graduate of Vancouver Institute of M edia Arts’ Visual Effects program, shares that philosophy. As a compositor freelancing at Vancouver’s Anthem Visual Effects, she found that hav- ing 3D skills made her an efficient employee. “All the shots ar e done through teamwork. It’s important that I kno w 3D to be able to communicate with artists in other depart- ments. It saves time for the studio, and it helps me with my own creativity.” Berridge, who started the computer animation program at Alberta College of Arts & Design, has been teaching at Vancouver F ilm School for 10 years. “I’ve seen a dramatic change in the student population. Tey’re much more computer savvy, and many of them come in with some M aya experience. Tey download the software from Autodesk’s site and experiment with it before they get here,” he says. One of those students is Tiago Martins, a 2009 graduate of Vancouver F ilm School’s digital character animation

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