Having studied photography initally in my art practice, I come from a background in pictures theory. Much of my practice and pedagogy comes from that initial viewpoint and it manifests itself when it comes to the material I tend to present in my classes and during critiques.
In addition to teaching technique, I usually incorporate readings that introduce recent historical debates within the medium of new media/digital imaging. These readings are geared towards introducing the beginning student to a multiple of perspectives on what new media is, its impact on society, it material nature, and its use in artistic production.
Much of what I see in my introductory courses are students wanting to perpetuate material they have consumed in mainstream media. I often see ideas by students that imitate a popular video game character or a sequence coming from a popular movie.
My goal is to develop that student into creating sophisticated material based upon his own vision and own visual language. In essence, develop a unique voice amongst the plethora of material in mainstream culture. One might say that this is quite a challenge in contemporary society today.
The curricular structure at Clarkson University is developed in a manner that groups fundametal concepts together. It starts with DA 200: Introduction to Experimental 3D, which is the core class. Students learn the fundamental basics in terms of modeling, texturing, and lighting in a virtual environment. It is an extension of the teaching philosophies of my mentor, Claudia Hart, and is based upon Johannes Itten's Bauhaus Basic Course'.
From there, students take DA 300:Virtual Mechanical & Organic Movement, which delve into sophisticated methods for animation in order to create performances that will reflect dyanamic mechnical and organic movements.
My advanced classes allow for the flexibility for the student to delve into their particular interests in the field. In DA 400: Advanced Individual & Collaborative Projects, students select areas for self-study, which will then be employed in a team based collaborative project that utilizes the strengths of each particular team member.
Much of the potential of teaching 3D animation is limited by the methodology of traditional industry-oriented style of training. I often see online tutorials with titles such as 'How to Create Dyanmic Fur on your Character', or 'How to Make a Cartoon Walk Cycle'. These tutorials teach a specific technique and style rather than train on fundamental concepts. I see students who learn this way unable to adapt to the differing goals and aesthetics of each particular project. Additionally, these techniques die fairly quickly within the rapidly evolving industry of 3D animation.
The curricular track at Clarkson University allows for the teaching of fundamental concepts of 3D modeling/animation and also concepts catered to the goals of the individual student. These are students whose goals are varied: the game, animation, and fine art industries. Whether it be any of these industries, the basic concepts of aesthetics, lateral thinking, and good technique at each level of mastery, are recipes for success in any field.
DA 200: Introduction to Experimental 3D
"Metrojet Flight 9268", Randy Parisi
DA 300: Virtual Mechanical & Organic Movement
DA 400: Advanced Individual & Collaborative Projects
Alexander Leich, Sarah Hanehan, Anders Wickstrom
DA 492: Capstone Thesis Projects
Christian Ashley, "The Hollow Men", video, stereo sound, 2015
Alex Macri, Oculus Rift Virtual Installation, Unreal Engine
"Mendala", Luna Rogers, video, stereo sound, 2015