GCC One of Few Schools With 3-D Animation Program

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Ever wonder how characters from movies like “Shrek” were created? The answer lies in the hands of a high-tech program called Maya, which allows people to model and sculpt 3-D animated images.

Roger Dickes, an instructor of digital animation, discussed various ways to work the program in sculpting the heads of animated characters, in a lecture on campus Oct. 28 in Santa Barbara 243.

A crowd of 40 to 50 students and faculty were present at the lecture. Among the many professors and counselors who attended were Ronald Harlan, biology chair, and Robert Kibler, visual and performing arts chair.

Dickes emphasized that one did not have to be involved in the field of animation to understand the program, and that anyone who has the time and dedication can learn Maya.

“It’s a new technology, and its applications are only now beginning to be discovered,” said Dickes.

Although the program is costly for colleges, students on campus are privileged to have both the digital animation courses and program offered to them at GCC.

Maya, which is only available in selective schools, is slowly becoming a popular program for digital animation. In the courses offered at GCC, Dickes educates students on how to use Maya to model, to set up and to animate characters.

“I think it’s a fantastic thing that we have it on campus,” said Dickes.
The first course in digital animation involves sculpture, modeling and rendering, while the second course teaches character set-up and basic character animation.

It continues with a third course in advanced facial animation and a fourth in 3-D animation production.

“How it works is I come in, show people how to do something, and then they try it,” said Dickes. “Every class imparts a set of skills.”
Not only does the class include beginning students, but also industry professionals who have worked on “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill” as animation directors and layout artists.

The courses help animation professionals re-train, as well as offer students a face-to-face opportunity to work with these experts.
“We have some of the top animation professionals taking classes here at the college,” said Dickes.

The program offers two different types of certificate programs, one in traditional animation, which is 2-D animation, and another in digital animation.

After completing the course, if students wish to continue in the field, Dickes will primarily help them put together materials for their reel, which is a promotional video tape.

“When people go out into this world, video game company, or feature film company, anywhere, they don’t care about your grade or your resume,” said Dickes. “It’s what you can do.” Students who are motivated can learn the program in a year and begin their career in animation.

There are various other job opportunities in architecture, construction contracting, medical illustration, illustration, graphic design or rapid prototyping.

“The applications of the software are pretty unlimited,” said Dickes.
Students can also use their skills in the video game industry, which is in particular hiring a large number of people.

If one enjoys playing video games, this program is very similar to them — with the exception that one will be working and sculpting models and learning how to create characters.

“People will gain a really marketable art or design skill,” said Dickes.
Although experience in art is not necessary to become involved in the field, it is recommended.

Dickes believes that Maya is great for students who have ambitions to work as artists and that the program will benefit them greatly.
“If you want to work as an artist out there and you know this program and know how to use it, there are so many opportunities out there for you,” said Dickes.