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Augmented Reality- Kids Have a Blast at 3D Graphics Summer Camp!

Augmented Reality- Kids Have a Blast at 3D Summer Camp!

I’d like to share with you my experiences from Digital Media Academy summer camp for kids.  Last summer, I had the pleasure of teaching kids one of the game-oriented teen Maya courses (similar to this year’s Introduction to 3D Art, Modeling and Animation for Game Design).  We created our own environments and built our own characters, and then loaded them into the game engine.  We waited patiently to see if they would actually work.

When they did, there were squeals of delight as our custom characters showed up in our custom maps.  We enjoyed several rounds of networked gameplay, simultaneously battling and congratulating each other on this or that excellent feature of the current map.  The kids found it more thrilling than a normal game because they had made it.

As the summer camp instructor, I was really entertained and encouraged to see my students losing themselves in their own work.  But I also wanted the kids to understand that even though the summer camp class had ended, they had been equipped with some pretty useful skills, and not just for games.  In fact, I tried to get my students to forget about games.

Well, not all games, and not forever, but at least for the moment.  I pointed out how games are just a form of what are called “real-time” graphics.  In other words, these are not fixed images that have been burned to disc or rendered on film (like television or movies).  Rather, they are images that are created on-the-fly by a computer in response to some sort of interaction with a user.

The most commonly understood use of this technology is indeed games.  But there’s a whole world of uses for real-time 3D graphics, and my students in my DMA courses could use some of the same things they learned towards these ends.  For instance, my own experience with this technology has been in the creation of museum exhibits.  In particular, my most recently finished project involved creating animations for an exhibit on the human brain for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago;.

This particular use of real-time 3D graphics is called “Augmented Reality,” and it’s becoming a very popular form of interaction.  In its most basic form, it’s the virtual markers appearing on the field of a televised football game or on the olympic ski slopes.  But it can be used for much more sophisticated applications.  One very popular recent example is the “We Are Autobots” site that was launched in conjunction with the release of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.  As you can see from the following youtube video, it can be combined with facial tracking to create a pretty cool interactive experience.

Augmented Reality- Kids Have a Blast at 3D Summer Camp!

The 3D models and animation in this interactive were created with the same tools and and followed the same recipe as the characters and environments that kids in the Digital Media Academy summer camp classes learn.  When I said this, I think it surprised and encouraged my students (and their parents).  They could take what they learned about 3D modeling in the course at Digital Media Academy and apply it to something beyond the first-person shooter that we were playing.

While talking with them about their experience, many kids expressed a hope that they would be able to pursue this beyond summer camp –  professionally as adults.  Some kids wanted to create character animation for films.  Some kids were intrigued by the artistic possibilities of creating 3D worlds.  And some kids dreamt of making the next great game.  What was great about the course is that they really could go in any of those directions.  It really was just the tip of the iceberg.

What plans do your kids have for summer camp?  Check out all the great kids summer camp courses

You’ll enjoy reading more!

Teen Filmmaking Summer Camp

Learn How to Make a Movie at Summer Camp

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Maya Hands On Training Courses 3D Modeling and Animation

Finding the Best Maya 3D Modeling and Animation Learning Resources

By Geoff Beatty, Lead Maya Instructor

Just about everyone is familiar with the endless creative possibilities made available by the latest 3D modeling and animation software. Software like Autodesk Maya and 3D Studio Max bring professional quality tools to the independent artist, the hobbyist, and the teenage student with an interest in animation.  Maya 3D modeling and rendering software is used in the game, film, television, web, multimedia, marketing and communication professions, and the need for up to date and efficient 3D modeling and animation Maya training is growing rapidly.

In my experience as a Digital Media Academy instructor and university professor, I have seen more and more students showing up in class with prior experience creating 3D models and animation, 3D modeling training is in high demand.

These 3D artist students are usually self-taught, having picked up whatever lessons they could find from the internet and in books. This is fine to a certain extent. I’m always impressed by how these 3D artist students are constantly seeking 3D modeling answers on their own, not waiting to simply be handed the information but actively searching.

However, in order to really get the most from these learning resources, in fact the best way to really learn the software and become a 3D Artist, is to get some hands-on instruction with a knowledgeable teacher. I experienced this dynamic myself when I was first learning Maya. Prior to this I had worked in Softimage and 3D Studio Max, and I had practically taught myself 3D modeling through manuals and online tutorials. I was certain that I was going to have to do the same with Maya. I was on my way to doing that when the company I worked for hired a Maya professional to come in for a few days and get our team of 3D animators up to speed on how to model, rig, and animate a character.  Even professional 3D modelling artists can benefit from Maya workshops.

I learned more in those two days than I had learned on my own in the past two years. Not only was it personalized instruction, but I had never had someone tying it all together into a well-organized workflow. Things made sense and were directly relevant to the 3D modeling task at hand. Now all the bits and pieces of the online tutorials and book chapters came together like puzzle pieces fitting into their places. And not only was that time productive, my future self-directed learning in Maya was made more valuable because I was able to put it into the solid framework established during that 3D modeling training session.

So, if you would like to become a professional 3D animation artist, and you are beginning the long and rewarding journey of learning 3D software, I would highly recommend you take the time to start out right with some quality instruction of the type that Digital Media Academy offers . This could be a summer pro or teen summer camp course , or perhaps it’s an instructor coming to your workplace to offer specialized training . In any case, not only will the hands-on instruction be of immediate benefit, but it will add value to whatever 3D animation learning resources you pick up afterwards. And there are a lot out there, which is why it’s good to have someone be a guide through it all.

To that end, here are a couple that I highly recommend: Autodesk Area is the official hangout for Autodesk Maya users. It offers a wealth of well-moderated tutorials, plugins, models, and other resources. Creative Crash (formerly know as HighEnd 3D) is another well-established repository for tutorials, models, and the like. It’s also got a great responsive forum community, in case you run into any problems. 

Hope to see you at Digital Media Academy this coming summer for some great Maya 3D modeling training!


You’ll enjoy these related posts:

Digital Media Academy’s Maya-Certification-Program-An-Amazing-Immersive-Experience!

3D Modeling and Animation Tip – Asymmetry!

The Digital Media Academy Difference – Success Stories!

A Teen’s Summer Camp at Digital Media Academy Review


Ready to register for summer camp for teens or Maya Certification Program?  Click here for more information and registration:  Digital Media Academy

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