Viz students create videos
with help from Disney pros


Professionals from Walt Disney Animation studios helped visualization students at Texas A&M explore the relationship between the old-fashioned and the high-tech during the summer.

Four teams of students each created a 30-second video from a story idea, provided by Disney, which involves two toy dogs: one an “old-school” puppy, the other a robot.

“Disney animators walked the students through the production pipeline, starting off with the story concept, through storyboards and final animation,” said Ann McNamara, assistant professor of visualization.

The students’ final projects were 30-second animations produced in the same manner that a full-feature movie is produced by Disney.

“There were two teams of five students and two teams of six,” said McNamara, serving as instructor/producer in the summer-long course, VISA 627 Design Communications 3, along with Jill Mulholland, a lecturer in architecture. “Each student on each team took responsibility for a part of the production. One might be in charge of story, one in charge of animation, another in charge of lighting,” she said.

Julie Pool, who worked on the team that created a video called “Kids These Days,” focused her energies on character design and animation.

“I was responsible for deciding their basic design,” she said, detailing her character design responsibilities. “I had to come up with ideas on how we wanted these dogs to look. Did we want the old dog to be a tin toy on wheels, or a stuffed dog? Once that was decided, we had to choose whether the dog had button eyes, a particular shape, or color.”

Once all that was settled, the team took its character designs and turned them into 3-D models, continuing to develop the characters’ colors and textures to see how they looked when animated.

She said each of the group’s members had a main focus for the project.
“None of us were certain what we wanted to do at the beginning,” said Pool, “but we all had a vague idea. One student wanted to do the rigging, which is putting the skeleton on the models, but other than that she didn’t know what she was interested in.”

Pool said that student ended up doing most of the rigging, but did some textures, modeling and animation.

“All of us got to focus on something we were really interested in and also play around with other stuff,” she said.

Walt Disney Animation Studios released its first fully animated feature film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” in 1937. Recent films by the studio include “BOLT,” “Chicken Little” and “Meet the Robinsons.”

See ninth hour video by Glen Vigus, the Viz Lab’s senior visual production specialist, of sleepless vizzers wrapping up their summer project.

Last Day of Viz Summer Animation Course from Glen Vigus on Vimeo.


- Posted: September 08, 2009 -

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