Tip #1383: New Ways to Educate Tomorrow’s Pros

… for Visual Effects

Tip #1383: New Ways to Educate Tomorrow’s Pros

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

In-person classes are better, but here are some good alternatives.

Vancouver Film School Makeup Design for Film & Television student Aerien Steadman works on a clay sculpture after limited groups of students resumed campus activities last August. (Image courtesy of Vancouver Film School)

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This article, written by Chris McGowan, first appeared in VFXVoice.com. This is a summary.

Once the pandemic hit and turned classes into virtual events, VFX and animation schools scrambled to get their curricula online, make classes glitch-free and dynamic, and offer remote access to workstations.

“As the world changed, so have we,” says Miguel Rodriguez about Vancouver’s InFocus Film School and its response to COVID-19. Rodriguez, Head of the 3D Animation and VFX program, comments, “It definitely was a rough process of adapting to the new normal. During the first week of the quarantine we worked hard to set up online learning tools and remote access to the class computers. It gave [students] 24/7 access to their workstations without leaving home.”

USC’s School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) animation and digital arts classes are using Zoom, Blackboard, SyncSketch and Slack, according to Teresa Cheng, Chair of the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts at SCA, plus “our Creative Technology department has worked out virtual desktop access for our students via Teradici.” However, she emphasizes that “our value is in our faculty. Zoom is just a tool. Of course, there are limitations [in not] being physically in the same space, but good teachers always find inventive ways to reach their students and deliver good content.

The College of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University pursued a hybrid model for the fall of 2020, going remote when possible, according to Ron Honn, Filmmaker-in-Residence, Visual Arts. He notes that the school went the extra mile for its students when the pandemic began. “We were determined that our students would have the equipment necessary to continue work on their projects. So we shipped professional camera packages, lighting and grip gear, as needed, to students in their various locations.”

InFocus Film School’s Rodriguez observes, “These are difficult times for everyone, but it’s also a great opportunity to look into developing your career. People will keep watching shows, movies and playing video games, much more so during these crazy times. That means more work needs to be done, more hands and talent are needed.”


The article includes many more interviews, photos and details on specific software tools used to enhance teaching.

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