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October 18, 2012 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-10-18

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 3B

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, October18, 2012 - 3B

FRAME
From Page 1B
tional Conference and Exhibition
on Computer Graphics and Inter-
national Techniques.
"Last year this (class) was
actually a club," Lester said.
"But they couldn't get enough
lab time. So they decided to
petition it for a class, and it got
through, and now everything's
completely new for us."
The resulting course is the
first of its kind at the University,
and their festival submission
will be the University's first in
what is considered a profession-
al-grade animation competition.
Since the animation pipeline
process depends on the comple-
tion of many specialized jobs,
the creation of their short offers
a multitude of challenges for
students who must quickly learn
new skills and take on multiple
steps in the 3-D animation pro-
cess.
Lester said that though the
process of 3-D animation itself is
difficult - especially the learn-
ing curve for the software they
use - it's actually the process
of large-group communication
that offers the most potential for
problems.
But for Lester, the benefits of
group dynamics outweigh the
weekly difficulties. Making a
single piece of animation forces
each member of the group to see
their work in the greater context
of the narrative and its painstak-
ingly constructed setting.
"Originally, when they told
me this story, I had a completely
different mental image of what
it was going to look like," Lester
said. "But the more and more we
do it, the more and more I get
used to the idea that my work
has to look like everyone else's,
since it has to fit in with this uni-
verse."
Though introductory anima-
tion classes tackle 2-D animation
and processes like Claymation,
it's the staggering capabilities
of the Duderstadt Center's lit-
tle-known technological gems,
such as the 3-D lab and the
various multimedia workrooms

scattered around the building,
which aid students in develop-
ing career-applicable modeling,
editing and motion-application
skills.
"We actually have a lot of
equipment for 3-D animation,"
said Lester. "We even have
motion-capture equipment. The
Dude is really set up to have the
processing power for you to do
a lot of really extreme digital
work. It's like a little goldmine
that no one really knows about."
With so much advanced hard-
ware and software available for
its students, the Art & Design
School's North Campus resourc-
es have the department primed
for any potential future expan-
sion of their animation cur-
riculum - or even a full-fledged
animation program.of its own.
"It seems like they should
have more focus-based anima-
tion classes," Lester said. "Or
more focused product-design
classes. But our school is so open
and broad that basically you
pick a teacher that youslike, you
pick a type of class that you like
and you pretty much stick with
them."
And despite the many dif-
ficulties that come with a sud-
den immersion in something as
technologically and creatively
demanding as 3-D animation,
Lester said their hard work
always seems to have a way of
paying off.
"I love what I'm doing because
I love the outcome," she said.
"When I see something that
I modeled, and it looks really
good, and I know I put all that
time and effort into it, it's like
a little piece of pride for me. So
no matter how frustrated I get
about pulling all-nighters for it,
I still love it."
Finding the "I" in animation
Not every animator chooses
to go the route of large-scale
group collaboration - and not
every project's success depends
on access to a stockpile of indus-
trial-strength rendering equip-
ment.
One of the most important
turn-of-the-century innovations

for aspiring animation students
was the introduction of acces-
sible software that could keep
up with demands of a creator's
imagination, making small-
group and independent work a
new norm for people from dif-
ferent backgrounds.
"I'm actually an English
major, and my original interest
was in creative writing," said
LSA senior TajRoy Duane Cal-
houn. "From there I got into the
graphic narrative and started
focusing on animation. I really
like storytelling in general, so I
would eventually like to get to a
point where I write my own nar-
rative stories, but right now I'm
focusing more on developing the
actual craft first."
Calhoun's English back-
ground is an important con-
tributing factor to the way he
approaches animation inside
and outside his SAC anima-
tion classes. Instead of being
employed solely for entertain-
ment purposes, it serves as an
alternate narrative vehicle for
otherwise non-visual stories.
And though his interests lie
mainly in the style and execu-
tion of Japanese animation, his
narrative specialty lies much
closer to home.
"My main goal is to become
my own storyteller through ani-
mation," he said. "As an English
Language and Literature major,
my focus is on 1950s African-
American literature, black exis-
tentialism and social realism,
and those are the kind of stories
that I'd want to tell as an anima-
tor. So in terms of my narratives,
I'd still want to focus on some-
thing about life in America and
being American."
The University's open-foun-
dation approach to teaching ani-
mation, especially within SAC,
has the added benefit of encour-
aging cross-disciplinary learn-
ing. Students can connect with a
more visual method of storytell-
ing through their varied majors
and interests.
Since animation's background
is as diverse as the people that
employ it - part storytelling
method, part artistic endeavor
and part social phenomenon -

the vast variation of its creative
sources leaves it especially open
to academic and extracurricu-
lar integration. Even without a
structured animation curricu-
lum, this malleability allows stu-
dents to choose a personal focus
within the interests they already
enjoy.
"Speaking critically, I think
the most difficult aspect of ani-
mation might be the rhythm and
the tempo," Calhoun said. "The
thing I actually have the most
difficulty with is anatomy, but
I do dance, I did poetry, and I
did some hip-hop and a little bit
of music production, so I like to
think that they've given me a
good sense of this rhythm."
Crafting a creative future
No matter their background
or style, students look to find
new and innovative ways to
utilize animation as a form of
personal expression and collab-
orative entertainment.
"You never know where stu-
dents are going to end up,"
McNamara said. "I think there's
a lot of activity in the indepen-
dent animation world that has
little to do with the studio con-
ventions. Ifa student is interest-
ing in pursuing that, I give them
all the guidance I can as their
instructor."
"There are some who work on
their projects independently and
submit them to festivals, and
then maybe have day jobs doing
animation or special . effects,
or perhaps design or editing
or post-production. There are
many different ways of thinking
about how animation could fit
into your career," he added.
Above all, students are
encouraged to keep an open
mind about the possibilities the
field can offer them, even after
leaving the University - espe-
cially in places and ways they
might not expect. And with the
millennial advent of the Inter-
net, advancements in technol-
ogy and the rising popularity
of independent studios, it's now
easier than ever for students to
take the future of animation into
their own hands.

i

GOSSIP COL UM N
The-two
.t.
percentof
)celebrity dating,
alena, Bennifer, Speidi, inthe world, I find it romantic to
Brangelina, Bey-Z - no, think that the paths we take will
these are not the names lead us to the ones we love. In
of newly born celebrity chil- unexpected and expected places,
dren, but the merged names for we will find them when we least
some of the anticipate it. Call it my "How I
many famous Met Your Mother" philosophy.
couples that Call it the effect of watching too
fill our gossip many romantic comedies. But
magazines sticking with thattheory, doesn't
on the daily. it seem many celebrities are lim-
More often iting themselves by dating only
than not, withinthe celebrity pool?

it seems
the hottest
celebrities
are attracted

HALEY
GOLDBERG
Give the 98

to other celebrities, leading to
a duo of hotness that earns its
own name.
We all know how these
couples start: meeting at amovie
premiere, working on a film
together, recording a duet in the
studio. But first, let's recognize
the prime example of inter-celeb-
rity dating: John Mayer. Mayer
has had a long, public history
of dating celebs, including Jes-
sica Simpson, Jennifer Aniston,
Taylor Swift (see her song "Dear
John" to see how that ended).
So when he moved to Montana .
to create his latest album, "Born
and Raised," I expected to see a
changed man for the first time. A
man who would find love in the
wilderness, or at least a few miles
from Hollywood's epicenter.
But no. Mayer has been spotted
with the recently divorced Katy
Perry around New York City,
and tabloids are already calling
them an on-again-off-again item.
Really John? There was no one in
Montana who struck your fancy?
No body to call a "wonderland"
there? You had to reach out to the
latest celeb divorcee?
Among the millions of people

percent a
chance.

Maybe it has to do with the
environments celebrities put
themselves in. Always atgalas,
movie premieres and fashion
shows, maybe their prime loca-
tions for falling in love happen to
be in spaces inhabited predomi-
nantly by other well known faces.
Maybe they can forge a connec-
tion through their celebrity sta-
tus, something us mere mortals
wouldn't understand.
Justin Bieber and Selena
Gomez - Jelena - might handle
the public spotlight and having
over half a million photos of them
together online better. Celebrity
status may serve as a building
block for relationships. Find-
ing someone who understands
that lifestyle might be difficult,
and having that hurdle already
passed might make relationships
easier.
But for some reason, I find joy
in the underdog story: The Cin-
See GOLDBERG, Page 4B

STUDY ABROAD
IN THE HEART OF
ROME

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