The fall 2020 semester is approaching quickly, and the BFA Computer Art department is preparing to welcome back the SVA community for our first fully remote semester. This will be an unprecedented experience for many freshmen and returning upperclassmen here at SVA and at universities around the world. Social distancing, Zoom meetings and adapting to new plans have become familiar to us over the past six months, and remote technologies have been keeping our community connected.
A deeply important aspect of the BFA Computer Art department is the supportive network of staff, students and alumni who foster a sense of community within the department. The rapid transition to online learning due to the global pandemic in the spring had the BFA Computer Art department turn to remote workshops and lectures to help bring our community together during this unpredictable time. Since then, we have hosted weekly workshops on topics varying from technical demonstrations to freelancing advice hosted by professionals scattered across the country, and attended by students around the world. These workshops have served as a way for alumni to give back to students, for students to learn new skills and socialize, and as a virtual meeting point for our community members during the pandemic.
Due to the wide-range of creative and technical focus in our department, we created a varied series to accommodate these interests. Some of the technical demonstration workshops included a Modeling and Texturing in Maya with Shihan Barbee (Netflix), an advanced rigging in Maya workshop series with Harris Wu (ScanlineVFX), a best-practices of Nuke workshop with David Piombino (MPC), and a Digital Matte Painting Workshop with Jina Lee (The Molecule).
In Danny Williams’ (Activision/Blizzard) Zbrush modeling series, students were invited to attend 3 sessions in a week-long series about sculpting creatures in 3D. The first session focused on gathering reference and creating a 2D design before modeling begins. The second session was a Zbrush sculpting demo, using the 2D designs from the first session. The last session focused on incorporating the finished sculpt and modeled assets into a project.
Students looking for feedback and areas to pursue growth had the opportunity to submit their work to reviews with industry professionals and alumni. Remote reel reviews that were held this summer included some with Milton Ramirez (WETA), Brien Hindmen (BlueSky), and an alumni panel with Cat McDonnell ‘17, Brett Taggart ‘15, Nicholas Manfredi ‘15, Michael Altman ‘14, and Jonathan Lin ‘12 (all currently at Disney Animation). Students were also invited to attend virtual presentations from animation studios such as Blizzard, CyberConnect2, Unreal Engine, SideFX, and an artist talk with DreamWorks’ Radford Sechrist (creator of Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts). These virtual studio presentations gave students the opportunity to connect directly with studio professionals and to learn about job opportunities during this time.
We are hoping to address the interests our students are passionate about with these workshops, and our community has been vocal about their concerns in addressing social injustices and racism taking place inside and outside of the SVA community. With workshops like Jyoti Gupta’s Colo(u)rism Workshop, which addresses colorism in media, or David Heredia’s, Using Our Creative Space to Talk about Race, we strive to better educate ourselves and bring a more holistic education to the global citizens of our department.
The remote lecture series has given our community a chance to stay in touch and keep learning in mind during a stressful and uncertain period. Now that the fall semester is fully remote, we are planning to continue working hard to keep our community connected through online workshops, lectures, mixers, and more!
To see a full list of our summer lectures, please visit the Computer Art website here.