SIGGRAPH '20: ACM SIGGRAPH 2020 Educator's Forum

Full Citation in the ACM Digital Library

SESSION: Groovy Graphics Assignments

Interactive Web-Based Programming through Game-Based Methodologies

The way we engage and communicate with students has rapidly changed over the past decade due to technological advancements. This is most noticeable in web-based subjects with the advent of smart-phones, web-based apps, web-streaming and of course social media. Students who learn and develop for web-based environments must be able to adapt and retrain constantly, not to mention, have both a technical and creative mindsets. This article presents the insights for integrating interactive digital solutions and game-based development into a web-programming curriculum (to enhance students’ abilities and the learning experience). The approach both supports and encourages students on multiple levels, while nurturing experimental design and stretch goals.

GROOVY ASSIGNMENT: Immersive Dome Projection Media

In this Groovy Assignment submission, we present an Immersive Dome Projection Assignment that challenges students to create immersive media content designed and formatted for full dome projection experiences. For this assignment, students create immersive media content through video acquisition, computer imagery renderings and or use of an interactive game engine. The finished media must be in polar, fulldome projection format. The assignment is designed to inspire and motivate creative thinking by challenging students to work within the limitations of dome projection formats, including perspective distortion, projection mapping, and light spill to name a few. While the opportunity to display students work in a full scale projection dome can increase student interest and motivation due to the nontraditional nature of the format, the assignment can be easily scaled and utilized without access to a dome projection facility through the use of virtual dome software, or simulations in rendering software or game engines. Assignment complexity is also scalable, as some approaches to completion involved very little in the way of specialized technical skills (i.e. conversion of immersive photos or video into dome projection format), while more complicated, group project scenarios are also possible by increasing scope and or complexity of content requirements (i.e. computer generated animation, procedural effects, etc.)

SESSION: Educator's Forum Panels

Best Practices in Computer Classroom Layout

This panel of animation industry veterans-turned-animators discusses their efforts to craft a physical classroom to better mirror the professional environment and encourage the best creative output from their students. They aim to identify common challenges and obstacles while sharing solutions, learning lessons, and generating ideas for future improvements or implementations.

School to Industry: Preparing for Change

Panelists from various industry sub-segments involved with computer graphics and interactive techniques discuss what students must do, and can do, to prepare themselves for opportunities in industry, including how pandemic-induced changes in the recruiting process have and have not affected school to industry transitions. Components of the recruiting process such as demo reels have been submitted remotely as part of the digitally-mediated hiring process before the advent of COVID-19. But other aspects of hiring and recruiting have changed. Also, there are alternative paths to industry that students can follow or map out for themselves with unique combinations leading to innovative careers.

Individual representatives talk both generally, and specifically (as examples) about their own companies. What entry-level applicants should and could have and do (as well as should not have and not do) will be discussed. Also included are suggestions for educators to help prepare students for changing scenarios.

Industry segments represented include animation, special/visual effects, and interactive/experience design. Discussion includes preparation, training, and attributes students need to enter the workforce.

Panelists will describe changes in the transition from school to work due to the current global pandemic and speculate on what changes may become permanent or absorbed into new standard processes. Questions considered include how schools can help students transition to industry, and what students can do on their own to be pro-active in obtaining requisite credentials.

Educating the Next Generation of Animation Professionals

A team of educators with extensive industry experience discuss their best practices for teaching industry standard approaches to animation production at the university level. The panel discussion will compare different curricula to determine what is working, what can be improved, and how to implement ideas for future student success.

SESSION: Educator's Forum Talks

Story-Go-Round: Augmented Reality Storytelling in the Multidisciplinary Classroom

Project-based courses in Art + Design and Computer Science curriculum foster innovation spaces that require creative thinking and multidisciplinary problem solving for unorthodox scenarios through the interplay of technology, arts, and design thinking. “Story-Go-Round” is a physical development platform for producing augmented digital experiences, designed exclusively as an assignment to tell stories through interactive control and gameplay via circular rotating sets. We propose a miniature mechanical and replaceable “carousel-like” stage linked to a game engine, which controls the rotation using a motor as well as streaming live camera feeds of the stage directly into the game environment.

The assignment is inspired by the historical aspects of replaceable computer media such as game cartridges, and early animation devices such as the zoetrope and animated concertina.  The stage component is open to continuous physical interaction for an evolving set design, like the process used in stop motion animation set building. The assignment asks students to develop a seamless circling narrative by understanding material and spatial choices and their impact as seen through the camera as well as inside the game engine as logically meaningful and visually important components. The narrative can evolve around a defined theme, or simply focus on engaging and innovative play.

In groups, students complete the stage design by curating resources and assembling found objects, fabricating custom environments, through hand-skills, digital fabrication and simple electronics. They then proceed to produce digital assets, animation and interactivity, including and not limited to game mechanics, control schemes and augmented reality. The assignment lowers the intimidation factor by reenacting the forgiving process of making dioramas and integrating this with foundational skills in game design and programming, and the breadth of digital making. The benefit of this assignment is to think outside the box and leave the comfort zone in order to innovate, collaborate, and learn.

Arts, Journalism, and Computer Science:: Collaborations that advance our community

Successful interactive experiences often combine the specific talents of many fields to produce the best possible visual design, psychology of play, and a development process that supports both of these [Maxim, 2006]. This is the standard in professional game production, but it is often difficult to replicate this cross-disciplinary experience for students at the academic level. A host of issues due to siloed departments, semester time restraints, entrenched mindsets, and others unique to academia often present themselves [Wolz et al., 2007]. Programs that focus on game production are in a unique situation to build bridges between subjects that normally do not interact within the academy. This talk explores the initiation, development, and expansion of two upper level courses that merged to provide students this type of cross disciplinary experience.

XR for Everyone, Everywhere

Deploying VR in a Science Museum: Lessons Learned

The low cost and relative simplicity of consumer VR headsets has made them an attractive choice for education. However, informal education settings, like museums and science centers, face additional challenges not present in the home or classroom. The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History has deployed several kinds of VR activities over the last two years. We report our firsthand observations about the physical and mental assistance and affordances required for successful use of this technology in informal education.

SESSION: Educator's Forum Courses

An Interactive Introduction to WebGL: Educators Forum SIGGRAPH 2020