SIGGRAPH '23: ACM SIGGRAPH 2023 Educator's Forum

Full Citation in the ACM Digital Library

SESSION: Engaging Education Techniques and Assignments

Haptics for Accessible Graphics in CS1

Tactile or haptic presentations of computer graphics visualizations can offer more inclusive experiences for persons who are blind or have low vision. However, teaching accessibility with haptics is challenging due to a lack of ready-to-use instructional resources. This Engaging Education Technique and Assignment (EETA) introduces accessibility with haptics and Turtle Graphics after only a few weeks into CS1. The sample assignments feature open-ended exploration to meaningfully map graphical attributes to haptic feedback that could benefit blind or low vision users. Supplementary materials include lesson guides and Python samples.

Virtual Cinematography: The Embodied Camera ✱

The Embodied Camera is an analog exercise deployed within my Virtual Cinematography course, designed for students to explore and enact key virtual/CGI camera concepts through playful real world activities.

A Software-Agnostic Small Studio and Education Pipeline

Building a production pipeline from scratch that supports iteration and creative control, for a university or small studio, can be difficult to achieve with smaller budgets and major time constraints. We developed a USD pipeline that allows our production to work seamlessly between multiple production software packages, playing to the strengths of each. With these tools, we were able to build our entire animation pipeline in just months and adapt it on the fly to the needs of our production. This pipeline also allowed artists to choose different software based on the strength of each package, all while referencing the same asset and layout files.

The Seneca Animation Model: Cross-disciplinary animation education program design for a changing industry

Seneca Polytechnique, located in Toronto, Canada, first launched its three-year animation advanced diploma program in 2002 and regularly ranks as a global top-five program, producing or partnering on groundbreaking films like Chris Landreth's Ryan (2005, Oscar Winner), Subconscious Password (2013, Anney Grand Prix), and Aubry Mintz's Nothing to Say (2018, multiple awards). Graduates have been in high demand in production studios around the world.

At the height of this success, the animation faculty proposed the unimaginable: scrap the program in its current form and start over.

Originally, the program was based on a familiar template that emphasized foundational drawing skills with increasing specialization leading to a capstone project in which students demonstrated skills aligned with production studios’ needs. All students took two years of foundational instruction that focused on 2D animation production with classes in character animation, storyboarding, layout, character design, life drawing, acting and animation history. Toon Boom Harmony was introduced in second year, after a focus on paper flipping in year one. Students moving into the third year had the option choosing one of three specialization streams: 2D animation, 3D animation, and game art & animation.

While regular curriculum maintenance enabled graduates to be competitive in the labour market, specialization pathways became less clear because more methods were becoming cross-disciplinary between 2D, 3D, gaming, visual development, and visual effects. The goal of the new program was to create a wholly new cross-disciplinary animation education model in recognition of the changing conditions of the industry.

Our new program begins with a foundational year that develops student ability in animation art for any specialization. An example of this approach is a new first-year storyboard class, now named Film Language, which focuses on analytical assignments as opposed to creating storyboards for production. The related skills of boarding/previz are expanded upon in years two and three. We also increased digital workflows in our studios with specially designed animation desks that fit professional drawing tablets.

In the new program, students choose a specialization stream in year two, selecting one of four options: 2D animation, 3D animation, game art animation, and visual development. “Horizontal learning”, in which students across all streams take common courses, promotes cross-disciplinary learning to enable practical awareness of other production modes. For example, students across all four streams continue to mix for life drawing classes.

In year three, students continue in their specialization stream but will work on capstone projects that include team members across all streams. In this scenario, cross-disciplinary learning takes place in the collaboration of film projects rather than shared classes. Imagine a team of 2D students preparing their final-year film working with 3D students on some elements, game students to prepare real-time delivery of the final film in a game engine, and visual development students working concept art for the films of the 3D students. A “production weeklies” class in the final year enable the sharing of project concepts across all streams to stimulate self-organized collaboration.

To support these changes, Seneca invested approximately $1.7 million to make significant enhancements in technology and facilities. This was required to accommodate many more students as the enrolment of the program will double from its original size. Upon full rollout of the new program in 2024, it will accommodate 450 students.

Besides solid production and artistic skills, the faculty pre-defined the goals for student and graduate professional expectations. These soft skills, including ability to work in teams, were foundational guides for the development of all new curriculum.

To support student success, they are enrolled in the following professional practices courses to strengthen soft skills in their first semester.

This process was almost entirely faculty-driven and supported by college administration in the investment of new facilities that mirrored contemporary production studios.

SESSION: Educator’s Forum Panel

Finding Appeal: Creative Careers in Animation, Computer Graphics, and Interactive Techniques

Industry panelists share perspectives and insights for students and educators who are considering careers in animation, computer graphics, and interactive techniques. Creative industries continue to transform as a result of the global pandemic. Streaming media platforms, virtual production systems, faster network communications, and advances in machine learning are radically transforming creative industries and cultural production. Simultaneously, transformed workplace cultures and new technologies make room for alternative career paths, presenting a variety of opportunities and unforeseen challenges. Individual representatives discuss the general and specific state of affairs within their own industries, and provide insight into changing employment paradigms. Discussion includes advice for educators to help prepare students for changing workplace cultures, as well as the preparation, training, and personal attributes needed to enter related career fields, or make professional career transitions. Panelists consider what qualities make for desirable applicants in their respective fields, and elaborate upon changes in the transition from school to work resulting from the global pandemic. Represented industry segments include animation and VFX, virtual production, interactive design, and immersive themed entertainment. Questions considered include how pedagogy can help prepare and empower students for successful creative careers; what entry-level applicants should have (and should not have) on resumes, portfolios, and demo reels; and what can creative talents do to proactively acquire requisite credentials. Discussion will expose fresh outlooks on the futures of creative fields in animation, computer graphics, and interactive techniques

SESSION: Complex Problem Solving with VR / Mixed Reality Educational Experience / Identity-Centered User-Generated Content

Virtual reality: the gateway for non-professionals to solve complex design problems

Leopoly is working on a 3D design software for VR called Shapelab with the aim to provide tools for professional and hobby 3D artists. During development, we have been approached by users coming from various professional backgrounds other than artistic 3D design, which made us want to explore the possibilities virtual reality has to offer for these use cases. We argue that VR could open doors for people with no background in 3D modeling to solve complex design problems needed to digitize their traditional workflows.

Music, Motion, and Mixed Reality: An Interdisciplinary, Problem-Based Educational Experience

This talk describes an interdisciplinary educational experience involving cohorts of students studying Computer Science, Dance, 3D Digital Design and Music. The experience takes a problem based learning approach towards a target goal of presentation of a set of live performances that combine music and dance with augmented reality. Our overall approach of integration of the varying disciples as well as impressions of students involved in the experience is discussed.

Identity-Centered User-Generated Content to Create Occupational Identity with Visual Computing

This talk reports on an approach to computer science education for pre- and early-adolescents in which the goal is the formation of occupational identity with visual computing developed collaboratively between a large game studio, a research-intensive university, and a historically black college/university (HBCU). This ongoing project takes place in a rural public-school setting in the United States. Our project is structured around the idea that identity-centered user-content creation projects can positively influence student self-professed performance and interest in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) related subjects and interest in STEAM careers. The projects in our curriculum engage students in real-time 3DCG coding and asset creation activities commonly associated with game development. We describe the process of working with school administrators and teachers to create a technology-infused environment in which remote external partners play a collaborative role in curriculum development and delivery. This work has significance for efforts to remotely engage with rural students at an age when occupational identity development is forming and thus develop a potential to expand the pathway for underrepresented minorities.