3-D computer graphic imagery is three dimensional animation that has been made on a computer with special software. The use of 3-D CG animation is abundant in our everyday lives. You may have seen this imagery in films such as Finding Nemo
Also, many video games such as Call of Duty
and commercials now use 3-D CG. This method of animation is a challenging one and it has been disputed whether or not it is a worthwhile style to bring into the art education classroom.
In Inter/Actions/Inter/Sections: Art Education in a Digital Visual Culture, David Gill explores the use of 3-D CG in a classroom. He examines a case study which was done in a high school art classroom, where the students used a 3-D CG computer program to make a short 5 minute animation. In his study he finds out that the use of 3-D CG can be challenging with students, but also have a lot of benefits. The challenges of trying to animate 3-D CG is that it is a hard program to master. He also found that students had a hard time developing good story lines. The benefits though, I think, outweigh the negatives. Students were applying their experiences with 3-D in visual culture to their classroom projects. The students also gained an appreciation of the use of 3-D CG in their visual culture. It was found that the students enjoyed this medium so they were more focused and motivated to make a quality project. Students were able to learn the program themselves by figuring out what they wanted to do and researching ways in which they could produce what they wanted.
I think the use of 3-D CG in a classroom would definitely be a challenge. I would stick to only exploring this method with older students in the 11th-12th grade range because of the difficulties of learning the software, creating a longer animation, developing successful narratives, and staying motivated. There was also an issue stated in the book about obtaining software because it is so expensive. The good part about using these programs for educational purposes though it that schools can usually get a limited license which is significantly cheaper than the normal program. 3-D CG seems like it is more of an advanced technique, which may cause teachers to worry that they don't know enough about the program to use it in their classroom. What I liked about the way the teacher in the case study introduced the program (Maya) to the students, is that he didn't act like he was the master of the program. He taught the students the basics, and then guided them with their specific needs with their projects. I think that concept can be applied to other software also. There is not enough hours in a day to teach a class everything they need to know in Photoshop or Autocad. But, if I teach the students the basics, they will have a starting point. From there, I can help them explore other methods they may want to use on their project through experimentation, online tutorials, and books.
One thing I like about this subject it that I think it is a career oriented subject. I think there are many art students who think of having a graphic or animation related profession. Studying 3-D CG helps the students to realized what it may be like to be a Pixar animator or a video game designer. In the study from the book, all but one of the students said they would like the opportunity to be a video game designer. I also like how easy it is for the students to see examples of this animation in their every day lives. Almost every kid I know has seen a pixar movie, a commercial with special effects, or a video game. They know what these graphics look like and they can use that knowledge that they already have and apply it to their own projects.
USING IT IN MY CLASSROOM:
If I were to do this project in my class, I would first start by having a discussion about different types of 3-D CG. I would see what the students are familiar with and maybe even show them some clips of effective use of 3-D CG. Most popular culture uses 3-D CG in movies and games. In movies the story usually focuses on one important character. In games, the story is usually seen through the players point of view. Because of these views, I think it would be interesting to have the students do a "self portrait" animation. I would have them animate themselves and tell a narrative where they are the main character. I think it will also help them stay more connected with their story and characters.
There are a variety of 3D CG programs. Maya is the one suggested in the book. On the site you can get a free trial or a student discount!
Sweeny, Robert. Inter/Actions/Inter/Sections: Art Education in a Digital Visual Culture. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association, 2010. 3-12. Print.