With my 2D and 3D computer animation courses I impress upon students not to overwhelm their creative spirit with the glamor of the technology or mistake its prepackaged art tools as a substitute for their own imagination. The computer has indeed changed animation and exposed our minds to entirely new ideas. It takes a proper respect for, and appreciation of, its limitations and strengths to find real freedom as an artist.
In teaching computer animation, I emphasize a solid grounding in its history so that students appreciate our evolution up to this point. My students may grumble on occasion that I dive a little too deeply into the soul of the computer, revealing its technical underbelly so we can see why we are forced to do things a certain way. But I believe that students should grasp what the computer can and can’t do, and remind them that people are behind the design of both the underlying architecture and software programs. Although good software is designed to accommodate the most common approaches to certain tasks, and better software allows customization of the process for our particular needs, neither truly caters to our individuality. We should never let the software’s design completely define or constrain our thinking.
In both classes, the role of the animator as the designer and actor is emphasized. Discussion of computer-related topics, concepts and techniques are covered in general, software-agnostic terms. Lab time then caters the discussion to the specific software we are using and what creative approaches we can take to bring our ideas to life.
Images of Peter Foldes and his film "Hunger" (1974).