Posted by: stevenpalomino | February 13, 2010

Full Sail Month #02 (3D Foundations)

I thought I’d start documenting my time at Full Sail so maybe others can benefit from any information in answer to questions they might have about the Full Sail Online Computer Animation Degree. If you have any questions feel free to email me at stevenpalominodesign@gmail.com or just comment on here!

Month 1 for me was English Composition or English Comp as they call it. This was pretty basic and boring so I won’t go into much detail. But the way Full Sail is set up, they will give you some videos to watch, documents, and slideshows to see/read and then give you a couple basic quizzes on them. They also have the occasional discussion post that you are required to post in. The online course is perfect if you have other things to do (like a job to go to or a family to take care of.. or a social life). English Comp was a basic class but the teacher made it not so boring so it was a great experience for me.

Now on to a better class (which I’m currently in): 3D Foundations. This is exactly what it sounds like it would be: an introduction to the 3D pipeline and basics to get you started using Maya and Photoshop. Right away we were given a list of about 30 scenes to choose from to animate. I chose “pulling a door when it’s supposed to be pushed”. The first week we are given several videos about how to use Maya and a project on creating a storyboard for the animation you chose. it’s a 3-6 panel preview of what your animation is going to be like. Much like what you see in the Pixar “Making of”-type videos where they have a whole bunch of drawings on a wall and some guy is explaining the story through them. This is what they call your “contract” with them of what your end-result will look like. Keep this in mind, everything you draw in your panel you will have to create!

Pixar Storyboard pitch

The second week they give you 3 other projects: making a prop, making a character, and texturing your character’s head (UVs). I had prior knowledge to using Maya and Photoshop so these wern’t TOO hard for me although they were still challenging. They give you a poly requirement of around 300 polys for the prop and 500-700 I believe for the character. They also have a live Wimba session every thursday for two hours as a Q&A time or problem-solving time. You can send your files to the teacher and he’ll open them up and explain things to you right there. If you aren’t familiar with Wimba it’s like screenshare on crack! You see the teachers screen, you can hear people talk AND you have a chat. This is a great help if you’re just stuck on something and can’t figure it out. You can send your file to the teacher and he’ll open it right there and show you what’s wrong with your scene. It’s great.

The third and fourth week they give you setup/rigging, animation (week 3), scene finalization (shading, lighting, rendering), and “make your movie” which I’m guessing is putting it all together in Final Cut Pro.

You are pretty much expected to suck at modeling and every other aspect of 3D. Most people can get discouraged because of the complexity of the software. I have to say from personal experience, Maya is one of the most complex 3D programs I’ve used. I’ve messed around in Maxon’s Cinema 4D (which I’ve found to be one of the easiest), Luxology’s Modo (another easy great 3D app), Newtek’s Lightwave (Oldie but a goodie), and of course now Autodesk’s Maya (Industry standard and reliable problem solver). The biggest piece of advice I can give is to stay with it. Watch the videos over and over again. The teachers suggest that you follow along in Maya while they do it which is exactly what I did and it helped me a lot. If you can, do it again later, but try to use the video as little as possible. I’ve also heard it helps a LOT to just spend some time messing around in the programs. Push buttons, mess around!

I’ll end by saying that all the software and hardware you get with the program is AWESOME! Industry standards!
With the Computer Animation degree you get the following:

  • 15″ Apple MacBook Pro with SuperDrive and built-in iSight camera
  • An Applecare Extended Warranty
  • MobileMe account
  • Final Cut Studio
  • Adobe Master Suite CS4
  • Telestream Screenflow
  • Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite
  • Foundry Nuke
  • Pixologic Zbrush 3
  • Microsoft Office Mac 2008
  • Wacom Intuos4 5×8 tablet (Medium)
  • Canon LIDE 100 flatbed scanner

And just in case you were wondering they give you all the latest software. And in case you were also wondering the Macbook Pro specs here they are:

Intel Core 2 Duo
4GB Memory
500GB hard drive1
SD card slot
Built-in 7-hour battery2
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M + 9600M GT with 512MB
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