Full Sail Students Soak Up Soft Skills Studying Computer Animation
These soft skills help prepare students for real-world scenarios working out in the field.
When Full Sail University students study computer animation, they can acquire a range of technical skills needed to make their ideas come to life on a digital canvas. Along the way, they will also be able to pick up plenty of important soft skills that are relevant to career success.
“We're teaching students to be 3D content creators,” says Pete Bandstra, Program Director for computer animation. “As they're moving through the degree program, they're going to get an understanding of every part of the 3D production pipeline process.”
Effectively navigating this design process as a 3D artist requires several soft skills. Let’s explore some of the most relevant ones.
According to Pete, communication – both written and verbal – is perhaps the most important soft skill computer animation students learn.
“They're learning how to communicate with their peers, they're learning how to communicate with their instructors, and they're learning ways that will directly help them further [their careers] in the industry,” Pete explains. “As in, ‘How do I talk to my work peers? How do I talk to my bosses? How do I write things down to help a colleague?’”
Accurate and concise communication is particularly important when creating highly detailed digital assets and providing feedback on them. Students get experience through the interactions in their classes and writing posts on discussion boards. One example of a course that helps students become better communicators is Character Animation. In this class, students evaluate their own work and the work of their peers. They learn to critique each other’s projects in order to implement what they have learned into their own animation, preparing them for real-world scenarios.
Since managing one’s time is imperative both academically and in a content creation-driven field, students studying computer animation learn this concept quickly.
“In the earlier classes, the students actually get a layout for them to plan out their weeks,” Pete says. “You have to look at how you are spending your time and if you’re using it wisely. We encourage them to use the calendars on their laptops, plan out time accordingly for their class time and time to push their artwork, and do work-life balance scenarios. This has a direct impact on working in the industry because you have to meet deadlines. You can't turn around to your boss and say, ‘Hey, I didn't get it done.’ You get it done. Period.”
As students progress through their coursework, they generally get better at learning how much time they’ll need to allot to complete certain tasks in the design process, Pete adds.
Creative Problem Solving
In terms of coming up with innovative ways to overcome challenges in the design process, Pete says students tend to naturally acquire this soft skill along the way as they progress through the degree program.
“Daily practice as an artist is important,” Pete says. “Students will find themselves tackling day-to-day obstacles in modeling, animation, or other areas of the production pipeline, or software glitches. The ability to craft solutions, welcome the results, and nurture a problem-solving mindset will pave the way for career success. Some of it involves just jumping in and trying to fix a problem. Don't just say [you] don't know what to do. Just try something. See if it works. You're not going to break anything.’"
While not directly discussed, this is another soft skill embedded into many of the projects in the curriculum that students should attain in due time.
“Critical thinking skills are vital for 3D artists,” Pete shares. “They must be creative problem-solvers with attention to detail, adaptability to industry changes, and effective communication.”
Breaking down the creation of any project through a step-by-step approach is key.
“When building a 3D object, artists deconstruct it into smaller components, considering its construction process,” he says. “Whether crafting an iPhone or any other project, artists meticulously plan the best approach to model, animate, and composite, emphasizing a thoughtful beginning-to-end strategy to achieve the desired result.”
Attention to Detail
Creating visual assets from scratch requires a keen attention to detail. Through project-based learning, students realize the need to focus on the small details in their work.
“The key is observation – the ability to closely examine the intricate aspects of an object is essential for its successful re-creation,” Pete explains. “[These include] details when they're moving a character and the finesse that's going to take place for the movement. Anybody can move an object from point A to point B, but an animator applies the principles of animation to the character and brings it to life. There are a lot of details that go into the animation process, and some are very subtle.”
Intrigued by a career in this field? Learn more about studying computer animation at Full Sail here.
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