Students explore moviemaking animation software in workshop

The LIVE Lab also hosted a student developers’ “Game Jam” Nov. 7-9, 2014.

Visualization students created computer-animated objects with Houdini, the same software used to make blockbuster movies such as “Frozen” and “Rio,” at an Oct. 17-19, 2014 workshop hosted by Texas A&M’s Learning Interactive Visualization Experience Lab.

“Students can use what they learned at the workshop to improve previous projects and enhance their future work,” said André Thomas, LIVE Lab founder and visualization lecturer.

The workshop, which included sessions for students with and without Houdini experience, was led by Ari Danesh, a certified instructor with Houdini developer Side Effects Software and Gianvito Serra, a modeling supervisor with Electronic Arts, one of the world’s premier videogame developers.

On the first day of the workshop, Danesh asked advanced students to create a virtual landscape with tunnels that could be easily enlarged or shrunk. After Danesh provided a walkthrough showing how he’d tackle the project, he provided students feedback in one-on-one sessions.

On the second and third workshop days, beginning students learned Houdini’s basics, then used their new knowledge to create a virtual barrel that could be enlarged, reduced,  spun and viewed at any angle.  

Due to the workshop’s popularity and the positive feedback it generated, Thomas said another Houdini workshop will be held next spring.

At the LIVE Lab, established in fall 2014, interactive educational software is developed by an interdisciplinary group of faculty and student designers and coders aiming to make video game-based learning an integral part of education by enhancing critical thinking skills and improving learning outcomes for students at all levels.

Related story:

Students from Texas A&M and Kansas State spent the Nov. 7-9 weekend creating videogames in “Game Jam” at the LIVE Lab.

posted November 11, 2014