“This Summer a group of 13-18 year old school students made 3D computer animated films in just seven days at the 3Dami Summer School, hosted by UCL Department of Computer Science. 3Dami is an organisation founded to promote digital art amongst pre-university students, by linking them with each other and industry, and is supported by UCL Engineering. 3Dami’s entirely free Summer School annually welcomes applications and portfolios from hundreds of applications, after which this year twenty seven school students were selected to work in three teams. They were granted complete artistic freedom and followed an entire film creation pipeline – from scriptwriting on the opening day, right through to a finished film, which they premièred in front of an audience on the final evening.
The 3Dami summer school exists at the intersection of art and technology, welcoming those either artistically inclined, or of a more technical mind. 3Dami attempts to compliment the call for more recognition for Computer Science in schools, as well as for improved digital art education. UCL and 3Dami’s approach to education attempts to be different. Making a film is a great motivator; personalised one on one teaching makes for a strong learning environment; and the chance to meet with the film première audience, including technology and film industry experts, gives students excellent feedback. The UK has one of the world’s largest digital arts and games industries, yet despite this there is little formal education available, and limited awareness outside the industry of how to get started. 3Dami aims to encourage, mentor and celebrate the talents of young 3D content creators, providing them with the resources and experience to develop towards becoming professionals. The complexity of making a 3D animated film teaches numerous skills – students learn the ropes in a semi-realistic studio setup, they must think on their feet, sharpen their team work and develop their computational thinking.
The primary tool students work with is Blender, an open source 3D modelling package that also includes compositing, video editing and match moving. Students also use a variety of other software packages to prepare content for Blender, specifically Inkscape (vector graphics), GIMP (photo editing) and MyPaint (realistic media simulation). The completed films, ‘No Pain, No Train’, ‘Snail Fail’, and ‘Baby Rumble’ can all be found here