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Check out this Interview @ Vray with Sofia Delis, Program director at Campus I12.
The 3D and Digital Visualization is based in Eksjö, managed by Campus i12 and Jönköping University, School of Engineering. In the program we offer two profiles, 3D visualization and Digital Compositing. The profiles run side by side with collaboration courses keeping them close together.
Download PDF version of the interview
TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE SCHOOL’S HISTORY AND THE COURSES TAUGHT.
We started in 1999 by the name Interactive Academy. The courses were then more focused on programming, games and Flash. In 2003 the first post-production classes started and the program gradually formed into teaching visual effects for film and commercials, specializing in the collaboration between compositors and 3D artists and making CG and live action integrations. In 2009 I joined forces and renewed the curriculum together with Andreas Bravin Karlsson, currently working at WETA. The new courses were presented to a couple of the best visual effects artists and companies in Sweden. The courses took almost two years to set up and I am constantly working with the industry to refine and develop the content.
The interest towards our program has grown during the past three years and leading post production companies, both in Scandinavia and internationally, have given us much attention. Starting in the fall of 2014, we will be offering the program in English to advance on the international market. We are expecting passionate aspiring VFX artists to apply from all over the world. The program has a two-year duration with five months of work experience at a post-production company and 50% of our students currently choose to do their work experience abroad. We have had students doing their work experience in Shanghai, LA, New York, London, Vancouver and many more places around the world.
The program is based on the three phases of the production process: preproduction, production and post production. We believe that it is important for students to understand their role in the production chain. Communication is the core of all that we do and we know that it really makes a difference if it is done in the right way. Great teams can do wonders in production! All our projects are mainly two-five weeks long to practice the ability to time-estimate work, not get stuck on problems, but rather how to solve them. The students learn how to contribute to production scheduling and understanding the role of a line producer.
IS THERE A SPECIFIC TEACHING APPROACH UNIQUE TO THE SCHOOL?
All students are unique in their styles of learning so we mix different methods in teaching throughout the program. We use feedback and coaching as main tools. We try to find different methods and the teachers we bring in also have many good ideas how to teach in more efficient ways. Students do evaluations during and after each course for us to improve both the content and teaching methods. The most important thing for us, in the long run, is to teach students in a way that they learn to trust their ability. Teach them how to find solutions and learn new things rather than handing them the answers to their questions and solving their problems. We want them to learn from their mistakes. We never underestimate failure; it is a great way to learn.
Sofia Delis and representatives from different companies on the annual Recruitment Day when companies are invited to recruit students for upcoming work experience.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR CLASS.
We focus on giving students a technical ground to stand on and giving them an understanding to what the industry is about and what the different phases include or should include. Then we move on by making it more complex collaboration-wise. In their second year we bring in directors which make it much harder. Not only do students need to do their job, they need to make sure they share the same view as the director and how to interpret his/hers vision into stunning imagery. They also need to shift tasks to be able to keep up to speed and to keep everybody busy. Discussions on different approaches between compositing and 3D are constant, and students have meetings on a daily basis. We believe that it is a good way to teach them to be solution orientated instead of focusing on the problems. If you give students a lot of responsibility and the right tools, you give the power of control to them, then anything can happen. We are amazed by the progress the students make and they are themselves surprised on how rapidly they have progressed during a very short period of time. Feedback during this process is absolutely necessary, both on the technical/artistic side and on the “softer skills” e.g. communication and collaboration. Always with the question, how can we make it better?
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE CULTURE AND THE SPIRIT OF THE CLASSES/SCHOOL?
EDUCATIONAL – We educate, we teach the students to learn for themselves, we provide the platform that makes it possible.
CREATIVE – We encourage creativity, vision and imagination, our passion is the creative process.
IMPRESSION – We develop a sense of form, detail, and overall storytelling.
TECHNOLOGY – We embrace the advanced digital technology combined with analogue techniques.
DEDICATED – We are active and focused, we are a niched school with a generous heart.
At Campus i12 we provide the platform, the network and the methodology for students to create their own future. We show students the way but it is the group and the individual who make the journey.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE STUDENT PROJECTS – WHAT ASSIGNMENTS DO YOU GIVE STUDENTS, DO THEY GATHER IN GROUPS ETC?
This fall we made two projects over a five week period with previously assigned groups of 3D-artists and compositors. One being with a predefined rule set where they were supposed to create a story based on a character they built. The character itself was supposed to be fairly simple and we saw them create walking eggs and a live flame for instance. The other project was a film effect of their choice. Both of these were supervised by Director Marcus Engstrand, Compositing Supervisor Andreas Cronström and 3D Supervisor Jimmy Johansson. The groups had to plan out these two projects within the given timeframe and map everything out. It was interesting to see how some groups solved it by doing them both at the same time and some groups divided into two teams. Supervisors requested frequent meetings where they looked at the plates shot and the production in general to make comments accordingly. The whole idea was to simulate a real life production.
WHICH WERE THE MOST CHALLENGING PARTS OF THE PROJECTS (THE ONES YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE)? WHAT TECHNICAL APPROACH DID YOU USE TO SOLVE THEM?
Since they always blend live action with CG elements there was a fair amount of problems. Integrating these CG elements to a live action plate is a hard thing to do as they had to simulate real life scenarios. One being a running golf ball in grass, were we had to come up with some clever solutions to blend the golf ball in properly. The students were picky with getting all the needed information from set in order to replicate everything properly virtually. In some occasions the students even created their own custom HDRI’s to get the proper light sources along with reflection and diffuse references. They had some simulations that were tricky, one character was made out of paint where different colors would blend inside of it. In that case they first looked into simulating a fluid and using his modeled body as a container, however as time was short they had to find other solutions and they ended up creating various custom render passes to solve this blending method in composite.
ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE CONTROL THAT V-RAY GIVES YOU?
We are completely satisfied with how V-Ray delivers for us. The students can swiftly get nice results and in combination with the supplied materials the students are able to create shading networks which delivered fast and reliable results. Students had previously been concerned about how to do more procedural materials and especially when it comes to making things look messier, but by giving them an introduction to the dirt node they managed to pull through. V-Ray has been a great part of the student productions; they no longer have to worry about all the settings – or at least as much. With Elements they can get anything out of the render that the compositor requests.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ROLE OF V-RAY IN THE STUDENT PROJECTS? WHICH FEATURES DID YOU FIND MOST HELPFUL?
As we have 3D and compositing driven profiles going side by side we let the students use Render Elements quite a bit. Not only to set up the default ones but also to let them create custom elements to ensure our compositing students full control over the image. We try to give them a full understanding of the wonders Elements can do for a project. Not only this but we push the students to get more involved with the DMC Samples and how GI works, all under a linear workflow.
Project “Makyo”, 2013
Course “Post Production – workflow and process II”. ( Work in progress. To be released in 2014.)
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE CAREER OF YOUR STUDENTS AFTER GRADUATION
Many of them end up at the post production facilities where they did their work experience (Copenhagen Bombay, Chimney, Double Negative, Filmgate AB, Framestore, Ghost A/S,Gimmick VFX, Important Looking Pirates, MTV Networks, MPC, Picture Mill, Rising Sun Pictures, Storm Studios, Svensk Filmindustri/SF Produktion, DICE, Swiss International, The Mill). Some freelance while others take their knowledge into other industries or start their own companies (Frost VFX, Upper First etc.)
Project “The Fields”, 2012 (Read more about the project)
Course “Post Production – workflow and process II”
Director: Duncan Guymer
Supervisors: Hugo Guerra – The Mill, Andreas Cronström – Svensk Filmindustri,Oskar Wahlberg – Chimney
WILL YOU BE INTRODUCING ANY NEW CLASSES?
Yes! Three new classes. Look Development, Technical Direction for 3D and in depth roto/paint for the compositing students.
Learn more about Campus i12 at www.campusi12.com