The Story Pouch as an educational experience

The process of bringing this animation to life has had tremendous benefits for me as an educator and for my students. It has provided a valuable learning experience that is as close to a professional studio animation project as I could devise in an academic setting. The final result represents the collective efforts of over twenty-five students, faculty members and professional artists. An equal number of students helped with sections of the project that were later cut due to time constraints and the reality of working with a team of part-time, inexperienced, student volunteers. These experiences provided significant lessons in the challenges of producing a project of such complexity. It is difficult for people who have not been involved in a production of this kind to fully appreciate the extremely time-intensive nature of this work. Looking at the credits of an animated feature film gives a sense of what is involved. On a small scale, this project took us through almost every production stage of a full-length animated film. The majority of the students on the production team developed their conceptual and technical skills to a much higher level. Actors and dancers had the chance to experience the motion capture process, which is a rare opportunity in a university setting. All involved grew in their understanding of the collaborative nature of the animation process. For some students the project helped to determine that this type of work is not for them. That in itself is of significant value. But a number of students have gone on to work professionally as graphic designers, web designers, modelers, character riggers, texture and lighting artists, and animators. Their portfolios were greatly enhanced by this project, and the experience of working with a team toward an animation of this complexity helped prepare them for this type of work. Though this has been the most challenging creative venture I have ever undertaken, the final product, the many lessons learned, and the success of some of my most capable and committed students have made this one of the most rewarding and valuable teaching and learning experiences I have had.

Todd Kesterson