The Arts and Technology program is filled with student with different focuses. The program allows for programmers, graphic designers, riggers, 3D modelers and gamers to interact and learn from each other. This networking of students with different focuses allows students to learn from each other and apply other focuses in the creation of their own projects.
One student who believes that it is important to network with other students is Djakhangir Zakhidov, also known as DJ. DJ is a graduate student in the ATEC program studying 3D animation, sound design, and digital video production. DJ always loved photography and was always taking pictures.
DJ received his bachelor’s degree in Film, TV, and Radio, from University of North Texas before coming to UTD to study in the ATEC graduate program. DJ choose the ATEC program because they “offered a wonderful transition to moving to the world of animations and 3D visual effects.”
While at UTD he explored Motion Capture Animation with Midori Kitagawa, an assistant professor. During this class, his group created a short animated video of a dancing robot. For this project, they had to capture an interesting dance sequence and apply it to a 3D model they had to build as well.
DJ invited his friend, Danielle Georgiou, who is a dancer at UTD to dance the moves that would be linked to the robot. DJ states that his favorite part in the creation of Dancing Robot was “watching Danielle dance.” Danielle’s moves were captured using the equipment in ATEC’s Motion Capture Lab. The team then took the sequences and cleaned it up in Motion Builder, where they also linked the dance moves to the robots skeleton. The next step was to bring the skeleton into Maya and link it up with the 3D robot model. The last step was setting up cameras to capture the different views of the rendered scenes.
DJ tried to participate in all job aspects of this project, but he was primarily the director and worked with the Motion Builder software. The Dancing Robot project utilized skills DJ learned from the ATEC program. These skills include basic modeling, basic animation, basic rigging, sound design, video, editing, texturing and lighting. Basic rigging involves creating a skeleton that allows animation to be applied to limbs or parts of the 3D model the rigging is applied to. Sound design involves creating sound effects for an animation. Texturing is when textures and colors are put onto the 3D model. Lastly Lighting is the process of setting up virtual lights within the virtual filming scene.
DJ’s advice to new or current students is to network with the faculty. He states that the faculty can guide you on interesting directions. However, DJ’s says the biggest thing he learned in the ATEC program was “to meet people and understand the projects they were doing. Every time I do that it gives me a bigger perspective on what I could be doing, because I don’t want to be doing the same thing over and over.”