COMPUTER ART

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There is an experimental approach to the majority of the Computer Art courses and the cumulative program prepares students for a variety of professional endeavors.

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The Computer Art major at NMU

(previous major name: Electronic Imaging)

The Computer Art major provides broad competencies in the various digital technologies involved with computer graphics production. This includes aspects of 3D modeling, animation (both 2D and 3D) and motion graphics, visual effects, scripting, photo-illustration, game design, and a general integration with other art and design fields. While the approach is broad, students may select an area of specialization for emphasis in the final year of study in order to facilitate portfolio preparation and pre-professional development.

There is an experimental approach to the majority of the courses and the cumulative program prepares students for a variety of professional endeavors. Potential jobs for the Computer Art program include mid-level animation (TV/web production studios, commercials, low level VFX, ad agencies, title sequences), 3D for digital illustration (storyboards, environment replacement, character creation, game level mock-up, medical imaging, product visualization, architectural visualization), and interactive systems (app creation, "app" level game design, data visualization). As the computer has become a standard tool for image creation, the workplace continues to expand to accommodate those skills. Recent graduates have been employed as web designers, broadcast designers, animators, and 3D modelers.

Technical, conceptual, and analytical skills are developed and the process of ‘learning how to learn’ is emphasized – as artists and designers in a field that changes very rapidly, students must be able to adapt to new technologies as the technology becomes available. Emergence of self-criticism and a personal style is achieved through frequent critique in both individual and group settings. By the end of the coursework, students have the ability and experience to present themselves professionally whether it is for employment, gallery representation, or application to graduate school.

In addition to the university laptop initiative which provides each student with an Apple laptop computer, students are provided with industry-standard software applications such as Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere, Dreamweaver, Maxon Cinema4D, ZBrush, RealFlow, and Unity3D. The program is housed in a state-of-the-art facility, including Apple workstations, 4K video production, access to digital cameras, lighting studios, a greenscreen stage, a real-time motion capture suit, extensive computer peripherals such as drawing tablets and scanners, and an array of printers including laser printers, large format (44 inch wide) printers, and archival inkjet printers.

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The Computer Art Major Includes 3D Modeling Animation, Motion Graphics, and Visual Effects

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Computer Art Studio

Computer Art Students utilize the shared Art & Design Computer Studio. The studio has four labs, one designed for laptop use, and the other three are equipped with Apple MacPro computers, large flat screen displays, Wacom drawing tablets, and scanners. Software includes Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Flash, Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, ZBrush, Maxon Cinema 4D, RealFlow, Unity3D, Rhino3D, Apple Final Cut Pro, and many others. The facility provides digital cameras, digital video cameras, tripods, panoramic heads, lighting equipment, and microphones for overnight checkout. A large format inkjet printer, four mid-sized pre-press inkjet printers, and a color laser printer are available for student use. Network storage is available for moving projects from one workstation to another and as temporary backup storage. The studio is open approximately 80 hours outside of class times for student use.

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New Mac Pro Stations
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Student Work Lab
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The Computer Art Studio is Equipped with a Wide Range of Software and High End Workstations

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Computer Art Faculty

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Stephan Larson

Professor
BFA University of Louisiana, Lafayette
MFA Syracuse University

Stephan Larson started creating images with computers long ago when an Atari 400 showed up in his home (yes, Atari used to make computers). He continues to utilize the computer as his primary production tool with the majority of his time experimenting with 3D animation, predominantly in non-narrative explorations. But when not trying to overheat computers with abstract simulations, he dabbles in creating 3D models of quirky characters because he finds the process immensely amusing. His work is influenced by biological growth, quantum physics, synesthesia, Abstract Expressionism, eight years of work as a medical animator, and the Hulk. His animations have been shown in nearly two hundred exhibitions throughout the world including the ACM SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater and Art Galleries, Anima Mundi in Brazil, Art Futura in Spain, and earning an honorable mention in the Prix Ars Electronica in Germany. He has been teaching at Northern Michigan University since 2001 and is one of the few people in the world who still plays Tetris.


EMAIL

stlarson@nmu.edu

WEBSITE

www.graysense.com
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Stephan Larson
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Stephan Larson
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Computer Art Courses

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AD 134 Computer Art: Foundations

Offered: Fall, Winter
4 credit hours

Introduction to the concepts and practices of computer art. Foundational approaches to photoillustration, animation, and 3D modeling will be explored.


AD 234 Computer Art: Motion

Offered: Winter
4 credit hours
Prerequisites: AD 134 or instructors permission

Development of concepts and practices of computer art with an emphasis on keyframe and procedural animation methods. 


AD 334A Computer Art: Integration

Offered: Fall, even numbered years
4 credit hours
Prerequisites: AD 234 or instructors permission

Development of concepts and practices of computer art with an emphasis on integrative methods of production. The intersections and integrative workflows of modeling, digital sculpting, animation, scripting, and interactivity will be explored.


AD 334B Computer Art: Motion II

Offered: Fall, odd numbered years
4 credit hours
Prerequisites: AD 234 or instructors permission

Development of concepts and practices of computer art with an emphasis on digital forms of animation. Creative and commercial applications of animation will be explored while developing pre-professional production workflows.


AD 434 Computer Art: Seminar

Offered: Winter
4 credit hours
Prerequisite: AD 303 or concurrent enrollment, AD 334A or AD 334B, or instructor permission.
Note: May be repeated for up to 8 credits.

Development of concepts and methods for computer art with a focus on portfolio development. Contemporary methods of input, output, display and interaction will be explored. Topics may include advanced animation, scripting, game development, motion capture, UV layout, digital sculpting, and advanced rendering.


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Computer Art FAQ

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What degree should I pursue?

The majority of Computer Art majors pursue the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, referred to as the BFA degree. This degree provides for more studio credit hours than a BA or BS degree. The BA and BS degrees provide students with the option to pursue a minor in addition to their major in Computer Art. One good "employment" combination for a major/minor is a major in Computer Art and a minor in Computer Science, but any combination is possible – English, Music, Theater, or whatever attracts your interest.

Will I need to submit a portfolio for admission?

No portfolio review is required. For general requirements for admission into the University you should check with the Admissions Office.

Are there scholarships for incoming Art and Design majors at the Freshman level?

Yes, there are scholarships available - for specific information on requirements and deadlines check on-line at:

Scholarship Information

What emphasis will I find in the Computer Art program?

The approach in Computer Art is to make students fluent in a broad range of techniques with an emphasis on 3D production techniques (modeling and animation). While there is the opportunity for specialization within the program, all students are expected to be competent in many skills and be able to apply those skills in a creative manner. Upon graduation, students will be fluent in: 3D modeling, animation (both 2D and 3D), comfortable with scripting and basic programming with regards to graphics applications, experimental in approach to digital media and digital media integration, and comfortable in at least one development environment such as a game engine. The primary software used in the curriculum is Maxon Cinema 4D, ZBrush, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, and Unity3D. Students in their final year have the opportunity to pick one or two of the skills for extended studies, thus offering the choice of specialization, if desired.

What kind of computer do I need?

As a student at Northern Michigan University, you will be issued a laptop computer and as an Art and Design major, the laptop will be an Apple laptop. The laptop will come with the majority of the required software already loaded. There are four computer labs available for student use as well. The labs are used for instruction and in some cases when specific software is unavailable for the laptops, projects must be completed in the labs. Additionally, digital cameras and digital video cameras are available in specific classes for student use.

Do most of your majors find employment?

The majority of students that continue to pursue work in Computer Art find employment in the publishing industry – both broadcast and web formats. Multimedia design (such as motion graphics) and animation is one of the fastest growing fields within art and design. Graduates are currently working throughout the United States from Oregon to Rhode Island. The opportunity for internships in Marquette, MI are limited, so students are encouraged to use summer as an opportunity to research companies and even complete internships which increase their chances of employment upon graduation. Advanced courses include a component of resume and portfolio development so students are prepared the day they graduate (sometimes earlier) to begin a job search. A number of our graduates choose to pursue graduate studies.

May I enroll in other Art and Design classes?

Yes - there are Art and Design elective credits designed into the curriculum. You should consult with your advisor for specific details. All 100-level Art and Design studio classes have no pre-requisites and can be taken by anyone.

More Questions?
Please write Professor Stephan Larson stlarson@nmu.edu
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