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The faces of next-gen 3D talent

By Henry Winchester

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Date Added: 29th August 2013

Ever wondered what the next generation of 3D talent looks like? We investigate how the youths of today are getting to grips with 3D in our interview with Henry Santos and John Bavaresco - instructors of the 'Modonauts'!


It's actually surprising that 3D art isn't a bigger part of modern kids' lives. They're completely surrounded by 3D animation from a young age, be it in TV series, Pixar movies or video games. But the subject remains firmly off-syllabus, and it's generally something budding artists get into when they're in their late teens.

Henry Santos wants to fix this. This summer he and CG legend John Bavaresco launched a series of classes aimed at sixth-to-ninth grade students (aged 11 to 15), in order to teach them the basics of character animation and game development. Teaching a class of kids is tricky at the best of times, but the addition of complex software and ideas makes it even harder.

A university setting gave the kids a taste of further education

A meeting of minds

The idea for the classes came about from Academic Talent Search, a summer program for children at California State University, Sacramento. Instructor Henry suggested a number of classes using Luxology's MODO 701 3D modeling and rendering software. He was offered a teaching position on a course titled "3D Computer Animation: Character Animation & Game Development". With 30 spaces available on the course, Henry was surprised when he received around 100 applications.

"John is brilliant and was a perfect candidate as a teacher"

"We quickly realized we'd need to find another instructor for more sections,"  Henry says. He posted a thread on the Luxology forums, and among the well-wishers a knight in shining armor came to the rescue. "To my shock and utter amazement, John Bavaresco - a CGI rock star - emailed me and we set the ball rolling. John is brilliant and was a perfect candidate as a teacher, so we were glad that he decided to join our team."

The space animation segment of the course let the kids' imaginations run wild

"had a gap in my schedule and I thought it might be fun to teach a program that I personally really liked,"says John. "I knew going into the class that these kids were smart. However, I didn't know that they were really, really smart. I instantly realized that my class was going to get bored very quickly with the course that we had set up for them, and I had to come up with lessons that were going to be exciting and would add a broader dimension to their experience."

"I had one student setting up particle emitters without any guidance from me," says John. "Did I mention these kids were smart?"

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
(ID: 220116, pid: 0) Henry Santos on Wed, 18 September 2013 9:10pm
This is a wonderful article and sheds light on the beginnings of a growing interest to educate our future CG Artists and enthusiasts. It is well written and I am so grateful for the positive feedback and interest in this class.

ATS and I are looking forward to next year with possible more classes and more diverse subject matter.

To learn more visit the Academic Talent Search (ATS) website...

-Henry Santos
(ID: 215861, pid: 0) Marcelo on Thu, 29 August 2013 4:19pm
Nice Article. This generation is lucky. When I started, there was only 3D Studio DOS with its huge learning curve. Nowadays it is much easier and will be getting more.
(ID: 215809, pid: 0) 3ddy on Thu, 29 August 2013 10:49am
Nice article. Also very interesting how kids these days develope. With all the digital media around them, how they can focus on one interesting thing instead of losing thier focus. Because it's fun!
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