May 14, 2008

Degree in Visual & Game Programming Launched

San Diego - The Art Institute of California - San Diego has launched a new bachelor's degree program in Visual & Game Programming, designed to prepare the next generation of technical artists for the animation and video game industries.

The program begins with a foundation in art and design. Then students enter into the more technical areas of programming for 3D animation. Students learn the essential skills to effectively solve technical problems and play the indispensable role between the technical programmer and the creative artist.


With the ability to combine artistic talent with the knowledge and skills of programming for 3D development, graduates of the program will be qualified for a range of employment opportunities in the entertainment and game production industries. The curriculum trains students for entry-level positions that include technical artist, technical developer, assistant technical director, 3D tools programmer, artist wizard, data wrangler, rendering wrangler, or junior technical cinematic artist.


The program focuses on students' ability to write, extend, and modify programs/scripts for 3D animation. Students will be introduced to the principles of programming, which enables them to enter into the world of shading development, motion capture management, and pipeline streamlining. They will learn programming and scripting tools such as Perl, C++, C-shell, MEL scripting, MAXScript, DirectX, and OpenGL and become familiar with various operating systems. The bachelor's degree program is 12 quarters and contains 192 quarter credits, including 56 quarter credits in general education.


The curriculum was developed with input from game and animation industry veterans, including professionals from the International Game Developers Association, Electronic Arts, Acclaim, Red Storm Entertainment, Digital Domain, Pixar Animation Studios, PDI/DreamWorks, Microsoft, Stormfront Studios, BioWare, and other companies.


According to Bradley, the technical artist must have the artistic talent and abilities, and as importantly, be well versed in the technical aspects of the game or animation in order to be capable of comprehending the intent of the artistic creator and the technical needs to achieve the intended results of the game designers. With that unique understanding, the technical artist can customize the programming tools in a computer software application to best meet the needs of an individual production.