Famous animation studios take an interest in computer design and animation students

Holly Mueller

Kent State computer design and animation students are making friends in very high places.

The renowned animation studios of Pixar and Disney have taken an interest in Kent State’s animation students, said Jeramy Spring, senior computer design and animation major.

Spring, who is the former secretary of Kent State’s animation club, said the relationship was made during a trip the club took to California last May.

“We have planted a seed,” Spring said.

Spring said Bob Peterson, a co-writer of “Finding Nemo,” asked the club to go. Peterson had been in Dover when he invited the group to visit the Pixar studio in California.

When Disney heard that Kent State students were coming to see the Pixar studio, Disney invited the students to visit its own studio, Spring said.

“We got to eat lunch with the directors of ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Finding Nemo,'” Spring said. “They never give tours. Kent was probably the only university ever.”

Building a relationship with Disney has proven to be beneficial for computer animation students. Kamal Bichara, academic program director of the College of Technology, said there are some high-end jobs available in California, such as in Pixar and Disney, for those students who want to move.

Some students, however, don’t want to leave Ohio to get a good job with their computer animation majors.

“I don’t really want to move to California,” said Tim Fritz, senior computer design and animation major. “I don’t really feel like I would fit in with the big city.”

To help these students, Bichara said the Timken Company in Canton and many advertising agencies look to offer many animation students internships or jobs.

A growing aspect of the computer design and animation program that makes it attractive to both students and employers is game design, Bichara said.

He added the program is attracting students from Northeast Ohio, as well as Columbus.

Fritz said the computer design and animation students use a program called 3D Studio Max, which allows the students to design their own games. Fritz compared the program to “The Sims.”

“In ‘The Sims’ you design a house,” he said. “In the program we use, you can design an entire town. It’s just a larger scope.”

Students can create full-fledged games and create interactive motions from scratch in these classes, said Vas Patibandla, assistant professor in the College of Technology.

Spring said designing games is becoming very popular.

“Video games have actually surpassed movie revenues,” he said.

Spring added that it doesn’t take an artistic person to be good at designing video games.

“I’m not,” he added, “but it’s way better if you are.”

Contact College of Technology reporter Holly Mueller at [email protected]