A character concept digital art by a 3D Animation student. (Provided by Kayla Dodd)
A character concept digital art by a 3D Animation student.

Provided by Kayla Dodd

NKU introduces new animation major

Major has been started by the Visual Arts program in conjunction with the College of Informatics

October 24, 2021

NKU started the new animation major to prepare students for a fully immersive experience in the creative digital industry. The new animation major is in the College of Arts and Sciences- Visual Arts program, and was created in collaboration with the the College of Informatics at NKU. 

In the new animation section on NKU’s website, it reads: “Students will learn how to proficiently draw, effectively communicate stories and use state of the art digital tools to bring worlds and characters to life through animation.”

Media Informatics was officially renamed 3D Digital Design and Visual Effects in order to keep up with the constantly evolving field. Because of the name change, the curriculum is highly focused on 3D, including modeling, animation and sculpting. In this fully visual program, the final product goes directly from the computer to the audience. 

In the newly proclaimed 3D Digital Design and Visual Effects, the NKU website details the goal of the program and its connection to animation. “Students in this diverse and challenging major collaborate to conceptualize, create, and design 3D content, animation, games, digital media, and visual effects (VFX) that educate, inform, inspire, and entertain,” the website states.

The animation pathway is located in NKU’s School of the Arts (SOTA). Students utilize 21 high performance computers to complete their work in the Fine Arts building. They keep up with the latest and greatest software to provide the students with the best possible tools for success. 

Sunil Ketty, Assistant professor and program director of 3D Digital Design & VFX, was part of the committee that made decisions about the new major. He discusses what the future of the program looks like and what the end goal is. “The good thing is that there is not one defining outcome,” Ketty said. “Students can figure out where their strengths lie, what their interests are, their core values, and what they are passionate about.”

The classes and curriculum have had to make changes as well to meet the needs of the VFX and the new animation major. Ketty notes that it was a main part of what they had to discuss when establishing the new pathways and what they were wanting them to become and be defined as. 

A 3D Wizards Study. (Provided by Aubrey Lyman)

The animation major allows students to have a connection to their audience, as they provide entertainment. Sophomore animation student, Michael Lankford, notes that he changed his major from Visual Communication Design in order to have a real relationship to his audience and for his work to resonate to them as well. “I want to make media to be enjoyed rather than media for a purpose,” Lankford said.

Kellin Reeves, freshman animation student, says that the new animation pathway has provided him with a new experience that he did not think he would have in his first year at the school. “I immediately signed on to the animation pathway as soon as I heard about it. I have already learned so much. Taking both EMB classes and traditional art classes has been really great for my learning process,” Reeves said.

 This pathway is competitive, as student’s portfolios are reviewed at the end of their sophomore year to determine if they are able to finish the four year program.

“If students are in the school of the arts and are pursuing visual communication design, they are required to submit a portfolio. This pushes students to be their best and get used to the competitive nature of the design field,” Ketty said.

Lankford notes that animation has allowed him to complete work that he enjoys and is really proud of. The creation of this major has relieved some previous stress that he had about choosing the right major in school. 

“I know that this major will not go anywhere and I have finally found my drive to push through even the hardest parts of class. Even when I am in school I am excited about what I do,” Lankford said.

In this ever growing field, the need for new animators is on the rise. Ketty notes that the field is constantly and consistently evolving. Meaning, therefore, “that it will always keep them relevant on a consistent basis. Our hope is to stay ahead of the curve and bring in the latest hardware and software to help our students gain the knowledge necessary to compete in the industry,” Ketty said.

If you are interested in joining the animation major at NKU or would like to learn more about it, go to the animation category under NKU’s School of the Arts Visual Arts page. For specific questions regarding this major, contact Visual Arts Program Head, Brad McCombs at mccombsr1@nku.edu. 

This story has been corrected to reflect that the Visual Arts program, not the College of Informatics developed the curriculum for the major and that the new animation major did not kick off the 3D Digital Design and Visual Effects pathway.

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