William Bares at CofC

Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds

This page features highlights of student animations from the CSCI / CITA 120 Building Virtual Worlds course.  This course serves as a contextualized CS One-Half that introduces algorithmic thinking and programming by making 3D computer animations.  Course topics include:

  • principles of traditional animation including key framing, timing, and squash & stretch
  • principles of visual storytelling including storyboarding, selection of camera angles, and continuity editing
  • modeling and character rigging in a 3D content-creation application
  • layout and rendering using a commercial 3D animation package
  • coding in Python to enhance animations by generating multiple instances of modeled objects or special effects such as particle systems.

Students can apply concepts and skills learned to future careers in animation arts, game design, visual arts, graphics software development, or entry into graduate programs in media arts, computer science, or digital production arts.  Each assigned project has a list of required artistic and technical elements leaving students the freedom to create their own scenes or stories.  For example, the final projects require artistic contributions of a storyboard, character/scene design, and story design.  The technical contributions must include application of a list data structure to represent attributes of multiple objects, an algorithm that animates the collection of objects, and code to set keyframes or layout the objects in the scene.

This course has evolved to place a greater emphasis on using algorithms to layout and generate animation to give students a stronger preparation in Python for our CS 1 course and greater expertise in the work of technical animation (for those who seek careers in the movie effects industry).

Wizard Card Duel

Whitney Tate-Mofo (Fall 2018)

Two wizards play a magic card game and one conjures up a rain storm particle effect.  The rigged wizard figures were  created by TurboSquid user kalyon6.

Wizard Card Duel

Click to download Python source file for rain simulation and rock layout.


The Lonely Loaf
Alexis Easterlin and Seth Martineau (Fall 2018)

A slice of bread wanders the kitchen looking for its loaf mates.

Project work comprised drawing a storyboard and textures, writing code for the particle system that generated the milk “rain,” and writing code to generate the crowd of bread characters, setting up keyframes in Maya, and rendering the finished video.

Click to download Python source code for rain of milk particle simulation.


McYummy’s Donuts by Gabrielle Hodges (fall 2014)

Below are still images and brief descriptions for more animations created in Blender in the Fall 2014 class.

Student animations from fall 2014

Student animations from fall 2014

(a) Dr. Frankenstein tries to create a bouncing ball – and fails yet again

(b) Learning how to share while playing soccer

(c) Penguin swipes igloo guy’s grilled fish

(d) Knight gets a surprise when using the magic beach ball wand

(e) Kirby catches and rides a flying star

(f) Complete chess game move-by-move (click to view video)

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