Archive for April, 2011

How to Create a Virtual Skateboard

March 5, 2011

Student Submission

Today we all came in as usual, waiting to see what was in store for us. At first, most of us thought that it was just going to be another day on Second Life (not that that’s a bad thing or anything, but isn’t it nice when something you don’t expect to happen, well, happens?)

Imagine our collective surprise when our professor, who teaches computer animation and is a character designer, showed us many of his creative character designs. He then proceeded to teach us how to build characters in a professional, character-building animation program called Maya. Maya is software used by the likes of huge names such as Walt Disney Animation and Dreamworks, and is hugely popular in the filmmaking industry.

The program, our professor described, is like a ball of clay – one starts from scratch, and molds the clay into a figure. Maya works the same way – a basic shape is chosen, and then molded into something familiar. Today, we were to mold our “clay” into a character.

Many of us caught on to the program fast, while some of us needed a bit of help along the way. But at the end, our professor admitted that most (if not all) of us were already really good at making our characters come to life, despite being beginners at the program.

After breaking for lunch, we moved on to working in Second Life. Today most of us were to begin building for the first time. One of our classmates, who is already really awesome at building things in Second Life, stood at the front of the class and began to lecture us on how build.

After some fooling around and getting used to the controls, the instructor gave us a new assignment: build an object that resembles a form of transport, in 45 minutes.

Again, many of us had trouble getting started, but with help from the instructor and advice from our neighbors, all of us were able to create something in the given amount of time. Boats, spaceships, rockets, cars, trucks and all sorts of other things were made, but definitely the best and most creative creation was a gigantic, colorful skateboard using only basic shapes and a couple of editing tricks.

So, yeah today was a pretty great day in Digital WAVE! We learned a lot, both in Maya and Second Life!

April 5th, 2011  in Featured, Student Work No Comments »

Canoeing at Biscayne National Park

February 19, 2011

by Lindsay Bartholomew

What better way to learn about the ecology of coastal Florida than by canoe? The Digital WAVE students went to Biscayne National Park to go canoeing and meet with a Park Ranger to talk about south Florida coastal environments and the effects of climate change on the area.

When we arrived, we watched a short movie about the park region, and the ranger told us there are four separate ecosystems in the area. There are the mangroves along the mainland shoreline, Biscayne Bay, the islands of the Keys, and a coral reef (the third largest reef in the world!). Each of these environments, and all the plants and animals that live there, depend on each other. If one is affected, all the others will be affected.

But we didn’t just hear about mangroves, turtles and seagrass meadows. We actually got to go out on canoes and see for ourselves – but not before the ranger taught us about canoe safety. Even though we were there to learn about the amazing wildlife in this environment, we didn’t want to end up in the water with them! So we definitely paid attention to that.

Canoeing was a challenge for some, but we all managed to navigate through open water as well as narrow channels of mangroves, being careful not to bump into them. We even got to stop on an island and eat our lunches we’d brought along – making sure not to leave any trash behind. This is the kind of place where you should take only photos, and leave only footprints.

This place is so beautiful, and it’s amazing how it manages to protect us from the full extent of extreme weather and storms. And the fact that this area is right smack between Biscayne Bay on one side, and the huge urban sprawl of Miami on the other side, makes it a really fragile but really important place. It is definitely somewhere to take care of!

April 5th, 2011  in Featured No Comments »

Bonfire Chat

February 26, 2011

Student Submission

It was a sunny Saturday on the 26th when suddenly…CYBER NINJAS! Okay not really that dramatic, but almost.

On Saturday, we arrived at Miami Dade College and soon broke into an impromptu building session, where they created various objects in a virtual underwater sandbox.

After a good bit of building, the students gathered around the bonfire to learn about cyber-etiquette and what they should and should not do while they are having a presentation from Matt Rogers, a climate scientist who developed the CloudSat satellite which orbits the Earth and looks inside the clouds.

After Matt’s presentation about the atmosphere and how CloudSat can help predict weather patterns, the students all lined up in the virtual Second Life world and asked Matt questions about his career, and what it is he does exactly.

It was all smooth sailing from then on, except for an unfortunate “Get lost!” gesture, which was used by accident and not intentionally. Aside from a few minor technical difficulties, it was a fun day and I sure can’t wait till next time.

April 5th, 2011  in Featured, Student Work No Comments »