MTSU’s Animation Lab Receives Major Upgrades

Animation lab

Over the summer of 2017, MTSU’s Information Technology Division (ITD) made significant upgrades to the Animation lab in the Media Arts department. The lab was revamped to meet performance standards set by the makers of Autodesk Maya software, which is the primary animation tool used in the program and in the industry.

The lab transitioned from Mac to PC computers in order to improve upgradeability, quality, and affordability. Work areas now include curved, extra-wide display monitors driven by high-speed computer processors. In addition, a separate high-performance render farm was added to the lab. This is a specialized computer that generates the individual images of the animated films. The new render farm generates the finished images in a fraction of the time needed by the former system, and no longer ties up the student work stations.

Additionally, the classroom’s large screen projector was replaced by a state-of-the-art Sony Laser video projector that was designed to provide pristine high-resolution images. The eco-friendly projector produces full spectrum light, preventing color distortion or loss of detail in dark or light areas of images and videos.

The upgrades in the Animation Lab also benefit Video and Film Production classes that are taught in this classroom.

Professor of Animation, Kevin McNulty, is “super excited and happy for the equipment to be utilized by the students” and is thankful that the transitions were able to happen so efficiently over the summer.

Animation Professor, Rodrigo Gomez said, “The new computers really made the experience of using Maya and Adobe Suite much smoother and efficient. The upgraded screens are amazing. Students agreed with me that using the new curved screens made their work much easier. It is really impressive how much more efficiently we could use the screen space, particularly in Maya.”

Media Arts Department Chair, Billy Pittard said, “We are very grateful to the folks in ITD who went the extra mile to upgrade this lab to a truly state-of-the-art condition. We’ve already seen the students benefitting from the upgrades. It was especially fortuitous to have this happen as the Animation program celebrates its 25th anniversary as one of the first digital animation programs anywhere, and as we begin our first year under accreditation by NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design).”

The Animation program's stop-motion lab supports frame-by-frame traditional animation techniques.

The Animation program’s stop-motion lab supports frame-by-frame traditional animation techniques.

The Animation program’s Stop Motion Lab was relocated across the hall from the Animation Lab for greater convenience. The new larger space gives students more room to collaborate on projects. The room’s lighting was enhanced to avoid light fluctuation and increase the quality of work created.

The upgrades of the labs, along with expertise of the professors, help the department to provide current and future students with the skills necessary to be successful in the industry and in their future careers.