Students have a chance to experience what goes into their favorite video games, movies and cartoons in Josette Zeigler’s beginning and advanced animation and practicum animation courses at Permian High School.
Throughout the day, Zeigler said she has about 100 students, most of whom are advanced, and there is another teacher who teaches extra first year classes. The first semester, students learn Photoshop Premiere and the second semester they use Autodesk Maya, a 3-D graphics application that Zeigler said is the industry standard.
“That’s the hardcore one that they start off with. It does take that many years to really get it down. I’ve been using it for almost 15 years now and I still don’t know every little quirk about it because it’s such a robust software,” Zeigler said. “It’s ridiculous how much is in there. But they can use the software for special effects in movies, video games and the 3-D animation that you see in movies in the theaters. It can be used for many facets, not just animation so they can go into a lot of different careers having this software under their belt.”
Zeigler also has provided students with access to Lynda.com, which offers a variety of courses in business, technology and creative skills. It can also help students with side interests, such as photography.
She added that the software helps students become more independent, but if they have questions they can ask her.
Currently, her students are finishing the 12 principles of animation developed by Walt Disney.
Seventeen-year-old senior Julian Rodriguez has been taking the course since he was a sophomore. To start, Rodriguez said he wants to be an asset modeler building chairs or sometimes characters, but eventually, he wants to be a video game developer.
“Really, I just like telling stories and this is … another outlet that I can do and it’s a lot easier and I get it a lot easier than other kinds of animating,” Rodriguez said.
He added that he enjoys the class and Zeigler is hands-on, so if they need help she’ll show them what they’re doing wrong. He also likes being able to see what he can create out of almost nothing, after a lot of hard work, and know you’re responsible for it.
Andre Gonzales, an 18-year-old senior, has been taking the animation class for three years. He likes the fact that Zeigler doesn’t let the students mess around and has taught them that deadlines are firm, just as they would be in the real world.
“What we do here is what they do in the industry, such as the video game industry, the animation industry, the movies like ‘Tron’ and ‘The Last Airbender.’ The program we use is the one they use in the industry,” Gonzales said.
He added that he comes from an artistic family and his father wanted to become an animator when he was younger. That yen was passed on to him, Gonzales said.
“Even though it is very hard and very stressful, it is something I want to follow. Specifically, I want to follow the game design route. It helps me express my creativity and it’s something that keeps me busy,” he added.
Gonzales said he wants to go to college and study game design and animation.
Ian Santos, a 16-year-old junior, started taking the course as a sophomore because it stuck out on the list of elective choices. He has been playing video games probably since elementary school, has watched a lot of cartoons and always been fascinated by animation and how it works.
Being able to work with his classmates and all the cooperation that goes on is one aspect of the class he likes.
Santos is considering going into graphic design.
Cadence Balencia, a 16-year-old junior, said this is his second year taking Zeigler’s class. He likes the different projects the class does and said it teaches you how difficult animation is and how much time goes into movies and cartoons.
Taking the class has made him look at movies in a different way.
“Sometimes I look at it and say, ‘Dang that must have taken a long time to do,’” Balencia said.