Graphic Arts Classes Visit 20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios

Upper School students in the Graphic Arts program embarked on a field trip to a leading animation company to see concepts taught in the classroom come to life.

Blue Sky Studios is an American computer animation film studio based in Greenwich, CT that has been owned by 20th Century Fox since 1997. The studio is responsible for such animated works as Peanuts, FerdinandIce Age and Rio. Art Director Michael Knapp, who directed several Blue Sky Studios major features, including Robots, Ice Age, and Horton Hears a Who, led students on a tour.

Students had the opportunity to experience the real-world process of developing an animated film and met professionals from many different departments to understand the importance of each person's role in the making of an animated movie. They were also introduced to the head sculptor who literally sculpts each character for a film in clay before it is brought into 3D software on the computer. They learned how illustrators draw and paint sketches for storyboards and scenes in their movies. Mr. Knapp reviewed how Blue Sky Studios has developed their own 3D animation software, which gives the films their own unique style. The class met with a stereo artist who showed them how the company develops a film to appear 3D. Students were able to test this medium out while wearing 3D glasses.
Other portions of the day included meeting visual effects artists, rendering artists, colorists, and 3D animators. Students were also taken to the company’s board room where several artists showed the class how they would present a concept to a client using acting and voice over techniques. Our students learned how both storytelling and the design process, which they’ve learned in their graphic arts courses, transfers into all areas of art. The tour ended with a presentation by Michael Knapp in the company’s main movie theater where he went into more detail about how the movie Ferdinand was made.

Experiential learning is one hallmark of an SRDS education where students often have the opportunity to travel off campus in order to "experience" concepts that are taught in the classroom in a practical hands-on setting. These experiences enhance the overall learning process at SRDS and prepare our students for success in college and beyond.

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