Buzz’s Blog: On Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web

Oct 17 2010   2:25AM GMT

Introductory 3D animation videos

Roger King Roger King Profile: Roger King

This blog is dedicated to advanced Web and media technology.  This week, I’d like to offer up a free website I have put together.

I teach an introductory 3D animation course at the University of Colorado in Boulder.  I am in the computer science department, and it is not a fine arts class.  It’s meant as a 3D animation literacy course and demands no programming, artistic, graphics, or animation background.  The goal of the course is to give students a solid, intuitive understanding of what it means to build 3D models, put materials on them, introduce lights, and then animate and render a scene.  We also cover the basics of particle dynamics.

In order to make the course tangible, and to give students the satisfaction of building models and animating them, Autodesk Maya is used heavily throughout the course.  It is arguably the most popular professional 3D modeling and animation application.  During most lectures, I present basic concepts and techniques, and step students through the process of executing them with Maya.

Maya is an incredibly complex application and the interface is deeply layered, with many windows, menus, pallets, and tools.  Professionals spend many years mastering it.  I give students a single assignment, and that is to produce a basic 3D animated video from start to finish.  This means learning the overall workflow of Maya.  Also, because Maya does not have facilities for editing sound, images, or video, students learn how to use Maya in a larger workflow which includes other media management applications.

The twice a week lessons are posted at

The videos on the website.

The website has a blog where I post my twice a week lessons.  They consist of desktop and audio capture videos.  You can follow along as I present simple demonstrations with Maya.

If you look at the videos, please understand that these are raw, unedited 1.25 hour long videos.  If you have any background at all in 3D animation, these are probably not the right things for you.

I also have to say that I make mistakes, have to futz around while trying to remember how to do things, and periodically run across idiosyncrasies of Maya, a mega-application that has been incrementally built over the course of a number of years.  So don’t expect a lot of polish.  The focus is on concepts, not on how to be a professional Maya animator.

Each of the posted videos comes with a brief overview of what they cover.

Other things on the website.

I have also posted several other things on the website, including a library of existing videos, Amazon references to a number of very good professional Maya books, an overview of what I expect students to provide for their course project, and links to videos made by previous students in the class.  I also post links to this blog (on, and links to my other university courses.  Sometimes I post links to my fiction writings.

I am in the process of creating a tab on the site that leads to a research website that a couple of very talented graduate students have helped me build.  It is a media management system, and although it is completely built, there isn’t any media in it yet.  My goal is to get students from my animation classes to upload models, animated scenes, textures, video clips, and audio clips, along with references to the applications they have used to build their pieces of media.  The site will also include documents that provide explanations of how specific pieces of media were created and brief explanations of specific modeling and animation techniques.

I hope to grow the website into a place where my students (and anyone else who wants to) can collaborate on the process of developing basic 3D modeling and animation skills.


Again, please keep in mind that these videos are for folks with no background in modeling and animation, and are directed at a broad class of students who have a wide variety of reasons to want to learn about 3D animation.  It is a skill that many professionals in a broad and rapidly growing array of disciplines need to learn.

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