New animation courses to begin in the fall

The Art and Design department at Central Michigan University is preparing to start a new animation concentration program in Fall 2017.

Jonathon Russell, chairperson of art and design, said the program has been in the works for past three years and will include 2D and 3D animation. One faculty candidate for the new concentration, Steve Leeper, visited campus already to introduce himself to the CMU community. Two others are scheduled for introductions throughout the rest of February. Candidate forums are open to the public.

Russell said students can accomplish several opportunities with the animation program, which will include classes involving 2D and 3D animation, story-board, story development, different software competency, and hopefully stop-motion.

"(There’s) a broad range of (possibilities) from making experimental films, 2D animated short films to Pixar and everything in between,” he said “We don’t know yet exactly what our students will be interested in."

Beyond work in the television and film industries, Russell added that an animation degree can lead to jobs in variety fields.

“Some examples of 3D animations that happen in Michigan are the automobile industry (which) uses a lot of 3D animation, 3D modeling and 3D rendering in the Detroit area," he said.

Animation courses will be available for students in Fall 2017. However, Russell said students will not be able to officially sign for the concentration until 2019 or 2020. Students interested in pursuing animation before then can sign as a Studio Art major, and take animation courses in that program.

The department is currently looking for a candidate to lead the program at CMU. Russel said the department is looking for someone who has experience teaching 2D and 3D, experience in writing curriculum and building academic programs. There is one position available for new faculty, however, if student interest increases, Russell said the department will be seeking more.

On Thursday, Feb. 9, Leeper, an animation professor at Huntington University who has been teaching courses for 12 years, presented himself for the position by discussing his aspirations for the animation program at CMU.

In his speech, Leeper discussed his film “The Temptation of Brother Thomas,” a project based on his experience as a growing artist in a religious community. Leeper also displayed work produced by both himself and his students, including a class project 2D stop-motion film called “Frogs.”

"('Frogs') started out as sophomore level drawing for animation class, learning walk cycles, run cycles, all sorts of principles of animation and then we got into making frogs jump,” Leeper said. “Each of the students designed their own frog and they designed a hop cycle so they could reuse the same drawing over again to make this frog jump."

There will be two more candidates presenting on campus for faculty position. Mike Jones will present at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday Feb. 16 in Wightman Hall 142, and Brad Lewter at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday Feb. 21 in Wightman Hall 142.