A Professional Future

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     The fine folks at the Illinois Institute of Art let me sit in on an open house for area teachers titled “The Intersection of Art and Technology.” Their suburban Chicago campus is very close to my house and I was glad to be able to go over for a look and see what storytelling tools they put to use to prepare students to make a living in a variety of media arts .
     First stop on our tour was the green screen studio. You can see from the picture that part of the floor is also in the key color. But what was really different for us was the green treadmill that lets people walk or run naturally in the scene.Aitreadmill
They are also one of fewer than ten schools that have a motion capture set up. Six special cameras are mounted in a circle and the actor wears a special suit with reflective balls set on key spots. The captured 3D movement can then be applied to any virtual 3D body: a video game warrior, a dancing baby, a dinosaur, etc. The professor who hosted this part of the tour is an alumnus who is also a working professional. Sports fans around the country may have seen his animations on the giant screens at professional basketball, baseball and hockey games. Bulls fans know him for the video of a herd of Bulls charging through Chicago at the beginning of every game.
     The next presentation took us through the web design curriculum from artistic presentation to the technology of tapping into databases to present information or merchandise on demand to making a video or animation play on any computer regardless of screen resolution.
     What both sessions had in common was the expectation that students had taken the basic art class that explains colors and their relationship to each other. They also expect that students conduct themselves in a “professional” manner: respecting other’s work, sticking to time constraints, being prepared. Hmmm….
     I couldn’t help but think of Jason Ohler’s words last month at our state conference promoting Art as the 4th “R” and reminding us that creativity and artists of all kinds are and will be in more demand than ever in the new economy.
     Speaking of the arts, a big shout out to the school district I recently retired from, Niles Township in Skokie, IL. The fine and performing arts program has been named the top program for arts education in the United States. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts singled out District 219 for its outstanding support of high-quality arts education. You can watch the application video here and read all about it on the front page of today’s Chicago Tribune.

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