Visualize This

     You are a very creative person and you are about to graduate college with a major in a field that is your hobby, if not your passion. But just hours before the commencement exercises, you and your classmates each set up a booth in trade show fashion to show prospective employers and your family and friends what you have done and what you can do. That’s graduation Illinois Institute of Art style.
     I had the pleasure of perusing portfolios and talking to all the different types of media grads along with potential employers on Thursday afternoon and it turned out to be quite an education for me. Each major had an entire row or more of booths representing Digital Media Production, Game and Art Design, Interactive Media Design, Media Arts & Animation, and Visual Effects & Motion Graphics. Every student perked right up when they saw “Discovery” on my name tag, but our conversations took a different turn when I told them I was more a reporter than potential employer. I’d like to say they were more relaxed as they explained their respective fields to me and how their talent and skills would fit into a team on various projects. I write about this because I see it as part of a basic that I am glad we are getting back to. We are all visual learners and team players. We have inherited brains that are wired to acquire and retain from seeing. “Show me!” and “Do you see what I mean?” are far more common and innate phrases than “Explain it to me in at least 500 words.”
     I got an even deeper insight during lunch when I shared a table with a couple of gentlemen from a transportation company. I entered the buffet line thinking that the soon to be former students I had talked with were destined for TV commercials, in house video production, video games, and web sites. The men’s business, on the other hand, was interested in showing companies and government agencies what the industrial park or downtown or five miles of road would look like after they redesigned and built it. On occasion, they might even need to virtually reconstruct an accident for a TV station or a court case, “and you’d better have your math and physics right to go with your pretty pictures in situations like that.” Then they mentioned the importance of storyboarding, regardless of the project, “You can’t communicate an effective message if you don’t know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there!”
     When I went back to take one more turn through the aisles now crowded with family and friends, I felt that I had graduated to a different view of digital storytelling.
     I did collect a few websites that show the grads’ demo reels and other portfolio pieces. I hope these are representative of the many talented digital artists/storytellers I visited with.


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