Spotlight on Education: 3D Puppets School

Deep in the Heart of Mexico, Students are getting specialized 3D training with LightWave

Posted: Thu 23 May 2013

Advancements in technology and industry throughout Mexico continue to fuel new opportunities for 3D artists, designers and animators in the region. But going rogue and learning the intricacies of 3D modeling and animation software without guidance of a teacher  isn't for everyone. Enter 3D Puppets, a  3D modeling and animation school that specializes in teaching LightWave 3D.  We caught up with Roxanna Blanchet and Carlos A. Dominguez, founders of the 3D Puppets School, to find out  how this school, nestled deep in the heart of Mexico, teaches students the art of 3D modeling and animation with LightWave 3D software.

Can you provide some background about your school? What type of 3D productions, projects or visual effects do your students create?

3D Puppets teaches 3D animation. Before our prospective students enroll, we verify that they are passionate about art and that they can draw—because no school can teach a student how to be an artist—it has to come from within. Currently we offer our students all areas of general 3D animation, but unfortunately in Mexico, the CG industry is not as recognized as in other countries. At present, our students create small individual shorts with LightWave, along with capsules combining video with green screen and 3D created in LightWave.

What types of  projects do your students create using LightWave 3D in the pipeline?

Our students work  on a variety of projects, including work for clients of the 3D Puppets studio. Currently our students are working on creating animated shorts, including an animator for a company in Mexico. We believe the ability to create real-world projects benefits our students as they move forward in their careers.

How are you integrating LightWave into your curriculum?

Our students do approximately 70% of their work in LightWave in conjunction with other technology such as video compositing and green screen capture. We believe LightWave is the best tool to meet the needs of 3D production across a range of industries—from broadcast and motion graphics to architectural design and gaming graphics. Its ease of use and many features are very attractive to our students and instructors.

What LightWave features are important to your students’ success?

We appreciate so many of the new features and technology in LightWave—the increased flexibility throughout the entire pipeline is ideal for our students. But the main reason we choose to teach LightWave is because it is a very affordable and intuitive program with powerful features—which means that in a short time, our students can completely delve into creating 3D models and  complete their work quickly.

Are your students using LightWave 11/11.5? If so, which new features are they currently using in their work? Which do feel are the most useful?

Until recently, we were teaching LightWave 10,  but are now teaching LightWave 11 with the 11.5 upgrade. We believe that when our students start a project in a specific version of LightWave (like version10 or 11) the coursework should be completed in that version so our students do not have to learn a new set of features or run the risk of not completing the  prepared coursework materials.

What other software programs are your students using in conjunction with LightWave 3D?
In addition to LightWave, we use Adobe Photoshop, TV Paint and sometimes include other 3D software or plug-ins in the creative pipeline.

What are some of the biggest challenges your students face in the creative phase, and how does LightWave help them overcome these challenges?

It seems the biggest challenge of many of our students is creating 3D models that look like their original sketches. Once they begin working with LightWave. most of our students overcome this challenge. We credit this to the  intuitive features and powerful modeling capabilities of LightWave.

How many instructors are in your school? How many students do you have per semester?

We have three instructors with plans to increase that number to six as the economy improves in Mexico. It is advantageous to our students to have small hands-on classes—it gives them specialized attention and the opportunity for direct interaction with the instructor to best help them learn. We average around 16 students per semester.

Do your students create final projects for graduation? 

Yes, students create animated shorts for their final projects before graduation. The students enjoy this creative process and are proud of the work they accomplish.

What features of LightWave impress you the most?

Overall the software is very intuitive—it’s hard to single out particular features over others because they are all so powerful. LightWave gives artists the tools they need to make spectacular productions at a much lower cost than other 3D software programs.

To learn more about the 3D Puppets School and studio, visit www.3dpuppets.com.