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Even in these challenging times, the demand for professional digital artists and animators continues to grow. According to the California Employment Development Department, employment opportunities for these artists are expected to grow by 32% between 2006 and 2016. And every year between now and 2016, the California economy will need over 5,600 new art and design professionals. Feature films, television, commercials, games and over 70 other industries need these types of workers.
To meet this growing need, in 2004, Orange County Department of Education created the Orange County Animation Project (OCAP) in cooperation with school districts throughout the county, Regional Occupational Programs, local colleges, Vital Link, the Orange County Business Council and the ACME Network.
But future employment for our young people in these fields is not the only reason for OCAP. Recent studies have shown that the arts have a significant impact on student achievement and learning across all disciplines. High school students who take art classes have higher math and verbal SAT scores. Participation in the arts reduces drop-out rates and increases student motivation to learn. Research reinforces what we understand intuitively to be true: that education connected to careers and opportunities for high-quality work experience improves the chances that young people will become productive, engaged and self-sufficient adults.
So What is This About?
Students in the project are using traditional pencil-based animation techniques as well as 2-D and 3-D computer animation software to learn the fundamentals of the craft. All instructors are teaching the skills of storyboarding, character development, and basic object movement, regardless of whether students are using pencils or computers.
Through the ACME Network, participating students are receiving professional mentoring from animators from major studios such as Pixar, Sony, Disney and DreamWorks through the use of videoconferencing technology. ACME Animation is a proven program that supplies direct-to-classroom links via videoconferencing and the internet to professional animators representing all aspects of the art form. ACME supplies beginning to advanced animation challenges. Created by professional animators, each challenge is designed to give the student an engaging, creative task to perform that focuses their work and their thinking on important, fundamental principles that all animators use. The challenges, and the interactivity that ACME supplies, are fully aligned with the National and California Standards for Visual Arts Education. Students also have access to the ACME online environment which provides a safe space for students to post their animation work for feedback from both peers and professionals.
With an increase in access to fundamental instruction in the arts and animation before high school, students will ultimately be prepared to develop more sophisticated animation projects once they reach high school. Although no longer actively funded, the Orange County Animation Project continues to support teachers and students to achieve this goal. Interested schools can schedule a visit to one of the programs and to see the ACME program schools in action. For more information, please email Vivian Goldschmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org