Project X is a cross-disciplinary Project Based Learning class that creates a 3D animated short film over the course of 1 year. The purpose of the class is to expose the students to as close to a studio work-experience as possible while still in school. The students gain experience working as a team and leverage the various skills of the group to create the best work possible.
Project X works in a dedicated lab giving students extensive access to state of the art equipment and software. For hardware, Project X uses Windows based workstations, servers and render farm. For software, Project X uses Maya, Z-Brush, Mudbox, Mari, Houdini, Nuke, Photoshop, Vray, Renderman and After Effects in addition to a variety of plugins and project management tools. Projext X also uses a custom render manager, Hydra, developed as a project by engineering and computer science students specifically for the school's network.
Student experience and outcomes:
The large group project based environment of Project X gives students a number of valuable experiences and outcomes. The students develop and exercise the skills needed to work effectively with a team over an extended period of time such as: being able to communicate clearly and professionally, how to be a team leader and a team player, the ability to manage the schedule for a number of time-sensitive tasks and how to meet deadlines. Students also develop and refine assets responding to feedback from students that will be using those assets, while also providing feedback on assets that they themselves receive. They develop the ability to investigate and evaluate a number of possible production methods to accomplish the challenges set by the needs of the project. In the end the students have the work that they have created to use in their portfolios which has been refined to extremely high standards and has been proven by having been successfully used in a larger work.