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Animation class draws students, industry

POSTED: October 4, 2017 5:00 a.m.
Tiffany King/

Liberty College and Career Academy animation students and teacher Nancy Miller talk with Reema Zoumut’s high school animation class in California online.

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A new animation class at the Liberty College and Career Academy is connecting with animators and future animators on the other side of the country.
The animation class started in August with students jumping right into learning animation software.
Teacher Nancy Miller and her students have been talking to animators and sharing ideas with other high school animation classes through Google Hangouts, an online service where people connect through chat message and video calls.
On Sept. 21, local students talked with animation teacher Reema Zoumut’s class in California. Zoumut shared what her students were learning and asked Miller’s students questions.
Zoumut said her class projects included putting animation on a pair of glasses and optical illusions. Miller’s students showed the California class some of their drawings and characters they want to animate.
Miller found Zoumut through a simple online search.
“I Google searched ‘animation teachers’ and her name came up,” Miller said. “I said ‘I’m just going to email her and see if she replies back’ and she did and emailed me.”
Students also recently talked with animators Ryan Bird and Quinn Johnson of Salt Lake City.
Johnson writes comic books and video games. He has worked for Disney, DreamWorks Animation and for comic books such as Megamind and Kung-Fu Panda.
Johnson and Bird previously worked on a video game together. Bird has also worked for DreamWorks. He’s worked with the NFL, television shows “The Fringe” and “Psych” and movies “Antz” and “Ice Age.”
They encouraged students to work hard.
Bird told about how he kept sending work to an animation studio in Salt Lake City.
“He kept pounding on their door and they finally said ‘We can either hire you after you finish college and promise you a job or if you want to be hired now, we can teach you on the job and we’ll pay you.’ So he went that route and learned on the job,” Miller said. “He told them to work very hard, be persistent and don’t take no for an answer.”
Johnson advised students to be nice and easy to work with.
Miller contacted Johnson and Bird through a former co-worker.
“We worked together at Scuba Diving Magazine, where I was a graphic designer, and we also kept in touch. I asked ‘Do you know anybody in animation?’ and she said ‘Yeah sure. I know Quinn Johnson. He’s super nice.’ We (Johnson and Miller) were chatting and Skyping and he said he would do it,” Miller said.
This is Miller’s first year with the Liberty County schools. She did teach elementary art for eight years in another county.
“I was doing it (animation) on my own and I was more of a hobbyist,” Miller said. “I have more of an illustration background. I went to SCAD and did graphic design for 10 years.”
Miller did freelance illustration and then became a teacher.
She said she enjoys her job and is excited to be working with Liberty County students.
Students work in teams and are currently doing rotoscoping, where they break down a video of an animal moving. Each student does 12 frames of the video.
If students don’t understand the work, Miller does remediation.
“I put up this chart where they score themselves on how well they know the software and if they score themselves at a certain number I pull them into a smaller group and then we redo it,” Miller said, “so they feel confident about what they’re doing.”
Bradwell Institute sophomore Kyle Burke said he is taking the class because he wants to be game designer.
“I want to make games other people can enjoy and inspire others,” Burke said.
Miller is especially looking forward to learning more about the area to help her students do projects in the community, visit work places and set up internships.

***Cutlines***
IMG_141746 to IMG_141805: Liberty College and Career Academy animation class, taught by Nancy Miller, talks with Reema Zoumut’s high school animation class in California online. The classes shared ideas and showed their work.
Omar Relaford: Liberty College and Career Academy animation student Omar Relaford shows a hand drawn character he wants to animate to high school teacher Reema Zoumut’s animation class in California via Google Hangouts online.
Lascelles Cuff_: Liberty College and Career Academy animation student Lascelles Cuff gives a thumbs up after high school animation teacher Reema Zoumut (right) was impressed with his hand drawn character. Zoumut was located in California and talked with LCCA students online via Google Hangouts about their animation work.
Savion Waddell_: Liberty College and Career Academy animation student Savion Waddell shows Reema Zoumut’s high school animation in California class a drawing of his animation character, while his teacher Nancy Miller (right) helps Zoumut guess the character. The two classes talked online via Google Hangouts and shared animation ideas.

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