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Producing meaningful, measurable student outcomes means bridging the gap between academic study and real-world industry. This philosophy drives the curriculum and approach of Billy Blue College of Design, which turns out some of the best and brightest graduates in digital design in Australasia and beyond. As if flocking to Australia’s coast isn’t reason enough, highly motivated students from around the world head to the school’s Melbourne and Sydney campuses to study CGI and animation.
In the Bachelor of Digital Media in 3D Design and Animation program which can be completed in just two or three years, students put their knowledge and know-how to the test. Many participate in internships and collaborations with industry partners that Billy Blue have carefully and selectively fostered. Students work closely with these clients and gain exposure to every aspect of CGI- from the ideation process and pipeline to the culminating presentation. It’s not unusual for Billy Blue graduates to land jobs with the very companies that helped to cultivate their aptitude.
For our latest Spotlight Q&A, we speak with Billy Blue Lecturer Ivan Kintanar. A visual effects and CGI artist with a long history in industry, Kintanar knows what it takes to make it as a new artist in the demanding and competitive fields of 3D/VFX. We caught up him via email to get the latest scoop on how Billy Blue prepares them. Enjoy!
ACR: Firstly Ivan, thanks for filling us in about Billy Blue’s Bachelor of 3D Design & Animation. To start, tell us briefly about your own background and what drew you to teach at Billy Blue.
Ivan Kintanar: You’re welcome, and congratulations on the continuous success of Animation Career Review. I hope I can shed more light about our organization and the 3D industry in general. I have been working in 3D and animation for more than 15 years now starting off as a 3D generalist, TD and eventually moving into VFX and CGI supervision. In the latter parts, I also delved into a lot of gaming and visualizations. Billy Blue has a holistic and innovative way of looking into the current and future application of 3D design, and this approach attracted me to the organization.
ACR: Billy Blue grads have become well known in the Australian animation & 3D industries for their ability to hit the ground running. In a field that is so technically-advanced, how do you stay away from creating button-pushers in favor of cultivating creative problem-solvers?
IK: Billy Blue already had the reputation of being one of the top design schools in Australia and I believe it has
successfully translated its teaching approach to the relatively new 3D degree. This includes the emphasis in creative exploration, industry engagement and innovation. At the same time, we are well informed of industry’s needs and the most successful practitioners balance creativity, technical prowess, foundational knowledge and personal branding among other things.
ACR: What are the hardware/software tools that you believe are most important for students to leverage and why?
IK: The choice of tools we teach and recommend is hugely driven by industry demand and consultation. In that sense, you can consider me software-agnostic. Currently, this includes tools like Maya, Renderman, Motionbuilder, Nuke and Mari among others. I feel that developing a spirit of exploration, experimentation and immersion is important for students. Practitioners and even students should be aware of new pipelines and developments in the industry. At Billy Blue, we integrated this mindset in our courses.
ACR: I understand that 3D Design & Animation students at Billy Blue can tailor their education to meet their interests… correct?
IK: That is correct. This refers directly to our organization’s approach to education. We recognize changes in how people study and prefer studying. Flexibility and educational innovation are important to get the best outcomes. Many of our teachers are practitioners themselves so in a sense the education/industry collaboration is a daily reality at Billy Blue. We consider not only how, when and where students want to study but also their interests and motivations. It is quite common that our 3D students also take subjects in areas of motion design, interaction, film... among others. This allows them to see a broader range of disciplines and possible synergies.
ACR: Are there industry or technology-related trends on the horizon that you’re paying particular attention to at Billy Blue?
IK: There are quite a few worth mentioning. Films and games always bring out new and exciting innovations but I’m particularly following developments in the field of augmented reality, virtual reality, motion capture and 3D interaction. These areas open up new and numerous branches of possible applications of 3D design. It is a different medium and I believe we will see a new wave of 3D artists that are able to incorporate all these emerging technologies.
ACR: As your own career attests Ivan, working in the animation or CGI industries requires adaptability. What attributes have served you best in your professional work and how do you impart these soft skills on students?
IK: I started my career when 3D was in its relative infancy and it took me quite a while to get the balance of
personal brand awareness, positioning, networking, promotions, contact building, upskilling, project management, research and development to a point where they all come together elegantly. Awareness of these skills is vital in this endeavour and we even explore these elements in detail in some of the core 3D subjects. Students also acquire knowledge through industry exposure and hands on experience, which we facilitate as part of our work integrated learning programs and internships to ensure students are highly employable when they graduate.
ACR: Speaking of internships and networking, your students have access to various industry opportunities. Tell us a little about them.
IK: Industry engagement is a vital part of what we do at Billy Blue and internships are a part of our curriculum. Quite a number of our students taking internships or working on live client briefs that are integrated in some of our subjects end up being offered employment by the companies themselves, which is a testament to our relationships with industry and our reputation. As a result of this, our students are able to meet speakers and industry professionals, and even have their reels reviewed directly by large studios. This is the dynamic we want to promote and expand upon in our organization as we move into the future.
ACR: Do some students and grads explore fields outside of entertainment that utilize their skills?
IK: Although a lot of our students end up in films and games, we are pleasantly surprised to see quite a number going into interaction, visualization, live events and other industries where they are able to practice their craft in different and oftentimes quite innovative ways. I think being industry-driven while promoting experimentation and exploration allows our students to follow and succeed in different career paths.
ACR: Last but certainly not least, you’re based at Billy Blue’s Sydney campus… not a bad spot to call home! Give us a glimpse of it.
IK: Thanks! Yes, it is pretty awesome. It is comprised of open modern spaces in a creative and edgy location with mobile pods for meetings, business launches and project showcasing. In the pods, students can work on assignments or personal research projects and some are also occupied by actual companies where live briefs and collaborations occur. Others are for the lecturers to discuss a project with a student or experiment on different applications for 3D. We also have a student lounge with a café and student kitchen, a digital media lab with a range of equipment that can be easily accessed by students to use in their work, a photo imaging studio, fashion studio, a comprehensive learning resource library and free wi-fi connectivity.
ACR: Ivan, thanks so much for taking time out of your day to fill us in on Billy Blue’s exciting 3D Design & Animation program!
Check out more interviews at The Animation Career Review Interview Series.