Written by Lara Barusso
BA (Hons) Computer Animation Art and Design
This is not an easy time, but as an animation student work doesn’t stop, there still are online lessons, deadlines to meet and internships to get into. So, let me tell you how we have continued to work from home, dealing with the new situation and staying motivated. I’ll give you a little insight into online learning and virtual meetings!
I’m lucky enough to share my house with other animation students, this had made possible the creation of a lab in our living room! Let me explain this a little be better. As an animation student, you need a computer with expensive and adequate softwares and dedicated space to work that normally is set up on campus and called a “lab”. This space allowed us to work together and also I think helps to keep us focus and motivated.
When the university shut down a couple of weeks ago, we were aware that, besides the world pandemic, we still have to do work. So, me and my mate decided to create our lab downstairs in a shared space. We open up our big table, brought down our computers and created a space to be able to work together and motivate each other. This was our first step on responding to the situation and helped us to deal better with it and make sure we would be able to submit a decent piece of work for our first submission at the end of March. Setting up a lab environment helped us a lot in many ways, it was great to feel more productive and to not end up isolating alone in our rooms. It helped us be more focused and enabled us to share and improve our work, we asked for advice and shared discoveries, we reminded each other to take breaks and a bit of chitchat for our mental health.
This setup also made it easier following online lectures as well, we logged into one PC and put a monitor up and followed the lesson sitting together at the table as if we were at uni but with the comfort of being in our PJs and with a cup of coffee next to you!
Speaking of online learning, the big question at the beginning was ‘how?’ because most of our lessons are based in the labs with the use of the software. I was amazed by how responsive our lecturers were in regards to directly contacting companies that provide the software we use on campus, and came up with an agreement that let us download these expensive software packages to use for free at home. In this way following the lessons, practising and working on our assignments has been much easier and made the transition we all have been a force to make, a lot easier.
The lessons are begin held through video conference through Microsoft Teams, this works very well, in there we can see our lecture talking and they can also share their screen so we can see slides of the work they are doing on various software, and we can interact through a chat or vocally, the lessons are also been recorded and available right after to rewatch if there was any glitch on the wifi connection or if you missed it. Lessons can be followed on any device so anyone can access it. Is it actually a nice way of learning!
The last thing I want to tell you about is how we deal with group project work. MicrosoftTeam is available also for students, so it been very easy to set up group chats to video chat and organise work, the share screen option makes everything much easier. This way we can check how everyone is doing and make sure we are on track.
Staying in contact with our classmates and friends is very important nowadays, we are making great use of chats to support each other, we started an animation discussion for all years to talk and make sure no one feels alone. In those chats, we not only talk but also we share artwork and we can ask for feedback and advice, we share tutorials, lessons, workshops and anything interesting we have found.
Small ways to still feel together even from far away, all those video chats are making everything better and are very funny!