A Transcendental Learning Experience: Cartoon Animation at MUM

Recently, CG Cookie had an opportunity to work with the Maharishi University of Management. From daily meditation to a dining hall serving organic vegetarian meals, MUM is unique in more ways than one and we were thrilled that MUM’s Associate Professor Gurdy Leete selected CG Cookie as a learning resource for his 3D Cartoon Animation course which focused on non-photorealistic rendering.
CG Cookie is great in the range of topics it covers and we were able to find resources for any area - the students loved using it!
An industry veteran with several graphic engineering awards under his belt, Gurdy’s focus is on web design, 3D animation and video. His software of choice is - you guessed it! - Blender. “This was an easy choice; non-photorealistic rendering is not as common and Blender has some pretty leading-edge tools for this. I’m a fan of realism as well, so I love that Blender makes it so easy to do either.” explains Gurdy.
All of our students and faculty staff meditate two times a day. This is an incredibly powerful technique which allows you to recharge, sharpens your intellect and boosts your knowledge retention.

Meditation on Campus

So what makes the Maharishi University of Management so special? Taking its name after an Indian yogi who developed a meditation technique focusing on pure consciousness, MUM too puts focus on self-knowledge and consciousness-based education that demonstrably leads to integrated brain functioning, high levels of creativity and overall academic success. In fact, all students and faculty staff meditate twice a day and Gurdy stresses how beneficial this practice is for creativity: “This is a technique which lets you recharge within a matter of minutes, sharpen your intellect and refocus on your creative work; it benefits problem solving and creative thinking which are abilities that are incredibly important for Blender.”

One-Course-Per-Month Approach

In addition to using meditation to boost learning, MUM has integrated a specific teaching style called one-course-per-month, allowing students to focus on one subject at a time. This approach fully enables students to embark on their learning journey with a single focus without having to juggle multiple classes and stressing about a marathon of finals at the end of the term. Instead, students immerse themselves in one subject each day, followed by light homework assignments. Gurdy is a big fan of this approach when it comes to teaching digital art and fosters his students’ independent learning, so essential for exploring Blender. “It is impossible for me to teach my students everything there is to know in Blender! So rather than weighing them down with theoretical information, I encourage students to figure out what they actually want to learn and set their own goals for the class based on what area resonates with them.” Then, Gurdy assists them in achieving these goals by coaching rather than teaching. [caption id="attachment_159318" align="aligncenter" width="715"] Gurdy used CG Cookie tutorials to introduce students to Blender's VSE[/caption]  

Project-Oriented Learning

In his 3D Cartoon Animation class, he typically starts the day by giving a short presentation about select Blender features, then lets students experiment with them, eventually creating their own animation projects. During class, students can work in teams, simulating industry-like conditions; “The team spirit that arises from being with a group of people in class every day for a whole month is just astounding and it helps students to really learn how to work in a team and create amazing things together,” explains Gurdy. At the end of the week, the projects are reviewed together, further building a strong learning community and sometimes even lifelong friendships.

CG Cookie as a Powerful Learning Resource

How did Gurdy use CG Cookie content in his course? The 3D Cartoon Animation class was open to beginners as well as advanced students who were given a non-graded entry test asking them to indicate how familiar they were with specific areas of animation. If students had gaps in knowledge, Gurdy referred them to CG Cookie tutorials to fill in those gaps and be able to follow along with the group. As most students had never used Blender before, the Blender Basics course was a perfect way to get them up to speed. Gurdy also referred to the Freestyle Crash Course and Introduction to the Video Sequence Editor, together with many other tutorials and courses. “CG Cookie is great in the range of topics it covers and we were able to find resources for any area - the students loved using it,” says Gurdy.

The Beauty of Blender

Gurdy’s choice to use Blender had another benefit; “Blender is available all over the world in so many languages, so a Kazakh student from my course can easily call his cousin at home and recommend a cool new feature in Blender.” And with students of 85 nationalities currently studying at MUM, this certainly is a big bonus!

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