My 5-year-old neighbor is like a lot of boys his age: Energetic, imaginative, loves superheroes/dragons/animals/cartoons, and enjoys learning. As a big fan of the "How To Train Your Dragon
" films he was intrigued to learn that his neighbor does computer animation for a living. So he asked his mom to set up a time that I could give him a brief demo.
This was intriguing to me since I feel it can be difficult to explain computer animation to a 30-year-old, much less a child. Then again, I've heard that young children are better able to understand complex things (like a second language) than if they're introduced to them later like high school or adulthood. My wife reasoned that the children she nannies commonly navigate an iPhone very well
, even before being able to speak. Ok then - Maybe my neighbor, Emitt, would
be able to grasp the concepts.
So he came over and was very attentive as I explained the absolute basics. I compared sculpting to Play-doh, texture painting to, well, painting (that one was easy
), rigging armatures to human skeletons and posable action figures, animation to stop-motion-photography - none of which seemed to confuse him. In fact he would often confirm his comprehension by stating an example comparison: "Like the way mommy took a bunch of pictures to make Rudolph walk across the table". Granted I avoided technical terms, but the kid was getting it!
His mom was very interested as well since she's the one who facilitates his activities and hobbies. I told her this Blender program was free and she could download it for exploration if they wanted. She was happy to learn it was free but then responded dismissively with a key point:
Thus I don't think Emitt and his mom are likely to download and try Blender, and I can't blame them. After all what kind of Blender/CG education is out there and readily available in a format that children could understand? Little to none.
But certainly it can
be taught in such a way! Which got me really excited. I think because for myself and probably most 3D creatives, computer graphics keeps us a kid at heart. It's the best way to realize our imaginations. And imagination is most uninhibited in the minds of children. When I asked Emitt what would be the first thing he'd do with Blender he answered something about making Spiderman swing through city buildings using his web shooters. I can't recall exactly because I was paying closer attention to his face as he answered. I could see in his eyes that he understood computer graphics to be what I understand it to be: The key to bringing his dreams and imagination to life!
Perhaps that's a bit sensational - reeling this back to an adult (read less-imaginative) level
- but still, I think deep down it's why we artists love this field. So what a shame it is that CG training content for children isn't more plentiful, right?! I've only heard a handful of stories about Blender for Kids
workshops or online tutorials aimed at children
they too are interested in learning how their favorite cartoons and movies are made...
What do you think?
- Is it wishful thinking that children could/would want to understand computer graphics and animation?
- If you're a parent, would you want to give your child the opportunity to learn Blender at a young age (10 and under)?
- Are there more Blender-for-kids initiatives out there that I'm not aware of?