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Computer animation training starts at Claremont middle school

on October 16, 2010

Computer animation sprang into public consciousness in 1995 with Pixar’s film, Toy Story. Fifteen years later, the studio has turned out nearly a dozen feature length films from its East Bay headquarters, and now kids at an Oakland middle school are getting a chance to get in on act of animating.

Peter Heckel has been teaching computer animation and video editing classes at Claremont ever since a group of parents wrote a grant three years ago for the high tech equipment and a portion of Heckel’s salary. The focus of the classes is professional training.

“Probably a 1/3 or more of all the people working in the digital media industry don’t have college degrees,” parent and software developer Mike Mages said. “I don’t have a college degree. You can be very successful if you are given the opportunity, which I had, to learn these really powerful tools.”

Mages admits not everyone who takes the classes will make a career out of animation. But he says the benefits of the training are huge anyway and the students enjoy them.

For eighth grader Leevy Silas, the main benefit is the opportunity to get creative: “I just like to use my imagination and create things I want,” he said.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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