[ c o u r s e d e s c r i p t i o n ]

AD406 Introduction to 3-Dimensional Computer Animation
Instructor: Ralph De Stefano



One semester of AD406 - Introduction to 3-Dimensional Modeling or equivalent experience.

Required Text

  • "Learning Alias 8.5 Manual" is available from Journeyed.com for $49.95 plus shipping and handling.
  • "Principles of Three-Dimensional Computer Animation" ISBN 0-393-73024-7, is available from Amazon.com for $38.50 plus shipping and handling, and it normally ships in 1-2 days.

Recommended Text

  • "Digital Character Animation" ISBN 1-56205-559-3 is available from Amazon.com for $44.95 plus shipping and handling, and it normally ships in 1-2 days.
  • "Screenplay - The Foundations of Screenwriting" by Syd Field, ISBN 0-440-57647-4 should be available from Amazon.com for around $20.00.


  • A sketchbook. This course requires significant sketching and experimentation on paper. Graph paper. This might aid in getting a handle of 3-Dimensional representation on a 2-Dimensional surface.
  • A 4mm DAT tape will be provided for backup of your home directories. NOTE: You are solely responsible for backing up your files. In the event of a disk failure or a catastrophic loss of data, the lab and the University cannot be held liable.
  • It is recommended that you purchase a Zip or Jaz cartridge for storing and transporting your textures and your rendered files. A 100MB Zip disk costs around $10.00 and a 1GB Jaz disk costs $120.00.

Course Description

This course will explore topics in 3-Dimensional computer animation; students learn a variety of techniques to make animated films including Inverse Kinematics, deformation animation, constraint based animation, and keyframe animation. Lectures will cover all levels of animation production from conceptualization to the final render. Emphasis will be placed on storytelling, and effective use of Alias as a tool for expression.

Students are encouraged and expected to pursue areas of interest and explore ideas throughout the course.


  • Each student is required to complete all assignments on time.
  • During critique, discussion and lecture, students are expected to engage in meaningful classroom participation.
  • No assignment will be accepted beyond one week from the due date.
  • All models are to be turned in as Alias Wire Files, and all rendered images are to be turned in as PIX or TIFF files.
  • All animated movies should be turned in as QuickTime movies compressed using the Animation codec.


If you are absent, you are responsible for obtaining the information presented in class and the assignments from a fellow student. Unexcused absences will not be tolerated, and will effect your grade based on the following formula:

Unexcused absences

  • 1 absence = no penalty, except loss of instruction
  • 2 absences = grade lowered by one value
  • 3 absences = grade lowered by two values
  • 4 absences = dropping the course is recommended. (highest possible grade=D)

Valid Notification Absences are excused only if notification is given, with a reasonable excuse 24 hours before class time. ( Sunday night for Tuesday, and Tuesday night for Thursday's class.)


Grades will be based on attendance, participation, assignments, sketches, mid-term and final projects. "A's" are only given to projects that exceed the minimum requirements and are excellent in most respects. "C's" are given for average work and "F's" are automatically substituted for missing assignments. All other grades are assigned in relationship to this. Late assignments will lose one letter grade value per day late.

Lab Hours

The Newspace Lab is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The only times the lab is not available are when classes are meeting. AD408 meets on Tues. and Thurs from 1-3:40, and then from 4:00-6:40.

Key Policy

The Newspace Lab and classroom are locked after use. Before you can check out a key, you will need to make a copy of your student ID and your current course schedule on one piece of paper. Deliver the copy to Paul Dickinson in the film cage during check-out hours. Check-out hours will be posted in the first weeks of the semester.

Paul will check out keys for Newspace on a two and four day return schedule. There are a limited number of keys, so sharing keys and handing them off is strongly suggested.

Machine Sign-Up

If a machine isn't being used, then you must sign-up for the current block of time and use the machine. (This is the only way to guarantee that someone doesn't come and bump you from the computer.) Machines can be reserved using the following criteria:

  • Time is allotted in four hour increments.
  • Each user can reserve (in advance) a maximum of 8 hours total per week.
  • If you are 15 minutes late for your reserved time, you forfeit those four hours.
  • If your four hour block is coming to a close, and nobody has reserved time on the machine after you, you may sign up for the next block of four hours. (These hours do not count toward your 8 hour quota.)

Important Information

Course Notes can be found at:


Everyone has a home directory, and it is in one of two places:

/netusr/gigamo/people/your login here
/netusr/gigamo2/people/your login here

Tutorials for Alias 8.5 can be found at:


Textures and Shader Libraries can be found at:


Netscape can be found on gate-fileroom:


To use netscape on a machine other than gate-fileroom you must:

rlogin gate-fileroom
type setenv DISPLAY machine name here:0.0
type /netusr/gigamo/netscape/ns4/netscape

Rendering Policy

Will be discussed in class.

Additional Resources

Will be discussed in class.

Copyright © 1999 ralph de stefano. all rights reserved. reproduction without permission is prohibited. last modified january 9, 1999