156 3D Modeling and Motion
Spring 2019, T TH 9:00 - 11:50 am
Instructor: Noa Kaplan
noa.p.kaplan [at] gmail.com
office hours: 12:00-1:00 TH, by appointment
TA: Isabelle Chen
isachen [at] g.ucla.edu.
office hours: 12:00 - 1:00 T, by appointment
Description: This course is an introduction to theories 3D form, spatial design, motion and
lighting using 3D visualization and video tools. The first half of the course involves weekly
assignments focused on producing virtual forms and animations. The second half is devoted to
more advanced simulation and scripting processes as students develop individual projects.
Technical tutorials will be complemented with regular screenings of influential computer
generated animations from Zeitguised, Ian Cheng, Jennifer Steinkamp, Universal Everything,
David Lewandowski, Boris Labé, Marguerite Humeau, Branco Cuzi, Theo Triantafyllidis, Yves
Netzhammer, David Leonard, Will Benedict, Steffen Jorgensen, Pedro Conti, Oliver Latta,
Zolloc, and others.
This syllabus is subject to change based on the class needs.
Required devices: computer, 3-button mouse (essential!)
Required software: Maya, Mudbox, Premier/After Effects, Media Encoder and Photoshop
(Optional: Unity)
Any animations or movies should be rendered at 1080HD (1920 x 1080 px) and final image
renders 4K (3840 x 2160 px)
Project 1: Representational Animation (< 10 second loop)
Project 2: Abstract Animation (< 20 seconds)
Assignment 1 (DUE 04/04 9:00 AM) : Watch Goodbye Uncanny Valley . Find an animation by
one of the artists discussed in the video essay that intrigues you (the particular video you focus
on cannot be one featured in Goodbye Uncanny Valley). Write 200 words about why you chose
the video you did. Make sure to include the name of the video, the artist, release date, and link.
Assignment 2 (DUE 04/09 9:00AM): Find a high resolution reference image of an interior
scene. This can be a photograph, film still, painting, or any other medium of your choice. The
inclusion of people/animals will make the process significantly more difficult. Unless you are
already experienced with 3D modeling it is advisable to start with objects only for the first
Assignment 3 (DUE 04/11 9:00 AM): Make a list of each object in your scene. Under each
object write the tools and functions that you plan to use to model that specific geometry. Print
this list and bring it to class.
Assignment 4 (DUE 04/16 9:00 AM): Finish modeling the geometry for your scene.
Assignment 5 (DUE 04/18 9:00 AM): Add lights to your scene. Render 3 4k images with maya
Assignment 6 (DUE 04/23 9:00 AM): Add materials to your scene. Render 3 4k images with
Assignment 7 (DUE 04/25 9:00 AM): Animate 3 objects in your scene. Render looping
playblast (< 10 seconds).
Assignment 8 (DUE 04/30 9:00 AM): Write a 1 page proposal and 10 frame storyboard for the
final project. The images that make up your storyboard should be highly detailed and full color.
What are your visual references? What mood or tone do you want to convey? What is the
proposed duration? Will there be sound? If so, what kind?
Assignment 9 (DUE 05/07 9:00 AM): Finish modeling geometry for final project. Render 3 4k
Assignment 10 (DUE 05/14 9:00 AM): Add materials, textures, and lights to your scene.
Render 3 4k images.
Assignment 11 (DUE 05/21 9:00 AM): Complete a draft of the animation in your scene. Save a
playblast. Extra credit if you incorporate MASH, particles, fluids, or hair (5 points).
Assignment 12 (DUE 05/28 9:00 AM): Finalize animation in your scene. Save a playblast.
Extra credit if you incorporate scripting (5 points).
Week 1
Tuesday, 04/02
Interface: navigation, viewports, hotbox, workspaces, channel box, attribute editor
Manipulation: selection, transformations, pivots, snapping, duplication
Organization: outliner, hierarchies, grouping, hypergraph, display, layers
Polygons: primitives, components, soft select, symmetry, combine, separate, boolean
Thursday, 04/04
Polygons continued: references, edge loops, extrude, merge components, bevel, bridge,
smooth, lattice, nonlinear deformers
*Assignment 1 (DUE 04/04 9:00 AM)
Week 2
Tuesday, 04/09
NURBS: primitives, curves, importing curves from illustrator, revolve, loft, planar, extrude,
converting to polygons
*Assignment 2 (DUE 04/06 9:00 AM)
Thursday, 04/11
Share reference images
Start working on project 1
*Assignment 3 (DUE 04/11 9:00 AM)
Week 3
Tuesday, 04/16
Maya Lighting: light types, light editor
Maya Materials: hypershade, shader types, maps, bitmap textures, multiple materials, UV
mapping, 3D painting
Maya Rendering: render settings, render view, cameras, environment
*Assignment 4 (DUE 04/16 9:00 AM)
Thursday, 04/18
Arnold Materials: arnold shaders, opacity, refraction
Arnold Rendering: render settings, render view, arnold lights, object-based lighting,
image-based lighting, skydomes, depth of field, motion blur
*Assignment 5 (DUE 04/18 9:00 AM)
Week 4
Tuesday, 04/23
Watch: Peripatetics (Zeitguised)
Animation: set keys, graph editor, breakdown keys, spline paths, cycles, playblasts, batch
*Assignment 6 (DUE 04/23 9:00 AM)
Thursday, 04/25
Watch Going to the Store (David Lewandowski), Walking City (Universal Everything)
Rigging: joint tool, inverse kinematics, time editor, clips, set driven keys, skinning, blendshape
Introduce Project 2: Abstract Animation
*Assignment 7 (DUE 04/25 9:00 AM)
Week 5
Tuesday, 04/30
Project 1 Screening
MASH: proceduralism, waiter, distribute, repro, random, noise, ID, color, time, delay, orient,
curve, trails, replicator, networks
*Project 1 (DUE 04/30 9:00 AM)
*Assignment 8 (DUE 04/30 9:00 AM)
Thursday, 05/02
MASH: texture controls, type, audio, rendering, alembic caches
Week 6
Tuesday, 05/07
Particles: emitters, emit from object, fill object, collisions, springs, constrains, goals, instancer,
fields/solvers, initial states, caches, per particle scripting
*Assignment 9 (DUE 05/07 9:00 AM)
Thursday, 05/09
Cloth: nucleus solvers, passive colliders, nCloth, space scale, defining materials, nConstraints,
strength drop-off, wind, interactive playback, tuning attributes, collision thickness, dynamic
properties, initial states, caches, welding, warping, tearing
Week 7
Tuesday, 05/14
Fluid: bifrost, emitting from mesh, analyzing simulation, motion fields, collisions, culling, time
steps, transport steps, friction, drag, generating foam, initial states, caches, shading, rendering
*Assignment 10 (DUE 05/14 9:00 AM)
Thursday, 05/16
Hair: laying out UVs, analyzing hair node, tuning nucleus solver, display quality, simulation
methods, dynamic properties, bend resistance, collisions, forces, clump/shape attributes,
shading, styling, constraints, follicles, caches
Week 8
Tuesday, 05/21
Mel Scripting: adding expressions to channels, set driven keys, randomizing objects
*Assignment 11 (DUE 05/21 9:00 AM)
Thursday, 05/23
Mel Scripting: arrays, duplicating object along animation path, fractals
Week 9
Tuesday, 05/28
Work on final project: rendering, sound editing, post production, etc.
*Assignment 12 (DUE 05/28 9:00 AM)
Thursday, 05/30
Work on final project: rendering, sound editing, post production, etc.
Week 10
Tuesday, 06/04
Final Screening
*Project 2 (DUE 06/04 9:00 AM)
Attendance Policy
Students are expected to be present and on time to class every day. Absences should be
excused by a doctor’s note, comparable documentation, or an email from me a week in advance
in which I say you are excused for a valid reason. Your 2nd unexcused absence will result in a
2% drop in your final grade, your 3rd, a 4% drop, your 4th, an 8% drop, your 5th, 16%, etc. If
you are over 30 minutes late it will count as an absence unless you are excused.
*Please note: All “work days” on the syllabus are for working on projects and you are required to
be in class. This is not an opportunity to work at home.
Attendance - This can only work negatively for your grade as described in the attendance policy.
Participation - 15% Verbal, critical, and informed participation in class. Productive use of lab
hours, work time, and attendance could also affect this grade.
Assignments (12) - 25% Completed on time, assignments will be graded on concept, execution,
and effort. Each assignment will be graded out of 5 points. Note that there are 2 opportunities
for extra credit.
Projects (2) - 60% Completed on time, projects will be graded on concept, execution, and effort.
Project 1: Representational Animation - Due April 30 - 30%
Project 2: Abstract Animation - Due June 04 - 30%
A: 90-100, B: 80-90, C: 70-80, D: 60-70, F: 60 and below
Projects and assignments may be turned in up to four days late with a 10% deduction. Projects
and assignments handed in any later cannot be accepted, as this course is so short and will
move quickly! You may re-do any project or assignment you have already handed in on time for
a chance for another grade. You may do this at any time and I will re-grade the work with a 5%
Disability services UCLA strives to make all learning experiences as accessible as possible. If
you anticipate or experience academic barriers based on a disability, please let me know as
soon as possible. It is necessary for you to register with the UCLA Center for Accessible
Education so that we can establish reasonable accommodations. Please register here:
http://www.cae.ucla.edu/. After registration, make arrangements with me to discuss how to
implement these accommodations. Statement on Title IX & Civil Liberties Title IX makes it clear
that violence and harassment based on sex and gender are Civil Rights offenses, just as
discrimination based on race / ethnicity are. If you or someone you know has been sexually
harassed or assaulted, you may find the appropriate resources at the UCLA Title IX office here:
https://www.sexualharassment.ucla.edu/ Also check out the UCLA Civil Rights Project for
resources, tools, and research projects regarding racial / ethnic equity and securing civil liberties
/ educational opportunities for historically underrepresented groups. Their website is here: