Trajectories Program Description

“Animation follows the rules of physics – unless it is funnier otherwise.” – Art Babbitt, animator

What are the ‘rules’ of physics, and where do they come from? How do animators follow these rules? How do they know when to break them?

This challenging program will introduce you to the mathematical models that help describe and explain motion in the natural world. You will learn how to combine observation, reason and imagination to produce such models, explore the creative uses that can be made of them, and consider the new meanings that result. We hope to highlight similarities and differences between how artists and scientists make sense of, and intervene in, the world.

We do not expect prior experience in drawing, animation or physics; the program is designed to accommodate new learners in these areas. We do expect that you can read and write at the college level and have completed math through intermediate algebra. You will all engage in common work in drawing, animation, mathematics and physics, for 14 credits. You will also be asked to choose one of two more focused tracks for the remaining two credits, either in (1) drawing or (2) mathematics. Students who choose to focus on drawing will gain two quarters experience of college-level drawing. Students who choose to focus on mathematics will cover two quarters of calculus in this program. Which ever you choose, the work will be intensive in both art and science, and you should plan to spend on average up to 50 hours per week (including class time).

Through workshops, labs, seminars and lectures, you will learn basic principles of drawing, animation, mathematics and physics, while improving reading and writing skills. You will integrate these areas to represent and interpret the natural and human-created worlds, and to solve scientific and design problems in those worlds. For example, in physics labs and animation workshops you might record high-speed video to analyze motion or construct animation toys that play with the boundaries between motion and illusions of motion.

In fall we will introduce you to basic principles and practices of drawing, 2D analog animation and video production, as well as the fundamentals of physics, including kinematics, forces and conservation principles. To support this work, you will also study mathematics, including ratios and proportional reasoning, geometry, graphing, functions, and concepts of calculus. In winter, you will learn 2D digital animation techniques, focus in physics on special relativity (modern models of space, time and motion), and continue to learn concepts of calculus. The program will culminate in creative projects that integrate your new technical skills with your learning in art and science.