Animating the Past

Posted: May 8, 2014

UW-Stout Students Develop 3D Animation and Video Game For New Exhibit

Ten students enrolled in the Advanced 3D Modeling & Animation course at UW-Stout are completing two projects for the Chippewa Valley Museum's forthcoming exhibit Changing Currents: Reinventing the Chippewa Valley. The projects will be completed by semester's end and will be available to the public when the exhibit is previewed July 4, 2014.

The team of Adam Zablocki, of Muskego, Wis.; Sarah Benson, of La Crosse, Wis.; Spencer Kromrie, of Chippewa Falls, Wis.; and Jonathon Saindon, of Milwaukee, Wis., is finishing a 3D animation of the great 1884 flood that destroyed more than 150 buildings in Eau Claire and caused millions of dollars of damage. Using historic maps and photos as references, the video animates the active process of the Chippewa River flooding 50 city blocks. Additional scenes provide a 3D rendition of how debris and rushing water destroyed a major manufacturing site in Eau Claire.

The other team of Alexandra Schultz, of Appleton, Wis.; Andrew Uchytil, of Eden Prairie, Minn.; Alicia Griesbach, of Beaver Dam, Wis.; Andrew Blettner, of Marshall, Wis.; Justin Schmidt of Brillion, Wis.; and Matthew Duerst, of Monticello, Wis., is completing a 3D animated role-playing video game based upon the history of a 1789 fur trade post built on the Red Cedar River. The game will be installed in a re-created fur trade post within the new exhibit. Chippewa Valley Museum intern and UW-Eau Claire graduate student Jeremy Kingsbury wrote the script.

Museum Curator Carrie Ronnander and one of the project coordinators said, "I'm impressed with the students' ability to bring historic subjects and events to life through animation. This collaboration with UW-Stout students will allow the museum to provide visitors with experiences that are beyond what the museum has been capable of achieving."

Dave Beck, Assistant Professor of Animation and Game Design, taught the class and supervised the students' work throughout the spring semester. "Working with the Chippewa Valley Museum has been a wonderful opportunity for my students to experience a real-world, client-focused project. I've been very impressed with how well the students have taken their UW-Stout art and design education and applied it to a regional museum that has such a strong dedication to local history, culture and education. I hope that this is the beginning of many more projects like this between UW-Stout and regional institutions like the Chippewa Valley Museum."

These projects are funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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