New Degree in Visual & Game Programming

SAN FRANCISCO (Oct. 22, 2002) – The Art Institute of California – San Francisco ( has announced it is now offering a new bachelor’s degree program in “Visual & Game Programming” designed to prepare the next generation of Technical Artists for the video game and animation industries.

After intensive training in the foundations of art and design, students in the program enter into the more technical areas of programming for 3-D animation. Students learn the essential skills to effectively solve technical problems and play the indispensable role of bridging between the technical programmer and the creative artist. With an advantage of having their artistic talent combined with the knowledge and skills of programming for 3-D development, shading, motion capture, and animation, the students will have an edge in finding a wide range of employment opportunities in the entertainment and game production industries. The curriculum helps train students for entry-level positions that may include Technical Artist, Technical Developer, Assistant Technical Director, 3-D Tools Programmer, Artist Wizard, Data Wrangler, Rendering Wrangler or Junior Technical Cinematic Artist.

An intensely hands-on program that combines traditional animation skills with technical skills, the program focuses on student ability to write, extend and modify programs/scripts for 3-D animation. Students will be introduced to the principles of programming, which enables them to enter into the world of shading development, motion capture management, and pipeline streamlining. They will learn programming and scripting tools such as Perl, C++, C-shell, MEL scripting, MAXScript, DirectX & OpenGL and become very familiar with different operating systems. The program lasts 12 quarters and contains 192 quarter credits, including 56 quarter credits in general education.

The curriculum was developed with input from game and animation industry veterans, including professionals from the International Game Developers Association, Electronic Arts, Acclaim, Red Storm Entertainment, Digital Domain, Pixar Animation Studios, PDI/DreamWorks, Microsoft, Stormfront Studios, BioWare and other companies.

“This is a really unique type of curriculum that teaches a range of skills used by technical artists on a daily basis,” said Tom Miller, a Technical Director at Pixar and member of the school’s Program Advisory Committee. “New degree programs such as this one are helping to create new opportunities for people interested in developing their skills for the game and animation fields.”

“To develop a game or animated feature film, it takes the work of both artists and programmers,” explains Mary Clarke-Miller, Academic Director for the program at The Art Institute of California – San Francisco. “The artist creates characters, backgrounds, and other graphics to make the game visually appealing and exciting. The programmer creates programs and scripts to enable the various movements and interactions of characters and objects. For both sides to work effectively as a team, it is critical to have a third party known as a Technical Artist.”

According to Clarke-Miller, the Technical Artist must have the artistic talent and abilities, and as importantly, be well versed in the technical aspects of the game or animation in order to be capable of comprehending the intent of the artistic creator and the technical needs to achieve the intended results of the game designers. With that unique understanding, the Technical Artist can customize the programming tools in a computer software application to best meet the needs of an individual production.

“The Visual & Game Programming degree is a perfect complement to our existing Game Art & Design program,” said Caren Meghreblian, Ph.D., Dean of Education at The Art Institute of California – San Francisco. “While the Game Art & Design program is focused more on the creation of art used in games and animation, this Visual & Game Programming degree is focused on more of the technical side. Both of these programs are helping to prepare the next generation of computer animators, artists and technicians to fill employment niches in the animation and game fields.”

The related Game Art & Design program at The Art Institute of California – San Francisco has received widespread attention from the game industry, media and students. Nearly 60 students are currently studying in the school’s Game Art & Design program, which started in January 2002.

Students may now enroll in the Visual & Game Programming or Game Art & Design program to start in the Winter 2003 quarter, which starts Jan. 13, by calling the school’s Admissions Department at (888) 493-3261 or (415) 865-0198. Or, visit or email [email protected] for more information.