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Ex’pression College Students Create NASA Trailer

Expression College for Digital Arts announced that several students in its Digital Visual Media program helped create a three-minute trailer showing highlights of a proposed interactive visual game for NASA targeted for use in schools at K-12 level, titled the Miranda Project.

The concept of the educational game was that students would manage an elite group of astronauts sent to discover the mystery of what disaster may have befallen Earths most advanced Space Station Miranda, located in the far reaches of our Solar System. Along the way, they would learn about the Solar System, physics, chemistry, and several other aspects of science through problem solving and practical application.

We want to demonstrate that the challenge to learn can be great fun. NASA has a vast array of planetary data readily available. This research data, if delivered in the video game environment, could increase the power of education, said Patrick Hogan, program manager for NASA Learning Technologies. The Miranda Project highlights the excitement of learning that such a game could have if used for educational purposes.

Expression students and instructors were responsible for the entire development of the production including modeling, rigging, animation, texturing and lighting and compositing, added K.C. Murphy, course director and project producer/director, Expression College for Digital Arts.

Students experiencing the game promo would encounter disaster scenarios on their journey, loss of fuel, damage to the ship, crew injuries, etc. Students would access NASA data for time-dependent (emergency) problem solving, deciphering the needed materials, scanning the Solar System for planets that contain those materials, robot mining of the materials, extracting needed elements and then synthesizing molecules before moving on to the next challenge. Eventually they would reach the ultimate challenge, saving the moon-sized distant Space Station Miranda, which appears to have lost all communication.

The technology used to create the game promo piece for NASA was available at Expression and included Dell PC Workstations running Alias Maya software and Adobes Photoshop and After Effects.

Founded in 1999 by Gary Platt and Eckart Wintzen, Expression (www.expression.edu) is a unique training ground for animators, visual effects artists, recording engineers, producers and designers. Emeryville, California-based Expression teaches and grants Bachelor degrees in three programs: sound arts; digital visual media (including animation, 3D modeling and visual effects); and digital graphic design. Utilizing the concept of Total Immersion as its teaching philosophy, students live and learn in the digital arts and new media culture for approximately two years. Every five weeks a new class starts, and each class is limited to a small number of students to insure the best professional training and hands-on learning. The student to computer ratio is one to one.

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