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New Discreet Design Academy to Broaden 3D Experience

Discreet has launched Discreet Design Academy (DDA), a secondary school program designed by educators and Discreet to bring new visual communications-based learning experiences and skills into the classroom. Broadening the accessibility of 3D tools beyond specialized fine arts and vocational studies, DDA provides a cross-disciplined curriculum that incorporates 3ds max software (the same application favored by professionals in the film, gaming and design industries) into general math, science and language arts coursework. The program is being rolled out to high schools in North America this fall.

DDA emphasizes teamwork, planning and execution as students employ sophisticated visual communication techniques to explore topics such as planetary mechanics, archeological reconstruction of the Parthenon, the digestive system, forensics, weather systems and more. Students then animate solutions in 3ds max software to explain and present what they have learned. Through this initiative, students are not only learning how to think visually, but are also gaining computer animation skills in the most widely used 3D software for professionals in film, game development, design and broadcast markets.

The program is flexible and affordable, allowing schools to purchase either an annual or a perpetual classroom license to use the DDA curriculum and 3ds max software on up to 10 computers, with an 11th license for the instructor. DDA also includes comprehensive lesson plans, teaching guides and handouts to support five projects across a semester the equivalent of a fundamental animation course.

The Discreet Design Academy is at the vanguard of secondary school learning, bringing 3D animation into the core curriculum to allow students to hone sophisticated visual communication skills that prepare them for their future by supplementing their critical thinking, science, math, language arts and technology skills in most any academic discipline, said Mike Edmonds, senior manager, Education, Discreet. With Discreet 3ds max 7 software and the comprehensive teaching aids we are offering, institutions can be up and running with the program in hours.

Discreet worked with leading educators and technical experts to map the program to the International Technology Education Assn. (ITEA), the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), science and language arts standards. The curriculum also aligns with the National Science Foundations Visualization in Technology Education (VisTE) project, which focuses on linking science and technology through creation of visualizations.

The biggest challenge in implementing a 3D-based curriculum was finding a software platform capable of supporting the scope of our program, said Joseph Airoso, Engineering & Design instructor, Elk Grove Unified School District, California. We needed a robust platform that would support everything from design visualization to film and game development. We have tried other systems, but none have matched the capability, performance, scalability and outstanding customer support of 3ds max. From the inception of our program, Discreet has been a solid and reliable partner and we look forward to this partnership continuing for years to come.

"3ds max software is a great platform due to its well thought out user interface and logical workflow scheme. 3ds max software gives us the tools necessary to teach our base curriculum and gives us the additional power for experimentation and testing of new ideas. The software allows both the novice and seasoned modeler to make use of its built-in functionality to build complex projects. The character studio feature within 3ds max software, along with the solid animation architecture with precise motion control results in an outstanding program for modeling and character development." Shawn Sullivan, animation instructor, Sheldon High School.

DDA is available via an annual term license of 10 student seats and one faculty software license of 3ds max EDU, or a perpetual license, for ongoing use of the 11 DDA licenses. Teacher resources include syllabi, lesson plans, student handouts with exercises, projects and homework, evaluation rubrics and online tutorials. Single license increments are available for larger or expanding labs. Discreet additionally offers separate teacher development seminars. For more information, please visit

Discreets award-winning solutions are designed for digital media creation, management and delivery across all disciplines from film and television visual effects, color grading and editing to animation, game development, Web/interactive and design visualization. Discreet ( is based in Montréal, Québec and is a division of Autodesk Inc., the leading design and digital media creation, management and distribution company.

Bill Desowitz's picture

Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.