Teacher’s Assistant / Professor: Machinima

Teacher’s Assistant / Professor: Machinima

Semester: January, 2013 – April 2013

Class: Machinima CS 3660

School: University of Utah

Professor: Bob Kessler

Role: Teacher’s Assistant

Tools / Engine: Source Filmmaker

Picture 1: A slide from one of my presentations to the class.

Picture 2: One of the flyers explaining Machinima

Picture 3: A slide from one of my presentations to the class.

Picture 4: A slide from one of my presentations to the class.

Picture 5: A slide from one of my presentations to the class.

Picture 6: A slide from one of my presentations to the class.

Picture 7: A slide from one of my presentations to the class.

Picture 8: A slide from one of my presentations to the class.

Project Blog:

My First Presentation as a Teacher’s Assistant

At the beginning of the semester, I was asked by Bob Kessler, one of the main program heads of our EAE program, to be a Teacher’s Assistant for his undergrad class called Machinima. He approached me because he knew of my Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Media and my history with working with film. Since, Machinima is a brand new way of creating movies and videos through video game engines, Bob saw me as being the TA that would be responsible for the film side of the class while the other TA would  be on the engineering side of the subject. At first, I was a little hesitant to take on the job because of not only the extra workload that would be added to my already busy semester, but because I was a little self-conscious about my actual ability on how to regurgitate all the information to other students that I learned from my cinematography classes at Utah Valley University. But after thinking about how exciting this opportunity is and how fun it would be to actually teach an undergraduate class, I decided to take it on. Plus, the pay was really good and I was in need of finding a well paying job after letting go of my job at Apple to be able to focus more on school and my education. So this opportunity worked out beautifully!

My job as a TA is to attend all classes and go to a computer lab for 8 hours a week to help students in the class out with assignments. But along with being there for the students and helping out Bob during class, I was also hired as a TA for Machinima to be the Cinematography professional for the film side of Machinima. So it was also my job to create presentations for the class so I could present to the students and educate them on different topics that focus on the film side of Machinima.

My first presentation was on Screenplay Formatting. I had taken one class about writing screenplays back at UVU but I was still a little nervous to actually create a presentation that was good enough to present to over 60 people. As I built the presentation, I was constantly putting notes into my notes section that I would only  be able to see during the presentation so in case I stumbled while I was in front of the class, I would have many, many bailouts. I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before because of how much I was going over the presentation in my head once I had finished the Powerpoint.

When I finally woke up in the morning, I got ready for the day and decided that I needed to not be nervous and just go with the flow and enjoy the opportunity to challenge myself! That mindset carried me through the day up until presentation time! Once I set up my computer and got the presentation ready, I was completely ready to go! I remember thinking in my head, “Your going to dominate this and come out defeating this challenge!” Prior to this, I had presented many times in different classes both in undergrad and grad school so far, but never in front of this many people. So it was a little hard to shake off all the nervousness that was still somewhat building up before I started.

It went amazingly well! I felt as if I was very clear and engaged to everyone in the audience. The second after I sat back down in one the chairs in the front row of the stadium style classroom, I instantly felt like I had conquered a huge feat and made a major step in my life as well as my career. It felt so amazing to have the presentation go flawless. This helped me gain confidence in my ability to present to whoever I need to present to. I feel as if from this point forward, if I start to be super confident in my presentation skills and just be myself while I’m up there, I won’t have a problem in the future with any subject and any amount of people in the audience. It was definitely a great experience!

Machinima – My 2nd Presentation: Cinematography

My second presentation that I made for my Machinima class was on the subject of Cinematography. After my shorter first presentation, I really wanted to step up my game and make a very immerse and captivating presentation to practice teaching a subject and really get in depth about it. So the Cinematography Presentation became an assignment for me that I really wanted to excel at.

The problem came for me when I realized how much data I needed to actually cover for the Cinematography Presentation. After looking over previous presentations, looking over old notes, and doing extra research, I realized that this project would take a little bit more time then my first presentation did. The timing worked out that I was also going to present Rover Rescue, my game for my Projects II class, on the exact same day as the Cinematography Presentation in Machinima. This led me to staying up for about 40 hours strait going on a multiple presentation sprint.

Although all the work got finished before I started both classes, I was super, super tired that morning. After presenting my practice pitch to my peers, faculty and the cohort a year ahead of us in our program, I learned that being awake and ready to present should never be taken for granted. Although the presentation went alright, I know I wasn’t mentally ready to present that early in the morning with lack of sleep. I remember stumbling over a couple words and just recalling information in my head a little slower then normal. I quickly learned that making more time for my presentations is going to be very important next time.

The second half of the day went a lot better. When I got to the Machinima class, I had 100% mental mindset shift from earlier in the day. Although my first presentation wasn’t too bad, I was not going to let my Cinematography Presentation suffer because of my lack of sleep. I knew that once I presented I would be able to finally get much needed rest but what was more important was to make sure that the students that payed to see me present would get a great presentation on Cinematography!

It went great! I had a lot of different visuals in this presentation that helped tie everything together. I felt that this presentation was a giant leap up for me in learning not only how to handle making multiple outstanding presentations and how much work goes into it, but also to let my body get some much needed rest so I can perform well. I will never forget how much I put into these two presentations and how much I learned from them. It was a great experience that I will always remember.

Lighting – My 3rd Presentation for Machinima

My third presentation for Machinima was on Lighting. This presentation was the best one I had due to the fact I made sure I had a very good presentation and mentally prepared and well rested.

Even though I only had about a week between this presentation and my last one on Cinematography, I felt like I had plenty of time to perfect my presentation. I found plenty of references for each topic and made sure there were plenty of visuals with examples. When it came time to actually presenting, I felt I was in control of my presentation. Even though I know I still need a lot of practice to make sure I can be myself when I’m presenting, I felt like this presentation is one I can remember as being one of my best ones. I hardly looked at my slides, I felt like I knew the topic, and my presentation flowed very well. After presenting to the Industry Panel about Rover Rescue and then going through the day where I didn’t sleep and did two presentations the next day, I felt I could handle this last Machinima presentation with no problems. Because I went into the presentation with the right, positive mindset, I was able to perform well and more importantly educate the Machinima class on Lighting

Machinimafest 2013

Congratulations to Robot Escape and Infomercial Percille for winning Machinimafest 2013 at The University of Utah. It was awesome to see how far these films have come from their original screenplays to their final versions that were played for everyone at Machinifest.

It was cool to see the progress of all the students in the class as well. Being a TA for the Machinima class, it was cool to see the level of skill increase that students had with Source Filmmaker.

It was a great experience to be a part of this class. It was so fun to be able to help out in the lab, give individual advice on original screenplay ideas, correct Source Film Maker assignments on YouTube, five advice on film, hand out prizes to the winners of Machinimafest, help Bob out with the class, and do everything else I did for the class. If I could I would love to be able to have this experience again in the future!