Library Offers Free Training in 3D Animation

Learn the basics or create a digital masterpiece at the state-of-the-art 3D Animation Lab.


Texas Tech University Libraries provide the latest technology-based services for the Texas Tech community.

Extensive collections include more than 2.5 million volumes, subscriptions to major periodicals and several hundred specialized, online databases, e-journals and e-libraries.

The Library's Digital Media Studio (DMS) is a multimedia lab, which includes the 3D Animation Lab. The DMS provides access to music workstations, digital camcorders and cameras, i-Pods and much more.

Find out More about the 3D Animation Lab

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The 3D Animation Lab offers short courses ranging from the basic 3D journey, to more advanced modeling and rendering. Classes are free and available to anyone with an eRaider account. Sign up Now.

Imagine a Jedi starfighter dodging the metro-tower in downtown Lubbock, taking out Storm Troopers marching down Broadway.

Or picture a colossal Masked Rider on horseback galloping onto a rival campus with crushing hooves. Now you can virtually make that happen.

Computer graphics, animation, special effects, digital art or whatever your vice, the 3D Animation Lab at the University Library has the resources you need to make every 3D project come alive. Whether you are a novice or a professional, the Library is your guide into the 3D world of animation and modeling through a new series of free short courses available this fall.

The lab opened its doors nearly a year ago in September 2007 as a small studio with eight computer workstations. It has since expanded to 20 high-end Windows graphic workstations, including eight which run parallel with Macintosh computers. Each workstation is equipped with the latest in animation technology including 50, 3D applications available to users.

“We’ve tried to cover a lot of bases,” said Ken Chaffin, senior administrator for the 3D Animation Lab. “We have some fairly expensive mainstream packages, in addition to some free applications.”

A Quest for Information

The lab is part of the Digital Media Studio located on the second floor of the Library, and is open to anyone with an eRaider account. It’s led by two professional animators, Chaffin and Edward Grampp, as well as Jim Brewer, systems administration and integration librarian.

The animation technology furthers the Library’s mission of connecting users with resources that advance intellectual inquiry and discovery. The lab is not associated with any other department on campus and is designed for independent research, study and exploration.

“It’s a resource for individuals to explore with the technologies we have,” Chaffin said. “We don’t teach people how to be an expert or how to be a CGI animator, but we give them a start to allow them to go off on their own.”

3D modeling and animation can be applied to practically any field and discipline, from engineering and fashion design to law enforcement or dentistry.

“One of the most exciting things is people can come in and learn a cutting edge technology and go off and do things no one else has done before.”


One of the applications you will learn during the shortcourses is how to make Simon, the pre-designed model, walk.

Advancing to the Next Level

So how easy is 3D animation to learn? According to Chaffin there is a lot of subjectivity in the concept of easy or difficult. Some packages are considered more difficult because they have more features.

“These packages have literally thousands of options and tools built into them, and a lot of the difficulty is learning the user interface,” Chaffin said. “Every package is a little bit different.”

Don’t expect to walk away from the courses with a full-length animated short, but what you will learn is how to make Simon walk down the street and how to make a ball bounce across your screen. You will learn the fundamentals of 3D animation and maybe, with a little time, you just might create the next Tomb Raider.

“We want to use the short courses to encourage the university community to come into the lab and explore,” said Chaffin. “We just give them a start.”

Short courses began Sept. 8 and will run 11 weeks. The lab will offer one course per day, from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.

If you are not a student or faculty/staff member, you can apply for an individual eRaider account at the Circulation Desk in the Library. The lab carries the same extended library hours and is typically open 7 a.m. - 2 a.m. in the fall and spring semesters.