Media Arts & Animation
Media Arts & Animation and Game Art & Design Instructor
The Art Institute of Philadelphia
My most satisfying moments are when students express that 'Aha!' moment—and then run with it and do amazing work. Tim Wetzel , Media Arts & Animation and Game Art & Design Instructor , The Art Institute of Philadelphia
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
During a self-taught apprenticeship in 3D modeling and animation, I learned to combine art with my interest in computers and design. That was an eye-opening experience. To be honest, I was having so much fun, and it took me a couple of years to think of it as a way to make a living. Even today, much of the work I do feels more like play.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I teach working pipelines, time management, and industry standards, using my professional experiences as classroom examples. I present problems that commonly come up, as well as how client interactions affect design and other important decisions.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
I challenge students to challenge themselves to work harder. And that’s what they do in my character project. It’s a series of assignments that follow the 3D character pipeline. Students create a model from reference, then UV map and texture their character using various industry methods. Creating a rig, skinning, and morph targets help students dynamically pose a character for a final presentation. Throughout the project, students learn how the process is also used for animation and 3D games.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
When students work together on a common goal, they learn to work to their own strengths and reach out to others for help in areas where they’re not as strong. They pick up valuable interpersonal tools and management skills. And when they work with student from other programs, they develop an appreciation and understanding for those disciplines.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
I urge them to never stop learning, and always have a strong work ethic. I stress the importance of time management, promptness, and hard work in creating great artwork and animation. And I encourage them to accept critique with an open mind.
Anything else you’d like to share?
My most satisfying moments are when students express that "Aha!" moment—and then run with it and do amazing work. That’s when I know they’ve taken what I’ve taught them and made it their own.