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UC Denver’s Digital Animation Center at the 2015 Denver Comic Con

comicCon02This past Memorial Day weekend, a record number of people showed up to see Denver Comic Con’s cosplayers, celebrities, artists, and merchants line the halls of the Colorado Convention Center. Among the exhibitors in the Merchant Mesa was Denver Comic Con educational sponsors, the University of Colorado, Denver’s Digital Animation Center (DAC). Students from the DAC’s 3D Graphics and Animation program exhibited two interactive booths all weekend to represent the University of Colorado, Denver, the College of Arts and Media (CAM), and the 3D Graphics and Animation program at UCDenver.

 As they have done since Denver Comic Con’s inception in 2012, the DAC rolled out six Wacom Cintiq monitors and handed a stylus over to guests to try digitally sculpting on a “clay” character in the computer. Students explained that the software in use, ZBrush, is an industry standard tool that today’s modelers and animators use to create the stunningly lifelike or stylized cartoon characters seen in the entertainment industry’s top films and games.

comicCon05New to this year’s Comic Con experience, the DAC also featured its portable motion capture stage so that people could get an idea of how animation data getscreated in today’s industry. The stage consisted of a 10 ft x 10 ft area set up with 16 infrared cameras connected to a computer and a TV. Guests were invited to come into the stage area and “try” motion capture by donning a pair of Hulk gloves equipped with motion capture markers. Guests of all ages could interact with the digital scene by stepping up to the interaction zone and, while wearing the Hulk gloves, punching into the air. On screen, guests could see that their motions were being tracked in 3D space and their motions affected a pair of punching bags designed to look like Harley Quinn and the Joker.

Students also gave out free UCDenver and CAM swag, as well as DVD’s of the past five DAC produced Senior Shorts. The DAC’s presence at Comic Con is a great way to get the word out to the public that our school offers a 3D graphics and Animation program, which can be utilized for anyone interested in going into creating video games or movies in the entertainment industry, among many other professional fields. Many parents were interested to learn about the Lynx Summer Camps that are offered during the summers for junior high and high school aged students.

comicCon04On Monday, the DAC’s Director, Howard Cook, participated in a panel about Storytelling with staff from the Denver Public Library as well as colleague and award wining screenwriter Craig Volk from UCDenver’s Film and Theater Department. The panel was attended by over 75 people, who listened to Howard and the panel’s insights on storytelling using a narrative pattern called The Hero’s Journey. 


The Denver Comic Con’s program, Pop Culture Classroom (PCC) features the best in comics along with popular sci-fi and fantasy tv shows, movies, Japanese animation, cosplay (fan-created costumes and costumed skits), toys, gaming, and panel presentations. The proceeds from this annual fan event benefits PCC’s overall educational endeavors.

This year, 101,500 people attended the convention, making Denver’s Comic Con among the largest in the nation.


Sara Louviere,
DAC class of 2015
Photos: Robert King
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