Animated and it feels so good…

Animated and it feels so good

Animated, I misunderstood

That passing this course

Meant making 3D and more,

It truly was my tour de force

I’ve animated, hey, hey.

(To the tune of Peaches and Herb’s  “Reunited”)

My 3D object based on a model of a birdhouse in my kitchen.

I’m singing now, but I was crying earlier this week. Yes, it’s that course again, the Gaming and Simulations in Education course—-now in its sixth week (out of eight, and, yes, I am counting!)—-that has not only prevented me from writing blog posts (you did notice, right?) but has reminded me what it is like to be a hard-working student who simply doesn’t understand the material.

On Thursday, I cried after spending all day fruitlessly attempting to create in Milkshape 3D (despite a class session where my professor demonstrated everything and the various tutorials I found online). The tears inspired my mechanical engineering son to come to my rescue, and when even he couldn’t figure out the software, I figured I would at least be justified in earning my F on the assignment.

The model for my 3D object.

On Friday, I tried again, and my son again gave me a few moments of his time, and again to no avail. I had school (teaching) obligations that evening and so couldn’t try again until Saturday morning, when I was determined to get something completed before meeting with my professor via Google Hangout (a way cool platform that allowed me to actually show him what I was completing on my computer desktop). I had finally met with some success, and when my professor said I had met the requirement for the 3D assignment, I was thrilled–and filled with hope for the next assignment: another 3D object animated.

The rest of Saturday was dedicated to that. I had decided on a “simple” candle holder, thinking I could animate the flame. This time, the 3D part seemed almost easy, and I learned some tricks that allowed me to create the various parts. I couldn’t, however, figure out how to make the glass globe transparent, and so I decided to animate that, lifting it off the holder so that the candle, with its moving flame, would be exposed. Of course, what seemed simple to my teacher—and to me when I was attending to his every word and demonstrated detail—wasn’t.  And so I finished Saturday with a lovely 3D image but zero animation progress.

The four-window overview in Milkshape 3D and the product of my animation efforts.

I got up at 5 on Sunday so I could work a little before heading to church. No success–but I had some inspiration during the sermon (apparent by the notes I jotted about animation on my sermon outline and the offering envelope). And then I had some real inspiration when I started to attend to what was really important–what God was saying to me through His Word (and servant—thank you, Pastor Max!).

Namely, Paul’s words in Romans, when he writes, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18, NIV). It made me think that my present sufferings (the challenges of gaming and developing objects for such games) isn’t worth comparing with the joy I will have when this course (and the next one, which is my last) are completed and I don cap and gown and proudly graduate with my master’s degree in Educational Technology.

But that joy and glory isn’t all there is. This very temporary situation made me think through the daily challenges just normal life throws at me and you and other Christians throughout the world–and the sufferings likely yet to come–and how they will all fade away into the dim past when we finally get to see our Savior face to face (and see who we have become because of these trials that have so molded us).

The candle holder (matchbox held in underneath compartment) I tried to mimic.

And with those thoughts, I left church and returned home, determined to complete my animation. The notes I had jotted during the service did help. The prayers helped more. I looked at my professor’s video with new eyes, apparently, saw what I hadn’t before, and was able to meet the animation requirement. Sure, my “glass globe” on my candle holder looks like a bowling pin being lifted off a flattened candle flame, and I had issues saving the file and had to redo some changes I’d made, but I, Sara, created 3D objects and animated one! I’ve animated, hey, hey! (Burst into song with me here… see words above.)

My 3D objects are just pictures of the real thing; this course is a mere picture of real life. It reveals who I am–in this case doing what I don’t want to do, doing what I don’t feel equipped to do, yet struggling to do it well–and then being surprised by my own progress (with God’s help, because you can be sure I was praying desperately and often!). Creating 3D objects and animating was definitely outside my comfort zone–and even outside my desire zone–and yet I saw success. It gives me hope for the much more significant struggles I will face.

When I woke up this morning, I found I was thinking of yet another way to tackle building my 3D birdhouse–and after I get all my other work done (should that day ever happen), I’m going to try it. For fun.

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