As part of the celebration of the BMC 75th anniversary, one-hour professional development workshops were held between June 14-18. These workshops featured current students, professors and alumni, and were a great hit in both the BMC community and the general public!
Blender 101: An Intro Crash Course!
"One of the constant goals (read: lies) I’ve been holding myself to since graduating BMC in 2019 was that I was going to start learning Blender. I’d downloaded the program in the past and even assembled a YouTube playlist to follow and learn from, but there always seemed to be a hurdle that stopped me from diving in. Lucky, Abeeshan Selvabaskaran (2T2), a BMC student starting his second year of the program, changed all of that with the incredible BMClass Blender 101: An Introductory Crash Course! Over the course of the session, Abeeshan covered the basics of the Blender UI, how to navigate the viewport and add primitive objects, and how you can take those objects and mould them using modifiers and a little vertex modelling as necessary.
The result? I was able to leave the session with a fully modelled IV bag and a genuine sense of accomplishment because I finally dove into the wonderful world of Blender. I even took it a little further following Abeeshan’s second tutorial (which you can find here), and managed to fully complete this delightful bag, ready to deliver fluids with a smile."
Affinity Designer 101: Antidote to Adobe Illustrator
"In Prof Dave Mazierski’s BMClass, we were given an introductory tour of Affinity Designer, which he adopted to teach his undergraduate Technologies for Scientific Illustration course remotely in Fall 2020. This software presents itself as a significantly more affordable competitor to Adobe Illustrator (and Photoshop, to some extent); it certainly has a lot of the same functionalities. But its winning feature is an interface that allows for a more streamlined workflow: the two main “personas” of Affinity Designer, Designer and Pixel, let you work with and easily switch between vector and raster-based elements within the same file. Showing us a suite of other tips and tricks for creating illustrations and editing photos, Dave, in one short hour, made Affinity Designer fans of us all. And it was a delight to be in his “class” again; it felt like being back at BMC, almost."
DaVinci Resolve 101: Your New Favourite Piece of Freeware
Paul Kelly took us on a step-by-step tour of the various applications of DaVinci Resolve from video editing to color correction, to visual effects, to motion graphics to audio editing.
DaVinci Resolve is your one-stop shop for post-production work. Its interface is easy to learn, yet powerful. Don't believe me? - take a look yourself. BMCAA has this exciting talk as well as many others posted on their Youtube page!
The best part of this attractive alternative to Adobe After Effects is that it's free.
Facilitation 101: Digital Workshopping Using Miro
"In this BMClass, Marina Spyridis introduced us to the basics of running a digital workshop using an online collaboration platform called Miro. She walked through the process of preparing a workshop session, covered best practices on engaging participants, and shared tips on how to be an effective facilitator. The BMClass ended with a fun interactive session where everyone could engage on a Miro board and experiment with different features that were available.
This workshop provided me with an opportunity to learn about the collaborative potential of Miro. The tool is useful not only for workshop facilitation with clients, but for internal meetings and brainstorming sessions w
ith teammates as well. As a current user of Mural, I was highly impressed with the visual user interface of Miro and may have to seriously consider switching over! Thanks Marina for the fantastic and informative session!"
Houdini 101: Getting Molecular with Houdini
"Stuart Jantzen's workshop provided a solid introduction to importing molecular structures from the PDB into Houdini — in this case, an actin monomer. After importing the PDB data into Houdini, he demonstrated how to build a flexible node network that allows you to create accurate surface and molecular representations of the data, how to duplicate and transform the structure to create an actin filament, and how to draw an actin filament along a curve. We also created switches that allow the user to toggle between different representation types, as well as varying levels of geometry and smoothing so that you can customize the model to your needs. Lastly, we learned how to export the desired structure, as well as how to create a Houdini Asset that allows the model to be modified in secondary software such as Maya or Unity. Overall, this workshop helped me understand the power of Houdini, in what situations it should be used instead of (or in tandem with) other 3D programs, and gave me the knowledge and confidence to try bringing in other molecular data."
Digital Painting 101: Creating Cohesive Colour Palettes
"In this BMClass, second-year BMC student Brittany Cheung (2T1) provided us an overview of how she creates cohesive colour palettes in Adobe Photoshop. Participants got a peek into how she selects her colour palettes - keeping in mind the principles of balance, cohesion, and accent - followed by a demo of her digital painting process. For Brittany, initial colour palette selection is just a starting point. Her palettes evolve and are refined throughout her painting process - something that’s easy to do in digital painting workflows, especially when you take advantage of Photoshop functionalities like layer styles and adjustment layers. In Brittany’s own words: “recognizing the colours you want is easier than picking them. Don’t be afraid to adjust colours as you go along until you are satisfied!”
Because Photoshop is such a powerful tool, and everyone seems to use it in slightly different ways, I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that it’s fun to watch how other people paint digitally - not to mention the opportunity it provides to add new tricks to your bag! This workshop was a perfect occasion to do just that. Participants likely didn’t anticipate learning a really good way to use the dissolve layer style, but we were pleasantly surprised to discover its utility in colour picking (along with many other learnings, of course!). Thanks for the tips Brittany; can’t wait to try them out."
Blender 201: Creating a SciViz Scene
"In this BMClass, folks were offered a chance to build upon the Blender basics they had learned earlier in the week under the direction of second-year BMC student Eric Chung (2T1). During Blender 201: Creating a SciViz Scene, Eric offered us a glimpse at how Blender can be used as a powerful concepting tool thanks to Cycles, a lightning-fast real-time rendering engine built into the program. Eric also covered a number of advanced Blender moves, including how to bake lighting for static objects and how to begin using the node network to create complex, randomized, and repeating geometry that can serve as the basis for a science visualizations. We ended the session with Eric demonstrating how to combine all of these to create a cinematically lit cellular landscape. My own Blender journey is just beginning, and so while I wasn’t able to follow along in real-time with every part of Eric’s class, it was inspiring to see just how useful and powerful the program is, and I’m excited to revisit the recording as I learn more about Blender!"
- Alex Young
Special thanks to all our speakers - Abeeshan Selvabaskaran (2T2), Dave Mazierski (8T2), Paul Kelly (1T1), Marina Spyridis (1T6), Stuart Jantzen (1T3), Brittany Cheung (2T1), and Eric Chung (2T1)!