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099Students bring pens to life in animated film09090909090Thursday, May 21, 2009
When Naimul Khan was going to school in Bangladesh, he used to love engaging his classmates in imaginary battle.~

“We used to clear off our table and play this game with our pens,” says Khan, a master’s student in computer science. “The last pen standing on the table won.”

Now, with the help of fellow students Sepideh Seifzadeh, Numanul Subhani and Yuefeng Wang, he has brought the game to life in the form of a short animated film, appropriately called Pen Fight.

The film is a project the students completed for Imran Ahmad’s course in 3D modeling and animation. It shows what happens when no humans are around and the contents of a desktop magically come to life to form a boxing ring where the pens square off and have at one another, all set to a heavy metal soundtrack.

It even features slow-motion sequences inspired by The Matrix. The film—made with Maya software, the same program used to enhance such big-budget films The Lord of the Rings—is three minutes and 11 seconds long, but took an entire semester complete. Watch Pen Fight here.

“First you develop the models, which takes most of the time, and then you do the animation,” says Khan. “To make it more realistic, you have to work a lot harder developing facial expressions. It was very difficult.”

Khan wants to complete his doctorate and do more theoretical work in the field of image retrieval, but wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a career in animation if an offer came along. He says he will investigate the possibility of landing a coveted internship at Pixar, the studio which created such Disney hits as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Wall-E.

“I had a lot of fun doing this,” he says. “It’s a great career option. The starting jobs are very highly paid, but you have to have a lot of creativity.”

Khan and Ahmad will be attending Campus Technology Day, a day-long conference today in the CAW Student Centre focusing on the role of technology in enhancing learning, teaching, and research. Click here for a full agenda.


Computer science student Naimul Khan demonstrates the technology behind Pen Fight, a short animated film he and his classmates created with Maya software.



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