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Josh Fairbank

Josh Fairbank

Virtual Reality Sets Up Future Career

Like many freshmen, Josh Fairbank was unsure about what he wanted to study, let alone pursue as a career when he entered the University of Idaho. He began his freshman year as a business major, but quickly realized pursuing that path wasn’t right for him.

“I talked with an adviser and started telling her what I enjoy doing,” he recalled. “I like working with technical stuff, like computers and she referred me to the Virtual Technology & Design (VTD) Department. I took my first class, and I loved it.”

As a graduating senior in the spring 2012, Fairbank now has a steady eye on his future, he said, and the skills to achieve his dreams.

According to Fairbank, the VTD program provides students the basic skills of the technical design processes, such as 3D modeling, animations and storyboards, but also the expertise needed to excel with more complex animations. For example, through the use of “nodes” placed on the body, VTD students can film a subject, then replicate their movements in the virtual world – a process known as motion capture.

“For my senior capstone project, we’re using motion capture with the football team to create a simulation-type playbook for them. You get rigged up and put all these nodes on so the cameras will pick up your actual movements. Then you record your movements, edit them and put them into the scene you’re working on.”

Students graduating from the VTD program can pursue careers in many fields, such as film and game development and advertising, said the Oregon native. His future plans include a move to Los Angeles, where he will seek an internship with a game design firm.

The student said his experience at U-Idaho transformed the direction of not only his life, but also his career goals; and created a future where virtually anything is possible.

“I think the University really prepared me for the job world. With the small class size, you can get a lot more one-on-one time with all the faculty members. The second thing is that you learn a lot of skills that you’ll use when you’re off in the real world working with real clients. The third thing is just making something awesome!”

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