Dr. Hill and students

Following the bread crumbs

Wofford Interims help Peng find her passion for computer animation and game design

Yukun Peng 382
2016-01-29

Yukun Peng ’16, a native of Beijing, China, took her first computer class — Introduction to Game Design — during Interim of her sophomore year.

"I realized when I sat for six straight hours in Milliken Science, not moving, just coding, that I had found my major and maybe even my future," says Peng. "When I'm old and have children, they will be proud to say, 'hey, my mom is a game designer.'"

Peng already has a substantial portfolio, one that grew again this Interim. She took Computer Animation with Maya, taught by Dr. Dave Sykes, chair of the Wofford College Department of Computer Science, the same professor who inspired Peng to major in computer science and pursue a career in game design.

"My main job is to teach students to learn on their own so they can accomplish what they want to," says Sykes. "Students like Yukun are creative and do that so well."

During Interim 2016 Peng created "Predator," a short film that tells the story of a little girl walking in the snow. She stops to wipe snow off of a sculpture and unleashes a Youkai (Japanese spirit monster). The Youkai follows the little girl picking up and eating the crumbs she leaves while walking and snacking. The Youkai grows as it eats, and when there are no crumbs left to consume, it opens its huge, toothy mouth to gobble up the little girl. The screen goes black. The little girl screams... then laughs. When the animation resumes, the viewer discovers that the little girl was actually another Youkai who devours the Youkai that attacked her.

"People don't always expect power in a small figure," says Peng, who stands right at five feet tall. "The film shows that you never know the power that someone has within."

According to Sykes, to complete their animated shorts, students in the class were required to submit a proposal, identify tasks, develop storyboards as well as a plan and project timeline, share their work with the class for feedback, and polish their films for a final presentation.

"During the second week of class, one of the students joked that even if he doesn't finish the month with a complete animation, he will have learned a lot about problem solving," says Sykes. "That's what I like to hear."

This was the first experience with the Autodesk Maya program for all 20 students in the Interim. The experience helped Peng solidify her plan to major in game design with an emphasis on production and computer graphics during graduate school.

Click view Peng's animated short.