Brandon Crews Joins WPU Faculty
Ever since Brandon Crews was young, he’s been drawing characters. Since expanding his repertoire from cartoons on notebook paper to designing 3D motion capture sequences for character animation, Crews has now started full-time at William Peace University as Assistant Professor of Simulation and Game Design. He’s gearing up to transform WPU students’ learning experiences into ones they can carry with them throughout their careers.
Following undergraduate school, the Tarboro-native quickly found teaching as a great way to share his excitement and bring new learners into the field of game design. He joined the faculty at Wake Technical Community College in 2008 as part of their Associate’s Degree in Simulation and Game Development. While there, Crews used the summers to work at local companies, expanding his knowledge in the ever-evolving space of game design.
“Outside of teaching, that’s my passion,” Crews said of his work creating a mobile iOS third-person shooter game, as well as other character rigging and animation experiences. “Technical animation, technical art is something I’ve always loved.”
Through externships, Crews began working with Cary-based Epic Games on end-game motion capture for their wildly popular game Fortnite. This increased his understanding of motion capture animation, known as MoCap, an incredible advancement in the field. MoCap allows designers to track live movement while a computer maps the action, rather than manually manipulating a 3D character. This has become a leading way game developers and even blockbuster films create realistic out-of-this-world sequences.
And that is one of the many experiences that lead Crews to his new role at WPU.
“Something that’s so important to me is teaching fundamentals while encouraging lifelong learning,” he said. “This industry is ever-changing, so making sure students can build a balance in technology and continue learning for the rest of their life is necessary to success.”
“I try to deliver content as many ways as possible so students can have as many ways to learn as possible,” he said. One way Crews achieves this is through his YouTube channel, which features videos of animations, MoCap and other tutorials. He said his students love it.
“I didn’t think this would be a career,” Crews said from his WPU office. “But it really is a passion for me. I get a lot out of seeing someone else get that spark when they learn just the simplest little skill that I taught them.
“That’s something I love every semester.”
Crews is most looking forward to pushing his WPU classes and students to new levels. While the field formerly used to encourage graduates to know a little bit about everything, more and more companies are seeking out “generalists with focus areas,” he said.
“I want to continue to mold our classes to mirror what they’re doing in the industry,” he said. “North Carolina has an incredible industry in all types of gaming and simulation, from the more serious side of science, technology and military, to the entertainment side. I want to continue creating relationships to ensure our curriculum is aligned with what companies are looking for.”
At the end of the day, Crews has big dreams for his WPU students.
“What I would love to see is students building games that change the world, that are not just fun and entertaining, but ones that can help bring light to issues, to things that they care about, to things that the world needs to improve on,” he said.
“I think this is a great community and a great institution to be able to do that.”
Brandon Crews holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from East Carolina University with a concentration in Animation and Interactive Design. He also holds a Master of Art and Design from North Carolina State University with a concentration in Animation and New Media. His research has focused on non-linear interactive instruction combined with technical character animation.