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Valentin Flashes His Animation Skills

If you’re a frequent visitor to the Berea College Web site, you may have noticed a new addition - an updated, flashier campus map. The interactive map was designed and created by Jacques Valentin, a technology education major in his third year here at Berea. The impressive piece has received recognition outside the college as well; it won first place in the educational category of the 2007 West Virginia Flash Animation Festival.

Student and creator of the new, interactive Campus Map, Jacques Valentin

With nearly every detail of Berea’s campus mapped out, down to the last section of sidewalk, Valentin’s creation has made it easier for tourists, potential students and other newcomers to navigate the college campus.

The map is a flash based animation, created using Adobe Flash 8, which allows viewers to manipulate the zoom and direction functions. If that isn’t impressive enough, when viewers click on the buildings or features on campus outlined in the map, a photo of their selection will pop up above the navigation pane, usually along with information and links to that location on the Berea College Web site.

“I’m hoping,” says Valentin, “that visitors and students alike will be able to find destinations easier than before, not only being able to see exact routes to and fro, but to also use the images to their advantage; students and visitors now know exactly what they are looking for and how to find it.”

Valentin, who works for the Web Team, was told about the West Virginia Flash Animation Festival by his friend and student manager, James McWhorter. After viewing last year’s winners, Valentin decided to enter the contest. “I felt that I had a good chance of winning,” remarks Valentin. “If I decide to continue pursuing Web design, a little recognition for the work I’ve done could never hurt, right?”

There were only a few requirements for the contest. The animation had to be flashed based, and entrants had to be from an eligible Appalachian state. Entrants were also asked to write a brief introduction and description about their flash application. For the educational category, entrants could submit maps and timelines or projects that included testing and user tracking applications. Entries were judged based on the concept of the piece, its interactivity, content and level of professionalism.

For his work, Valentin received an official, framed award in the mail as well as one hundred dollars in prize money. “I don’t necessarily have specific plans for the money other than to help me pay my bills and maybe splurge a little," explains Valentin. "On second thought, I did buy myself ‘Spider-Man 3 the game.'"

Valentin thinks of his recent honor as more than just a plaque and a monetary award; it is solid reassurance of his talent in a technological field he loves. “To me,” he said, “it’s recognition and reinforcement that I have a reason to continue pursuing Flash design; it lets me know that I really am good at what I do.”

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