Meet Your Instructor: Mitchell Theriault - XR Developer and Instructor
July 20 2022
Mitchell Theriault, "Mitch" is an XR Developer and one of the lead instructors at Circuit Stream.
Starting out as a creative person he was always fascinated by building things. After short stint in the filmmaking business, Mitch fell in love with virtual reality after trying out the first Oculus DK1 kit.
The rest is history!
Check the full interview below or if you prefer, read the summarized answers below.
Q: Tell me about your background and experience before you joined Circuit Stream
A: Immediately before working with Circuit Stream I was working at a company that was making AR/VR experiences using Unity. So the transition to Circuit Stream was an quite obvious one. But my creative background might be even more interesting.
Q: Were you interested in the XR technology and Unity development before?
A: I got started in film school. I've always been technical and compelled to create things at the same time. I've always been somewhat of an artist and my dream was to become a cartoonist. However, I wasn't good as an artist. After realizing that, I've pivoted into filming and still telling stories visually. I was 13 years at the time and I've enjoyed filming skits with my friends.
I've went to Film School — Sheridan Media Arts in Oakville. It's there where I first tried the Oculus DK1 - the first virtual reality headset. By today's standard the DK1 is a primitive device but it was enough for me to see the future and potential of this technology. I wanted to pursue it.
Sheridan school had a huge film hangar where students could test motion capture and even virtual reality. I wasn't accepted into that program but I've researched the companies that worked with that research branch of the school and found a company that was creating plug-ins and assets for Unity game engine.
I've cold-called them and landed an internship with the company. I've also strived to be the go-to person for visual effects and 3D during my time at Sheridan's and perhaps my portfolio helped me land that role. After that I've started learning everything about Unity.
Q: Where does your teaching experience come from?
A: I've always enjoyed helping people and showing off good work. I don't remember wanting to become a teacher. Other people in my life said that I am good at explaining things so other people understand. In other words, I can simplify the terms to the complete beginners.
Q: What have you found is your personal teaching style at Circuit Stream?
A: Approachable, relaxed and conversational. I like to explain things with metaphors so they are easier to grasp. I like to give out an answer in a way I wanted to receive an answer when I was learning this concept.
I won't give out the direct answer but rather a thought process on how to get to the right answer. In programming and development, you will have to rely on documentation so it's important for learners to learn how to find the right answer by themselves.
I feel like learning is similar to learning music. If you want to learn how to play guitar you will have to repeat a lot of steps. It's the same with learning programming and development.-
Q: You’ve taught two cohorts so far. What separates great students from good ones?
A: Students that are driven enough will eventually reach their goals.
For example, I am big fan of a rock scene in Ontario. The bands who do make it are the ones that really want it.
Q: What happens when someone starts falling behind and then struggles to keep up with the program? Do you have methods to help that person catch up?
A: It depends on the what are they struggling with. It hasn't been a common occurrence for me to see students reaching out.
If you do need to catch up to the course you probably have to allot more time into it. Passively watching an instructor and copying the same moves is only partially productive.
I would suggest "remixing" what you've learn and figuring it out by yourself. It uses a different part of your brain and this separates looking at tutorials on YouTube for example.
Part of doing something is planning your path how to get there. When you're developing by yourself you don't have notes and guides — I prepare students for this situations.
Q: I know you don’t want to play favorites but do you have a favorite example of a student success story that you've witnessed?
A: I've only completed one full cohort so far but In the development cohort we created a Game Jam event. In that event you get a prompt and the team had to come up with a project.
All the groups have completely different projects but I saw the proof of my teachings. The projects were ridicilously cool! It was very impressive. I would recommend readers to check out the Demo Days on Circuit Stream YouTube channel to check those experiences. -
Q: What do you think is the “next big thing” in our lives?
A: I'm not yet convinced that the Metaverse is going to happen so soon. Even when Apple does come with their own AR/VR headset, I'm not sure if everyone is going to be wearing those devices on our faces all the time. I believe it will develop more organically and slowly creep into our lives.
I think it's going to be more of a smartphone evolution. But I could be completely wrong.
My bet would be on powerful AI. There's a tool on the web called Dolly which generates pretty accurate art based on your prompts. This could expand into AI-created movies or more. It's a powerful technology!