Thursday, 23 January 2020

Animation Library at Bucks

Gateway Building at Bucks - home to the Animation Library
The animation shelves of the library in the Gateway Building here at Bucks are an important resource for our students. In recent years the University has bought our department more books, and more copies of the key books, so there are more to go around.

And we have many journals too, such as Animation Magazine - materials that help students learn from the best sources and keep in touch with the latest news from the industry. Below is some general information about to library for our new animation students.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Best Horse Rigs for Maya Animators

Right now we're encouraging all our animation students at Bucks to make sure they have plenty of horse animation on their demo reels, as one of our favourite London studios crews up for a big horse-related project.

The Animation Apprentice official site (to which all our students have access) has a series of horse video tutorials, teaching students how to animate a walk, a trot and a run.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Queen's Counsel - For a Few Guineas More

As well as teaching animation at Bucks I also do a weekly cartoon strip in The Times, a satire on law and lawyers.

I first started drawing Queen's Counsel back in 1993, when newspapers were still pretty much the only way that people got their news. And every self-respecting lawyer read the law pages of The Times on Tuesdays.

This year I published my 10th "Queen's Counsel" book - For a Few Guineas More, a collection of the best cartoons published over the last six years in law pages of The Times.


This new book is the one I'm most proud of - in part because it is the first cartoon collection which is in full colour throughout. Queen's Counsel started being printed in colour in The Times in 2011, for the first time.

Monday, 6 January 2020

VFX Taster Online Just £25

Online 3D VFX Taster Course
We're recommening this new online 3D VFX taster course, recently launched by London's Escape Studios.

The online taster was developed by Escape Studios' Head of 3D, Mark Spevick, and is delivered through the Smashcut platform.

Best of all, it costs just £25, and takes under 6 hours to complete. It's a great way to find out if 3D Animation and VFX is for you.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

UCAS Deadline 15 January 2020

UCAS - deadline January 15th
If you're thinking of applying to Bucks to study on our BA in Animation, the official UCAS deadline is looming; applications must be in by 15th January 2020.

It's always a good idea to get your application in early, so apply now and tidy up your portfolio later.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Bucks New Uni Masters Animation Reel 2019



We're proud to present the 2019 Buckinghamshire New University Animation Masters' Reel. All the work shown above was completed by our Masters' degree students, who study online at Animation Apprentice, which delivers the practical content for the master's degree at Bucks. Many congratulations to Joe Gamble, Lee Caller, Amedeo Beretta, Jonathan Humphries and Anna Zielinska on their excellent work.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Second Marking with Sydney Padua

Over the Christmas break I have been marking the MA work done by our Master's Degree students at Bucks and, of course, also making sure that the work has been Second Marked.

Second marking at Bucks is part of the process by which we ensure that our academic standards are being rigorously applied. Was the marking fair? Is it reasonable? Were the correct criterial applied?

Looking at your students' work through the eyes of another lecturer is a valuable exercise; it is a reminder of how personal marking can be, and how important it is to apply objective criteria. We don't always get it right, which is why 2nd marking - also known as moderation - is so important.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Why Animators Need Early Feedback

Our online Classroom is hosted at Facebook
One of the hardest skills for animation students to learn is how give and receive criticism.  We all tend to be shy about our work (especially when we are learning something new) and, when our work is criticised, that criticism can feel very personal.

But being able to take criticism ("notes" in the industry) is part of the process of creating great animation. When you first show your work to a client, they will have comments, and they won't always love your first efforts. Whether you're working at a studio, or doing private client work, or just working on your own personal work, animators need to learn to incorporate criticism in order to make your work the best it can be.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Why Animators Need Sound Design

A sound designer at work
Animators need sound design. If you're animating a shot, remember that the visuals are just 50% of the experience; the rest is audio.

Audio is made up of music, sound effects, dialogue and - sometimes - narration.

Occasionally, good sound design means having no sound at all, or very little. But there is usually some work to be done, and animators neglect sound design altogether at their peril.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Andreas Deja, The Lion King, and Animal Locomotion

Andreas Deja and Alex Williams outside the Disney Animation Building
A few weeks ago at Disney in Los Angeles I met up with Andreas Deja, Disney lead animator and the man responsible for bringing "Scar" to life.

I was lucky enough to work on Andreas' team on Lion King back in 1992, when he took me under his wing and helped train me as a Disney animator.

I got to animate a few memorable shots on Scar, but it was Andreas who designed the character and, working with actor Jeremy Irons, gave him life and personality, creating one of Disney's most memorable villains.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Apply Now for Our Online MA in 3D Animation

"School Run" by Bucks student Lee Caller
We are now taking applications for for our online MA in animation, currently enrolling for September 2020.

This online MA is a unique degree which can be undertaken by students anywhere in the world, leading to a formal qualification in the field.

Students learn how to animate to a professional industry standard using Autodesk Maya, the industry-standard software, and also learn to engage with the underpinning theory and structure behind the art form.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Meet The Jelly Cars - by Lee Caller

Bucks New University animation student Lee Caller has recently completed his short film Jelly Cars, a short story about perseverance in the urban jungle.   

"Jelly Cars" is an inventive piece of film-making;  it's a charming story, entertaining and fun - and beautifully animated.

Lee took a simple exercise - animating a vehicle in motion, (in this case, animating a cartoon car, using the free yellow Beetle rig by Aaron Parker), and turned it into a short film, which has already been accepted into its first film festival - the annual KRAF film festival in Croatia.

Congratulations to Lee on his excellent work; we wish him every success in film festivals around the world.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

DA702 - Character Perf Module Starts 6 Jan

11 Second Club Entry by Victoria Bailey
Starting in the New Year our masters' students tackle DA702, the second animation module on our online masters' degree in 3D animation. Classes start on 6 January 2020.

The module is titled DA702 - Character Performance, and builds up to an entry into the April 11 Second Club competition.  On April 1st 2020 the line of dialogue will be released, and our students have just under 3 weeks to animate their shots.

Monday, 16 December 2019

What's in a "One Sheet"?

Jelly Cars by MA student Lee Caller
Our Student Animators at Bucks don't just learn animation, they also learn the art and craft of film-making, creating new and original stories for entry into film festivals.

Part of the process of making short animated films at Bucks involves putting together a "One Sheet" to help promote the finished films.

A One Sheet is a movie poster, a single image that encapsulates what the film is all about and entices the audience to want to go and see the film.

Think of the posters you see on the wall as you leave your movie theatre. You walk down a hallway, past a wall of posters, and you think: "that movie looks cool, I might just go and see that".

So what's in a One Sheet? And how do our students go about making one?

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Miles Skarin Animator at Crystal Spotlight

Animation image by Miles Skarin
Bucks animation graduate Miles Skarin founded the animaton company Crystal Spotlight with his brother Rob when he was still a first year animator at Bucks New Uni.

From the beginning, Miles and Rob were tackling professional freelance work, creating websites and animation for musicians, bands, and record labels.

Crystal Spotlight has an impressive client list - including major artists such as Jethro Tull.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Bucks New Uni Students Study at Pinewood

Pinewood Studios
Bucks New Uni undergraduate film & TV (including animation) students are benefiting from a new partnership with Creative Media Skills (CMS) at Pinewood Studios.

We're delighted to be able to offer a meaningful industry partnership that allows our students to get access to one of the world's leading film studios during their studies at Bucks. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Roger Rabbit Reunion at Disney

Doy, Alex, Nik Ranieri, Ross Anderson, Burny Mattinson, Max Howard, Charles Fleischer, Andreas Deja
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released in the summer of 1988, making the movie 31 years old this year.  Last week at Disney in Los Angeles we had an informal reunion with some the people who worked at the film, hosted in the Rotunda Building by Disney marketing head Howard Green.  Lead animator Andreas Deja was there, as well as Burny Mattinson, officially the longest serving employee of The Walt Disney Company,  Producer Max Howard, Charles Fleischer, the voice of Roger Rabbit, Ross Anderson, who has written the history of the film, animator Nik Ranieri, and me.

Monday, 2 December 2019

The VFX Festival is Back: 16-18 March 2020



The VFX Festival is back. The annual festival hosted by Escape Studios is returning to London from 16-18 March 2020.  As in previous years, the festival hosts industry speakers to come and talk about the latest developments in Animation, Games and VFX.  In 2020, the festival will focus on discovering and developing new and emerging talent.  Two parts of The VFX Festival 2020 - EDU and Emerging Talent - will take place on 16 - 18 March at the Southbank Centre - the UK’s largest arts centre on the South Bank of the Thames.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Animators Always Start With a Story

Animators are story tellers. Every animation should have an idea behind it, one that tells a story.

Junior animators focus on learning technique - and technique is very important. But it is also important to think carefully about the story behind your shot.

Who is your character, and why are they doing what they are doing?  What is the scene about? What do they want, and what do they fear?  These things are important because if your shots forms part of an interesting story, it will be much more interesting to watch.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Dream On, Silly Dreamer



Dream On Silly Dreamer is a film that should be watched by anyone interested in the history of the Disney Studio. Like "Waking Sleeping Beauty", the film that closed out this year's CTN Expo, it chronicles the rise - and eventual fall - of 2D animation in the 1980s and 1990s.  The story is told through interviews with the artists involved, including Disney legends such as Andreas Deja, the creator of Disney characters such as Scar (Lion King) and Jafar (Aladdin).

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Royce Wesley and the Pixar Workflow

Incredibles 2
Pixar animator Royce Wesley was in London recently, talking about his experience working on Incredibles 2, and also explaining his own personal animation workflow.

Royce is an experienced character animator whose animation credits include Brave, Coco, Robots and Inside Out. He visited us in London to mentor our animation students and help make sure we are hitting the highest levels of quality in character animation.

Understanding how to plan your work is one of the key parts of the animator's skill set. Every animator has their own unique approach, and it's important to develop a workflow that you can rely on to get your shots approved without too much stress.