Sunday, 23 February 2020

Getting Started in Animation

free 3D software - yours to try for free
How do you get started in animation? Fortunately for would-be animators, there are today plenty of inexpensive and even free resources to get started.

Today, animation is a mix of art and technology.  Animators work at the crossover point between creative skills and techie skills - a good animator has both.  Below are some tips on how to get started in animation, and how to prepare yourself for a potential career in the animation industry.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Young Cartoonists of The Year Competition

For all our students at Bucks under 30 - it's time to enter the Young Cartoonists of the Year award.

The Young Cartoonists of the Year competition is in its 23rd year and attracts thousands of entries, giving budding cartoonists the chance to have their work judged by the best in the business.

Run by the British Cartoonists' Association, in association with London's Cartoon Museum, entries are now open for this year's competition.

Original entries should be submitted on paper by traditional mail to The Cartoon Museum, 63 Wells St, London W1A 3AE.

Animation and cartooning aren't quite the same thing, of course. But they are definitely cousins and, as an animator who has been dabbling in cartoons for many years, I can heartily recommend both.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Pitch Your Project at APD - Enter by Tomorrow

Animation Production Days in Stuttgart is an event that should be on every animator's radar.

Like Cartoon Movie and Cartoon Forum, APD offers a unique opportunity for animation graduates to pitch their ideas to producers, financiers and sales agents - the people who can bring original animation content to the market. But hurry - submissions close tomorrow.

Monday, 17 February 2020

BYOA is Back - Tonight

BYOA
BYOA (Bring Your Own Animation) is back - taking place in London tonight on Monday 17th February.

Organised by the London chapter of SIGGRAPH, BYOA is an animation event that takes place every month at a pub in central London, always on the third Monday of the month.

This month BYOA is taking place in a new location, The Newman Arms, Fitzrovia, near Goodge St and Tottenham Court Road Tube stations.

For any BNU students or recent graduates in the neighbourhood, BYOA is a great way to get feedback on your reel.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Pitching Animation

The Art of the Pitch
Here at Bucks New University we don't just teach the mechanics of animation, we also teach the art and craft of creativity and film-making.

Every great animation series began its life as a humble concept - even mighty Peppa Pig started out as a pitch. 

There is nothing to stop our students creating the next Bob The Builder or Mr Bean.

Friday, 7 February 2020

What's in Our Online MA in 3D Animation?

The world's first online MA in animation
In September 2019 we welcomed our fifth cohort of masters' students on our online MA in animation, launched in 2015 at Bucks in partnership with the online school Animation Apprentice.

The BNU Master's degree is a unique degree - the first online MA in animation which can be undertaken by students anywhere in the world, leading to a formal qualification in the field.

Students not only learn how to animate, but also engage at Masters' level with the underpinning theory and structure behind the art form. So, what is this degree all about, and what can our students expect?

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Learning Dynamics in Maya

Our online MA in 3D Animation partners with the online School Animation Apprentice for the tutorial content, content which is constantly being augmented and improved.

Pretty much all animation courses begin with a bouncing ball - and the MA at Bucks is no exception.

The bouncing ball is where students first encounter the 12 Principles of Animation, including timing and spacing, arcs, weight and ease-in and ease-outs. Nowadays, the physics engine within Maya will give you quite a bit of this for free.

Take a look at the free tutorial below to see how to animate falling dice using the FX tools within Maya. Specifically, the tutorial covers how to use Active and Passive Rigid Bodies in Maya to simulate the effects of gravity and the collision of solid objects.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

VFX Festival 2020 Lineup

One of the many benefits for our undergraduate animation students at Bucks is our proximity to London, and the many animation events which take place in the capital.

The annual VFX festival, hosted by Escape Studios, is returning from 16-18 March.  As in previous years, they have excellent speakers coming to talk about the latest developments in Animation, Games and VFX.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Lessons From the Animation Workshop

Gateway to The Animation Workshop
At the beginning of January I was back at The Animation Workshop in Denmark, working as a "Censor" or - as we would say in the UK - an External Examiner.

External Examiners exist to maintain standards across higher education and ensure that degree results are fair.

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.