Saturday, 14 March 2015

Project Research - And How To Do It

The Library at Bucks - easy to use!
What is research and why do we do it? For animation students, research has a practical as well as an intellectual purpose. It's about figuring out what you are trying to do, by identifying the brief, taking a look at artists whose work inspires you, reading around the subject - and then setting out what your own creative goals are. In short, it's about defining the project, analysing it, thinking about it, and developing your own ideas.

Research and development for a largely practical project (such as a short film) has three main stages:

Bucks Library - in the Gateway Building

Stage 1 - Research:  Identify the work of other artists whose work is relevant and which you like and admire. 

This should first of all be done in the library, browsing books on animation and visual effects. There are three main sections in the library that Animation & VFX students will want to access. These are:
  • 006 Computing - 3rd floor
  • 741 Comics - 4th floor
  • 777-778 Animation and film - 4th floor
Research can also be done online, at YouTube, or other websites, searching for films, video clips - whatever work seems exciting, relevant or interesting. But don't be lazy - start off in the library.

Stage 2 - Analysis: Identify what it is about the work you have selected which is especially good.

Is it the design, the style, the colour, the editing, the music? What makes it really work? Break down the key characteristics so you can make your own creative choices. Every artist who ever lived stands on the shoulders of his or her predecessors - none of us can create in a vacuum.

Stage 3 - Development: Finally, start to imagine the style and visual themes of your own project, drawing on the work you have already done. 

What characteristics of which projects are you going to incorporate into your own? What colour choices will you make, and why? What editing style do you favour? Thinking about these things will automatically make your work stronger, because your choices will be more deliberate and less random.

At Bucks, research typically forms 25-50% of the value of any assessed project. We want to know what you've done and why you've done it, and what are the creative choices you've made yourself.

To see more about how to research your project, watch this fifteen minute video below:

Step 4 - Make it academic.

Your research document is not a school report. You need to learn certain basic skills like, how to compile a bibilography (that's a list of relevant books). You also need to get to grips with inline citataions, known as Harvard Referencing. Referencing statements of fact to their source material is the basis of academic writing. If you haven't mastered this by the time you leave university, then we have both failed at our job.

To find out more, and brush up on the main things you need to get right, watch the 15 minute video above.

For more on how the library works at Bucks, see our post here.  For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days, take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK. Find out why we're giving free laptops to all our students, and why we give all our students free access to videos at Also, see what financial assistance might be available to you. Learn which is better for animation, a PC or a Mac? Get hold of a copy of a map so you can find your way around campus, and learn aboutmotion capture at Bucks.

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