Thursday, 18 July 2019

"Prepare to Board" by Nancy Beiman

There is a good deal of cross-over between animation and storyboarding. In the days of traditional 2D animation, many animators were board artists, and vice versa.

Even today, where most of the work we do is digital, traditional drawing skills are very useful for planning animation, by doing quick thumbnail sketches that set out all the key poses in the shot.

One traditional Disney animator who mastered both animation and storyboarding is Nancy Beiman, whose excellent book Prepare to Board! is the main book we recommend to our students.

It is an excellent book from a master animator, who now teaches at Sheridan College in Canada.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Lion King - Film Review

On Monday night the Empire Leicester Square hosted a preview of The Lion King for BAFTA members. I went along fully prepared to dislike the new film - how could anyone top the original? And why bother with a re-make of such a great movie, other than to please the Disney shareholders?

Of course, I am very biased, having worked on the original film back in 1993, so I was doing my best not to enjoy it, and to persuade myself that the original film would still be the One True King.

But MPC, the London VFX house that did all the animation, have raised the bar for animal and creature animation to such a level that it's impossible not to be impressed by the sheer skill of the digital artistry.

The Lion King is a triumph not just of technology but of great storytelling, as the film-makers kept most of the original film but wove in new elements to keep the story fresh.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Time to Enter the 2020 BAA

British Animation Awards
It's that time again - time for our students and recent graduates to get ready for the British Animation Awards 2020. The awards come around every two years, and this year the ceremony will take place on March 19th 2020 (coincidentally, the birthday of veteran animator Richard Williams), at the BFI Southbank.

The British Animation Awards (BAA) invites all kinds of animation submissions, from student work to commercials, children’s entertainment, short films, experimental films, music videos and new technologies.

There is a student category, and admission is free.  The student entry deadline is 25th October.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

ILMxLAB Presents the Future of VR

Vikki Dobbs Beck
Vikki Dobbs Beck from Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) was in London recently giving a talk  about her company ILMxLab, the virtual reality pioneer that "invites audiences to step inside the world of our stories".

ILMxLab is all about immersive experiences. Their challenge as a startup venture within ILM is to leverage their in-house talent and create new experiences, using VR to tell stories in a fresh, innovative way.

As Vikki put it, we are "entering an age of experiential storytelling". To create this new reality, ILMxLab needed to "take risks, to learn, explore and discover new ideas".

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Cartoon Museum Re-Opens in London

For our undergraduate students, one of the great advantages of  studying at Bucks New University is our proximity to London, with its wealth of cultural events and experiences.

London's Cartoon Museum, which closed last year when rising rents forced it out of its former home in Little Russell St, is back - and better than ever.

Last week the Cartoon Museum re-opened at its new home at 63 Wells St in Fitzrovia, a roomy basement space dedicated to the history of British cartooning.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Ross Anderson Pulls a Rabbit from His Hat

Ross Anderson
Canadian author and animation historian Ross Anderson has finished his long-anticipated book - Pulling a Rabbit Out of a Hat - The Story Behind the Making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Ross was first interviewed by animation blog FLiP back in 2013, about writing of the book, which has taken six years to bring to fruition.

Ross's book has finally hit the bookshelves; he was signing copies this week at this year's Annecy film festival.

Ross's book aims to be the definitive history of the making of the film. I've been looking forward to buying my copy for years. Among the highlights are Tom Sito's hilarious sketches and scribbles that documented the roller coaster ride that was the making of the film.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

DA704 - Demo Reel and Final Project


Our Master's degree animation students are tackling their final animation project, part of DA704, the penultimate module on the course, and the last module which is primarily of a practical nature. The final project is titled "Demo Reel and Final Project" and, as the name suggests, students are expected to do one last piece of character or creature animation, and also cut a demo reel that will be their showcase as they begin their search for work in the animation industry.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Graduation Advice from Pixar Animation Studio



Pixar have released a new video offering tips for animation graduates, including advice on how to break into the industry, and land that crucial first job.  Some of it is a bit fluffy (eg "take time to breathe" - who knew?) but there is also plenty of useful, practical advice, especially on the importance of reliance and toughness in a competitive world. .Among the most interesting comments from people at Pixar: "I applied....three times; friends and family told me to give up, saying, 'they're just not that into you'." (she made it in the end).  Another one says "Every time you get rejected...is an opportunity for you to improve yourself". And also "the learning didn't stop in college, there are still opportunities to improve yourself".  Great advice from some great talent. To see why animation graduates need to be the rhino, read this blog post.

Monday, 17 June 2019

How Do Publishers Work With Animators?

Bloomsbury, the London publishing house who brought the world Harry Potter, are hosting a special event for animators and video editors on 20 June at 6.30pm at their 50 Bedford Square HQ.

Step inside Bloomsbury, as they explain how publishers work with animators and filmmakers to create inspiring films about their books and authors.

If you're an animator interested in working with publishers, and using animation to create innovative publishing content, this could be the event for you.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Bucks MA Academic Deadlines 2018-2020

2018-2020 deadlines
Below is a list of deadlines for the online MA in 3D animation. This list is for our 2018 cohort of students, that is to say all our student animators who joined us in September 2018, and will graduate in the summer of 2020.

This list of deadlines is a draft list only, and is subject to change. Students should always check the appropriate Module Guide and Assignment Brief to be certain of the correct submission date. However, this list should give all our students a pretty good idea of what to expect over the coming year.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Free Animation Summer School 8-10 August

Getting experience in learning 3D animation for younger students can be tricky.

Fortunately, London VFX training facility Escape Studios is running a free 3 day Animation Summer School from 8-10 August to help get youngsters hands-on experience of 3D animation.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

The Making of Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu
At last week's VFX festival in London, Framestore's Jonathan Fawkner gave a talk on the Making of Detective Pikachu, a movie which was filmed in London and which used the talents of two of the UK's top VFX houses, Framestore and MPC.

It's the kind of talk that we encourage all our students to attend, because of the insights to be gained from understanding the challenges of the animation pipeline within a big VFX project.

One of the big challenges on the film was the take the original Pokemon 2D artwork, and create characters which could be fitted into a photoreal VFX environment.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

BAFTA Guru 14-15 Sept

Mark your calendars, BAFTA Guru Live is taking place on the weekend of Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th September.

We strongly encourage our students to attend at least some of the workshops; tickets are very inexpensive (just £6 for each masterclass) and are aimed at students and rising talent.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

ILM Explains How to Animate Dinosaurs

Fallen Kingdom
One of the highlights of today's VFX Festival at Escape Studios in London was the presentation by Jance Rubinchik, animation supervisor at ILM, on the making of Jurassic World, and Fallen Kingdom.

Animating animals and creatures is something that ILM has pioneered since the first Jurassic Park movie. Each new Jurassic film has sought to raise the bar for animal and creature work.

Animators who do this kind of work have to become experts in animal and creature locomotion, understanding how the animals would have moved, in order to create a believable performance.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Still Time to Apply for our MA in 3D Animation

"School Run" by Bucks student Lee Caller
There is still time to apply for our online MA in animation, currently enrolling for September 2019.

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.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

VFX Festival in London June 5-6

The VFX, Games and Animation Festival 2019 is back again, hosted at 190 High Holborn WC1 in central London, by Escape Studios.

This year the VFX festival has been split into three separate but overlapping events. All of the events are well worth attending, and we strongly recommend that any of our students in the London area attend.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Learning To Take Critique - 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.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

How to Plan Out a Creature Animation Shot

Kiwi by Oliver Canovas
Our master's degree animators are embarking on their third animation assignment, DA703 PR1, which involves the creation of a piece of animal or creature animation, combined with a performance.

Animal and  creature animation is among the most challenging work an animator can tackle, because it involves creating believable animation - usually based on live-action reference - and also an element of anthropormisation - making the animal or creature act in a believable way, perhaps including dialogue and lipsync.

So, how should our students plan out a piece of animal or creature animation? Start by watching the 10 minute video below.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Do Animators Need a Master's Degree?

Do Animators Need a Master's Degree? It's a question I get asked often, mainly by prospective students who want to know if the committment of time and effort that is necessary to complete an MA is worth the investment.

The simple answer is, it depends on what you want to do. Academia cares about academic qualifications. Industry cares about demo reels.

If your focus is purely on industry, and finding work there, you don't really need a masters' level qualification. But if you are hoping to teach, especially in higher education, a masters' degree is more or less a necessity.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Deadline for Cartoon Forum is 8 May

Most of our students at Bucks have an idea for an animated TV series in development; even if they don't know it yet. 

Our animation students are not just technicians, they are creators, brainstorming new ideas and concepts in animation, searching for the next Peppa Pig or Charlie and Lola.

But you can't do it alone - animation is a team sport.  A successful TV series needs co-producers, financing, broadcasters and new media partners. And where do you find those? Cartoon Forum is where. The deadline to apply for this year's forum is 8 May.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Marking The Animation Masters Degree at Bucks

How does the Marking Work on our MA in Animation at Bucks? Marking can be appear to be a rather opaque process, so it's helpful to clarify some of the basics for our students.

The Master's Degree at Bucks is worth 180 credits overall, and has two components, academic and practical, with a roughly even balance between the two.

There are five Modules in the MA, each worth 30 credits, apart from the 18 month long dissertation module which is worth 60 credits.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Second Marking with Niki Brodie

Nicola Brodie
Last week we did some second marking of the MA work done by our Master's Degree students at Bucks. 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 is a valuable exercise; it is a reminder of how personal marking can be, and how important it is to apply rigidly objective criteria. We don't always get it right, which is why second marking - also known as marking moderation - is so important.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

How to Use The Morpheus Rig

This month our MA students are working on a piece of 11 second character animation, suitable for entering in the monthly 11 Second Club.

The 11 Second Club has a useful Resources page, directing students to a variety of character rigs which are reliable and well-supported.

One of these is the Morpheus rig, created by Josh Burton.  Some of our animators are using Morpheus for this month's competition, so we've created a useful guide to some of the main problems with the Morpheus rig, and how to fix them.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Keith Lango Animation Tutorials Are Now Free

Keith Lango YouTube Channel
Good news for animation students; veteran animator and animation teacher Keith Lango has now made his animation tutorials free for everyone to learn online.

Keith's animation tutorials include animating a James Brown dance, rigging and skinning animation, and how to approach the business of animating a scene.

It's a great resource, and a very useful supplement to the growing body of online resources available for learning animation.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Who's Who on our Online MA in Animation?

Bucks New University by Jeton Lakna
Who's Who on our Online Master of Arts in Animation? There are a lot of people involved in delivering our MA - the first (and still the only) online MA in animation in the world.

Below is a brief guide to help our students figure who's who, who does what, and how to get in touch with the key people who's job it is to help our students get excellent results.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Meet Ron Penhaligon, Animation Course Leader

Rob Penhaligon
Meet Ron Penhaligon, Course Leader for our BA in Animation and VFX at Bucks and also our MA in 3D animation. Rob is an experienced 3D artist who headed up the animation department at Amersham & Wycombe College before coming to Bucks.

Rob teaches animation in both Houdini and Maya, and also carries out research into procedural modelling techniques, making him well qualified to head up both courses.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Why Animators Need Rhinoceros Hide

Animators need rhino hide
Why should animators be like a rhinoceros? Because rhinos have thick hides, and animators need thick hides too.

Applying for work in the animation industry requires persistence and the ability to shrug off the inevitable early failures that newly graduating animators will most likely experience.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Meet Mike Smith, MA External Examiner

Mike Smith
Meet Mike Smith, our External Examiner for our MA in 3D animation.  Mike is course leader of the BA (Hons) in Animation at Leeds Arts University, making him well qualified to keep an eye on our animation work here at Bucks New Uni.

External examiners ensure that standards are consistent across the animation sector. They check our grades, making sure we're awarding marks appropriately, and that our standards are consistent with other universities and colleges in the UK.

Of course, we also second mark all the grades at MA level at Bucks, but the role of the external examiner is to add a third layer of quality control to make sure everything is done right.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

How to Plan a Dialogue Shot

This month our MA students are animating a dialogue shot, preparing to enter the monthly 11 Second Club competition.

But how do you get started with dialogue animation? One of the most common problems encountered by student animators is how to block out a shot from scratch, starting with nothing but a blank screen and a line of dialogue. How do you begin?

After all, in animation you get nothing for free. You start off with a digital puppet, usually in a stiff "T-pose", and have to figure out the rest yourself.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

April Eleven Second Club is Now Live

This month, our masters' degree student animators are working on DA702, their character animation Module, with a view to entering The 11 Second Cluba monthly character animation competition in which aspiring animators practice their skills.

Animators from all over the world participate, animating a character speaking a line of dialogue, which is provided every month by the 11 Second Club. Our MA students are encouraged (but not obliged) to enter the monthly competition as part of their formal submission.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Houdini Animation Talk in London Tomorrow

For all our students and recent graduates - why not go to Escape Studios tomorrow night for one of their "Evening with..." events in London.

Tomorrow Escape Studios welcomes Tim Stam, Houdini Expert at Goodbye Kansas productions in London.

Animation with Houdini is a growing part of the business, and we strongly recommend that all of our students either studying animation or interested in animation should come along.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Twelve Top Tips for Animating in Maya

Part of the secret of having a successful career as an animator is learning how to be good and fast at the same time.

Directors want quality, Producers want speed. To survive in the industry for long, you must please both.  Animation producers like animators who do the job well, finish on time, and are nice to work with. If you have all three of these qualities then you will have a long and successful career in the industry.

Below are our Twelve Top Tips for animating in Maya, to help you be both good, fast and reliable. Most of the principles below are things that I learned from the lead animators on "Robots"; the film where I first learned 3D animation in Maya.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

BAFTA Scholarships Now Open

Want to take our online MA in 3D animation - but short on cash? If you're a British national, you can apply for a a BAFTA scholarship which will more than cover the fees.

BAFTA has opened applications for its scholarship programmes, worth up to £12,000. Since our MA costs just over £7,000, the scholarship will more than cover the cost of study.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Architectural Visualisation Event on Monday

Escape Studios in London is hosting an "Evening With..." event on Monday 11th March, at their Central London campus at 190 High Holborn, WC1.

3D artists Olga Banaszyk and Daniel Cherry will talk about their work at Hayes Davidson - a studio that specialises in architectural visualisation.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Blue Zoo Recruitment Stand Tips

Blue Zoo's Bader Badruddin at an industry event
Blue Zoo, one of London's animation powerhouses, has offered their Top Ten "Recruitment Stand Tips" for students hoping to impress at a recruitment stand.

Some of the tips are pretty obvious (number 1 is "turn up"), but overall this is a useful and informative read on how to approach potential recruiters at an industry event. 

Knowing how to approach recruiters matters, especially for landing that all-important first job in the industry.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Foxy Tail Rig - Great for Learning Animation

"Ultimate" Tail
Here at Bucks we're recommending this free "Ultimate Tail" Rig for all our students, available for download from CGMeetUp.

The "Ultimate" series are all well-tested rigs, which are specifically designed for learning animation.

We especially like the foxy "ultimate tail" rig, great for learning overlapping action. The rig has relatively few controls, and it's an excellent platform on which to learn the basics of animation locomotion.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

DreamWorks' Simon Otto Interviewed



We're enjoying this excellent video interview with DreamWorks Head of Animation Simon Otto on animating dragons - and on animation in general. It's pretty long; runs about an hour, but if you've got some time, get yourself a cup of tea and some decent headphones and settle in for an hour of animation instruction from one of the masters.  If you want to be a great animator, following in Simon Otto's footsteps is a great place to start.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Apply Now for our Online MA in 3D Animation

The world's first online MA in animation
There is still time to apply for our online MA in animation, currently enrolling for September 2019.

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.

You will not only learn how to animate (using Autodesk Maya, the industry-standard software), but you will engage at Masters' level with the underpinning theory and structure behind the art form.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Mark Your Calendars - The Rookies are Back

Here at Bucks we encourage all of our students to enter The Rookies Awards, the international competition for young creatives, which opens on 7th March, and closes on 31st May.

The Rookies was founded in 2009 to "showcase the most talented student designers, illustrators, film makers, animators, developers, digital artists, and launch them into the career of their dreams." This year the deadline is May 31st 2019, so there is plenty of time to start crafting a great project.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Bucks New Uni Animation Presents: Turing

Turing
Congratulations to our undergraduate students at Bucks New University who did so well in last year's "Rookies" competition with their stunning VFX project "Turing".

Turing was created by Alexandra Young, Jamie Carroll, Michal Niewiadomski, Lewis Clark, Darnell Hector-George, and Matt Romano, and was their
final year Live Action Integration VFX short.

The story was inspired by the Turing test created by legendary mathematician, scientist and computer pioneer Alan Turing.

The story is about the interrogation of a robot by a scientist.

To see the complete film, follow this link to "The Rookies".

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Lyuboslav Angelov Assistant TD at DNEG

Lyuboslav Angelov
Many congratulations to Bucks New Uni animation graduate Lyuboslav Angelov for starting a new position as Assistant Technical Director at DNEG.

Technical Directors occupy one of the key roles in the 3D pipeline, bridging the gap between the keyframe animators and the final render; it is a role sometimes called Technical Animator.

TDs tackle technical animation, and is currently a major skills shortage in the animation pipeline. 

Friday, 1 February 2019

Come and Mend the Gap on Monday

Next week on Monday 4th February Film London is hosting an event in the capital titled: Mend the Gap - a debate on animation training and employment.

There are over 100 university courses in the UK teaching animation, but few of them prepare students with the practical skills they will need to find work in industry.  Instead, many courses tend to focus on academic content, writing essays on animation rather than actually doing it.  As a result, many animation studios recruit entry-level talent from European animation schools, not from the UK. So what can be done to fix the problem?

Monday, 28 January 2019

VFX Festival Lineup 2019

The Escape Studios' 2019 VFX Festival kicks off shortly at London's South Bank Centre, on February 6th, with many industry speakers coming to talk about the latest developments in Animation, Games and VFX.

This year participants include Framestore, MPC Film, Jellyfish Pictures, Blue Zoo, AXIS animation The Third Floor and Creative Assembly, all coming to talk about their latest work.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Meet Your Tutor - Nicola Brown

Nicola Brown: 3D modeling at Bucks
Nicola Brown is one of our newest tutors at Bucks. Nicky teaches 3D modeling (and much else besides) to our undergraduate students on the Animation & Visual Effects course at Bucks.

Nicky has over eight years of experience working as a freelance artist in the industry, including many years working as a layout artist and animator.  She also has a BA (Hons) in Animation, and extensive experience teaching animation.

We asked Nicky a few questions about her work, and also about how students and graduates can break into the competitive world of animation and visual effects.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

VFX Festival is Back February 6-7

Escape Studio's 2019 VFX Festival is just around the corner.  Taking place at London's South Bank Centre from 6-7 February, the VFX Festival is a great place to find out about the latest developments in Animation, Games and VFX.

This year the VFX Festival kicks off with the "Emerging Talent" event, aimed at students and recent graduates, which runs for two days, from February 6th to 7th.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Introducing Film Freeway

Film Freeway is an excellent way for students to enter short films into international competitions.

There are now so many film festivals that entering your film individually can be a huge task. Instead, indie film-makers (and animators) can create one upload to a single portal, and then apply through Film Freeway for as many competitions as you choose to enter.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Meet Your Tutor - Nicola Brodie

Nicola Brodie
Niki Brodie is our newest animation tutor at Bucks, and is currently teaching animation to our undergraduate students on the Animation and Visual Effects Course.

Niki graduated from Bournemouth University with a First Class degree in Computer Animation and Visualisation, and she also has a diploma in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins in London.

After graduation, Niki spent some 20 years in the animation and visual effects industry, working as a 3D character animator at Mill Film and later DNeg on films such as Gladiator, Harry Potter, Batman The Dark Knight and Thor The Dark World.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Mend the Gap with Film London on 4th Feb

On February 4th 2019 Film London is hosting an event in London titled: Mend the Gap: a debate on animation training and employment.

Here in the UK we have something of a disconnect between what industry needs, and what a lot of animation degree courses actually teach.  As a result, many animation studios often recruit young talent primarily from European animation schools, not from the UK. So what is the cause of this problem, and what can be done to fix it?

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Meet Your Tutor - Dr Fil Ieropoulos

Fil Ieropoulos: exploring the relationship between poetry and film
Dr Fil Ieropoulos is responsible for the delivery and grading of the  academic content of our Online MA in Animation at Bucks.

As part of our series of posts introducing our students to their tutors, we asked Fil to talk about his academic work in film and poetry, and how he combines the theory behind his creative work, and its practice.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Six New Year's Resolutions for Animators

Happy 2019
What should an animator's new year's resolutions be for 2019?

The animation industry is big business these days, and growing all the time. The small cottage industry I entered back in 1987 when I worked on my first film - "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" - has been transformed completely by technology and the huge expansion of the medium.

But the world of animation and visual effects is a competitive one, and animators need to be well-trained - and smart - to stay on top of their game.  So, what are some simple ways to maintain your edge in 2019?