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.