Monday, 30 September 2013

What exactly is a Character TD? Karen Halliwell reveals all...

Karen Halliwell on the panel at Bucks New University
Karen Halliwell is a very experienced Character TD who appeared on a panel discussion at Bucks this past week to talk about some of the latest trends in the business. Karen has worked on countless film projects including World War Z, John Carter, Rango, and Golden Compass. She told us a little about what it is that a Character TD actually does for a living.

Friday, 27 September 2013

"Flipping the Classroom" - Our new Video Tutorials at Bucks

Sal Khan - the man who flipped the classroom. Photo: Wikipedia
Here at Bucks we believe in the power of online training - and in the idea of "flipping the classroom", a philosophy of teaching pioneered by Sal Khan's Khan Academy. The idea is that, instead of taking notes during class and doing the homework later, you watch the lectures in advance, online, and then use precious classroom time for workshops and feedback. Best of all, each student gets to learn at their own pace, so no-one gets bored or, worse, falls behind and can't keep up.

Over the coming semester we'll be rolling out this new technique, giving our students access to hundreds of online videos, teaching you everything from how to make a ball bounce to full character and creature performances.  The idea is that you watch the lecture before coming in to class, and the classroom time itself becomes a workshop, rather than an information download. Better for everyone, and more fun as well.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Find a job with MARQme - Alex Whitfield's awesome new iPhone app

MARQme app for the iPhone
Bucks animation student Alex Whitfield graduated this summer and has just completed an excellent new iPhone app, designed to help recent graduates find employment. In a job environment that remains a continual challenge, recent grads can use all the help they can get to kick-start their careers. We asked Alex to tell us all about his new creation, and how to take advantage of it.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Open Day at Bucks! - Saturday October 12th October

Gateway to your new career
Saturday October 12th October is our next Open Day at Bucks. Open Days are a great way to meet the Tutors and Course Leaders (for Animation & VFX - that's me and Dave Creighton) here at Bucks, find out about our courses, and also explore our campus.

We guarantee you'll be impressed by the state-of-the-art technical equipment we have in the brand new Gateway Building; the result of a £40m investment program completed just a couple of years ago.

All About Blackboard - How It Works

The Blackboard Interface
What is Blackboard? Blackboard is the main digital interface which students and staff use to access information about the courses at Bucks, including timetables, assessments, messages - in short everything you need to keep up to date. This means that, like it or not, you will need to access Blackboard regularly throughout your three years at Bucks.

Below are some common problems experienced by Blackboard users - along with some possible solutions.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Circus Passion Comes to Bucks - 12.30pm today!

As part of the Bucks Welcome for our new students, Circus Passion's Ignition Crew will be performing outside the Gateway building (that's the big blue one that looks like a TV set) at the High Wycombe Campus, at 12.30pm today.

This will apparently be followed by circus workshops, whatever that means. Perhaps your opportunity to learn to juggle flaming torches and exhale fire?

For more information about Ignition, check out their website here. 

Monday, 23 September 2013

How to Use the Library at Bucks - an Animator's Guide

Shedloads of books - we got 'em
The animation shelves of the library here at Bucks are now groaning with fresh titles. The University has bought us more books, and more copies of the key books, so there are more to go around. And we have 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.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

What Is Wrong With The Global Development Organisation?

Back in June we blogged about a new film project here at Bucks, a collaboration among some of our recent graduates on a short film with a worthy goal - to tell the story of how organisations that set out to do good work can lose sight of their guiding principles.

The film was directed by Monika Dzikowicz, and animated by Lydon Fleisig, Dave Berry, Peter Nicholson, Paula Gillin and Allan De Leal. Sound design was done by Kris Allen - showing how different departments at Bucks can combine forces to do great work. Everyone spent a good chunk of their summer toiling over their laptops, with the result that the film is now - at last! - finished.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Where am I supposed to be on Monday?

Welcome to High Wycombe
Term starts on Monday and Induction Week is the first of many pleasures awaiting our new students at Bucks. By now, Admissions should have sent everyone an email with all the necessary information including the miriad forms that need filling in. There is also plenty of information here about how term gets under way:

Live Motion Graphics at Bucks - Broadcast Technology and Virtual Sets from ChyronHego

Live Graphics in Real Time - Your Logo Here
One of the best things about being a student at Bucks New University is the sheer range and quantity of media that gets produced here. Not just Animation and Visual Effects, but Film & TV, Dance, Acting & Performance, Games, Music, Live Events, and Sound Design. What this means for students is an incredible array of talent that can be sourced to collaborate on a huge range of productions and projects.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Welcome to Bucks! - A Brief Guide for our New Students

Gateway building - home to animation and many other media resources
A big, warm welcome to our new cohort of animators and visual effects artists! Your first days at Bucks will likely be a little confusing and overwhelming, with a complete overload of information to digest in a big hurry. To make it all a little easier, here is a selection of links that will help you find your way around campus, so you can find the information and resources you need:

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Visual Effects Society wants your films....

VES Students Awards - now welcoming entries
Calling all visual effects students! The Visual Effects Society wants your graduation films. Submissions for the annual VES Student Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project are now being accepted.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

What's the point of Graduation Day?

Bucks lecturers get to dress up in silly robes. From left: John, Nick and Dave
Graduation Day took place at Bucks last week, and it was a pleasure to see so many students collecting their degrees, flanked by proud parents who were delighted that their child had achieved those magic letters BA (hons), and, presumably, also grateful for the end of tuition fees. Of course, the event is a formality - you don't even have to turn up, and plenty don't bother. And what is it really for? A chance to wear silly robes and hats?

Monday, 16 September 2013

Mike Swan on the challenges of a freelance career

Aston Martin by Mike Swan - final year project
Mike Swan is a recent graduate of the Animation, Games and Interactive Media course here at Bucks. He did some excellent work while a student at the University, studied hard, and left with a very strong portfolio, especially in the fields of digital modeling and architectural visualisation. We persuaded him to talk a little about what it takes for a graduate to build a successful career as a freelancer.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Bucks Graduate reaches top ten in The Animation Talent Awards

Animation Talent Awards - now voting
Bucks graduate Monika Dzikowicz has reached the top ten entries in the online Animation Talent Awards - and now she needs your help! Back in May we blogged about the call-out for entries, encouraging all our students to compete. International contests like this are a great way for animation students and recent graduates to get noticed, and to showcase their talent. Even if you don't win, what you learn from entering the competition is an invaluable experience in itself.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Bucks Graduate Allan De Leal reports from the Games Industry

Still frame from Allan's graduation film
Allan De Leal (pictured left) is a very talented student and a recent graduate of Bucks New University.

Allan worked hard over the past year to polish his animation reel, ready to look for work in the competitive world of animation, games and visual effects.

He recently found work as a games tester, and we persuaded him to tell us a little about his new job.

Friday, 6 September 2013

What Do We Expect Of Our Students at Bucks?

What do we expect of our new students? And, conversely, what can our students expect from us? After all, education is not one-way traffic. Nowadays, students are paying a lot of money for  a university education, and they can (and should) expect a lot in return. Below is a list of what we expect of our students, and what they can expect from their tutors.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

All About the LDU - Learning Development Unit

Widening Participation (WP) is an important priority for all Universities, and Bucks is no exception. What does WP mean? It means extending access to higher education to all students, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation or disability. Some of our students may need a little extra help outside of their regular classes, and that is where the LDU, or Learning Development Unit, comes in.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Volunteering at Bucks

What is volunteering? Why should students at Bucks volunteer? And what exactly should an animation student volunteer for, anyway?

For students, volunteering can mean lots of things. It could mean helping out at the local hospital, or doing environmental work such as helping to clean up local parks. But it can also be about developing your profesional skills. Animators can help out with live briefs – that is to say, getting involved with professional projects in the wider world.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Animation, Drawing, and Lowry at The Tate

Do animators need to learn to draw? And should they be connosseurs of fine art? Art Babbitt, one of Disney's greatest animators, and the man who led the strike against Disney in 1941, certainly thought so. He argued that an animator should be familiar with all the arts - drawing, painting, music, even grand opera. Chuck Jones would have agreed - some of his funniest shorts such as What's Opera Doc? and The Rabbit of Seville are satires of famous operas. Other animators, such as John Kricfalusi (the genius who created Ren and Stimpy) think this is all pretentious crap.