Thursday, 5 December 2013

How Do you Research a Project?

The Library at Bucks - a huge resource
What is research and why do we do it? For animation students, working on animation and visual effects projects, research can seem like an exercise you are made to do just for the sake of it, part of the rite of passage to earn those magic letters BA (Hons). But there is much more to it than that. Research has a practical as well as an intellectual purpose. It's about figuring out what you are trying to do, by identifying artists whose work inspires you and then setting out what your own creative goals are. In short, it's about analysing and thinking.

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

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. If you are working on a live client brief you will always have to do this. Clients rarely know exactly what they want - if they did, they would do it themselves. It is your job to show them styles of animation which are exciting or interesting so that they can start to imagine the project taking shape.

Bucks Library - in the Gateway Building

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.

But don't do it just because you have to. Do it because it's useful, and good practice for the real world.


(Editor's Note: For more on how the library works at Bucks, see our post here. For a complete guide to assignment hand-ins, see this post. Think you might need a mentor to guide you through the thickets? Read all out mentoring at Bucks here.)

No comments:

Post a Comment