Sunday, 2 March 2014

Are Universities Failing the UK's Visual Effects Industry?

Pat Joseph, co-founder and chief creative officer of The Mill, certainly thinks so. In this post at the Televisual blog,  Joseph argues that higher education in the UK is not responding to the needs of the visual effects industry, and is not training students of the digital arts to a sufficiently high calibre. What can universities do to try harder?

Joseph argues that schools and universities are simply not doing enough. He says that "there is still a general lack of awareness about the VFX industry from a careers perspective. The explosion of content requiring sophisticated VFX needs has to be equally matched with suitably talented artists and it continues to be a challenge finding new talent to this high level."

Joseph then goes on to say: "My concern is that the British education system still isn't really laying out visual effects as a career option and so in turn, students aren't graduating with the right skills. Demand continues to grow, but universities that do train to industry standard, such as Bournemouth University, are struggling to meet it."

Pat Joseph isn't just complaining though; he also recognises the need for industry to do its part. As he puts it: "We need to continue to work closely with schools and universities in order to attract the best candidates and engage with them from a young age. So here at The Mill we really believe in backing and nurturing our talent as we want them to do the best work of their careers with us."

One of our animation classrooms at Bucks
Part of the problem, of course, is that visual effects is still a young industry, and most of the people who are very good at it tend to be out there doing it, rather than teaching it at university. In addition, the industry is something of a moving target; the technology changes all the time, and keeping up with the latest commercial trends isn't always easy, especially when university courses have to be both internally and externally validated in lengthy and rather bureaucratic processes.

That said, universities can and should try harder. Three years is long enough for an undergraduate to acquire the right skills, if only we focus on the skills that industry needs. Here at Bucks we have world class facilities - the Gateway building houses a vast array of media production disciplines.

Gateway - our new media hub
Our Animation and visual effects course launched in September 2013, building on a long tradition of animation at Bucks. We want to create the best visual effects course in the country, pushing our students to acquire exactly the sort of skills that are needed by studios like The Mill.


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