Thursday, 29 May 2014

Bucks animators collaborate with the Learning Development Unit to create a unique film project

A group of our awesome animation students have collaborated with the Learning Development Unit here at Bucks to create a unique film project - How To Write a Literary Review. The project is aimed at students who are struggling with the challenging process of carrying out a literary review before writing an essay or dissertation, and aims to simplify and de-mystify the process. We asked the students who worked on the project to explain what they did, and how they pulled it off.

Bucks: What is the project about, and what made you want to take it on?

Jack Strood (director): This project aimed to produce a short animated film to educate students on the process involved in writing a literature review and how to approach the task. The project was initiated as part of the student-staff partnership project in animation, where the Learning Development Unit academics collaborate with Animation and Visual Effects students to produce fresh, exciting new work.

In this case, a group of five students worked together to write the narrative, character design, set design, the animation and finally the sound design for the partnership project. As students, we appreciated to be involved as this was the perfect opportunity to have a client-based project straight from university.

This provided us with the chance to present ourselves as professionals, work as a successful team, delegate roles and work around the client’s needs. The difference that this project has to a university brief is that this animation could possibly have a positive impact on other students writing their own literature review.

Bucks: What were the challenges you met along the way?

Jack Strood: This project came with many challenges; to work through a project challenge-free is very rare - and you are lucky if you do. The challenges came straight from the start. Even the approach to the animation had many different styles, and there were many possible potential story lines that we could have followed.

For instance, the design for the boat had around fifteen completely different designs; the main character went through countless clothing changes and the fish had many alterations before they were finished . These are all natural challenges that every animated project faces, but the main challenge without doubt was perfecting the script.

For students who would approach the task of writing a literature review for the first time, we had a duty to get all of the steps right. The script went back and forth between us and the Learning Development Unit to get the specific details correct on how to write a literature review. The animation course we study on includes a dissertation with a slightly different format, so we had first to educate ourselves on another style of work first before the production could start.

Bucks: What were the best and worst moments? 

Tosin Oluyadi (Lead animator)
As a team we had a lot of ups and downs. It was the first time working on a project together. I guess the best moments would have been the start of the project and just gathering all these great ideas. The worst moments mainly involved the challenges of effective communication between ourselves as a group, and sometimes with the LDU, which threw us back quite a bit in terms of the schedule.

The team
Bucks: What software did you use? 

David Wheeler (designer)
We predominantly used the Adobe Creative Suite for this project. Starting with the storyboards that were created in Photoshop. The Animation and typographic assets were made in Illustrator, and the 2D animation came all together in After Effects. The script was written and edited in Celtx and InDesign for the Learn Higher poster layout and design.

Bucks: What advice would you give to other students at Bucks looking to make a short film together?

Stacey Houston (Producer and Narrator): The advice I would give is this: schedule everything and stick to it. An unrealistic schedule can make hitting a deadline very difficult and stressful. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare everything, and take into account what every student in the group does in their free time. Be it work, hobbies, exercise etc. It all needs to documented before writing your schedule. There is always going to be at least one participant who can’t make it in or cannot deliver for some reason, so be prepared and give yourself plenty of time to recover for when issues occur.

(Editor's Note: For more impressive work done by our students and recent graduates here at Bucks, check out the work of Jens KopkeBen Gray's Moonbeam, and the architectural visualisations of Sabah Masood and Anton Alfimenko. Also take a look at the work of Andy Thomas here, see our latest commercial project for Rocketseed, our short film done for a global aid agency, and take a look at the excellent work of designer Monika Dzikowicz, architectural visualisation specialist Krsytof Michalski, Alex Whitfield and the 3D artwork of Mike Swan. And don't forget to see the simulation work of our students done in RealFlow. To see our student demo reel, click here.)

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