Saturday, 30 August 2014

Where can you find free rigs for animation?

There are many free rigs available to Maya animators hoping to practice and learn their craft. Norman, Max, Morpheus - all excellent rigs available at no charge and easy to download, all free for non-commercial use. But beware - all rigs are different and each one has its own quirks. All take time to get used to, and each one will drive you crazy at first. Fortunately for us, The Eleven Second Club Resources Page has helpfully provided a page pulling together many of the best free rigs most commonly used for character animation.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Zahra Dowlatabadi Explains How to Produce Animation

Zahra Dowlatabadi is an animation producer who literally wrote the book - "Producing animation" - co-authored with Catherine Winder and edited by Tracey Miller-Zarneke. In this recent interview  at our sister blog FLiP, Zahra talked about her book and what lies behind a good producer of animation.

Anton Alfimenko Wins Prize for Animated Short

One of our first-year animation students recently won a prize at the Bristol Festival of Football Ideas, for a short film created here at Bucks.

Bucks animation student Anton "Alfy" Alfimenko was awarded a prize at the Bristol Festival of Football Ideas for "Super Fergie in 3D", his animated tribute to retired Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who appears as a video game character winning endless footballing triumphs.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Timo Vuorensola, director of Iron Sky, explains how to crowd fund your feature film

Timo Vuorensola, director of Iron Sky, gave a lecture at Closing The Gap, a European conference on film financing, explaining how to crowd fund an independent feature film. Iron Sky was initially funded through online sources, and later on secured more conventional funding on the back of the crowd-sourced contributions. Timo explained how he pulled off such an ambitious and successful project by starting an online fan base to help make his film.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Monika Dzcikowicz Poster for Award Winning Short

Charlie & Yip by Monika Dcikowicz
Bucks animation graduate Monika Dzcikowicz has designed a poster for the award-winning animated short, Charlie and Yip, which won Best Animation at the British Animated Film Festival this year.

Since graduating from Bucks, Monika has developed a successful freelance career working for a variety of commercial clients.

She has also been directing projects at Nano Films, our small film co-operative that makes short animated films for commercial clients.

Monika has a unique skillset of artistic and technical skill, combining attractive visual designs with a thorough knowledge of the technical pipeline to bring a project to completion. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Can You Make an Animated Film in a Single Day?

Hold Me Clothes by Evgenia Golubeva
Everyone knows that animation is slow, expensive and time-consuming. However, with a bit of determination and good planning, it is possible to make an animated film in a single day.  Evgenia Golubeva is an animator and film-maker who put together a short film titled "Hold Me Clothes", a stop-motion film written by her and animated in just one day at a film festival in Italy.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

How Long Does it Take to Become a Great Animator?

Canadian animator Norman Maclaren at work. Photo: Wikipedia
Animation is a complex craft and it takes a long time to master.  I have been teaching animation since 1996 and I have spent a good deal of time trying to figure out what should go into a really good animation course. How does a school get its students to a professional level of skill within the shortest possible period of time?

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Jobs Page at Cartoon Brew - Just Launched!

Cartoon Brew has long been the most-visited blog for animation news, but just recently they have expanded their remit to include jobs as well. Nowadays graduates need to focus more time and effort than ever in the course of finding that elusive first job in the industry, and part of this involves keeping an eye closely on the jobs advertised online. To find the jobs page at Cartoon Brew, visit this page:

Friday, 22 August 2014

STILL not too late to apply for September!

A Level results are in, August is waning, and September is fast approaching.  Too late then, to apply to study Animation and Visual Effects at Bucks? In fact, it is still not too late to apply. We have picked up one or two talented students recently, but we still have a couple of spots available on our new course. At this stage of the academic year, the application process is called Clearing. So what is Clearing and how does it all work? Our guide below will help you figure it out. Remember: it's not too late!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

When Should an Animator Animate on the World Control in Maya?

When Should You Use the World Control to Animate in Maya? The short answer is: "never". But, as with most rules, real life is not quite as simple as that, and there are exceptions to the rule. Since this is an area of some confusion for animators learning to to use Maya, here's a brief outline of what the rules of World Control Etiquette really are.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Nickelodeon Announces 2014 Student Animated Shorts Program: Deadline Monday Sept 15

Nickelodeon has announced their 2014 Student Animated Shorts Program, and the deadline for submission is Monday Sept 15th. You don't have to pitch a finished film, just an idea in concept. You will need an idea, characters, a setting, a story, and some storyboards. This is an opportunity to have your idea for a TV series picked up by a major US network - time to sharpen your pencils and start brainstorming.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

How Can You Tell if Our Course is For You?

free 3D software
A career in animation and visual effects is not for everyone. A lot of what we do day to day involves solving software problems, trying to make stuff work on a PC or a Mac, and cursing our computer when it doesn't. Being a digital artist isn't for everyone. One way of finding out if this is something you would like to do for a career is to do a couple of tutorials online. A great place to start is with the 3D software Blender - it's completely free, and there are many free tutorials out there to get you started.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Sarah Smith talks about her new London animation studio "Locksmith"

Good news for animators in the UK! A new studio is coming to town, bringing with it the prospect of jobs, creative success, and - at last - a proper animation studio in London. In this interview a few days ago at, Locksmith Animation founder and director Sarah Smith talks about her new animation venture, which is backed by London VFX house Double Negative, and supported by entrepreneur Elizabeth Murdoch. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

What questions should you ask a client when you start work on your first freelance job?

What questions should you ask a client when you start work on your first freelance job - or indeed any freelance job? It's your job as a professional to keep everything on track and deliver what you promised. All projects start off full of optimism and excitement, but the scope for misunderstanding is great, and the risk of things going wrong is considerable. So it's worth asking the right questions up front, to ensure that the job goes well and your happy client comes back for more. Below is a list of useful questions to get you started.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Bucks lecturer Alex Williams talks about his work on the Harry Potter films

Bucks lecturer Alex Williams worked on the last three Harry Potter films, while employed at the London VFX house Cinesite, in London's Soho. We asked him to talk about what he did on this very popular films series which help to transform the scale and quality of visual effects work being done here in the UK.

Friday, 15 August 2014

What's inside our new course at Bucks?

Our new Animation and VFX course that was launched in September 2013 wasn't just a re-branding of the Animation Games and Interactive Media course at Bucks.  It is a whole new course, aimed at training animators and VFX artists to work in Soho, in games, in advertising - in any media that involves creating and animating characters and creatures. Our course has been validated by Framestore, one of London's leading VFX houses, and we have gone to great lengths to try to make sure that we are teaching the very latest animation skills and software.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Bucks Animation & VFX Demo Reel 2014

We present our latest demo reel showcasing our students' best work from this past academic year. Among the students whose work is featured here include Monika Dzikowicz, Anton Alfimenko, James Hatton, Jack Strood, Georgia Nicholls, Tosin Oluyadi, David Wheeler and Stacey Houston. Music is by Bucks graduate Kris Allen. Congratulations to everyone who contributed to this latest selection of work done here at Bucks. We're proud of what all our students have achieved, and we look forward to seeing even more ambitious and challenging work in the future.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Get ready for September - The History of Animation

From pencils to Pixels by Alan Yentob

From Pencils to Pixels - In this excellent 2003 documentary, Producer Alan Yentob tells the story of how animation went digital. It's very thoughtful hour-long introduction to the medium by one of the BBC's most experienced Producer-directors. If your knowledge of the History of Animation could use a little polishing, this is a great place to begin. Don't forget that most animation studios are well-staffed with enthusiasts who seem to know everything about animation - including what Walt had for breakfast. Knowing the history of the medium helps single you out as a fellow animation fan, someone who has a good bit of knowledge of how the industry came to be the way it is today. All of which will help you at your next job interview.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Why Framestore backed our new Animation & VFX course at Bucks

Right behind us
Last year Head of Animation at Framestore Kevin Spruce signed off on our new Animation & Visual Effects course at Bucks, acting as what is known as "an external examiner". Being an external examiner involves vetting a course to make sure it is fit for purpose. In our case, that means preparing our students to be able to animate animals and creatures to a professional level, and making sure that our graduates are capable of finding work in the expanding animation and visual effects industry. Framestore are one of London's leading VFX houses, a world leader in visual effects, and the people who brought you the astonishing digital work on Gravity.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Preparing for September - Free Videos for our Freshmen Students

What is Animation all about? And what should our students starting with us in September do to get ready? For a general introduction to the medium, and a beginners guide to the language and basic principles of animation, watch the free videos below, hosted at Bucks lecturer Alex Williams' online animation school, Animation Apprentice.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Why Animated Films are Box Office Gold

According to a piece in today's Telegraph, animated films are now the UK's favourite, taking in as much of a fifth of all box office revenues. In 2013 animation became the top-grossing film genre at UK cinemas, making almost £250million, a fifth of total box office takings. This is good news for animators, and good news for us at Bucks. After all, we're aiming to be the best place in the UK to learn animation, training our students to be the very best at this rapidly growing and flourishing medium.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Should Artists Ever Work For Free?

Scofield Entertainment
Should artists work for free? This is a knotty problem and a subject on which people tend to have strong feelings. Students and graduates do of course often work for free, taking work experience, unpaid jobs or internships which do not pay actual money, but which offer training in the industry and real-world experience of what the world of work is like.

The trouble is, there are many people out there looking for a free lunch. The trick with working for free is to ask yourself what the benefit will be to you, and whether or not it's likely to be worth it in the end. In this very funny 2009 video by Scofield Entertainment, some film-makers have cooked up a very entertaining satire on on the "Work For Free" culture of much digital media today.

Friday, 8 August 2014

How Do You Handle a Difficult Client?

Every freelancer occasionally has to be deal with a difficult client. In fact, in happens all the time. Talk to any freelancer, especially after a few drinks, and they will gladly tell you stories to make your hair stand on end. Clients, even the good ones, drive everyone crazy. Tricky clients are so common that there are websites such as are, dedicated entirely to horror stories written by freelancers about having to deal with hard-to-please clients. So, if you are starting off on your career, how do you handle a difficult client?

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Bucks animation students' work featured on TV

Our students' animation for the tech company Rocketseed has been featured on Chinese and French television. The network CNTV (China Network Television) has used some of the animation we did for Rocketseed in an English language news segment about start-up businesses in South Africa (Rocketseed is a South African company). We're proud that our students' excellent work is appearing on television, and reaching the widest possible audience.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Eleven Rules to Become a Great 3D animator

Part of the secret of having a successful career as an animator is learning how to be good and fast at the same time. Directors want quality, Producers want speed. You must please both. Animation producers like animators who do the job well, on time, and are nice to work with. If you have all three of these qualities - a long and successful career in the industry will be yours. Below are our top tips for animating in Maya - how to be both good and fast. We don't say that this is an exhaustive list, but it's a great place to start.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

What is the Eleven Second Club?

The 11 Second Club is a monthly character animation competition, and a great way for aspiring animators to practice their skills and get their work noticed. Animators from all over the world participate, animating a character speaking a line of dialogue, which is provided every month by the club.

Throughout the competition, participants can share their progress with one another and critique each other's work - just like in a real animation studio. At the end of the month, all the participants vote for the submission that they consider the best for that month - so it's a very democratic process. The idea of the 11 Second Club is "to give animators a chance to practice their skills in a fun, challenging environment".

Monday, 4 August 2014

How to use the free Parent Master plugin for Maya

The Parentmaster - a free Maya plugin
Autodesk Maya is free to students, and a result of this it has a huge user base around the world. Many Maya users have sought to improve the software, developing free plugins that can (as the name suggests) be plugged in to your free copy of Maya, adding to its usability and helping to solve some of the trickier problems associated with digital animation.

The ParentMaster is a plugin created by Paolo Dominici which greatly simplifies the business of attaching and un-attaching objects in Maya. Say you want to animate a character picking up a ball and then dropping it. This free tool will make your life much, much easier.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Pixar Story Secrets Revealed: The Twenty-Two Rules of Storytelling

John Lasseter famously described the three most important things about film-making as "One: story. Two: story. Three: story". Obviously, Pixar do a bunch of other stuff really well too, like, say character animation. But there is no doubt that great stories are at the heart of their work and their success. So what can we learn from Pixar about great story telling? Fortunately, Pixar are not guarded about their secrets. Recently, these "22 rules of storytelling" were tweeted by Pixar Story Artist Emma Coats.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Bucks rated Number One in the UK for Facilities Spend per Student

Number One for spend per student

Bucks New University is now rated Number One for facilities spending to support our students, according to The Complete University Guide. Why are we number one? Chances are, it's because of the very significant investment made in the state-of-the-art media hub that was built here just a couple of years ago.

The Gateway Building at Bucks has some of the best media facilities I have ever seen at a university, and I have taught at many schools and universities around the world, including CalArts, Gnomon, The University of the Arts at Bournemouth, The University of Kent at Canterbury, and the Animation Workshop in Denmark. All of them are excellent places to teach and study, but none have facilities that come close to being as impressive as the ones we have at Bucks. So what do we have to offer our media students?