Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Applying to Study Animation at Bucks? What Should Go in Your Portfolio?

Life drawing - excellent training for animators
One of the most common questions we get asked by students applying for the Animation and Visual Effects course here at Bucks is: What should go into my portfolio? The answer is - a bit of everything. Drawings, Painting, Life drawing, sketches, scribbles. But most especially - 3D digital artwork.

Ever tried Blender? It's free!
What kind of candidates are we looking for? 

We want candidates with good all-round art skills, including drawing, design and animation. You should also be comfortable with computers and computer software, and be curious enough to want to know more.  3D Animation is a blend of art and technology. Ever tried downloading Blender and trying it out? These days there are tons of free animation tutorials at YouTube, and Blender is completely free.  If you'd like to do a free Blender test that we recommend, follow this link. See how you get on!

Autodesk Maya is also free for students

Do our applicants need good tech skills?

Ideally, yes. It helps a lot if you don't get too frustrated when computers go wrong - which they do all the time.  Software malfunction should be a challenge to be overcome - not a reason to stop work.  Why not download a free copy of Autodesk Maya? It's the main software we use to teach animation, and it's free for students.

Drawing is a plus, but not essential

Do our applicants need to draw well?

Good drawing skills are a plus, but they are not vital. We live in a digital age, and most of our work is now done using computers as our tools.  Of course, we do want to see signs of creativity and visual invention. Animation is not just about mastering the software, it's about having ideas, and giving a performance. So a sketchbook or blog full of ideas is a definite plus.

Blogger: a quick, simple and free way to showcase your work. Start a blog today!

Should our applicants have an online portfolio?

Ideally, yes. The best kind of digital portfolio is a website or blog showcasing your work. Check out our post here on how to create a free blog and/or website, and start uploading your work today. It's never too early to have your own online showcase, and it's completely free to build a website at wix.com. You can also upload to tumbler, which is really a simplified kind of blog.

Wix: free websites!

What if an applicant doesn't have a blog or portfolio?

If you're not ready to put your work online, or you simply don't have the time, just email us your artwork. This could take the form or a JPEG or a PDF document; something that is easily opened with standard software. Movie files in simple formats like .avi or .mov are also welcome.

Quick sketches help to capture movement, and can be used for animation poses
What don't we want to see?

What we don't want to receive are specialist program files like Maya files or 3D Studio Max files, or Flash, or AfterEffects files. Specialist files like this take too long to load up and the person doing the interview may not have the software on their laptop.  What you should send are simple files like PDFs, JPEGs, or movie files ending in .mov or .avi.

Should applicants do a tech check before they come in for interview?

Definitely.  Just like if you were applying for a job, make sure you present your work in a format which is easily opened. Do a quick tech check before you send it out - do the files actually work? And can they be opened in standard software like QuickTime or Adobe Acrobat?

We love Skype interviews. No need to come in!

Does Bucks do Skype interviews?

Definitely. We love Skype. If you live far away, and can't make it in for interview, we will be delighted to do a Skype interview. Just ask admissions to set one up. Of course, you will need to have your work online, or be able to send us a PDF of your artwork.

For a slightly fuller description of what might go into a good application portfolio, check out this post, and click here to find out a little about interview etiquette.

For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days,  take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK. Find out why we're giving free laptops to all our students, and why we give all our students free access to videos at Lynda.com. Also, see what financial assistance might be available to you. Learn which is better for animation, a PC or a Mac? Get hold of a copy of a map so you can find your way around campus, and learn about motion capture at Bucks


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