Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Meet Your Tutor - Nicola Brown

Nicola Brown: 3D modeling at Bucks
Nicola Brown is one of our newest tutors at Bucks. Nicky teaches 3D modeling (and much else besides) to our undergraduate students on the Animation & Visual Effects course at Bucks.

Nicky has over eight years of experience working as a freelance artist in the industry, including many years working as a layout artist and animator.  She also has a BA (Hons) in Animation, and extensive experience teaching animation.

We asked Nicky a few questions about her work, and also about how students and graduates can break into the competitive world of animation and visual effects.

artwork by Nicky Brown
"I started my career as an intern, a cleanup artist on BBCs Planet Dinosaur for Jellyfish Pictures, moving up to becoming a junior animator for the project.  Later I became a generalist at the studio, which allowed me to build up commercial projects from the ground up.

I first got into animation itself from quite a young age. I remember watching Dexter's Laboratory on TV and not only enjoying the humour, but also thinking to myself - how is that done? I want to make something like that.

I also watched a behind the scenes documentary on the first Ice Age movie and I remember thinking it would be way too complicated for me to ever make something in 3D, but being in utter awe of Blue Sky Studios for the intricate process of making a feature film like that.

When I was at University I got my chance to try 3D software in Softimage XSI.  I discovered that 3D modeling was such a gloriously creative process, and that it was actually possible to make characters like those in the movies - albeit at the time with some pretty low resolution processors and graphics cards.

Moomins by Nicky Brown
I have most enjoyed working on children's television; the studios where I have worked have a very personable vibe and, though the turnarounds for the projects are tight, the final product is so much fun to watch. I also really felt that I got to make my mark on them being in fairly cosy teams, plus it's amazing than seeing how much enjoyment these shows bring to their demographic.

Teaching at Bucks
I started at Bucks as an Associate Lecturer, and have really taken to lecturing; it's a very rewarding career.  I really enjoy seeing the progress students make on their journey through University, there's nothing much more satisfying than genuinely seeing the difference you can make just by showing someone something brand new that they can use in so many creative ways, then taking that with them and elevating it further.

It's a proud moment for a teacher to see their students' accomplishments; you know they've done it with the abilities they possess, but it's great to have been the one to steer them in that direction.

Artwork by Nicky Brown
I can use a broad range of software, and I currently teach the students Autodesk Maya, with Redshift and Arnold renderers. I also teach Pixologic, Substance Painter, Z-Brush, and Nuke.

Breaking into Industry
My advice to students is this: if they really want to get into a specific industry, they should try to hone their skillset and work on personal projects outside of class time for fun - things that make them excited.

Student should feel proud of their work, and make sure to showcase it on social media and polish their craft.  Technology is constantly advancing and all artists inside or outside of the industry can always improve what they know and do.  If you show an enthusiasm and a real understanding of what is required at a high level, studios will be lining up to hire you! The best artists, be it animators or modellers that I know, pretty much eat, sleep and breathe their craft."

To see more of Nicky's work, follow this link to her showreel:

Nicola Brown Showreel from Nicola Brown on Vimeo.

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.

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