Friday, 31 December 2021

The Best Tablets for Animation

What Kind of Tablet Should our Students Buy? This is a question we often get asked at BNU, especially for those animators working remotely on their own hardware. 

Nowadays there are many different kinds of tablets available, and cheaper versions than the traditional Wacom brand. 

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Why Something is Better Than Nothing

It's not always good to be a perfectionist
From time to time animation students will get stuck on a project, and will request extra time, or hand their work in late - and then apply for Mitigating Circumstances.

Sometimes this flows from perfectionism, performance anxiety, or even a sense of imposter syndrome - a student feeling that their work isn't good enough. 

In truth though, it is always better to hand in something than nothing; an imperfect submission is always better than no submission at all.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Meet "Artifact" by Kristis Bandzevicius


Meet "Artifact", a new short film created by BNU animation student Kristis Bandzevicius. "Artifact" was written, produced and directed by Kristis, currently studying for his MA in 3D Animation at Bucks.  "Artifact" was completed during the course of Kristis' studies at BNU, and is currently being entered into film festivals. 

Monday, 20 December 2021

Interruption of Studies at BNU

On occasion students at BNU find that for whatever reason, personal or professional, they need to apply for an interruption of studies (also known as a suspension of studies). 

Interruption of studies means exactly that - you interrupt your studies, typically for a year, then pick up the course in a year's time.  In other words, you press the Pause Button. 

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

DA702 Character Acting Starts 10 Jan 2022

Animation by Alex Southcombe
Starting in the New Year our masters' students tackle DA702, the second animation module on our online masters' degree in 3D animation. Classes start on 10 January 2022.

The module is titled DA702 - Character Performance, and builds up to an entry into the March 2022 Eleven Second Club competition.  

On March 1st 2022 the club's official line of dialogue will be released, and our students have until March 30 to submit their finished work. DA702 PR1 assignment is due on Wednesday 30th March 2022 at 2pm.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Cartoon Museum Opens "The Laughter Lab"

Last night was the opening of a new exhibition at London's Cartoon Museum, titled Laughter Lab: What’s So Funny?, which seeks to "uncover the science behind funniness".  

The exhibition invites visitors to contribute to a science experiment which hopes to find out what makes a cartoon funny. 

The experiment is being conducted in collaboration with Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Oxford. What makes us laugh? It's a complex question, with some surprising science behind it. 

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Why Students Should Submit Work Early

Deadlines matter, and at BNU the lecturers have little leeway in accepting late submissions. The "No Detriment" policy that was in place following the Covid Pandemic is now at an end, and BNU deadlines are now a lot more rigid than they have been for the past year.

Our recommendation here at BNU is this: Don't wait until the due date to submit your work.  Instead, aim to submit your work the night before. 

Monday, 6 December 2021

BNU Terminates "No Detriment Policy"

"No Detriment Policy" has now ended
Last year Buckinghamshire New University introduced a "no detriment" policy in response to the Corona Virus Pandemic. 

The policy remained in force until the end of the 2020-21 Academic Year and - in effect - gave all our students an extra 10 working days (two calendar weeks) to hand in assessments, beyond the formal deadline.

"No detriment" meant that the work submitted would not suffer any detriment, ie it would still be graded as if it were handed in on time. All our students should be aware that this policy is now at an end, and no longer applies. 

Friday, 26 November 2021

Young Cartoonist of the Year Competition

Deadline 5 January 2022
The Young Cartoonists of the Year Competition is back; the deadline for submissions is 5 January 2022.

Hosted by the Cartoon Museum, re-opened after its long Covid-19-slumber, the annual competition seeks to reward rising cartoon talent. 

Judges include Martin Rowson (The Guardian), Christian Adams (Evening Standard), Banx (FT), Peter Brookes (The Times), Nick Newman (Private Eye), and Matt from the Daily Telegraph.  Entry is free. 

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Why Animators Must Fail Upwards

Animation is a hard craft to master, requiring a lot of practice. All our early efforts are likely to be unsatisafctory. Which is why animators need to fail upwards. 

All of us fail in most of the things that we do for the first time.  The key to success is to keep failing, fail better, and fail faster.

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Sesame Street Audio Archive

For animators looking for inspiration for some cartoony animation with dialogue, one great place to search is the Sesame Street Sound Archive, which you can find here

The Sesame Street Sound Archive is full of cartoony audio clips, which work well with cartoony characters such as Mr Buttons and also the Willy rig.  It's especially useful for our Character Performance Module DA702

To get started, try picking a very short line of dialogue, download it and then drag and drop it into your timeline in Maya. To see more about how to use audio files in Maya, follow this link.  To see more about how to use the "Willy" rig, see this blog post.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Float Folks Best Trailer at Art Film Awards

Float Folks wins Best Trailer at Art Film Awards
Congratulations to the makers of "The Float Folks", the short teaser/trailer made at BNU by our animation students, which has won "Best Animated Trailer" at the Art Film Awards.

The Float Folks is an animated TV Series created by Ian Foyle and directed by Monika Dzikowicz, currently in development.  The Float Folks has won many festival awards.

Sunday, 14 November 2021

"It Doesn't Work!" - How to Solve Tech Troubles

Why Doesn't It Work?
"It doesn't work"  is a problem frequently encountered by our students at BNU.

Remember that every technical problem, no matter how infuriating, has a solution. One of the key skills our students learn at BNU is how to solve problems - and find solutions, so that production work can continue. Digital artists face an endless stream of technical hiccups.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Float Folks Best Trailer at Dreamachine Fest

Congratulations to the makers of "The Float Folks", the short teaser/trailer made at BNU by our animation students, which has won "Best Animated Trailer" at the Dreamachine Film Fest.

The Float Folks is an animated TV Series created by Ian Foyle and directed by Monika Dzikowicz, currently in development.

The Float Folks has won multiple festival awards.

Monday, 8 November 2021

Free Script Toggles Control Curves On and Off

Morpheus curves
Below is a very useful MEL (Maya Embedded Language) script for Maya animators, developed by Justin Barratt, and one which we are recommending for all our students. It's a very useful tool, used to toggle the visibility of your animation rigs' control curves on and off.

All you have to do is paste the lines of script below in your script editor in Maya (under the MEL tab) and then save save it to a shelf in the usual way. 
Once you've done this, it should help to speed up your workflow and make you a faster, and better, animator.

Friday, 5 November 2021

Float Folks Wins Future of Film Award

Floats Folks Best Trailer at Future of Film Awards
Congratulations to the makers of "The Float Folks", the short teaser/trailer made at BNU by our animation students, which has won "Best Trailer" at the Future of Film Awards. 

The Float Folks is an animated TV Series created by Ian Foyle and directed by Monika Dzikowicz, currently in development.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Rookies' Knight Spider Animation Competition

Knight Spider rig from The Rookies
We're encouraging all our animation students to enter this new animation competition from The Rookies.

It's a special character animation contest for the brand new Knight Spider rig for Maya, which you can find here.  

The animation contest is open to students and recent graduates; entries opened on 24 September and the contest closes on 14 January 2022. 

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Luxo Jr. Lamp Hop by Michael Acosta



Our MA animation students are currently tackling their first Module - DA701 Locomotion and Mechanics. Part of the module is learning to animate inanimate objects - in this case the Luxo Lamp - made famous by one of Pixar's first animated shorts, Luxo Jr.  Above is a lovely example of lamp animation by MA student Michael Acosta, playfully referencing the original Pixar animation with his own twist.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Float Folks Best Trailer at Vesuvius Fest

"Float Folks" Best Trailer at Vesuvius Fest
Congratulations to the makers of "The Float Folks", the short teaser/trailer made at BNU by our animation students, which has won "Best Trailer" at the Vesuvius Film Festival. 

The Float Folks is an animated TV Series created by Ian Foyle and directed by Monika Dzikowicz, currently in development.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Stanislavski's Questions for Actors & Animators

Constantin Stanislavski
Constantin Stanislavski was a Russian actor and theatre director who was one of the first to set down in writing the principles of great acting.

Many actors credit him with inventing "the Method" - the means by which actors immerse themselves in a character. 

Animators are actors with a pencil or a mouse, and we need to give a performance that is just as credible as anything that a stage or screen actor will create.

So, what can animators learn from Stanislavski's seven questions for actors?

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Float Folks Wins Best Trailer at Halicarnassus

Congratulations to the makers of "The Float Folks", the short teaser/trailer made at BNU by our animation students, which has won "Best Trailer" at the Halicarnassus Film Festival. 

The Float Folks is a TV Series created by Ian Foyle and directed by Monika Dzikowicz, currently in development.

The Float Folks is a fun, watery world, a miniature community of slightly oddball individuals.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

UCAS Applications Open for 2022

UCAS - deadline January 26th
If you're thinking of applying to Bucks to study on our BA in Animation, the official UCAS application system is now open.  Applications are due by 26th January 2022.

It's always a good idea to get your application in early, so apply now and tidy up your portfolio later.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Who's Who in Bucks Animation 2021

Alex Williams at Bucks New University
Who's Who on our Online Master of Arts in Animation?

For our new animation students starting with us in September, there is a good deal of information to take on board, including who does what at Bucks.

There are a number of people involved in delivering our MA - the first online MA in animation in the world.

Below is a brief guide to help our new cohort of students figure out who's who, who does what, and how to get in touch with the key people whose job it is to help our students get excellent results.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Jobs and Careers Playlist at YouTube

For all our graduates currently looking for work, check out the Animation Apprentice jobs and careers playlist at YouTube. There are plenty of opportunities to find work in the expanding animation industry, but it is important to have a solid demo reel and a well-curated LinkedIn profile - recruiters live at LinkedIn.  The jobs and careers playlist at YouTube offers advice and support on how to land that crucial first job in industry.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Toonboom Harmony Free Demo 30 Sept at 5pm

Toonboom Harmony with Andy Wyatt and Harry R
Tomorrow Thursday 30 September at 5pm Escape Studios in London is hosting a free Toonboom Harmony Event with Harmony experts Andy Wyatt and Harry Ravelomananstsoa. 

Andy Wyatt is Director of Animation Associates & Toon Boom UK; he will discuss what skills the 2D animation industry is looking for, offer portfolio advice and insights into the Harmony pipeline. 

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Optimise Truong Maya Rigs for Unreal Engine


Truong CG, who creates many of the best free (and nearly free) rigs for student use, has released the video above to optimise his rigs for Unreal Engine.  All of Truong's latest rigs are fully compatible with Unreal Engine since they are all joints-based for both body and face. However, for Truong's older rigs, this video will help optimise the rigs for use in Unreal Engine, giving all the advantages of real-time rendering. 

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Screen Skills: "Animation Trainee Finder"

Animation Trainee Finder Programme at ScreenSkills
ScreenSkills has launched the Animation Trainee Finder, a paid placement programme for animation graduates.

Animation Trainee Finder is being launched by the ScreenSkills Animation Skills Council with the support of UK animationStudios.  The deadline to apply is 27 September 2021.  

Thursday, 2 September 2021

MA Animation Joining Instructions Sept 2021

Joining Instructions 2021
It will soon be time for our new students at Bucks to get started on their animation journey.  

Below are some Joining Instructions for our students starting with us on the Online MA in 3D Animation.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

How to Achieve Snappy Animation Timing

One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators is to have even timing and spacing on their character performances.

Even timing and spacing produces soft, floaty animation, lacks definition and feels mushy.  This is particularly the case when the animation is based on live action reference. Reference, if followed too closely, can end up feeling floaty and weightless.

The solution to this problem is to tighten up your key poses, and spend more time in the key poses, rather than transitioning slowly from one pose to another. Animators call this approach "snappy timing", or "tightening up the poses". Your goal is to make the motion feel dynamic and crisp.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

BBC Children's Animation Seeks Pitches

BBC Ignite wants your pitches
BBC Children’s Animation are seeking submissions for fresh, bold and innovative animation ideas. The scheme is called "Ignite" and the deadline is Midnight on 1st September 2021

For all our students who have been working on short films for the past couple of years - this is a perfect opportunity to pitch your materials to the UK's biggest broadcaster.

Successful pitches will be given a "fully funded development opportunity" to bring their project to the small screen.

You don't need to have created any finished animation for your project; more important is an idea of the stories you want to tell and who the main characters are.  To see more, follow this link.

Friday, 23 July 2021

Free Animation Careers Event 5 August

We're recommending that all our animation students and recent graduates sign up for this Animation and Careers Event on 5th August at 4.30pm.

Hosted by Escape Studios, this free online Animation Careers Evening includes animation industry leaders Blue Zoo and Jellyfish Pictures.   To sign up for this free event, follow this link.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

What Kind of Laptop Should Our Students Buy?

What kind of laptop?
"What kind of laptop should I buy?" is a question that we are often asked at Bucks New University. 

Computer specifications change regularly and much depends on exactly what you want to use your laptop for.  But let's say you want to buy a laptop capable of running Autodesk Maya, for computer animation and to render out your shots.

What sort of laptop should you buy, and how much do you need to spend? BNU Animation Master's Student Amedeo Beretta offers some advice to our students.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Animator's Survival Kit "Minis" Launch August 5

Animator's Survival Kit "Minis"
Here at Bucks New University we recommend one key textbook for learning animation - The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams.

It is a big book, heavy to carry around, and has now been published as a series of "mini" editions, breaking the book up into four sections, and available from August 5th. 

The ASK was first published in 2002 as a book, and a few years later was released as a DVD set, and later as an iPad app.

Friday, 9 July 2021

Academic Deadlines MA Animation 2021-23

2021-2023 deadlines
Below is a list of deadlines for the online MA in 3D animation. This is for our new cohort of student animators, those who are joining us in September 2021, and will graduate "Master of Arts" in the summer of 2023.

Note that this list of deadlines is a draft list only, and is subject to change. Students should always check the appropriate Module Guide and Assignment Brief to be certain of the correct submission date. And, of course, check with your tutor.

This list gives our MA students a broad idea of what to expect over the coming 18 months.  But always double-check these dates - if in doubt, email your tutor.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

DA701 Locomotion & Mechanics Starts 27 Sept

Zombie walk by Michael Davies
DA701 Animation Mechanics is the first module that our new MA animation students (those starting with us in September) will encounter at Bucks.

DA701 starts on 27 September 2021, and is taught primarily in Autodesk Maya. The module deals with animation basics, such as locomotion and mechanics.

It starts with simple actions such as a bouncing ball, and builds up to more complex physical actions, such as jumps and throws. There are two assignments due: DA701 PR1, and DA701 CW1. DA701 PR1 is due on Friday 10th December at 2pm.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Getting Ready for September 2021

What kind of preparation should animation students do before starting with us at Bucks in September 2021?

It's always good to do a little preparation and get a bit of a head start.

Below is a brief list of stuff to get you under way. You don't have to do all of it, but tick off a few of the things on this list and you will be a making a great start on your animation career.

Below is a short reading list to get you started. We've narrowed it down to just one key books that we recommend for all our students.

We also recommend a number of free online resources to begin your journey into digital animation.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

James Baxter Animation Webinar 30 June at 6pm

James Baxter
On 30 June at 6pm Escape Studios is hosting a live animation webinar with legendary Disney and DreamWorks animator James Baxter.  

The event is free, and we are recommending that all our students register and sign up. 

James began his animation career on Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and has since worked on dozens of animated films.  

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Module DA704 Starts 13 Sept 2021

Amedeo Beretta - CG Animation Reel - VFX, Cine, TV from Amedeo Beretta on Vimeo.

Our Master's Degree animation students will soon start their final animation module: DA704. Their final animation assignment, DA704 PR1, is titled "Demo Reel and Final Project" and students are expected to do a piece of character or creature animation, showing the skills they have learned over the last year, and also cut a demo reel that will help them to find work in the animation industry.  The demo reel above is by Bucks New Uni MA animation student Amedeo Beretta.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Dinosaur Animation Tutorial



We've completed a new series of videos on dinosaur locomotion for our animation students at BNU, who are currently working on Module DA703, Animals and Creatures.  The tutorial uses the free Dino rig by Harry Geoghegan, available for free download at Creative Crash.  The goal of the tutorial is to create a believable dinosaur walk cycle and performance.  To get a flavour of the exercise, watch the free theory video above.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Dragon in Flight Animation Tutorial

Dragon in Flight Tutorial 
Our MA animation students are currently tackling Module DA703 - Animals and Creatures, the third module on our Online MA in Animation.

We've been adding new animal and creature tutorials to our animation library, to offer as wide as possible a selection of teaching materials for animal and creature animation. 

This latest tutorial shows how to animate a dragon in flight. The tutorial uses the free Jaemin Dragon rig by Truong, which can be downloaded here.  The dragon flight tutorial can be found here (it is password-protected), and is free for all our currently enrolled students. 

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

How to Animate Quadruped Transitions

Free tiger rig from Truong
How do you animate quadruped transitions? That is to say, how do you animate the change from a walk to a trot to a run, and then back again?

Quadruped transitions are a tricky thing to get right, which is why all our MA students have access to video tutorials at Animation Apprentice showing step by step how to do it. 

Our MA animation students are currently tackling their third module, DA703 Animals and Creatures, mastering the art of quadruped locomotion and performance.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Online MA in 3D Animation - Still Time to Apply

Transformer animation by Amedeo Beretta
We are still taking applications for our online MA in animation, recruiting for September 2021.

Our online MA in animation was launched in 2015 and was the very first of its kind - the first online MA in animation which could be undertaken by students anywhere in the world.

Since 2015, our students have been learning how to animate to a professional industry standard using Autodesk Maya, the industry-standard software, and also engaging with the underpinning theory and structure behind the art form.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Royalty-Free Music Licenses at Bensound

One question that animators often ask when making a short film, or compiling their demo reel, is where to get Royalty Free Music either for free or at low prices.

One very useful resource that we recommend at Bucks is Bensound. At Bensound.com you can download royalty free stock music for animation, YouTube and multimedia projects.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

BAFTA Scholarships for Post-Graduate Study

BAFTA is now taking applications for three UK based post-graduate scholarships in film, TV and Games (and animation, of course) worth up to £12,000 each. The deadline is May 26.

The BAFTA scholarships are supported by Warner Bros and the Duke of Cambridge, and include a work placement and also free access to BAFTA events. They can also be used to help finance post-graduate study in the creative arts.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

What Do Recruiters Want? Find out on 25 May

Tiffany Feeney
What Do Animation Recruiters Want? What are studios looking for? Find out on Tuesday 25 May at 12:30pm, when veteran animation recruiter Tiffany Feeney will offer her perspective on what exactly recruiters are looking for in animation talent.

Having recruited for Dreamworks, Reel FX and Blue Sky Studios, Tiffany Feeney knows what studios want and need.  

The event is taking place on 25 May at 1.30pm, with a Q&A to follow. This is especially recommended for all our students graduating this summer, or for any students looking for jobs and internships in animation and vfx.

Monday, 26 April 2021

Win a Dell Workstation at the 11 Second Club

Next month we're recommending that all our student animators enter the monthly 11 Second Club Competition

In May 2021 Epic Games, creators of the Unreal Engine real-time renderer, are launching a special prize challenge with The 11Second Club, in association with Dell Computers.  First prize is a Dell Workstation.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Kristis Bandzevicius Motion Designer Quadmark

Kristis Bandzevicius
Bucks New University congratulates animation masters' student Kristis Bandzevicius on his new job as a Motion Designer at Quadmark.

Quadmark is a creative training and enablement agency that builds learning experiences for companies.

"Motion Designer" is really another way of saying "animator", and we're delighted that Kristis is using the skills learned at Bucks to forge a career in the creative industries.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

BNU Graduate Priya Chitnis Layout Artist at ILM

Priya Chitnis
Many congratulations to BNU Graduate Priya Chitnis who has a secured a new position as a Layout Artist at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).

Priya took our online MA in 3D Animation and Bucks, and this is her first role in the animation and VFX industry.

ILM is a global powerhouse in animation and vfx, the pioneering studio that created the animated dinosaurs for Jurassic Park and has since gone on to create the Star Wars franchise of films. 

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

BNU "No Detriment" Policy

Last year Bucks New Uni introduced a "no detriment" policy in response to the Corona Virus Pandemic. The policy remains in force, and - in effect - gives students an extra 10 working days (two calendar weeks) to hand in assessments, beyond the formal deadline.

"No detriment" means that the work submitted will not suffer any detriment, ie it will still be graded as if it were handed in on time.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Cartoon Forum Returns in September

Save the Date! Cartoon Forum is back - Europe's biggest TV pitch-fest for animation takes place in Toulouse, France, from 20 – 20 September 2021.

For all our students and graduates with an idea for an animated TV or web series, Cartoon Forum is the place to pitch it.

The deadline to submit your series project this year is in May. So, there is plenty of time to sharpen your pencils, fill out some forms - and make your pitch perfect.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Apply Now for our Online MA in Animation

Animation by Victoria Bailey
We are now taking applications for our online MA in animation, recruiting for September 2021.

Our online MA in animation was launched in 2015 and was the first of its kind - a unique degree which can be undertaken by students anywhere in the world, leading to a formal qualification in the field.

Students learn how to animate to a professional industry standard using Autodesk Maya, the industry-standard software, and also learn to engage with the underpinning theory and structure behind the art form. To apply, follow this link.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Alex Cullinane-Carrasco Technical Artist at 3Finery Ltd

Alex Cullinane-Carasco
Many congratulations to Bucks New Uni animation graduate Alex Cullinane-Carrasco for starting a new position as Technical Artist at 3FINERY LTD

3FINERY is an Augmented Reality spin-out from Edinburgh Napier University that brings objects to life in mobile devices.

Alex used the skills he learned studying animation and VFX at Bucks, building a portfolio of work and ultimately finding work in his chosen field. 

Sunday, 7 March 2021

BNU Grad Craimer Jones CG Artist at Hogarth

Craimer Jones
Many congratulations to Bucks Animation & VFX graduate Craimer Jones who has recently been hired as a CG Artist at Hogarth Worldwide.

Hogarth describes itself as "the largest creative content production specialist in the world"; their work crosses "all media and industry sectors" and "partners with the world’s top brands to deliver complex solutions to today’s content challenge".

Craimer joins Hogarth as a digital artist specialising in 3D Automotive work.