Friday, 31 January 2014

More life drawing at Bucks - why should animators learn to draw?

For all our animators and digital artists who didn't manage to sign up with the Bucks Students' Union in January for their life drawing classes, or want second helpings of life drawing, the animation department will soon be teaming up with Mark Hudson's graphics students in the Timberlake Building to bring a series of new life drawing sessions.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Student Showcase - the art of Sabah Masood

Sabah Masood is one of our many talented students here at Bucks, specialising in 3D modeling - with a focus on design and architectural visualisation. She is in her final graduation year, but she has already established a successful freelance career doing digital 3D modeling for clients such as Pinewood Studios and many others. We asked her about her work, and about how she managed to launch a freelance career at such an early stage.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Freelance artists and taxes - what you really need to know

Render unto Caesar what is due to Caesar
The tax code in the UK runs to 10,000 pages, and there is no human being who knows the whole code. But, every freelance artist needs to know at least the basics. Below is a short introduction to how the system works, from a self-employed artist's perspective. It is by no means complete, and it is no substitute for paying a qualified accountant to give you proper advice (which is highly recommended), but it should explain some of the basic rules of tax survival for freelancers, and get you pointed in the right direction.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Bucks students visit Shepperton Studios

On wednesday our students at Bucks New University visited Shepperton Studios. Being a movie geek, I couldn't wait to visit the place where classic films like Kubrick's Dr Strangelove, The Day of The JackalRidley Scott's Alien and Attenborough's Ghandi were filmed. I mean, even empty film studios are full of atmosphere; a place to fill the imagination with dreams of stardust. Shepperton did not let us down.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Learn Flash with Andy Sykes - free online video tutorials!

Andy's in the house
Right now our first year students at Bucks are learning how to use Adobe Flash, creating 2D animation as part of their first Introduction to Animation Module. As with all of our classes (and with higher education in general), the formal instruction is just the starting point for an in-depth understanding of the subject. Animation is a complex craft that takes time and patience to master, and we encourage our students to make use of all the resources available.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Calling all animators - time to fill out the National Student Survey!

The National Student Survey (NSS) is to higher education in the UK what Gallup polls are to politicians. The results speak volumes about the state of our universities and, in particular, which ones are giving students the kind of excellent experience that we ought to be delivering.

The survey opened on January 21st and runs until 30 April 2014. Bucks has set a target for 75% of eligible final-year students to complete their survey - you'll be seeing NSS helpers in red T-shirts around campus, ready to ambush you with a smile, a pen - and a form to fill in.

If encouragement doesn't work, there is always bribery. This year there is a new incentive for students to fill in the survey - a £5 voucher to spend either on printing or in the campus cafes.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Sign up today for life drawing at Bucks!

Calling all Bucks animators and digital artists! Today is the day to sign up with the Bucks Students' Union for their life drawing classes. We strongly recommend that everyone sign up. It's great skill to acquire and will help all our animators become better artists. Drawing skills help with design, storyboards, thumbnails - all necessary parts of the animation process.

Full details below. Sign up now and don't wait - these classes are popular and will fill up fast!

Monday, 20 January 2014

What does Bucks look for in an online 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 - and especially 3D digital artwork.

Our course at Bucks is increasingly digital, reflecting long-term changes in the industry, and we find that applicants with solid computer skills tend to flourish best. For a full description of what might go into a good application portfolio, check out this post.

Nowadays, we are doing a growing number of online interviews with Skype, generally for applicants from overseas. As a result, a new and slightly different question arises - what should go into an online portfolio?

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Motion Capture comes to Bucks

The "T pose"
Last week Motion Capture came to Bucks New University for the first time. The green screen room in the Gateway building played host to our latest, biggest and most expensive digital toy, extremely useful not just for animators hoping to capture excellent physical performances but also for students studying sports and motion analysis, helping to turn physical performances and actions into data that can be analysed, broken down, and used to improve the performance of athletes. It's cutting edge stuff, and it's happening right here at Bucks.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

How to get a job in Animation - explained by BAFTA

BAFTA has been working with Creative Skillset to deliver a series of guest lectures at media universities across the country, aiming to bring leading figures in the film, television and games industry together with newly emerging talent, through lectures designed to inspire students to develop their creativity alongside their business and technical skills.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

How long does it take to get good at something? 10,000 hours? Or 20?

Author and polymath Josh Kaufman gave an excellent talk at TED recently where he discusses the horror of trying to invest 10,000 hours in a new skill in order to get really good at it. He's just become a father to a baby girl, and (like many of us) he hasn't got 10,000 seconds - let alone 10,000 hours - to invest in learning something new. So his theory (which should cheer us all up) is that the whole 10,000 hour thing is a big exaggeration. Try doing something new for 20 hours - and you should be able to master the basics.

Monday, 6 January 2014

What do our students think of our course?

We want to offer the very best Animation and Visual Effects in the country. That's a big ambition, and since our course has just launched, it will be a couple of years before anyone can really judge us on whether we have achieved that goal.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

New Year's Resolutions for Animators

What should an animator's new year's resolutions be? Animation is a huge and growing business, a far cry from the cottage industry it used to be even twenty years ago. But it is a competitive world, and good animators need to work smart to stay on top of their game. So here's a checklist for some simple ways to maintain your edge.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy New Year - the UCAS applications deadline is looming!

High Wycombe wants you
The deadline to apply for a place on our new Animation and Visual Effects course at Bucks New University is January 15th 2014. Despite all the recent changes in higher education, UCAS is still the main portal to access a place at university in the UK. To find out more, don't delay, check out the UCAS website.

What sort of students are we looking for" We want applicants with a real passion to do animation and visual effects work, a drive to become a digital artist and take advantage of the myriad opportunities for animation, games and online work in the new digital economy. Animation is now big business, but it is competitive, and we want to give all our graduates the best possible head start.