Thursday, 24 July 2014

Bucks lecturer Alex Williams introduces "Queen's Counsel", and a new book of cartoons

The Queen's Counsel Lawyer's Omnibus - 20 years in The Times
Bucks animation lecturer Alex Williams initially trained as a barrister, and since 1993 he has published a weekly cartoon strip Queen's Counsel in the law pages of The Times. Recently he published a new book, The Queen's Counsel Lawyer's Omnibus, a compilation of his favourite cartoons printed in the newspaper over the past 20 years. We asked him to talk a little about the book, and also about how a lawyer became a cartoonist and an animator.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Illusion of Life - the Original Animation Bible

The original animation bible
The Illusion of Life was first published in the 1970s. It caused a sensation among animators, because it represented for the first time in print the accumulated wisdom of the Disney studio - set out in detail for anyone who cared to learn. The 1970s were a lean time for animation; Walt Disney was dead and the revival that would come with Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and The Little Mermaid was still far in the future.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Max Howard Teaches our Students How to Produce a Hollywood Movie

Max Howard and Bucks animation students. From left: Felix Deacon, Ellouise Benjamin, James Hatton, Jack Copley, Max Howard, Kalim Momen, Alex Williams, Georgia Nichols, Anton Alfimenko, Ben Gray
Earlier this year Producer Max Howard came to Bucks to talk about how to produce an independent animated film.  He talked in detail about how films get financed, walking our students through all the steps necessary to get a film off the ground and into theatres. With a wealth of experience at major Hollywood Studios, and also with a number of independent animated features under his belt (plus one coming out this year - The Hero of Colour City - there are few producers better qualified to explain how the system actually works.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Still time left to apply to start our course in September!

Not too late to apply!
It's high summer, and September is fast approaching. UCAS applications have long closed, and most folks have decided by now where they want to go to Uni and what they want to study, and have probably accepted a place. Too late then, to apply to study Animation and Visual Effects at Bucks. Or is it? In fact, it’s not too late to apply. We still have a couple of spots available on our new course, so don't despair. 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!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

"Charlie & Yip" wins Best Animation at the British Animation Film Festival

Charlie and Yip
"Charlie & Yip", a short film directed by Bucks animation tutor Alex Williams, and animated by Tumblehead Animation in Denmark, has just won Best Animation at the 2014 British Animation Film Festival. The short was screened on June 8 in London at the Empire Leicester Square, competing with dozens of other shorts in three successive screenings over the course of the day.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Calling all Bucks graduates - become a Jedi in Singapore

Lucasfilm are looking for Jedi masters to serve an apprenticeship in Singapore. Their "Jedi Masters Program" offers talented digital artists "the chance to learn from the masters in a variety of creative disciplines -- from visual effects on live-action films to animated feature films."

I worked myself in Singapore a few years back and can personally recommend it. The Singapore Government is highly motivated to bring in international talent, so acquiring a work visa is rarely a problem. And once you are there, you have the chance to explore South East Asia on your weekends, or just hang out at the Raffles Hotel in downtown Singapore and pretend you're Ernest Hemingway. Plus, it's nice and warm all year round and the local cuisine is seriously delicious.

Friday, 18 July 2014

How to Use our Animation Tutorials at Vimeo

Tutorials are hosted at Vimeo - just login!
Here at Bucks we believe in giving our students the best possible experience, and that means having plenty of video content to supplement the classroom sessions. Animation takes time to master, but by carefully going through our video tutorials, hosted at Vimeo, all our students can take the time they need to master this complex craft. Here's how it all works:

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Meet our tutors - Alex Williams

Alex Williams
Alex Williams has been teaching at Bucks since September 2012 when he first joined the animation team. Alex has spent 25 years working in the animation industry, and his arrival at Bucks has led to an increased emphasis on the art and craft of animation at Bucks - hence the change of title of the course from "Animation, Games and Interactive Media" to "Animation and Visual Effects". We asked Alex to talk about the changes going on at Bucks, and what students can look forward to.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

One Day Only - Story Masterclass with Frank Gladstone on 16th August - just £6!

Lupus films are running a one day masterclass with animation industry veteran Frank Gladstone on August 16th in London - for just £6. Anyone who is serious about story telling in animation should attend - I'll most likely be there myself. Frank is a world-class talent whose credits include some of the biggest hits in animation history. Full details below:

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Do you need to study at university to learn animation?

The TAAFI Education Panel
On Monday 16 June TAAFI - the Toronto Animation Art Festival International - hosted a panel talk on the subject of  “An Animation Education”. The sub-title of the talk was “Do you need to go to university to learn animation?”. In other words, given all the opportunities now available to study online, should  students still commit to the expense and time of a full undergraduate education?

On the panel to discuss the question were Richard Arroyo – head of Games at,  Mark Jones, chair, School of Creative Arts, Aubrey Mintz, Head of Animation, California State University Long Beach, Brooke Keesling, Manager, Animation Talent, and Tony Tarantini, Sheridan College Professor of Animation. The first question was this:

Monday, 14 July 2014

The neuroscience of animation - how your brain's wiring makes you like cartoons

Your brain, but animated
At this year's SAS (Society of Animation Studies) conference in Toronto, a number of presentations focused on the subject of Animation and the Mind - The Neuroscience of Animation. This field of research tries to look at animation from a neuroscientific point of view, asking what it is about the design and structure of our brains that influences how we watch and enjoy animation. It's field that asks not just which cartoons we like, but why we like them, on a level that digs deep below our subconscious.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

T Dan Hofstedt explains The Secret of Animation

T. Dan Hofstedt - animation supremo
My old friend and former kumrad at Disney animation, T Dan Hofsted, recently posted at Facebook a reply to a student asking how to become an animator. T Dan is one of the best animators I know, a veteran of countless Disney hits including The Lion King, Pocahontas, Hercules and Mulan, so he ought to know a thing or two about how to make it as an animator. Here is what he wrote:

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Free conference on careers in creative industries on Wednesday 23 July

Clearhead: a digital creative agency
Confused about how to develop a career in the creative industries? The creative agency Clearhead are hosting a free conference for people hoping to forge their own way in creative media. Interested in a creative career? Come along to their Careers day on Wednesday 23 July and find out how to make it happen.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Rebecca Rochon of the Bucks Learning Development Unit congratulates our students

Rebecca Rochon of the Learning Development Unit (LDU) has formally congratulated our students for their excellent work on a short animated film for use at Bucks. The film, How to write a Lit Review, was completed earlier this year, and aims to help students who are struggling with the process of researching an academic report.

Rebecca wrote: "I wanted to express my thanks on behalf of the LDU for the work you put into the animation How to do a Lit Review.  I have it banked as a teaching resource, it will be built into the LDU organisation on BlackBoard for students, and LearnHigher will be incorporating it into their website for the new academic year."

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Come to our next Open Day - Saturday 11 October 2014

Saturday 11th October is our next Open Day at Bucks. Open Days are a great way to meet the Tutors and Course Leaders (for Animation & VFX - that's me, Dave Creighton and Nick Brown) here at Bucks, find out about our course, and also explore our campus.

We think you'll be impressed by the state-of-the-art technical equipment we have in the brand new Gateway Building; the result of a £40m investment program completed just a couple of years ago, aimed at turning Bucks into a creative hub for media production of all kinds.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Bucks graduate Sonia Gill is a Bollywood star

Sonia Gill
Former student Sonia Gill has become a Bollywood star after being spotted while studying at Bucks. Sonia "juggles films and TV ads in India with her job in the parking department of Oxfordshire County Council". The odd thing is, Sonia did not study performing arts at Bucks. She did a law degree.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Calling all Bucks graduates....Bionic Group are looking for 3D modelers

Bionic Group at Pinewood Studios
Calling all Bucks graduates....Bionic Group are looking for 3D modelers to work at Pinewood Studios. The Bionic Group are looking for a talented Animation and Visual Affects graduate to join their growing team. The job will involve creating "technical animations for a range of leading contractors within the construction Industry". The role will be suited to "a promising graduate with an interest in construction, architecture, civil or structural engineering."

Monday, 7 July 2014

the TweenMachine - the Animator's Best Friend

One of the many advantages of learning to animate in Maya is the wide range of free plugins developed by the user community around the world. A free plugin is just that - a piece of code that can be added to your copy of Maya, free of charge. One of the most useful is the tweenMachine, created by Justin Animator, which helps animators to create breakdown poses in Maya on stepped curves. It's a time saving tool that takes much of the labour out of breaking down your character poses once you are happy with the timing of the main blocking of your animation.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Mery Project - a new free character for Maya animators!

One of the many benefits of animating with Autodesk Maya (the main animation software we use at Bucks) is the large and growing global community of artists who collaborate on freeware projects, bringing to life excellent animation rigs like Norman and Morpheus. The latest character rig to be released soon will be The Mery Project - available to Maya users free of charge.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Sabah Masood gets to grips with motion capture at Centroid

Vanya, Alex and Sabah
Bucks animation student Sabah Masood recently spent a week with Centroid, one of the UK's leading provider of motion capture services, getting to grips with the motion capture pipeline and learning the technical nuts and bolts of the process. We asked Sabah to tell us how it all went, and what we can learn from the professionals.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Student Showcase - Graphic Design and 3D Visualisations by Luke Winn

Treehouse project by Luke Winn
Luke Winn has just completed his studies at Bucks, specialising in graphic design, 3D models and architectural visualisations, and recently exhibited his best work at the Bucks end of year show. We asked him to talk about his work, and what he learned during his time at Bucks.