A recent venture undertaken here at Escape was to invite established post production houses in Soho to coach our students, to offer them direct feedback on their work here at our studio, and subsequently helping them prepare for what is expected once they enter the industry. On Thursday, 12th April 2012, the alumni class of Studio 5 attended the final coaching session with Framestore commercials, where they got to present their ‘end of course’ project to the VFX producers for feedback. Charles Downman was among the group presenting work that day, and here’s what he had to say about the experience...
So we have a new class of students for the Visual Effects Production course and I thought I’d quickly run through what this class has been up to recently and where they’re at now in their studies. We are currently on week four and they have just started their first major project after covering the ins and outs of Maya (the industry go-to package in VFX). So far, we have covered modelling, UV’ing, texturing, some lighting and rendering and a bit of Photoshop just to mix it up a bit. To put all they have learnt into practice, they have been asked to create a CG object, integrate it into a backplate and to make it look photo-realistic.
Welcome to the Studio Assistant workshop, with Ashley Miles and Brad Collier-Brown, and here's our debut issue. As studio assistants, our main job is to make sure both students and escapees are getting the most out of the Escape Studios experience, which involves answering a lot of weird and wonderful questions. We thought it'd be a good idea if we blogged a few of the most common queries and solutions every week, so you guys at home could learn a little something from us too.
When it comes to catching recruiters’ eye, it’s all about looking good. And this is when only the best showreels will cut the mustard. You have 10 seconds to impress and there is no room for error or work that you're half hearted about.
Those smiles pretty much tell this story! On 28th of March 2012 one of our Compositing classes had the exciting opportunity of having their work critiqued by two of MPC's finest: Christine Troianello and Doug Larmour and they loved every minute of it. The project they were asked to complete was a 115'" shot requiring both roto and keying which is taught on the course. The assignment was not without its challenges though! They had to deal with heavy motion-blur, integration of the key and the roto, as well as the amount of detail certain parts of the shot required. Toya Drechsler took the time to explain what the whole experience was like.
Last Friday, 23rd March, the students at Escape Studios had a much deserved break from the studio in Soho. It was nice to finally catch a bit of sunlight as all of us have been cooped up indoors, out from this amazing weather. However, the blast of sunshine was short lived as we were to enter one of the largest VFX studios in Soho.
I was pretty shocked last week when the Coalition Government reversed its position in their dramatic Budget announcement. The UK government has declared its intention to establish a nationwide games tax break policy, in a manoeuvre that leaves the British sector in shock and jubilation. They stated: "Following consultation on the design, the Government will introduce corporation tax reliefs for the video games, animation and high-end television industries from April 2013, subject to State aid approval," read the official budget report.
As an avid zombie fan, I spend my days either killing zombies on the game console or watching them get hacked to pieces on tele (not to mention seeing one in the reflection of the mirror, the morning after a night of partying). One TV series which I'm sure most of you have heard of, is 'The Walking Dead'. Apart from the ghastly zombies and the characters of the show - one of the most common things people talk about is the lovely VFX. The talented guys at Stargate Studios are responsible for the VFX for The Walking Dead and they have just released their Season 2 showreel.
Enjoy, VFX/Zombie fans!
We believe it's crucial for students to not just have a thorough knowledge of work flow and software, but also understand the VFX industry and pipeline where they will work. So during their course we invite established post production houses to coach them, this means they get direct feedback on their work from respected VFX supervisors.
This was hardly surprising news, but the positive spin put on this stat by Universities UK, was that the drop wasn’t as great as predicted. However, a decrease of 8.7% is significant, and demonstrates prospective students are unable or unwilling to pay the increase in fees imposed by the current government.
There were more women than men applying, but the biggest drop is not amongst school leavers, down only 3.6%, but from older students over 21 which were down significantly.
However, there was also a slight increase in overseas students applying here, and conversely more UK students are applying abroad, for example, Maastricht University forecasts 600 applications.
It’s not rocket science figuring out that fees of £9000 p/a over a three year degree, plus all living costs will be a considerable sum to repay, and for a non-vocational degree, it will require serious thought to justify. After all, if the degree studied will not guarantee a job at the end earning you X amount, then being saddled with that kind of debt is a hefty burden to bear.
Even the prospect of the student idyll and those first tastes of freedom living away from the parents, in the life of Riley, may now seem a little indulgent.
In our sector, Animation and Computer Graphic degrees are wide ranging and extensive, but this can be both their strength and their weakness. Yes, you may learn a wide range of skills, direct your own mini movie masterpiece, and if you’re exceptionally talented and hardworking, this film may lead to a job winning Showreel.
The reality is too often we see films that are either strong in one discipline but severely lacking in others, so making the overall effect disappointing. Or either, so many students have worked on one jaw dropping movie, that it’s hard to see exactly how much of a role any one individual played in the overall execution.
If getting a job is your top priority, fair to say it’s better to study an in-depth industry specific course, such as we offer here at Escape Studios, rather than something less focused.
Are you an aspiring CG artist who’s trying to get your CG career off the ground? Are you working in the creative industry and want to transfer your skills to VFX? We know how difficult it can be to make decisions and chose the right path, but that’s where our Careers Guide can help. By revealing the many opportunities that exist within the CG industry, the guide helps you overcome some of the hurdles you might face when you start making career choices.
For anyone with an iPhone or an iPad here is a great app from our friends at MPC. If you are interested in entering the VFX industry, this is something which I would highly recommend. MPC's app shows the jobs they have available as soon as they are published, and is a great way of finding out about those entry level positions that aspiring artists are after.
After a busy year of new course launches, we now have Visual Effects and Compositing training to suit everyone, whether that’s Classroom Training or Online Mentored study. We know what you need to learn but also understand that everyday life can sometimes make this difficult. This is why we’ve tackled this head on and ensured that our training is flexible and works for you.
This will be my last Weekly Round-Up of News for this year..., hope you enjoy it. If you have suggestions for stories I missed, just drop me a line or post a comment. I'll be sure to look at your suggestion during the Xmas break.
It's been a while since we featured any escapee work on our blog so I wanted to show you a recent reel which has really impressed us.