One of the most entertaining parts of the Character Animation course that I teach at Escape studios is the lesson where the students invent, design and pitch an original animated character to myself and the rest of the class. The purpose of the exercise is to get students thinking not just about the technical side of character motion and action but also to think inventively and creatively. Can we invent characters as well as animate them? The visual effects industry is often demanding in terms of time and energy, and one of the best antidotes to the problem of "burn out" is to keep the creative spirit alive. After all, we all went into the arts to invent and create, not just to polish other people's ideas.
Everyone likes to make a saving where they can, that's why we offer all students paying their full course fee's three months in advance, an early-bird discount of £500.
Seems like August was a great month for many of our recent graduates, who were quite literally snapped up as soon as they finished their courses.
Giuseppe Candido is not only a recent character animation course escapee, but now also a very talented animator and a skilled Maya Generalist. He has put together one of the most charming demo reels we have seen here at Escape Studios. Giuseppe combined many of his student exercises into a circus project - creating a stunning short film in the process, and all completed from scratch in just six weeks.
I felt a little bit like an old-school headmaster last week, taking our latest set of compositing students to MPC where they were to have their work critiqued for the second time. Lots of worried faces trudged behind me - nerves apparent and laughter a little thin on the ground. As usual, all of their concerns were completely unfounded and they all actually left the place beaming and proud of their achievements. But I do understand how showing your work to a bunch of seasoned professionals can be very daunting - despite the team at MPC doing their best to make the experience a relaxed one for our students.
I have just finished a great week teaching MARI to our new Compositing Professional class. I took them through UVing in Maya, and then taught them how to get to grips with MARI. As part of the curriculum, I also included for the first time the brand new NUKE to MARI bridge which makes the process of taking camera projections from Nuke to Mari and baking projections to UV space much quicker and more flexible.
When I see students go from first day newbies to fully-fledged VFX artists I can’t help but feel that they absolutely deserve it. After weeks of rigorous training learning how to create believable CG, the moment comes when they start looking for a job. And that’s exactly what happened to Pasquale Riefoli and Maria Busco who have both secured jobs at Double Negative!
As promised here's another escapee reel. This time from Ben Revens, one of our recent VFX graduates. This is a great reel with good examples of work from two of our most popular courses. The violin and tank shots were produced during our 12-week Visual Effects Production course. The more elaborate and advanced staircases shot was produced during our 6-weeks Visual Effects Professional extension which Ben took straight after his VFX Production course.
A few weeks back, CWJobs spoke to our Recruitment Manager, Garreth Gaydon about the best way of getting a job in the VFX industry when you're first starting out. The feature which you can read in full here discusses the high demand for jobs in the VFX industry and the kinds of first jobs that will enable you to get your foot in the door and make it as a VFX artist. It’s a tricky industry to enter because it is both highly creative yet technically very demanding which requires a serious amount of skill and creative ability.
We're very proud of the work we do here at Escape Studios but we probably don't show enough of our students' work. Over the coming months we're going to be featuring much more student work on our website but in the meantime I wanted to start showing some of the reels from our most recent graduates.
A few weeks back I took my class to the Natural History Museum so that we could generate some new footage which they could camera track with. It was lots of fun as they not only got to film live-action footage, they knew exactly what they would have to work with when getting back to the classroom. For me, keeping things fresh is important - and so filming new footage for the students to work with is a must. As you can see from the video, we're all pretty excited to be out of the classroom!
It’s such a great feeling when you attend a packed out event and the people pouring in turn out to be our former students. And that’s exactly what happened a couple nights ago. I attended a PFTrack event organised by our Technology Team, and it was a storming success. The room was packed with over 50 people – all craning their necks to get a better view of the speaker.
Lots of the attendees at the event were escapees who we didn’t just train but placed in their current jobs. It was great to catch up with Jacob Flint who studied our VFX Course last year and so refreshing to hear that he’s just as excited about working at The Mill today, as he was when we first placed him there. That’s a pretty rare thing these days.
Job satisfaction is massively important, and if you are not entirely happy with what you are doing, then I would encourage you to ‘shop around’ and find out what’s out there. Doing so doesn’t have to be that taxing either. If you follow us on twitter or use our RSS feed you’ll be first to hear about new jobs, daily. Because we work with nearly all of the major names in the industry, most of the jobs that are out there come through us.
So, if you’re stuck in a rut, or just fancy a change, we might just have the right thing for you.