On Tuesday I attended the launch of the Livingtone-Hope report which was undertaken to address the skills issues facing the UK's games and visual effects. Escape Studios staff have taken part in a number of the surveys which went into building the data for this report as well as speaking directly to Hasan Bakhshi and Juan Mateos-Garcia from NESTA, who did a large amount of the work of pulling the data for the draft report together. In essence the report lays out 20 recommendations across the talent pipeline from schools through FE and HE to the industry. All these parties as well as the government and other skills and training bodies such as Skillset are called on to do their bit. All of this whilst being realistic about the funding and resources available, the recommendations had to be about the focus of existing funds not calls for large sums of new money.
Escape Studios is hitting the road this year undertaking a program of talks, presentations and master classes throughout the UK universities and colleges.
At last, we have good news for graduates in the UK. The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) have just released figures indicating that the number of graduate vacancies is actually on the increase for the first time since the recession started.
We're never prouder than when our escapees get the recognition they deserve. This usually comes in the form of a first job with a top post house or commendation from the professional community for a perfectly executed shot, so when we found out that some of our escapees made it to the Autodesk 2010 Education showreel, we were beaming.
Last Wednesday, Escape Studios had the honour of having Christian Manz, VFX Supervisor at Framestore come into our studios and talk to our students about life in the industry. Christian discussed the bits about the job that are great (Like getting to see your name up on the big screen after arduous months of working on a project) and the bits which aren’t quite so good (Like the long hours). It wasn’t just our students who enjoyed it, we loved it too. Christian’s thirteen year career has been an epic one and his latest contribution to the industry as VFX Supervisor on the latest HP7 is particularly impressive. We spoke to Christian about the highs and lows of his career so far, and what it feels like to have been part of one of the biggest films of our recent times.
Sometime, I just come across stories that make me laugh out loud. This one is just one of them.
Here's a great piece of animation which illustrates something I care deeply about, the education system.
Last week, we launched our first academic qualification, an MA in Visual Effects Production, which we’re running with the University of Bradford. You’ll probably be wondering what we’re up to, what with everything that’s been in the news about how much university tuition is going to cost in the UK. Having collaborated on this project with some leading industry pros, however, I reckon we’re on to a winner. Here’s why:
The coalition government released last week a whole host of new measures aimed at universities in a bid to make these institutions more transparent. You can read the full story published in the Telegraph here. I for one fully applaud the sentiment behind these measures, but if you'll allow me a cliché, "the devil is in the detail".
When Nik Illingworth came to an Open Day last year, he was brimming with CG enthusiasm. He knew that he wanted a career in VFX but didn't really know how he was going to make it happen. After studying for 12 weeks with us, Nik was up and running. He finished his course, was offered his first job at Frametore and accepted it, then a short while later he decided to come back to us for 6 weeks of final professional training. He's now Effects Technical Director at MPC and still has the same love for the industry that he started off with. Nik's is one of many stories of CG enthusiasts who come to study with us and that's why we wanted to share his case study with you - getting a career in VFX off the ground really is easier than you think.
Few VFX artists can claim to have as prestigious a career as Paul Franklin. From junior VFX artist to co-founder of Double Negative, one of London's most prestigious post houses, Paul has been on quite a journey. He's worked on some of the most memorable and successful films of recent times, titles such as Batman Begins, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and The Dark Knight. His work has brought him nominations for an Oscar and two BAFTAs along the way.
I spent of lot of my time helping escapees find their first job. As part of this is, I maintain a network of contacts to help students get their foot in the door. We all know how important it is to know the right people and belong to the right network - something that not every student does enough of, but could help them land their dream job.
As you probably saw, the Chancellor has awarded the games industry its much deserved tax break. Following Wednesday’s budget, game developers that create profitable games will be able to use the relief to pay less tax on profits, while unsuccessful games will be awarded a cash tax credit to reduce losses – which must be a nice surprise for all you developers out there.
I have been travelling around the UK countryside visiting academic institutions over the past six months. I have made many observations during that time, and feel it is time to share some of them.