In the final installment in our Aardman Academy guest blog series, Certificate in Character Animation student Evelyn Ross shares her experiences of week 10-12 of the Aardman and NFTS flagship course…
The last few weeks of the course were focused mainly on our final animation scene, which was two people speaking dialogue to one another using a clip from Creature Comforts or Angry Kid. Most students spent about a week and a half animating a scene that was roughly 20 seconds long. And everyone was given the directorial liberty of figuring out how to divide their scene into separate camera angles and storyboarding ideas. We were even issued with a daily schedule to follow, just like how professional studios do to stay on budget; but in our case we did this to make sure we had additional time to re-animate assignments during our last remaining days in the studio space. This experience became a bit strenuous as course leader Loyd Price would come in and be very stern because some of us were a bit off schedule, and a few people had to re-start their shots for posing reasons. It was definitely a time on the course where everyone had their head down and was FOCUSED. That being said, we had a lot of encouragement from each other that thankfully guided our growth rather than paralyzed us from the stress of the final project. It was quite a thing working on actually! It felt much more serious than the work we animated from week to week. When a person finished their shot you could hear a recognizable congratulatory cheer from down the hallway. It was an amazing feeling once I finished. Afterward we had a one-on-one meeting with both Loyd Price and course tutor Inez Woldman who decided on a few shots we should consider re-animating. I was told to include another shot of two characters displaying status and also re-animate a shot I made of a character walking around a snake. I was happy to re-do these shots, but was tentative about re-doing my snake shot because it involved a lot of slow movement and many frames to keep track of a wobbly puppet and a snake with a potentially broken armature. Nonetheless, I did it, and it was well worth it because it was massively better than my first one and really completed my showreel (Thank you Loyd for pushing me on that).
The last 3 days of the course consisted of putting our showreels together and figuring out the correct sound to use on each clip. We worked with Will Davies (who is a complete genius at sound design and really sped up the process for us). All praise. When Friday came around we had two screenings of all our work on loop in the studio cinema. Everyone at Aardman was welcome to come and celebrate with wine and appetizers. It was a wonderful time to be surrounded by studio employees and speaking to them genuinely about our own work and animation experience. For a moment, I felt like a studio professional.
I wanted to finish this blog by including that I know this course will be an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my career. It was such a unique time to actually focus on acting techniques and incremental movement for a solid 3 months. It’s curious that so many universities seems not to include this in their animation curriculum. It’s really a blessing this course exists for aspiring animators because otherwise it’s hard to get your foot in door. I feel truly honored to have spent 3 months with inspiring people and hope to hear their fascinating career moves. If we decide to stay in the industry, I have no doubt that we’ll cross paths and recall this crazy wonderful time we spent together at Aardman.
Watch the Certificate in Character Animation graduates showreeel 2018
Find out more about the Aardman Academy and the courses that they offer here.