S'up British (and world) animators? y'all klnow 'bout this? It's next year, yeah? they're looking for entries now right? and there's an animated sting competition. dig it. you'd be a fool not to.
It’s a one stop shop for the industry to see the best of the best- each University displays the work of only their top ten students.
With more and more games and animated movies using performance capture technology, will it be the death of traditional hand animation? This week, Story Board Artist and Animator, Ben Bowen, suggests there is room for them both to live together.
Animate Your Own Skills
If you could improve your skills, what would you learn? If you could get training that helped you progress in your current job, would you take it? You’d think so, but most people don’t for a couple of good reasons: time and money.
Skillset’s research shows a third (36%) of employers in animation are keen to encourage their staff to work towards a qualification, but almost two-thirds (61%) of employers report barriers preventing their organisation from undertaking such training and development. The most common barrier was, you’ve guessed it, the cost. This was followed by the difficulty in assessing the quality of courses available and a lack of suitable courses in the locality.
Skillset spends a lot of time engaging with universities and trying to improve the talent of new entrants, but what about helping “skill up” the employees and freelancers who have made it into the industry? How can animation businesses gain new skills in say, Stereo 3D, new online business models, media and IP law, or the latest versions of Nuke or Maya?
There’s a whole heap of new skills that businesses and freelancers would like to acquire if only they had the budget or the time. “Hi boss, do you mind if I’m two weeks late with that important deadline? I’d like to brush up my Actionscript skills” just doesn’t cut it in a world of tight margins and frenetic schedules.
Providing training is a risky business though. Put on a course, get a hotshot tutor, book a room, advertise and a few weeks later cancel it because the there not enough take up to economic sense. Try to then reschedule at a date that is convenient to the people who did book on originally, and you’ve got a whole world of grief. No wonder there aren’t a lot of cheap and niche courses out there.
One of the places that can help is the universities. They have an infrastructure, can often supply resources, keep overheads low, and may have the expertise. However, the universities’ number one business has always been producing a stream of fresh-faced new talent, but now they need to diversify. Skillset has worked with HEFCE (the Higher Funding Council for England) to create a new subsidised way of getting businesses trained up. It’s called “Build Your Own MA”.
Universities (who have their funding capped at the moment) are given a financial incentive to put on relevant short courses for industry. The idea is that businesses can get bite-size, time shiftable training from Skillset’s media academies (ten of the UK’s best universities for a range of industry facing media courses). This means that if you do enough of these short courses or credits you can get an MA or just can take one course that will help you acquire a new set of skills. The university can draw down funding, and the individual gets relevant industry training at a subsidy.
And you can forget about long periods out of the workplace. These courses are predicated round distance learning with face to face meetings (if needed) strategically placed outside work hours as much as possible. In other words time shiftable learning that revolves around you.
Is this too good to be true? Ooh you cynic, you. Well, there is a catch. This is a mechanism that has been put in place which now needs to be filled with content. The media academies have put forward their list of courses that they think are useful, (you can see them on the website mentioned below) but my reason for writing this is I want the animation industry to start speaking to our academies and requesting courses that are relevant to them. Life drawing? Maya fluid dynamics? Media Law? What’s your tipple? We have the ingredients here for a new sort of university engagement with industry.
It won’t be as easy as I’ve outlined - different cultures, different timelines. But the first step is to get business and universities communicating and exchanging ideas. It just takes imagination, and that’s what the animation industry has in spades. So, going back to my original question, if you could improve your skills, what would you learn?
Saint John Walker is Computer Games, Animation and Facilities Sector Manager at Skillset
For more about the Build Your Own MA scheme click here
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