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AlexPoolton
08-15-2009, 05:24 PM
After reading the guidelines a few times over, I'm steering well clear of the 'What do I do with my life' aspect, since I know I want to study/work in the Computer Animation/Graphics industry.

I'm currently about to complete my undergraduate degree in Multimedia Computing, and have after studying animation and programming for computer graphics I know this is where I want to be heading. I've decided since some of my skills are limited, I think it might be a good idea to have a bit of a structured course (and some industry ties) and take up a Masters degree (and kill two birds with one stone).

I know the term 'best' animation course is a bit debatable, but I'm ambitious and I want to study at the 'Oxford and Cambridge' equivalent of Computer Animation, and really get a good start (although I know it's what you put in, that you get out, and I'm prepared to work for it). But if anyone would provide me with some insight that lives in the UK (after all you are the experts) it would be most appreciated.



The universities that have caught my attention so far are:



Bournemouth University (National Centre for Computer Animation) -

Computer Animation (MA)
http://ncca.bournemouth.ac.uk/courses/?sub=41


Computer Animation and Visual Effects (MSc)
http://ncca.bournemouth.ac.uk/courses/?sub=42




Kent University

Computer Animation (MSc)

http://www.eda.kent.ac.uk/postgraduate/pg_animation.aspx




University College London

Computer Graphics, Vision and Imaging (MSc)

http://www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/teaching/cgvi/



If anyone knows of any others please don't hesitate to let me know. Additionally, I know the UCL course has a slightly different focus (looking at real time rending) but I also enjoy the technical side (programming) etc.

P.S. Another reason for not going straight into the industry, or carrying out a course at a professional school (ie Escape Studios) is that I'd leave myself the option of going into research (PhD) - the academic route, which I'd also enjoy, so I thought I'd leave all my options open.


I look forward to your valued opinions.

moidphotos
08-16-2009, 09:13 PM
Hi Alex

The 'Computer Animation/Graphics industry' is a pretty broad area - from looking at the universities you list I assume you mean VFX. If you are interested in going down the Technical Director route, then Bournemouth (MSc) and Kent would be good choices, Kent leans more towards the art side of things, Bournemouth is more programming based. I've met the people who run both courses and they are both good lecturers. I don't know about the MA at Bournemouth, seeing as it is an MA it is less likely to be about programming and more about art / experimentation - I teach an MA in 3D Animation at the University of Hertfordshire, and our course is definitely orientated in that direction. MSc's are definitely the route to go if you want to use your programming skills and have them stretched.

The UCL course (if it's anything like a course with an almost identical name at another university I used to work for) will be very heavily about programming with art as an after thought. I might be wrong though, I don't know any of the staff there.

You mention that you are interested in potentially applying for a PhD, in which case I would say Bournemouth would probably be your best option as they are heavily involved in technical research.

If you currently have access to Athens, you might want to try some searches to find what papers have been generated by the above courses/ universities, that might also help you make a decision between them.

There is a massive thread about 'what university to choose for animation' on the student rooms forum (http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=301364&page=39), much of that is about Bournemouth and mainly concerns undergrads, but it might be a good place to ask.

Another way to work out whether a post grad course is good - find work done by the previous year or two's cohorts, see if it impresses you, then google the names of the studnets, find their websites / blogs and ask them if they'd recommend the course. A small amount of effort, but worth it if you're about to spend a lot of money. Good luck.

AlexPoolton
08-16-2009, 11:58 PM
Thank you, moidphotos, for a well informed answer.

So in terms of a technical director, would Bournemouth be the most prestigious university to attend (i.e. the Oxford of Computer Animation)? I say prestigious (without trying to snob like a complete snob) but I mean in terms, of the leader in Computer Animation of UK Universities (over for instance the same MSc course at Kent)?


You mention that you are interested in potentially applying for a PhD, in which case I would say Bournemouth would probably be your best option as they are heavily involved in technical research.

Yes, a PhD does interest me, through doing research in the field. However, I've read that PhD's generally constrict professionals in the computer animation industry than aid them, would having a PhD rule me out of some jobs (if I choose to move from academia to the industry) or (based on my work/credentials) will it help me land jobs in different areas (i.e. studios R&D department)?



Thanks for the information so far, it's been a big help.

moidphotos
08-17-2009, 12:14 AM
Bournemouth is the most prestigious university to attend if you want to specifically study the technical side of CG at post graduate level in a VFX orientated area; I wouldn't say they are the best place to study character animation for example. If you want to be a TD and work in VFX they would be the most obvious choice to make though.

I don't know about issues about having a PhD - I don't have one, and I don't teach PhD level students, I mostly teach students who are interested in the practical application of art and software; not pure research per se. All my non academic experience was in games, arch vis and illustration and I never encountered a PhD in any of those areas :)

I would advise you to learn a lot of 3D before starting whatever course you choose; that way you'll be able to ask for help with much more complex issues rather than just dealing with the basics of the software - I say this because you are changing from a Multimedia based undergraduate course to a very intensive 3D course; I often teach students with backgrounds like yours and it's a very difficult thing to go from limited skills to gaining the level of quality you want from a Masters. You might wish to consider taking a year out to learn the software to the point where you know you need structured learning to help you progress to an employable standard rather than jumping straight from BSc to MSc... of course such decisions are rarely easy to make financially.

AlexPoolton
08-17-2009, 12:32 AM
Bournemouth is the most prestigious university to attend if you want to specifically study the technical side of CG at post graduate level in a VFX orientated area; I wouldn't say they are the best place to study character animation for example. If you want to be a TD and work in VFX they would be the most obvious choice to make though.

Thanks for confirming this, having received a prospectus from Bournemouth Uni, it seems to be the best choice going forward into a Masters, and furthermore (depending on how things develop) maybe a PhD.


I would advise you to learn a lot of 3D before starting whatever course you choose; that way you'll be able to ask for help with much more complex issues rather than just dealing with the basics of the software - I say this because you are changing from a Multimedia based undergraduate course to a very intensive 3D course; I often teach students with backgrounds like yours and it's a very difficult thing to go from limited skills to gaining the level of quality you want from a Masters.

I've got a 'decent' grounding in Max, after studying a few modules on Computer Graphics (C++ programming for OpenGL) and Computer Animation (we were using Blender) and learning the theory (i.e. kinetics, shaders, pipelines, maths for animation, matrices etc). However, like you said, what I perceive as 'decent' will be nowhere near an entry level industry standard. I have been actively learning different skills (as I developed a love for it, after undertaking those modules) like Max, Rendering, Lighting etc, and plan to do so, whilst studying for my final year of my undergraduate degree.


You might wish to consider taking a year out to learn the software to the point where you know you need structured learning to help you progress to an employable standard rather than jumping straight from BSc to MSc... of course such decisions are rarely easy to make financially.

Financially, I'm doing OK, I stayed in the same city (parents house) for my undergraduate degree, so hopefully it won't put too much strain on my finances. Additionally, I'll continue to learn as much as I can in Computer Animation, and hopefully, with a good graduate degree land a place at Bournemouth on the MSc course. In the meantime I'll have to migrate to Maya, as for the TD's at least this seems to be Bournemouth's weapon of choice coupled with the Renderman engine.



Thank you again, for the very insightful information, it's most appreciated.

towersinthesky
08-17-2009, 09:53 AM
Hey Alex,

I'm a student currently going into my second year at Bournemouth for Visualisation and Animation BA degree. I also have a friend that did the masters in Computer Animation. Although I may be a little bias, Bournemouth is definately the most prestigous school for the area of Visual Effects and 3D Animation. This is easily viewed from the work produced, which is all available in the archive and looking around at company websites, most of them list Bournemouth as a recommended school. However, there are few other places with great courses that can match up quite well to Bournemouth. The best way to decide is to just look at the work being produced at each institution.

My friend who did the masters had little or no maya experience going into the course and as you can imagine the learning curve is huge (he came from a graphic design degree). However, if you have the determination and don't mind losing most of your social life for a year, it is acheivable. He also went straight into a job at Rare helping with the new Banjo Kazooie game.

Hope that helps.

AlexPoolton
08-17-2009, 10:39 PM
Thanks for the post towersinthesky.

However, there are few other places with great courses that can match up quite well to Bournemouth.

This is an interesting point, would you mind giving your opinions on what other instutions you think might be close to Bournemouth in the area of Visual Effects and Computer Animation?


My friend who did the masters had little or no maya experience going into the course and as you can imagine the learning curve is huge (he came from a graphic design degree).

Just coming off topic ever so slightly, does Bournemouth focus on Maya, or does it differ from course to course? I'm sure I've read somewhere, that dependant upon which course you undertake, the software pipeline changes (i.e. Computer Animation -> XSI, Computer Animation and Visual Effects -> Maya). I guess this is due to the different approaches, with one being art based, and the other heavily based on programming skills.


That's great news about your friend, lucky sod lol! Thanks for the post definitely some helpful information to take on board.

leigh
08-17-2009, 11:04 PM
Having worked with loads of Bournemouth grads over the years, I definitely echo the sentiments posted earlier about their reputation, especially with regards to technical directors. The course does have a very good reputation amongst studios and does appear to produce extremely skilled and knowledgable people.

towersinthesky
08-18-2009, 12:00 PM
From what I know, Bournemouth masters focuses on maya (as do we). I've been told that more and more companies are using it now, with it being so versatile and easy to write your own plugins and scripts for it. I only know of one company that still primarily uses XSI and that's glassworks, I haven't heard of any other company using it. (there probably are though)

Sorry to be confusing, I meant that there's quite a few BA courses that match up quite well to Bournemouth's. As far as masters are concerned, I'm not sure of the other courses about, but I personally will be taking my masters here.

But don't just listen to me! There's people here with far more insight. I've only just finished my first year, and i've got a long way to go...

AlexPoolton
08-18-2009, 12:04 PM
Thanks, Leigh. My focus will most probably be technical direction, since I believe I'm more technically minded than artistic, and like you said, Bouremouth (for technical direction atleast) seems to be the paramount place to study within the UK.

Would you say in your opinion (amongst the universities/colleges) that Bournemouth appears to be the top (most well regarded) school for technical directors? How about the same question but replaced with Computer Animations?

leigh
08-18-2009, 04:01 PM
I'd say it does probably have the best reputation mostly from a technical standpoint. As far as actual animation (by which I am assuming you mean character animation), I really have no idea, I'm afraid. I don't actually know a lot of animators.

AlexPoolton
08-18-2009, 10:24 PM
Just a quick question, how does Bournemouth (in terms of technical or artistic - if someone else knows about the artist bit) stack up against a 'professional' school like Escape studios?

Obviously with the added benifit of having a degree at the end of the year, does it offer a 'better' education/syllabus and it is still a more 'prestigious' place to attend?


Thanks, for all your information by the way, it's been extremely helpful.

notsosure
08-19-2009, 09:09 AM
UCAS search engine for animation 2010 = 242 courses


How do you know that you are going to get a job in the study/work in the Computer Animation/Graphics industry?

You can study for the rest of your life and still not be apart of the Dream you hope to live.

There are too many Uni's doing these courses for too few a posts in the industry even at the MSC level

Anyway what's wrong with Teesside there MSC is pretty good as you might not get into Bournemouth.

Personally I'll take a year out and check out the industry by going to studios and talking/hanging around with people who live in the industry to see if you actually fit in. You will benefit as you will be able to set your final MSC project around areas that are industry related.

AlexPoolton
08-19-2009, 11:36 AM
How do you know that you are going to get a job in the study/work in the Computer Animation/Graphics industry?
I don't, that's the whole point. I never assumed having a Masters degree would automatically entitle me to a job. The three reasons I considered it were:

1. Attending a structured course, which teaches me what I need to know (obviously the basics for entry level) from professionals/people who know what they're talking about, is surely better than sitting in my room for a year, learning from text books (which you can't get feedback from). Plus if I attend the course, and work my brains out, I can always do some extra and get a book or two (which isn't related to the course material) out whilst doing the course.

2. Having access to facilities (ie high performance workstations and software) that I wouldn't have access to at home (case and point maya - not the PLE version, Renderman).

3. Gaining a degree (any sort) from a recognised place of study, at least gives me better footing in an interview, proving a well regarded school is 'vouching' for me, that I can provide the skills I say I can. Additionally, I much more likely to be able to sucessfully network be it via graduates or lecturers in a place like Bournemouth uni (or any good uni) than outside it.


Anyway what's wrong with Teesside there MSC is pretty good as you might not get into Bournemouth.

There's nothing wrong with Teesside, my original question was simply 'Whats the best regarded Computer Animation course in the UK' (with a focus on Technical Direction) getting into that said university, was an entirely different matter. I didn't think for a second I could post the question, get an answer, point my finger, and say I want to go to that uni. I did state, that I was prepared to work for what ever was required.


Personally I'll take a year out and check out the industry by going to studios and talking/hanging around with people who live in the industry to see if you actually fit in. You will benefit as you will be able to set your final MSC project around areas that are industry related.

Thank you for the advice. I think experiencing the people/workplace is always a good idea, however if I do get a place at Bournemouth/Teesside (or anothr uni with strong industry ties) hopefully I'll be able to brush shoulders with the industry speakers (maybe even go to some of the studios throughout the year, whlist studying). With regards to te Masters thesis, publishing something that strongly significant to the industry, I believe is much more important at doctorate level, plus having a group of established lecturers that can guide me to choose a good topic area will be a another great benefit of studying at a well established uni.

leigh
08-19-2009, 04:10 PM
Just a quick question, how does Bournemouth (in terms of technical or artistic - if someone else knows about the artist bit) stack up against a 'professional' school like Escape studios?

Obviously with the added benifit of having a degree at the end of the year, does it offer a 'better' education/syllabus and it is still a more 'prestigious' place to attend?

Good question. You know, I think it really comes down to your individual requirements in terms of what you want to learn. From what I believe, Escape's courses are compacted, concentrated shorter term affairs, right? I could be wrong, but I think they're more geared towards those who are already have an education, or indeed are currently working in the industry, who want to streamline their skillset and specialise a little more in a particular avenue. This is opposed to the degree course which is obviously longer and more broad. Of course, I don't know a hell of a lot about Escape, so I could be wrong. You might want to drop them a line and get some more info from them directly.

whalerider
08-20-2009, 03:41 PM
I don't know how Bournemouth (NCCA) stacks up again Escape - there are all kinds of criteria and metrics you can use. What matters at the end of the day is whether you get a foot in the door. I bet you that in either place in all comes down to how hard you work. At the end of the day you do the learning on your own. I am about to graduate from Bournemouth's MSc program and the project I enjoyed the most was the masters project - 10 weeks without lectures when you try to get as deep as possible in a whatever area you want. Some of my schoolmates in the MSc program are doing pure R&D work, some CG scenes, some a mixture of the two, some - tools.

Even if you don't go to one of the better known schools as long as you do work that turns people's heads you'll make it. The nice things about Bournemouth, imho, are the resources - they have Maya, Houdini, XSI, Nuke, Shake, Massive, Renderman, Realflow, etc.; and the industry contacts. And also the fact that they give you freedom to pursue your interests. The learning - you get pointed in the right direction - what to learn. The rest you do on your own (or in collaboration with your schoolmates).

AlexPoolton
08-20-2009, 11:45 PM
That's very interesting Whalerider. Obviously which ever school you attend (or even if you don't) hard work will always be the thing that gets you to where you want to go.

May I ask what made you choose Bournemouth, did you do your undergrad degree there? What's your view on the best UK uni for Computer Animation? It would be nice to know a soon to be Masters grad (where I will hopefully be heading).

Thanks for the information thus far :)

whalerider
08-21-2009, 02:39 PM
I "discovered" Bournemouth while searching for a place where I could learn Massive. But when I got in the MSc program I decided to focus on other areas. Regarding animation - I am not specializing in this area, so I can't tell you which school is the best. Besides, I only applied to Bournemouth's program and didn't research the rest.

Here is a (old) global ranking of schools:
http://www.3dworldmag.com/page/3dworld?entry=3d_world_98_s_cgi

moidphotos
08-27-2009, 10:33 PM
Alex I think your question about what is the 'best UK university for Computer Animation' is a tricky one to answer - do you mean is there one university that particularly excels at character animation, which is what many people consider when using the term Computer Animation, or do you mean all round 3D orientated CG skills? I will happily nominate my own university for either of those options, we've been shortlisted or won awards at 39 animation festivals over the past five years and have very good links with UK animation companies, many of our animations have been frontpaged on CGTalk and have also gathered enormous viewing figures on Youtube. Having said that, I'm not sure that it is as easy to quantify 'artistic expression' over 'technical knowledge' - it's easier to judge technical quality a la Bournemouth because things are either technically good or they're not :) Art and its expression is often much more in the eye of the beholder. You can judge the technical and artistic quality of our films if you click the link in my signature if you wish.
There are other universities in the UK whose students produce beautiful short films, but these are not always in the 'realist' style of most 3D, and nor are they always in a standard narrative form... so I think the viewer must make their own mind up :)

AlexPoolton
08-29-2009, 07:46 PM
Alex I think your question about what is the 'best UK university for Computer Animation' is a tricky one to answer - do you mean is there one university that particularly excels at character animation, which is what many people consider when using the term Computer Animation, or do you mean all round 3D orientated CG skills?

Yep, I knew when asking it, it would be a bit of a 'blanket' term. I was (as previously mentioned) focusing more on technical courses, where I could make use of the programming skills, I've learnt as part of my undergrad degree.

Even though I'd love a job as a Computer Animator, I think artistically I may not be good enough to excel in the industry, whereas as a TD or working with R&D, I would do a lot better; and who knows I may even develop the skills whilst in the industry and get moved internally within the studio :) *crosses fingers.

My original question was really focusing on the 'best' university with a emphasis on the technical side of things (more the MSc sort of things). I'm still considering whether the UCL course (found in the original post) might be the best option in terms of heavy R&D related work. However, I'm not sure if this will get me into the game/film industry, but instead condemn me to a lab working on rendering algorithms for cloud simulations (or something equally as boring - no offence to people who have an interest in this area, but it just isn't for me).


Thanks for the advice so far, it's been very insightful :)

whalerider
08-29-2009, 09:16 PM
Bournemouth's MSc program might be a good alternative. In one year you do projects involving Maya, Houdini, Renderman, C++/OpenGL, a group project, a personal research project, and a masters project (which can be anything relevant - group project, shaders, cg scene, r&d, tools, etc.)
They also have Realflow, Massive, Nuke, Shake, XSI licenses.
A decent portion of the graduates end up in London working in the Big 4 vfx shops.

AlexPoolton
08-30-2009, 12:15 PM
Thanks for that whalerider. I've received my postgrad prospectus from Bournemouth and all the course details look great. Like I mentioned before, going down the TD road (and maybe developing my artistic skills independently) seems like the best route forward.

A decent portion of the graduates end up in London working in the Big 4 vfx shops.

That's very encouraging, as I've seen people time and time again study a number of degrees/qualifications, and when they come out of uni, have a) no aid in finding a job in said field and b) never go into said field.

Would you consider the ULC course to be another worthwhile option? I think it focuses more on real-time rendering, algorithms etc. The extreme technical side of computer graphics, would this be the best suited course if I chose to work within R&D and not on productions? It stills seems that although ULC is a top tier university (got to be top 5 in the UK) Bournemouth still seems to be the fore-runner in the CGI field (for perspective TDs) does this hold true with you? I think also it would beat the UCL course in terms of employment rates (among studios) too.

citizenvin
09-05-2009, 07:08 AM
hi, i am going to apply the post graduate
3D Computer Animation


@ bournemouth university. can you suggest it is recommended to take this course. from your previous topics, i seen many were saying its good.. but how about the job oppurtunities there, after completing the degree. is it possible to get a job with decent portfolio. please help me..

what all the softwares are they using? i have worked with maya. i am going to specialize in character animation..

whalerider
09-06-2009, 03:40 AM
I can't comment on ULC, but you can do a PhD in Bournemouth's NCCA, which is strictly academic-type research or you can be placed at a company and do research for them while doing your PhD thesis. Out of 4 years, it's about 1 years worth of lectures and 3 years worth of work at a facility, so by the time you've done the PhD you've got years of production experience, which is what companies care about. That program - Engineering and Professional Doctorate, got a large grant - 6 million pounds: http://ncca.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/?sub=65. It pays for your tuition and also for living expenses - if you are UK/EU citizen.

As far as joining the industry quickly, instead of having to wait months for a call, now is a great time - all big 4 film f/x shops have multiple projects in their pipelines and have work for another 18 months. They are ramping up hiring, technical artists seem to be in demand and some of the restrictions that normally exist are dropping out, because demand exceeds supply. For example, usually they'd say - "you need at least 2-3 years experience in features". Now they omit that condition and are willing to interview school graduates, because they have multiple projects going on. Of course, they have to perceive you as a good fit and you have to impress them with something - reel, school projects, etc.

whalerider
09-06-2009, 03:57 AM
I don't know specifics about the placement of the animators to be honest.
The biggest CG companies from the film, commercials/advertising, and gaming industries come on campus and give talks about their work, what kind of people they need, what it is to work for them, etc. It's usually a 1-2 hr presentation, with Q&A after that. When graduation time approaches they start looking at who's been doing what projects. At least that's what happened in the MSc program. You need to have a polished reel by then, because the opportunities come and go very quickly.
My impression is that the animation students end up in a variety of companies. Some of them aren't interested in working on film characters, but doing more cartoony work for example. The digital effects and MSc students tend to migrate more towards the big studios. If you want to find out more about where the animation students end up, you better contact the program administrator. Here is the program's webpage:
http://onlineservices.bournemouth.ac.uk/courses/course.aspx?course=99

The main piece of software they use is Softimage.

hi, i am going to apply the post graduate
3D Computer Animation


@ bournemouth university. can you suggest it is recommended to take this course. from your previous topics, i seen many were saying its good.. but how about the job oppurtunities there, after completing the degree. is it possible to get a job with decent portfolio. please help me..

what all the softwares are they using? i have worked with maya. i am going to specialize in character animation..

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