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  11 November 2013
VFX UNIVERSITY in the UK

I'm currently finishing off my A levels (UNI in 2014). I'm planning to study VFX in hertfordshire! I've already done plenty of research about the lecturers and the course etc. But I would love to know if anyone else who is studying or applying there. Can you share your personal experience/ a little insight about this course? Is it extremely difficult to get in? (i heard a LOT of ppl applied VFX/animation)

Initially I was applying for computer science/architect (because I was lead to that path.), but I must say I have never felt anymore happier when I change my application and statement (and applying VFX courses). I know a lot of ppl doesn't think a degree is necessary or worthy because reel comes first before qualifications *I understand perfectly* (but I personally think if i want to be a VFX artist I will have to stay focus! I can't afford to be studying something else when I only want to become a VFX artist!) Please correct me if I'm wrong. The thought of doing something I don't enjoy is depressing, so why not chase a more fulfilling career?

I really would love to attend hertfordshire, I honestly have no idea what to do if I get rejected! (I have no plan B) So far it's the only course I'm intending to go! (I will be applying for other courses as well but I've looked through many other UNI grad's Reel... *not to be rude* they just weren't industry standard) I have thought about Escape studio, but it's complicated (I don't think I will be able to apply there)~. so any ideas?

Getting into hertfordshire requires a portfolio... How exactly should I prepare one? I mean... I've been a (traditional) artist/photographer for my whole life. My experience with 3d is .... very subtle~ I've only worked as a graphic designer. And also! I'm kinda in a situation right now! 1st I don't even have a decent computer, and right now I already have a huge workload and it's still building up! I just don't have the time to prepare myself with all these new program etc.... (before I was brave enough to change my mind to *applying VFX I was preparing myself for all other courses... and now when I'm finally happy with my choice.... I'm stuck again!

so any advice?

Thank you so much for reading; I would appreciate anyone who replies ! Thanks~

Last edited by GreyKiller : 11 November 2013 at 04:28 PM.
 
  11 November 2013
I doubt they expect a huge 3D portfolio - what would be the point of going on the course if you already have that? Show them what you consider is your best stuff and see what they say.

If you want some alternatives, have you considered looking at Bournemouth NCCA? http://ncca.bournemouth.ac.uk/ . There are a lot of people in Soho who have come from Bournemouth and it has strong links with vfx.

Teeside is also quite well known http://www.tees.ac.uk/undergraduate...Visual_Effects/

I would say a degree is definitely useful and can help you if you need to look for work abroad. It is also a great experience and can be good fun. If nothing else it tells people you can stick at doing something for 3-4 years!
Definitely pick a subject you are interested in otherwise it will be a very boring 3-4 years.

Simon
__________________
http://www.rendermania.com/
 
  11 November 2013
I would also recommend Bournemouth. Out of all my colleagues who went to uni, Bournemouth is the most common one attended. They have a particularly good reputation for graduates having a good technical toolset, which is increasingly useful these days, as studios really like people who have a strong technical capability in addition to creative skills.

To be perfectly frank, Hertfordshire has a history of its lecturers signing up on this site, pretending to be students and raving about how great the course is, so if I were you I'd be a little cautious about opinions you read online. I've worked in Soho since 2006, and have worked with loads of Bournemouth graduates but only, as far as I am aware, one Herts grad, and let's just say he wasn't very complimentary about his experience there. If you want, I can send you his contract info so you can speak to him directly.

Regarding a portfolio, do you have any work online?
__________________
leighvanderbyl.com
 
  11 November 2013
Thanks for the reply!

I have considered Bournemouth (I think I'm applying there as well, And i totally agree! Their work is amazing and highly recommended but the only problem is that they don't really do visual effect? Or at least they don't focus on visual effect (they do a wide range of stuff, somebody earlier advice me *3-4 years isn't exactly long, and CGI/VFX is a huge subject, so it would be better if i focus on one certain aspect that i'm into~ And does "Computer Visualisation" mean VFX? *and also do they have a strong link with the industry? Like internship etc? And how's their lecturers?

In addition; i came across this reel :www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILXNFLcfgIE And this is EXACTLY what I'm hoping to learn!~ I don't think I'm interested in animation.... I'm more interested in "realism", Even though he claim that he graduated at bournemouth, he didn't mention the course!

Really? lecturers? no kidding! My decision towards hertfordshire wasn't based on anyone's opinion (initially) but I will definitely look into it a little more~ I've read a few articles (they recognised the VFX education issues) plus it's close to london, i thought that might give some advantage~ I emailed some of their lecturers, they told me that they have connections to the mill, double negative etc.... And it would be great if that person don't mind?

It's a lot to take in right now! It's been really stressful. I have to apply by this week (ASAP). It's just that I didn't start at early stages~ I honestly hope that I'm doing the right thing. **given that I'm prepare to learn and completely devoted to it~ Can 3-4 years (realistically) get me anyway to the industry? (after all I will be completing with MANY other people who started out young*with much more experience.)

Thank you for replying,NOTHING is favouring my situation right now! it's wonderful to have someone helping me through this tough time! (even though you don't even know me! *personally), Btw leigh found ur invisible signature LOL literally!


****Addition; I've been comparing reels from the UK Uni to Gnomon / Vancouver/ other Canada film schools..... and it's heart breaking! (the contrast!) The quality (from the UK) is no where near... ; and also Teeside? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRjaYz0837s / http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jHPwFFkmwA I just came across these two reels. No offence to anyone; but it's not the quality that I'm aiming for (I'm not prepare to spent 27k to produce this quality work... and then not getting employed.) ... i really don't know what to do anymore~ Im so confused.

Last edited by GreyKiller : 11 November 2013 at 06:05 PM.
 
  11 November 2013
Originally Posted by leigh: ....... To be perfectly frank, Hertfordshire has a history of its lecturers signing up on this site, pretending to be students and raving about how great the course is, so if I were you I'd be a little cautious about opinions you read online.....
Regarding a portfolio, do you have any work online?


Erm I know you mentioned about their lecturers pretending to be students, dishonesty isn't really something I'm hoping to find in lecturers. But if we put that aside, I have seen some of their graduate's work, and so far they beat A LOT other University grad's...
 
  12 December 2013
Originally Posted by leigh: I would also recommend Bournemouth. Out of all my colleagues who went to uni, Bournemouth is the most common one attended. They have a particularly good reputation for graduates having a good technical toolset, which is increasingly useful these days, as studios really like people who have a strong technical capability in addition to creative skills.

To be perfectly frank, Hertfordshire has a history of its lecturers signing up on this site, pretending to be students and raving about how great the course is, so if I were you I'd be a little cautious about opinions you read online. I've worked in Soho since 2006, and have worked with loads of Bournemouth graduates but only, as far as I am aware, one Herts grad, and let's just say he wasn't very complimentary about his experience there. If you want, I can send you his contract info so you can speak to him directly.

Regarding a portfolio, do you have any work online?


Greetings Leigh,

I am a university lecturer from the University of Hertfordshire. I don't know where you have got this information from but rest assured this does not happen. I am also from industry, started in soho back in 2004, maybe we have worked together? I understand your perspective about Bournemouth because for a while the only name that was recognised as a decent university course for 3D was Bournemouth. Throughout my career though I have seen that change though and now the university of Hertfordshire is on par with Bournemouth. Before I changed careers (started a family) I worked along side several Herts Uni students who only had good things to say about the course. In fact that's why I applied to work at Herts Uni when I needed to change careers because of the arrival of my little boy.

The courses are ran by ex industry artists who still return to industry during the summer down time to keep their knowledge current and are highly experienced in their given fields. The course is in close contact with many of the big studios to make sure the course is teaching the latest softwares and practices that industry is looking for in its future artists.

I personally believe that if you do your degree at herts Uni or Bournemouth, and you work hard, you will make it as an artist in industry. You are correct GreyKiller, grades are not important for this career but there is a strong correlation between good grades and strong show reels

I am more than happy to talk to you about your options GreyKiller. PM me if you want any advice.
 
  12 December 2013
Originally Posted by leigh:
To be perfectly frank, Hertfordshire has a history of its lecturers signing up on this site, pretending to be students and raving about how great the course is, so if I were you I'd be a little cautious about opinions you read online. I've worked in Soho since 2006, and have worked with loads of Bournemouth graduates but only, as far as I am aware, one Herts grad, and let's just say he wasn't very complimentary about his experience there. If you want, I can send you his contract info so you can speak to him directly.

Regarding a portfolio, do you have any work online?


Hi. It's Mark Wallman who works in Hertfordshire University
http://uhanimation.co.uk/
http://3dhit.co.uk/
(running the VFX degree). We seem to be stuck in groundhog day with this conversation about the lecturer (not lecturers) who came on this site. This was before my time in the university so it must have been many years ago. I thought we had moved on from this rather dumb thing he did many years ago based on the last two conversations on this very subject on this very forum. So I can only apologize again.

I know at least 6 students who are currently working in your company Leigh but admittedly companies can be quite big in size so I would rather you also mention that as your implication is very different to this in your post.

GreyKiller:
Obviously I am going to be biased about our degrees to have a look at the two links above instead. Leigh is right though. (again this is my opinion). Bournemouth has a good technical ability in addition to creative skills as we have good creative skills in addition to technical ability.

If I was you GreyKiller go and visit all the universities you are thinking of. I'm pretty sure that if you want to just pop into all of them before you have any interviews they would all say yes. I would say for all the universities that teach this kind of thing be preprepared for loads of hard work although if you enjoy what you do the hours fly by.

Good luck in whatever you decide.
 
  12 December 2013
Originally Posted by GreyKiller: Erm I know you mentioned about their lecturers pretending to be students, dishonesty isn't really something I'm hoping to find in lecturers. But if we put that aside, I have seen some of their graduate's work, and so far they beat A LOT other University grad's...


I must stress that I am a new lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire so the previous history of the course and this forum is not known to me. I can promise you that those types of dishonest practices are not used by any lecturers today. The quality of the work produced by our students speaks for itself.
 
  12 December 2013
Originally Posted by GreyKiller: I'm currently finishing off my A levels (UNI in 2014). I'm planning to study VFX in hertfordshire! I've already done plenty of research about the lecturers and the course etc. But I would love to know if anyone else who is studying or applying there. Can you share your personal experience/ a little insight about this course? Is it extremely difficult to get in? (i heard a LOT of ppl applied VFX/animation)

Initially I was applying for computer science/architect (because I was lead to that path.), but I must say I have never felt anymore happier when I change my application and statement (and applying VFX courses). I know a lot of ppl doesn't think a degree is necessary or worthy because reel comes first before qualifications *I understand perfectly* (but I personally think if i want to be a VFX artist I will have to stay focus! I can't afford to be studying something else when I only want to become a VFX artist!) Please correct me if I'm wrong. The thought of doing something I don't enjoy is depressing, so why not chase a more fulfilling career?

I really would love to attend hertfordshire, I honestly have no idea what to do if I get rejected! (I have no plan B) So far it's the only course I'm intending to go! (I will be applying for other courses as well but I've looked through many other UNI grad's Reel... *not to be rude* they just weren't industry standard) I have thought about Escape studio, but it's complicated (I don't think I will be able to apply there)~. so any ideas?

Getting into hertfordshire requires a portfolio... How exactly should I prepare one? I mean... I've been a (traditional) artist/photographer for my whole life. My experience with 3d is .... very subtle~ I've only worked as a graphic designer. And also! I'm kinda in a situation right now! 1st I don't even have a decent computer, and right now I already have a huge workload and it's still building up! I just don't have the time to prepare myself with all these new program etc.... (before I was brave enough to change my mind to *applying VFX I was preparing myself for all other courses... and now when I'm finally happy with my choice.... I'm stuck again!

so any advice?

Thank you so much for reading; I would appreciate anyone who replies ! Thanks~



Thanks for the positive comments I'm one of the lecturers at Hertfordshire. I would advise considering a plan B, because you don't know if you will get in to the course; we get between 600 - 750 applicants a year for the one hundred places that are split between 3D, Games Art, VFX and 2D animation here, so always have a backup plan, life doesn't always go the way you want it to. I haven't seen your work so it's difficult for me to offer any advice in terms of portfolio improvement, but for entry to VFX would would be looking for evidence of the use of a 3D program, examples of photography/filming that showing composition/lighting/narrative, life drawing, concept art, any evidence of attempts at compositing would be great to see as well (even compositing 3D renders into photographic backplates in Photoshop. I can send you some files regarding portfolio advice if you want, my email is m.p.bowman@herts.ac.uk and the work we want to see will be very compatible with any university that teaches animation. You mentioned looking at other courses, there are a few other good VFX courses in the UK; I expect you've already seen their work - if you consider looking outside the UK I can suggest some courses in Europe. If we reject you at interview, we always explain why and try to give advice on how to improve your portfolio for either application elsewhere in the UK or for applying again in the following year.
__________________
http://uhanimation.co.uk/ - Digital Animation Programme at the University of Hertfordshire - 3D, 2D, Games Art and VFX
 
  12 December 2013
Originally Posted by GreyKiller: Thanks for the reply!

Really? lecturers? no kidding! My decision towards hertfordshire wasn't based on anyone's opinion (initially) but I will definitely look into it a little more~ I've read a few articles (they recognised the VFX education issues) plus it's close to london, i thought that might give some advantage~ I emailed some of their lecturers, they told me that they have connections to the mill, double negative etc.... And it would be great if that person don't mind?

It's a lot to take in right now! It's been really stressful. I have to apply by this week (ASAP). It's just that I didn't start at early stages~ I honestly hope that I'm doing the right thing. **given that I'm prepare to learn and completely devoted to it~ Can 3-4 years (realistically) get me anyway to the industry? (after all I will be completing with MANY other people who started out young*with much more experience.)


I'm assuming you're a UK/EU citizen, in which case you don't have to apply this week (regardless of what your college may be telling you). The normal deadline for degree applications is in mid January in the UK (not for Hertfordshire; for every university), and most universities extend these deadlines until much later (especially for EU/ International students whose educational requirements mean that they usually have to apply later on) Obviously if you're applying to a specific course and they tell you that there is a cut off date, ignore my advice, but we haven't even started interviewing for next year yet, let alone set a cut off date for applications So take your time, make a list of the positives and negatives for each course, visit as many of them as possible and talk to former/current students etc - if you want to talk to our students they have a forum at www.3dhit.co.uk where you can ask them what you want - they pay a lot of money to be here, so they say what they think Good luck.
__________________
http://uhanimation.co.uk/ - Digital Animation Programme at the University of Hertfordshire - 3D, 2D, Games Art and VFX
 
  12 December 2013
I'm an ex Bournemouth grad, and it's worth re-iterating what Leigh said about the course. Soho is FULL of Bournemouth alumni, it's ridiculous - and that means that the university's industry connections are without equal.

I can say that from my time on the course (I graduated 7 or 8 years ago), that the teaching was sometimes great, normally poor, often diabolical. What made it so strong was that there were a huge amount of applicants for each position, so most of the successful applicants were very serious, which makes for a very competitive environment. Even now, my most intense and stressful VFX related experiences were at that place.

From my year maybe 5 of us got internships (at that time I think MPC, Cinesite, and Dneg would ONLY offer internships to Bournemouth students, although that has changed now), and on graduating, the serious students all got into industry without much trouble - although that's often dependent on the state of the industry when you graduate.

The course may have changed a lot since I was there though. The only BA option at that time was "Computer Animation and Visualisation", which was different from most other courses in the UK in that there was a heavy technical element to it. If you couldn't pass the maths and programming modules, you couldn't pass the year. I think that has now split into 2 courses, one with more of a creative focus.

I'd also take a look into Bolton University. It's not yet on the map as one of the go to places for VFX, but that's because it's young. The course is run by an ex colleague of mine (and fellow Bournemouth alumnus), who is one of the most dedicated teachers that I know, and - dare I say against the grain for VFX lecturers - a very talented VFX artist. Because of that, and the small size of the course, I would put it as the best pound-for-pound university course in the UK, but that's my not-very-objective opinion. Showreel is here - http://vfxshowcase.bolton.ac.uk/video/73927226

The French schools Gobelins and Supinfocom seem to consistently put out work of the highest caliber, but getting a place will be murder.

Don't know enough about Herts to comment either way. I worked with one guy who only completed a year and left because he didn't feel he was getting value for money, but then all VFX courses have students drop out for various reasons.

Good luck
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Bloggy wog
 
  12 December 2013
Originally Posted by GreyKiller: Thanks for the reply!

I have considered Bournemouth (I think I'm applying there as well, And i totally agree! Their work is amazing and highly recommended but the only problem is that they don't really do visual effect? Or at least they don't focus on visual effect (they do a wide range of stuff, somebody earlier advice me *3-4 years isn't exactly long, and CGI/VFX is a huge subject, so it would be better if i focus on one certain aspect that i'm into~ And does "Computer Visualisation" mean VFX? *and also do they have a strong link with the industry? Like internship etc? And how's their lecturers?


You'd have to contact Bournemouth directly for more info, I guess. But their lecturers do indeed have industry experience; in fact, a friend of mine that I worked with for a number of years in Soho recently decided to move down to Bournemouth to take up a teaching post there. My understanding from what I've heard is that students can choose to specialise in specific disciplines in their courses, but like I said, you'd have to contact them directly for more info as I don't know the specifics. Yes, they do have strong links to the industry, probably more so than any other UK university. Bear in mind that of course no graduate is just going to waltz into a job just because of where they went, because work options for graduates are highly dependant on the state of the industry at the the time of their graduation, but I do think that the sheer number of Bournemouth graduates I've worked with over the years is indicative of the quality of their courses.

Quote: In addition; i came across this reel :www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILXNFLcfgIE And this is EXACTLY what I'm hoping to learn!~ I don't think I'm interested in animation.... I'm more interested in "realism", Even though he claim that he graduated at bournemouth, he didn't mention the course!


You really can't totally judge a school by its reel or the reels of graduates though, in fact I'd advise against ever making any decisions based on reels. I know that all universities like to show off their reels and stuff, but with any course you're going to have good and bad students, and the schools themselves always pick only the best work (there are one or two exceptions to this though; schools like Gobelins and Supinfocom seem to churn out consistently amazing graduates). Similarly, just because someone went to a certain school doesn't mean their work is going to be amazing, just like you can get good students graduating from bad schools; I myself attended a pretty poor quality course way back when I was a student but nevertheless graduated with a decent reel for the time and managed to get work almost immediately... point being that I worked my arse off, spent a lot of my spare time teaching myself and whatnot, and the same applies to everyone else. Still though, when you're forking out a lot of money on your education, you definitely want to choose something that will at least stimulate you and prepare you for the industry; ultimately it's up to you to put in the effort but having good instruction is important too.

Quote: Really? lecturers? no kidding! My decision towards hertfordshire wasn't based on anyone's opinion (initially) but I will definitely look into it a little more~ I've read a few articles (they recognised the VFX education issues) plus it's close to london, i thought that might give some advantage~ I emailed some of their lecturers, they told me that they have connections to the mill, double negative etc.... And it would be great if that person don't mind?


I'll track down the guy's email address and PM it to you. Of course their lecturers told you they have connections to studios, their job is to entice students to the course. I said above that you should never make a decision based on reels, and similarly I'd suggest not making decisions based on what lecturers tell you (and that includes lecturers at Bournemouth and elsewhere, not just Herts). What you should do is research the lecturers' experience in the industry (if they actually have any, although I think most of the popular uni courses have at least a few lecturers with *some* experience), and speak to people who are actively working in the industry to get a feel for how well different uni courses have prepared people for their work, whether the uni has a good reputation, etc.

Quote: **given that I'm prepare to learn and completely devoted to it~ Can 3-4 years (realistically) get me anyway to the industry? (after all I will be completing with MANY other people who started out young*with much more experience.)


It's impossible for me to say, because only you know how well you learn and at what pace. Some people learn enough to hit the ground running within one year, while others take several years. Something that you really should be aware of however is that the industry is currently in flux, and things are changing month by month, often not for the better. The harsh reality is that it's harder than ever for people to break into the industry, so you really need to be prepared to work extremely hard to produce work that's competitive in an increasingly small job market; I don't think graduates have ever had it so tough. So if ever there was a time for VFX students to really knuckle down and dedicate themselves to their work, it's now.
__________________
leighvanderbyl.com
 
  12 December 2013
Originally Posted by magicfishboy: Hi. It's Mark Wallman who works in Hertfordshire University
(running the VFX degree). We seem to be stuck in groundhog day with this conversation about the lecturer (not lecturers) who came on this site. This was before my time in the university so it must have been many years ago. I thought we had moved on from this rather dumb thing he did many years ago based on the last two conversations on this very subject on this very forum. So I can only apologize again.


The apologies don't change the fact that it happened though. Also, it was in 2011, so hardly "many years ago" - in fact, if your LinkedIn information is correct, you were already on the faculty when this happened, so it wasn't, despite your claim, "before your time". Furthermore, another of your lecturers, who has since posted in this thread, once suggested to a student on this site to get a bursary, do the course, and then leave the UK without paying it back. Frankly I find that appalling, suffice to say it hasn't exactly left a great impression regarding the ethics of your faculty. Your claim that your lecturer's dishonest behaviour on this site was before your time when it clearly wasn't isn't really improving things either.

Quote: I know at least 6 students who are currently working in your company Leigh but admittedly companies can be quite big in size so I would rather you also mention that as your implication is very different to this in your post.


You seem to have overlooked the fact that I specifically said "as far as I am aware" and it was clear, from my use of "I" that I was speaking from my own personal experience as opposed to making a statement about the whole of Soho. My point was that Bournemouth graduates far outnumber the number of graduates from anywhere else amongst people I've worked with.
__________________
leighvanderbyl.com
 
  12 December 2013
Originally Posted by LewisG: I don't know where you have got this information from but rest assured this does not happen.


I didn't "get this information" from somewhere - it happened right on this site and the threads are still floating around somewhere too. So it most certainly did happen.
__________________
leighvanderbyl.com
 
  12 December 2013
congratulations with your little boy! Must be very excited

Originally Posted by LewisG: I personally believe that if you do your degree at herts Uni or Bournemouth, and you work hard, you will make it as an artist in industry. You are correct GreyKiller, grades are not important for this career but there is a strong correlation between good grades and strong show reels .


And this is the point that I'm trying to make, I'm definitely willing to play my part! I finally feel like I will be learning something that I actually care. I understand the effort & time is important, but i think it would definitely help to have lecturers (with industry experience) keep ing me on track~ plus I think the connection is also important~
 
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