BU Animation Graduates looking to Kickstart their own project

A group of MA 3D Computer Animation graduates from the class of 2010/11 and 2011/12, have formed a new digital cooperative called BRILLIANA.

With a Kickstarter campaign launched this week for their first animation entitled “The Lost Romance of Elizabeth Linley”, the cooperative is based at the digital production house, London Animation Studio.

The project focuses on the 3D computer animation portrayal of 18th century pop star Thomas Gainsborough’s work.

The BRILLIANA group’s three minute computer animation will digitally deconstruct Gainsborough’s portraits of Elizabeth Linley, a famous societal woman who was something of a celebrity when it came to societal men. The animation aims to strike a balance between contemporary and the original beauty of some Gainsborough’s ultimate works.

The BRILLIANA group includes Leo Crane, Emanuela Gatto, Evelina Jeliazkova, Arda Kaya Iuliia Markina, Jonathan Toomey, Colin Tunnicliffe and Archit Vazé.

Director Leo, set up the company in January 2013.

“One of the great joys of studying at Bournemouth was forming a close group of friends who have continued to work together as professionals. This is in spite of the fact that our year was hugely international, with eight people from six different countries.

We were encouraged to work collaboratively at Bournemouth and this has instilled in us an understanding of how much we can achieve when we combine forces. It has also taught us valuable lessons about pipeline and project management, which we are now testing in this project.”

Project member Emanuela Gatto describes the journey so far with BRILLIANA.

“I am glad every day that I got that decision to apply to the Master course in 3D Computer Animation at Bournemouth University, not just because I started there my career as Animator, but also because I met the most creative and inspiring persons from all over the globe.

During the Master we learnt to develop our ideas, covering all the aspects of the production pipeline, we tested different approaches and experimented personal styles, always pushing to achieve quality results. At the same time we learnt a lot from each other and from our different backgrounds. We shared our enthusiasm, helping each other through such a much positive collaboration that we could say that BRILLIANA began just there, before we could even realised”.

The graduates are working in collaboration with, Andrew Hayes, whose band ‘The Unrecorded’, is providing the music and sound design. The Dulwich Picture Gallery amongst others is also helping by providing high resolution images of Gainsborough’s paintings translated directly into film. The deadline for funding for the project is Saturday July 19 2014.

For more information or to pledge your support go to the Kickstarter website.

BU graduate who wrote & directed feature film back to give advice

A Scriptwriting graduate who has since gone on to write and direct his own successful feature film was back at BU to share his advice and experiences with current students.

Ben Cookson – who graduated from the BA (Hons) Scriptwriting for Film and Television  degree course in 2006 – wrote and directed Almost Married, a feature film which was released in cinemas across the UK in March.

The comedy drama – which stars Emily Atack and Philip McGinley – follows a groom-to-be who returns from his stag do with a sexually transmitted disease.

Ben was back at BU to share his experiences with current students, as well as give advice on how to break into the industry.

“The biggest challenge is coping with the stress of basically working on a project for effectively three and a half years,” he said.

“You have put all your eggs in one basket and it could go wrong.”

Ben graduated with a First Class Honours degree, as well as winning the Alan Plater Award for Best Screenplay for his final project.

After leaving BU, he ran a scriptwriting competition for the European Independent Film Festival in Paris and was a regional winner in BAFTA’s Sixty Seconds of Fame film competition.

He said that winning the awards helped him get ahead in the industry.

“To get an agent and getting your scripts read by anyone is pretty difficult,” said Ben, who is now working on his next project – a romantic thriller set in Paris.

“The thing that made me stand out was the award I won for my final project, so when I contacted agencies, it meant they did read my script and so did a lot of producers and off the back of that I did get an agent.

“Winning something does help open doors.”

He added networking was key, and that rejection should be seen as a positive.

“If every door you knocked on just opened and it was easy, you’re never going to develop as a person to the stage where you can properly succeed,” he told the students.

“You need to want it a little bit more than everyone else and you’re only going to get that by wanting to prove people wrong.”

The event also featured a screening of the Almost Married, which was shot in just 18 days.

Ben said he wanted to come back to BU as he had been inspired by guest lectures from the likes of director Anthony Minghella while he was studying, and felt he owed his career to the course.

“It nice to come back and see some of the teachers who taught me because I wouldn’t have got where I am without them,” he said.

“I came to uni to get my head down – I was a geek and I went to every lecture. You have got to work hard and not waste your time here.

“Three years is nothing and it’s so important to make the most of it and go to your lectures.”

BA Business Studies launches alumni panel of successful graduates

BU’s Business School has launched an alumni panel of highly successful BA (Hons) Business Studies graduates.

The aim of the panel is to develop and strengthen the Business Studies course by sharing industry experience and trends with students and academic staff.

The panel consists of eleven alumni who graduated between 1989 and 2013.

They recently joined current second year students at their Pre Placement Seminar to share their experience of the world of work, and give advice to students about how to make the most out of their placements.

After the seminar, the panel met with academic staff to talk about industry trends and the skills graduates need to be successful in the workplace.

One of the Alumni panel, Holly Bathurst from Siemens, said: “I thought it was a great start to something extremely positive for the Business School and it will be interesting to see how it shapes both the students learning and their engagement with the working world!”

Gbola Gbadamosi, the Framework leader for the Business Studies course, added: “This panel and the event is a refreshingly alternative that represents a win for all stakeholders.

“For students, it provides a rare opportunity to engage with both recent and long standing alumni. For staff, to rekindle their industry engagement, reconnect with industry trends and catch up with the progress of their former students.

“For the alumni, they were able to reconnect with their peers, older and younger alumni and give back to their university.”

BU graduates have animation selected for prestigious film festival


A short film created by recent graduates from Bournemouth University will be shown at a prestigious international animation festival after being chosen from thousands of entries.

Espero? (Hope?) was created by Simone Giampaolo, Yifan Hu and Henrik Linnes as their final year project while studying at the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) at BU in 2013.

It has been chosen for inclusion at the Annecy International Film Festival this June – one of just 201 selected films from 2,290 entries.

Simone, who studied BA (Hons) Computer Animation Arts at BU, said being part of the prestigious French event was an unbelievable opportunity.

“We’re thrilled about Annecy. It is one of the most prestigious animation festivals worldwide and we still cannot believe our work will be part of it,” he said.

“I remember attending the Annecy festival as a student a couple of years ago, when the idea of having a film in the official competition was still only a dream.

“Now that it actually happened, it really feels unreal. “

Espero? is the first 3D animated film fully dubbed in the universal language Esperanto. It follows the story of Mother Earth and shows what happens after she creates humanity.

Simone, who acted as director for the film, said: “The general aim of this project was to create a high-quality, funny, entertaining and educational animated short that presents in a sarcastic way how humanity has been affecting planet Earth over the centuries.

“I see animation as one of the most powerful mediums to reach a wide range of audiences, which goes from kids to adults. It allows you to talk about inconvenient and sensitive topics in a funny and relaxed way, which is much more difficult to achieve through life-action.”

Annecy is not the first prestigious accolade the film has gained. It has already been shown at more than 20 international film festivals and won several awards – including the Children’s Prize at the Dieciminuti Film Festival 2014 in Italy.

Henrik, who also did the Computer Animation Arts degree at BU, said: “It feels great! We put so much work and effort into this short so it’s really satisfying to know that people like it.

“It’s been going really well so far, so let’s just hope that good things keep happening.”

All three of the team – who received the prize for Best Major Project at their BU graduation ceremony – are now working at animation and production houses in London, and hope they will have chance to work together again on an equally successful project.

It was amazing journey working with those two guys and I feel really lucky that our film has gotten this far,” said Yifan, who did the BA (Hons) Computer Visualisation and Animation degree.

“I’m very proud of our achievement and, as we are all working in London now, hopefully we will get a chance to work together as a team again soon.”

Watch Espero? (Hope?)

BU Journalism graduate named NCTJ’s Alumni of the Month

A recent journalism graduate from Bournemouth University has been named as an industry body’s Alumni of the Month.

Rachel Bartlett completed the BA (Hons) Multimedia Journalism degree at BU in 2010, and is now editor of journalism.co.uk, a popular site for journalism news, innovation and resources.

She was chosen as the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ (NCTJ) Alumna of the Month for March and was profiled on the industry body’s website, talking about the course and her career.

Rachel told the site that she chose to study Multimedia Journalism at BU as she wanted to gain a broad range of skills, as well as the opportunity to take the NCTJ preliminary journalism exams.

My decision was driven by the fact that I was keen to ensure I entered the industry with a range of skills across media platforms, including newspapers, magazines, television, radio and online, and the ability to study for, and take, her NCTJ exams at the same time,” she said.

“I went to university fairly open-minded about what area of the industry I wanted to go into, and the variety of the course helped guide me in terms of which areas I was most interested in.”

She added that gaining industry experience while studying was vital, as was learning shorthand – despite the wealth of digital technology available.

“While passing the NCTJ arguably helps to demonstrate that you can reach certain standards in your reporting, I would also stress the huge importance of also gaining real industry experience, being able to demonstrate a proactive attitude in finding original, relevant stories, and show some digital prowess and awareness of the different ways people are finding and consuming journalism today.”

Read Rachel’s interview in full on the NCTJ website

Bournemouth University graduates celebrating Oscar success


Bournemouth University graduates were celebrating last night as their work on the film Gravity was highlighted with an Oscar win.

Graduates and lecturers from BU’s National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) were part of the team that worked on the visual effects for the blockbuster.

Gravity picked up the Oscar for Achievement in Visual Effects at an eventful awards ceremony in Hollywood, Los Angeles hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

The film picked up a total of seven Oscars on the night, including nods for Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón), Achievement in Cinematography and Achievement in Film Editing.

The movie, which also picked up high-profile awards at this year’s BAFTAs, stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, but the majority of the space-themed film was created digitally.

London-based effects house Framestore worked on the special effects for the film – with the help of around 60 alumni from BU’s animation and visual effects courses.

Adam Redford, a Senior Practice Fellow in Computer Animation at BU, was a senior texture artist at Framestore. He worked for around six months on the film, helping to paint some of the interior and exterior sets and props seen in the film.

Adam said, “”The NCCA at Bournemouth University has a great reputation for producing graduates that go on to achieve amazing success in the feature film visual effect industry all over the world.  A lot of the tools, techniques and processes used in the creation of the visual effects for Gravity are being taught in NCCA classrooms every day, this will give our students the necessary education and understanding of visual effects to enable them to achieve great success in the feature film visual effects industry of the future.”

Anna Swift, Recruitment & Talent Development Manager at Framestore, said, “We are so thrilled to be celebrating Gravity’s success, which is a testament to the commitment and skill of our talented staff, including Bournemouth University graduates”.

It is not the first time that NCCA alumni have had their work recognised with high-profile awards.

More than 50 graduates and former BU academics worked on the Oscar-winning visual effects for Avatar, while MA Visual Effects graduate Andy Lockley won an Oscar in 2011 for his work on the special effects for Inception.

The NCCA’s contribution to world-leading excellence and pioneering development in computer animation was even recognised with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2012.

BU graduates’ work on film Gravity featured in 3D Total

The work of BU graduates on the visual effects for Oscar-nominated film Gravity was featured in an article in 3D Total.

London-based effects house Framestore worked on the visual effects for the film, which has been nominated for both the Oscar and BAFTA for visual effects, and the article highlights that a number of graduates from the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) at BU hold key positions at the company and worked on Gravity.

The article includes interviews with NCCA graduates including Ian Comley, who is now Framestore’s look development lead and worked on making sure that the texture and lighting of the effects in Gravity were as realistic as possible.

He said: “My year at Bournemouth was packed with lectures ranging from cinematography, through animation and rendering to the mathematics for inverse kinematics.”

Also interviewed was one of Framestore’s resident paint and roto artists, David J Nolan, who completed the MA in Digital Effects at BU.

David, whose work on Gravity involved converting live action sequences to 3D formats, said: “Framestore decided to open an outpost office in Bournemouth, and I was hired as a junior paint and roto artist,

“This meant that I hit the ground running immediately after finishing at the NCCA and was able to put my new-found knowledge into practice, working on some very big projects.”

Another graduate featured in the article was Framestore’s digital modelling supervisor Ben Lambert, who helped oversee all of the visual effects for the film.

He graduated from the BA in Computer Visualization and Animation at the NCCA in 1999, and said his time at Bournemouth University was invaluable.

“The course gave me a very broad overview of all areas of 3D and animation,” he said.

“I think it’s important for artists to have a wide range of skills and versatility, it means they can work at both larger and smaller studios. I think the programming aspects of the course have surprised me with how much I’ve had to now use in my day-to-day job.”

Read the 3D Total article in full

Find out more about the National Centre for Computer Animation at BU 

The Bourne Legacy: sharing top tips for industry success


Media School alumni who have gone on to industry success came back to Bournemouth University to give advice and inspiration to current students.

Top directors, writers, radio producers and business owners were among those who returned to talk to third year Media School students as part of the Bourne Legacy event.

The speakers for the day-long event, which is now in its third year, included Richard Senior.

Since graduating from the BA (Hons) Television Production course in 2002, Richard has gone on to become the youngest ever Director of Doctor Who, Lead Director for children’s drama M.I. High and an award-winning promo producer, creating ad campaigns for BBC dramas.

He said that his advice to the current students was to: “Work hard, build good relationships and don’t be afraid of taking risks.”

He added: “I’m here because I wouldn’t have got where I am without Bournemouth University.

“I think some of the most useful sessions when I was here were when industry people came back to tell us about their experience. I wanted to be part of that and I hope that the advice I give is equally useful.”

Bob Fletcher, who graduated from BA (Hons) Scriptwriting in 2007, was also speaking at the event.

Bob is now working as an associate TV Producer, coming up with new comedy formats, as well as a comedy writer – creating sketches for the likes of Miranda Hart, Jack Whitehall and Harry Enfield.

“Bournemouth University has a really good reputation in the TV industry,” he said.

“If you say you went to Bournemouth, people’s ears prick up.

“People who leave here have every advantage, you just need to make sure you sell yourself and make yourself employable.”

His advice included making yourself stand out by creating and sending short films of your work, rather than just scripts, and not being afraid to hound people.

“You just have to make sure everyone knows who you are,” he said.

“Be really enthusiastic and have ideas. You have got to get past feeling bad about being a nuisance.”

He added he wished he made more of the extra-curricular activities and equipment available to him while at BU.

“I wish when I was at university, I’d made more effort to do things outside the course and collaborated with students in other disciplines.

“I wish I could come back and make some more films and sketches and use all the equipment you have here for free.”

Other speakers at the event included MA Radio Production graduate Mog McIntyre, who is now working on Chris Evans’ BBC Radio 2 programme, and Hollywood horror writer and BA Scriptwriting alumni Richard Hobley.

As well as talks, there was a question and answer panel sessions and the chance to network with the alumni.

Gavin Williams set up his own company, Fishrod, after completing the Interactive Media Production (now Digital Media Design) degree in 2010. The company, which develops web applications and interactive technology, now has clients including BskyB and WWE Wrestling.

Gavin said that he hoped his talk at the Bourne Legacy event would inspire current students.

“I hope it gives them inspiration and confidence to go out and do their own thing. They have the skills to do it,” he said.

“The most important thing is to seize opportunities. You do really tiny things and never know what it is going to snowball into.”

BU TV Production graduate receives BAFTA nomination


An MA TV Production graduate from Bournemouth University has had his short film nominated for a BAFTA.

Ben Mallaby, who completed the Master’s course at BU in 2006, directed Island Queen, which has been shortlisted in the Short Film category for the 2014 BAFTAs.

The film, written by and starring Nat Luurtsema, follows a young woman on a small island who decides to have a baby using a sperm bank – only to find out it came from her brother.

“It’s such a huge honour to have been nominated for the BAFTA, I still can’t believe it happened,” said Ben, 30, who lives in London.

“The film was shortlisted, I’m sure, down to Nat Luurtsema’s great script and performance.”

He added: “Island Queen came about after I read an article about how some countries have to import donations for their sperm banks because, due to having such a small population, they couldn’t guarantee that you weren’t getting a relative’s donation.

“So our story is about Nat’s character Mim deciding she wants a baby and to her horror discovering it was her brother’s sperm.”

Ben, who is now a lecturer in Digital Film Production at Ravensbourne College as well as a freelance film-maker, said his time at BU helped kickstart his career.

“The MA gave me the time and resources to make films for a year – you don’t get much chance when you’re starting out as a freelancer to work on your own passion projects,” he said.

He and Nat are now working on a new project, called Annie Has Body Issues, which goes into production in May.

“The BAFTA nomination has already helped open doors for us, said Ben. “It’s helped validate the project and I’m really hoping we can take the film further now.”

Ben also plans to attend the 2014 BAFTA awards ceremony, which takes place at London’s Royal Opera House on Sunday 16th February.

He said: “It’s very exciting to have been invited to the awards ceremony next month.

“It’s going to be weird to be surrounded by so many high profile filmmakers and actually have a film in competition.”

Watch the trailer for Island Queen

Find out more about Television Production at Bournemouth University

BU graduate is Technical Lead at McLaren


Bournemouth University graduate Jimmy Headdon is a Technical Lead for McLaren, working primarily in Formula 1 and other Motorsport fields, travelling the world to oversee the implementation and direction of motorsport software.

The path from university graduate to Technical Lead at McLaren was not straightforward, as Jimmy explains, “The six months following my graduation were spent re-adjusting to a non-academic life back home in Cornwall and the infamous graduate job hunt.  If I’m honest I was utterly lost as to which industry I wanted to start my career in, let alone one specific role.

“Fortunately I found a position at the Broadcast and Media Association where I had undertaken work experience several years before, based out of London.  They looked after me for three years and I had the pleasure of consulting [with] several blue chip companies around the world in this time.”

“London wasn’t for me though, and I decided to move back to a software development and architectural role similar to the industrial placement I undertook during my studies at BU.  I was now working for a telematics company designing web based applications for automotive insurance companies.  Whilst this was a valuable experience, I soon realised I belonged in a fast paced, challenging environment and therefore decided to push my luck applying for a software development role with McLaren Electronics.

“Three months later I was based in Woking at the McLaren Technology Centre applying my trade as a software engineer, working in numerous countries on an array of motorsport projects before progressing to where I am now.”

Jimmy left BU in 2008 with a degree in BSc (Hons) Business Information Systems Management and explains what his time at BU taught him. On the subject of what his course did to prepare him for his career at McLaren, Jimmy said, “The principles of applying yourself to a subject matter; analysing it from a different perspective and delivering something both valuable and unique.”

Jimmy continued, “[It was great] having the opportunity to work with some astoundingly talented and insightful people [at BU] who taught me the importance of balancing academia and socialising; predominantly at the beach!”

Now at McLaren Electronics, Jimmy is currently positioned as a technical lead for a software product which is used worldwide to provide accurate and complex data for Formula 1 and Motorsports industries.  Jimmy said, “I have technical authority over the direction of this [software] product and how we integrate with our customers systems, which are inherently complex and operate in an [environment] with zero patience for failures.”

Jimmy was also on hand to offer advice to current Bournemouth University students as they study towards their dream careers, “It’s easy to overlook the fundamentals when you are trying to stand out from the crowd.

“Take the time to learn your chosen speciality from the ground-up, you’ll likely be thrown in at the deep end when you find a position and those fundamentals will give you the confidence to ask questions and show your competence in the area.  You’ll have plenty of time to expand your domain knowledge, it’s the fundamentals that people often overlook when starting out.”