BFX Festival draws to a close


The BFX Festival came to an end following five days of movie screenings, animation workshops and industry insights into some of the best movies of 2014.

The Festival, in its second year, celebrated the best in animation, computer games and visual effects from the last 12 months, with talks and workshops from industry professionals offering a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how films and games are made.

Graduates and students from Bournemouth’s universities joined industry professionals and members of the public for the Festival, designed, in part, to inspire future generations to enter the booming creative industries.

This year, industry experts took to the stage at the Bournemouth International Centre to talk about their work on movies such as The Lego Movie, Maleficent, Godzilla and Guardians of the Galaxy. Legendary computer games such as the new installment of Elite (Elite: Dangerous) were also featured – with delegates learning about what it takes to create the visual effects for games and movies and just how much of our films are digitally created.

Framestore’s Ben Lambert, a Bournemouth University graduate, spoke about his modelling work for the Oscar-winning movie Gravity, which won the visual effects Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards. Another BU graduate, Miles Green, who works for Australia-based visual effects house Animal Logic spoke about his work on The Lego Movie and how they tried to stick to the limitations of the Lego world while creating the movie.

The Festival is the idea of the International VFX Hub; a collaboration between the award-winning National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) at Bournemouth University and the Faculty of Media and Performance at the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB).

Weekend activities had a more family-friendly flavour, as children and parents descended on the Festival to create their own animations, during a free workshop. Children were invited to make a model out of clay before using a stop motion camera to bring their creations to life. The talks and workshops were complimented with evening screenings of popular movies, including Maleficent and Frozen.

A special art exhibition, featuring concept artwork from 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent were also on display during the Festival, loaned from Walt Disney Animation Studios in California.

Sofronis Efstathiou, Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University and the BFX Festival Director said, “It was great to see so many people learning more about visual effects and animation and their importance in cinema, TV and game making.”

Sofronis continued, “BFX Festival 2014 was a great opportunity to review some of the best visual effects and animations from the past year – I was in astonished by the quality of speakers and their presentations this year, and delegates seemed to enjoy the range of activities on offer – from screenings and workshops to talks from industry professionals on movies such as The Lego Movie and Gravity.”

Bournemouth University has a long history with the visual effects industry, with many graduates going on to work on award-winning movies and games. Over 80 BU graduates worked on the film Avatar, while around 60 BU graduates were involved in the visual effects for Gravity.

Plans are already underway for the BFX Festival in 2015, and alumni are encouraged to join in, as Efstathiou comments, “We’ll be back again next year and would love our alumni to join us so watch out for communications about BFX in 2015.”

For more information about the BFX Festival, or to keep up-to-date with the latest information about next year’s Festival, visit

Oscar-Winners and Disney are Hitting Bournemouth


Top experts specialising in visual effects and animation will be hitting Bournemouth this month to spread their knowledge at the BFX Festival organised by Bournemouth University (BU). Guests to the festival can look forward to a series of workshops, expert talks and screenings of films such as Maleficent. The event aims to celebrate the British talent in visual effects, animation and games whilst educating its guests.

The director of the event, Sofronis Efstathiou, is ‘delighted’ to be hosting the second BFX Festival after the success of last year. He endeavours to encourage the local community to visit the festival saying: “There is truly something for everyone from industry experts to hobbyists, animators to technical directors.” The event will be held in the Bournemouth International Centre from the 24th to 28th September.

Other masterminds present at the festival will include graduates from BU who were part of the team behind the visual effects in the Oscar award winning film ‘Gravity’. The brilliance behind Disney’s animation will also be revealed in exhibitions held over the course of the festival with artwork from Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent.

Naturally, the event has sparked up interest amongst many media outlets such as BBC Radio Solent and ‘The Daily Echo’. Gaming blogs such as ‘The Bearded Trio’ also ran stories on the event. The event was also mentioned in the online gamer’s website ‘Gamasutra’ where Bournemouth Council Councillor Lawrence Williams says: “We are delighted to support the BFX Festival. It is a fantastic opportunity for people starting their career to speak to the experts and gain insight and inspiration to enter the industry.”

By Charlotte Cranny-Evans

Charlotte is a graduate of Budmouth College in Weymouth, who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. She joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from the college with work experience for four weeks over the summer.

BFX Festival






The BFX Festival is a celebration of British talent and creativity in animation, computer games and visual effects. It returns to Bournemouth this summer and tickets are now on sale.

The Festival is open for all those wanting to learn more about this exciting industry where BU has built an international reputation for excellence.

It takes place from Wednesday 24 to Sunday 28 September 2014 and is organised by the International VFX Hub; a collaboration between the award-winning National Centre for Computer Animation at BU and the Faculty of Media and Performance at the Arts University Bournemouth.

The Festival will play host to industry experts from around the world and the unique programme includes presentations, workshops, a career hub and public cinema screenings. A number of free family activities are also on offer on the 27 and 28 September, including children’s animation workshops in the Bourne Lounge of the BIC from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

New for 2014 is the BFX Academic Conference, “Digital Convergences”, which examines the visual effects industry, looking at the technologies used within different genres of moving image. Keynote speakers include experts Professor Lev Manovich and Professor Sean Cubitt.

To find out more and to buy tickets visit

Visual Effects and Animation Festival returns to BU


The BFX Festival returns to Bournemouth this summer to celebrate British talent and creativity in animation, computer games and visual effects and inspire the next generation of people to enter the booming industries.

Last year’s BFX Festival was a fantastic celebration of visual effects, animation and games and this year’s event is aiming to build that success, with experts and enthusiasts from across the UK and beyond presenting an amazing selection of material and leading a range of Festival activities that will appeal to all.

Tickets are now on sale for the Festival, which will take place across four days from 24-28 September 2014, hosted at the Bournemouth International Centre.

Talks featuring movie titles such as The Lego Movie, Gravity, Maleficent, Godzilla, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Edge of Tomorrow will be on offer, giving delegates an insight into the range and quality of visual effects needed to create such blockbusters. Legendary computer games, such as the new instalment of Elite from Frontier Developments, called Elite: Dangerous will also be presented.

As well as talks from industry experts on some of this year’s best VFX and animation there will also be a large concept art exhibition direct from the vaults of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures; featuring concept artwork from the movies Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent.

A series of workshops will be available for those wishing to explore animation and VFX techniques further and a number of family activities are also on offer, including children’s animation workshops and public cinema screenings. Talks and workshops have been created with all levels of expertise and knowledge in mind, and the Festival is open for all members of the public to attend.

The Festival is being organised by the International VFX Hub; a collaboration between the award-winning National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) at Bournemouth University and the Faculty of Media and Performance at the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB).

Sofronis Efstathiou, Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University and the BFX Festival Director said, “We are delighted to be hosting the second BFX Festival this year and to celebrate the best VFX and animation in the world. There is truly something for everyone; from industry experts to hobbyists, animators to technical directors. Come and learn more about this amazing industry and the hard work that goes into creating some of your favourite movies and computer games.”

Companies such as Animal Logic, Framestore, Double Negative, The Mill and MPC will be speaking at the Festival, along with Festival partners The Foundry, Chaos Group, Next Limit and AMD.

At the heart of the Festival is the BFX competition – where students from around the country will be competing to create the best animation and visual effect from a selection of briefs and screenplays given to them. The competition, which is held on Bournemouth University’s and Arts University Bournemouth campus, replicates a film studio with participants working in groups of up to six to create a short visual effects or animation sequence. Teams are mentored throughout by industry practitioners, with a panel of industry judges picking the winning team and awarding prizes.

The competition is currently underway, with teams from 10 higher education institutions taking part, competing for a variety of award and prizes across a number of categories, with winners due to be announced during the Festival itself.

Tickets for the BFX Festival can be purchased on Eventbrite with Early Bird discounts available.

More information about the BFX Festival (including ticketing), and the BFX Competition, can be found at

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.

Coverage roundup for BU’s Gravity success

Following a successful Oscar night for Gravity, in which they picked up seven Oscars, local and national press centred on the 60 Bournemouth University graduates who worked on the visual effects for the film – which subsequently took the Achievement in Visual Effects nod.

Current Bournemouth University lecturer Adam Redford also worked on the visual effects for the film and was quoted in a number of media outlets about the success.

The Guardian led with a feature about how films like Gravity can kick-start the careers of many university graduates. The article focusses on Bournemouth University with comments from both Adam Redford and BU graduate Sam Salek. Similarly, The Independent reported on how Bournemouth graduates were celebrating Oscar glory for their work on Gravity.

ITV Meridian led with footage about Gravity’s win before talking about the involvement of Bournemouth University graduates, while the story was also highlighted in the hourly bulletins of BBC Radio Solent, Heart South Coast, Wave 105 and FIRE FM.

Adam Redford was interviewed at length on BBC Radio Solent and BBC Dorset about the film’s success and his involvement and the Bournemouth Echo also interviewed Adam, along with current Bournemouth University students, about BU’s successful graduates.

Gravity’s success extends further than the Oscars, with the movie also picking up several high-profile awards at this year’s BAFTA ceremony. BU graduates involved in the BAFTA win also received widespread local coverage. MA TV Production graduate Ben Mallaby was also nominated for a BAFTA this year in the Short Film category for his work directing the film Island Queen.

Gravity was not the only Oscar-winning film to have involvement from a Bournemouth University graduate as Vanessa Salas Castillo was part of the Disney team that worked on the film Frozen, which picked up the Best Animation award.

At least one BU graduate is also currently working on visual effects for The Hobbit trilogy – which was nominated alongside Gravity in the visual effects category at this year’s Oscars.

During Prime Minister’s Questions on 5 March 2014, Prime Minister David Cameron was quoted as saying, “Bournemouth University has excellent courses that have helped to build up the British post-production and facilities industries, which are busy helping to create blockbuster films. It is very good news not only that are we winning Oscars for British films but that British studios are full to bursting point making movies.”

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.

NCCA’s BAFTA success receives widespread local coverage

The work of graduates and staff from the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) on the BAFTA-winning visual effects for the film Gravity received coverage across a range of local media.

Around 40 graduates from the NCCA – as well as current Senior Practice Fellow in Computer Animation Adam Redford – worked with effects house Framestore on the visual effects for the blockbuster, which won six awards at the 2014 BAFTAs.

Their success was picked up in articles by local newspaper the Bournemouth Echo and Blackmore Vale magazine – which both quoted MA Visual Effects graduate Sam Salek about his involvement with the film.

The story was also featured in news bulletins on local radio station Fire FM, while Sofronis Efstathiou, Framework Leader for postgraduate visual effects and animation courses at BU, was interviewed about it live on BBC Radio Solent’s Drivetime programme.

Sofronis told presenter Tim Butcher that Framestore have an outpost based near BU’s Talbot Campus, where some students and graduates worked on the visual effects for the film, and that the reputation for BU’s animation courses and graduates continues to grow.

“We’ve been around for about 20 years now, but over the past 6 or 7 years, every Oscar or BAFTA night we’ve seen our graduates either be nominated or certainly part of those films,” he said.

“We’ve got a big team here and we work very hard and speak to industry, having them feed into our teaching, so it’s good to see it’s working.”

He added that the visual effects industry – and the popularity of BU’s animation courses – continued to grow.

“It’s one of the best courses in the country…It’s a vibrant industry, it’s a creative industry around here – not just in London, but around the borough and certainly around the world it is doing very well.”

Listen to the interview in full (Starts 1 hour 35 minutes into programme)

BU animation lecturer featured on Guardian website

Bournemouth University lecturer Sofronis Efstathiou has given advice to budding animators on the Guardian website.

Sofronis, Programme Leader on the 3D Computer Animation courses at BU, spoke to the Guardian Witness section of the website to ‘give his tips on how to get started in animation – and what makes a great animation’.

Guardian Witness encourages readers (or, in this case animators) to send in their own content to be shown on the website, and previous campaigns have included picture and video projects. This is the first time the Guardian Witness pages have run an animation feature.

Sofronis said in the feature, “My students love creating characters and worlds for them to inhabit – character and environment creation tends to be a very symbiotic process. The best way to develop those skills is by creating your own short animation projects.”

To read the section in full, including all of Sofronis’ tips, or to submit your animation to Guardian Witness – check out the Guardian website.

Centre for Digital Entertainment has funding renewed


The Centre for Digital Entertainment, jointly run by Bournemouth University and the University of Bath, has received funding for the next eight years.

The multi-million pound grant, from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), was announced today by the Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts.

It will fund another 50 doctoral students at the Centre for Digital Entertainment, which creates innovative funded research and development projects for the games, animation, VFX, simulation and cultural industries.

It embeds doctoral researchers into companies where they work on research and development projects, studying for an Engineering Doctorate while contributing positively to the industry in which they are working.

Professor Jian Jun Zhang, co-founder of The Centre for Digital Entertainment and Professor of Computer Graphics at BU, said: “I am thrilled to learn that our proposal to extend our Centre for Digital Entertainment has been funded by the EPSRC.

“Working with the University of Bath, this multimillion pound grant will allow us to produce another 50 doctoral students for the UK’s creative industry which urgently needs high-skilled people for this fast growing sector.

“We have already taken 50 students and have established strong relationships with more than 30 companies, including many world leading players, such as Sony, Electronic Arts and Double Negative.”

Students at the Centre for Digital Entertainment spend around 75 per cent of their time working in industry, where they are faced by the real problems experienced by professionals in the sector and contribute to the development of solutions.

“We forge a special three-way relationship by bringing together two world-class academic teams, a large number of world-class companies and top-quality doctoral students,” said Professor Zhang.

“Our mission is to develop next generation of technical leaders for the computer animation, games and visual effects industry.”

The funding from the EPSRC is part of £350 million that will be spent on postgraduate learning at Centres for Doctoral Training, focusing on key areas of engineering and the physical sciences that are vital to economic growth.

Science Minister David Willetts said: “I am particularly pleased to see strong partnerships between universities, industry and business among the new centres announced today.

“This type of collaboration is a key element of our industrial strategy and will continue to keep us at the forefront of the global science race.”

Find out more about the Centre for Digital Entertainment