Animation base camp hailed a success

29 August 2016

An example of the work designed during the base camp.

An example of the work designed during the base camp.

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) demonstrated its intention to make significant advances in animation education this summer by supporting and hosting an innovative ‘base camp’.

The eight-week training initiative comprised a unique series of industry-professional mentored classes detailing the entire feature-animation pre-production process, which aims to bridge the gap between graduation and employment in the animation industry.

The camp was organised by The Animation Centrifuge, a new not-for-profit organisation co-founded by industry veterans Fraser McLean and James Williams (head of layout at Sony Pictures Animation), and with the support of Glasgow-based animation and VFX house Once Were Farmers.

The base camp closes on Friday, September 2, with 15 graduates having been schooled for two months in a range of creative, technical and production-management skills by six top industry mentors from Sony Pictures Animation (SPA) in Los Angeles.

Thanks to trans-Atlantic video conferencing and computer lab facilities provided by GCU, the SPA team (Hotel Transylvania, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and the upcoming Smurfs: The Lost Village) has been able to supervise the graduates in an industry-based working environment.

The participants, who were from Ireland, Scotland and Norway, followed Sony's production 'pipeline' – the sequence of creative tasks followed by the studio’s employees. They developed vocational, problem-solving skills in four main areas: Visual Development, Story, Editing and Production.

Three graduates from GCU’s animation programmes were among those taking part.

GCU’s Digital Design Technologies’ Module leader Simon Haslett said: “This is a great example of GCU’s commitment to grow the talent base for the modern Scottish film industry and beyond.

“It is both valuable and essential to work in cooperation with the modern industry to maximise GCU’s aim of becoming a top centre of excellence for producing talented graduates with the correct combination of skill sets to make them immediately employable on high-level productions.”

Colin Murchison, Associate Dean for Business Development, said: “The mentors have been uniformly impressed by the high level of professionalism and skill demonstrated by all 15 team members whose final challenge will be to prepare their completed work for the planned pitch to Sony’s executives on the final day of the workshop.

“GCU’s knowledge and understanding of the industry, expert technical support staff and the state-of-the-art facilities were vital to ensuring the success of the workshop and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with OWF, The Animation Centrifuge and Sony Pictures Animation to help support the growth of the film industry in Scotland, especially in animation and VFX.”

Will Adams, Co-director of Once Were Farmers, said: “GCU's support has been vital to the success of the Animation Base Camp. The GCU campus has been a great environment in which to work and the team at GCU has made us feel very welcome. The ethos of the University is in tune with what we are trying to achieve with the Animation Centrifuge and we look forward to collaborating more in the future.”

The Animation Base Camp was made possible by support from Creative Scotland, Animation Skillnet, Screen Training Ireland, Norwegian Film Institute, Midtnorsk Filmsenter, and Viken Filmsenter, with additional support from Glasgow Caledonian University, The Foundry, Eurohostel and Chromacolor. 

The camp will close with a formal reception, exhibition and celebration of the trainees’ work at GCU from 4pm till 8pm on Friday, September 2.