Bradford Animation Festival 2012 – Day 1

Wednesday was the first day of the Bradford Animation Festival at the Bradford Media Museum and what a brilliant little first day it was!
I’ve been to the Media Museum quite a few times this year trying to really utalise the amazing information and resources that are freely available for us that live so close to Bradford, but it was a great feeling to be going back for the Animation Festival. It wasn’t just seeing some amazing industry creatives and other things you may expect from these sorts of festivals but also getting to see friends that I had made from the last BAF and friends within the volunteer team again.

It had started off with an inspiring, fun and interesting talk from Curtis Jobling that I had booked separate to the events you get with the festival pass. Curtis had talked over a large area from his own personal life in the industry, his background, advice, looking at character design and general information and tips on getting onto that ‘greasy industry ladder’. I had attended his talk last year which, if you’ve read it I’m sure you know how inspired and ‘geeked’ out I was over it all, was brilliant and this one once again didn’t fail to give me something to really think about and clarify in my mind. It was nice to have such a straight forward but humourous talk from someone who’s done so many different things within his professional life. Even though he personally didn’t create a lot of the animations, the character design and story development work he’s done and spoke about made me think over some of the processes I try to do myself and how to implement these sorts of tips into my own work. It became very apparent that we had been taught the right basic level of what we should be doing within the Degree course, but it was great to see that implemented and the standard that he would usually show to people who may be interested in his characters and narratives. It was interesting to see how even thought he said he didn’t create animations in particular his character sheets and general sketches, even his insanely fast doodles to show us character shapes and evolution/development, had the sort of line work and posed developed thought that I’ve seen within animators sketches. It was very clear that he had a great understanding of the sort of line of action and how to present and pose characters, something I must ingrain within my own work. I had filled another 3 small A5 pages of notes from the talk as I didn’t want to forget or miss any of it by any means. What I know I need to do now from listening to Curtis is keep developing my drawings and characters even within the animation and development side and really push myself because no one else can. The most important thing that I think I will take away from his talk over all though is that it comes down to ‘dedication and perseverance can push you forward’. He mentioned this quite a few times and I can’t agree with him more but just need to show it now!

What was also brilliant afterwards though was I got to take one of his sketches he had done earlier on a nice big A3 sheet of a very quick but still awesome Bob The Builder/Were-Bob.

I had then been able to attend the talk by Professor Paul Wells of Loughbrough University, Chris Williams of Bournemouth University, Sophie Jenkins of Double Negative, Caroline Parsons of Newport University and Tom Prosser of RealtimeUK. The talk was titles Animated Britain: Student Film Now and they had gone through examples of showreels that either the respective Universities students had created and sent, only two or three examples, and discussed how or why they worked and where those students went onto. With Sophie from Double Negative and Tom from RealtimeUK they had shown showreels that worked and why that they had received in order to apply for various jobs and internships. One thing that became very clear straight away, I still have a lot of work ahead of me within these last few months of study and a ridiculous amount after that! The talk though was incredibly interesting and informative as it was always great to see an industry and bigger area of professions discuss and take apart showreels as they are something that I struggle with all the time. It was also a great inspiration to think about short films and my own work because although it did sound very harsh, I also feel that a lot of student short films do lack creativity in the UK. It’s something that I think is apparent with our European neighbors as we seem to be missing some sort of spark that others just seem to have. Of course I don’t and I don’t think they did mean everyone, but in a general comment and one to make us think, they had mentioned it a few times. It’s something that I really want to change and I hope that my focus on 2D and looking so much in the technical, theoretical and gathering all the information comes into practice when I get around to creating more refined animations. But just like Curtis earlier on yesterday, they mentioned again to show ‘a need and want to succeed’. Paul Wells does a lot of talks and has done a few BAF’s now, or at least I know he did last year, and always has something inspiring and interesting to say to us as upcoming animators and there was a great confidence boost and advice which he had said to me once I caught up with them later on the day. Himself and Sophie had talked about remembering that people in the industry will need your talent but you need to remember focusing showreels, CV’s and portfolios on the studio you apply for and knowing what your strengths are and articulating them well and honestly. I couldn’t leave without thanking them for the talk of course and honestly telling them about how much of a help these sort of events and things are.

One great thing that happened whilst talking to Sophie and Paul though was how they remembered me from earlier. In the talk they had asked a few questions of the audience such as, How many of you are studying? How many of you are in first year, second year, third year and so on… putting our hands up each time to answer, and then they had asked how many of you do it because you are passionate about it? Once those people had their hands up (including myself of course) they asked and how many of those people would do it even if you didn’t get paid for it? and it was just myself and one other person with their hand still up high… they found it hilarious but in a good way of course (I think!).

I then had to rush over to the All Animated screening and short event which was filled with shorts from various animators, students/graduates and studios. I’ve mentioned All Animated previously within an earlier blog post but it was great to meet and sit down and talk to them properly as I had not got to go to the event they held not too long ago in Leeds although I’ll be attending the December one. They’re a really lovely bunch of people with the same passion and drive you see from most people at BAF which is great to hear and have something like that so close to home. Hopefully I’ll be seeing a lot more of All Animated in the months and years to come! Myself and two other friends had actually been interviewed by the All Animated team with a fun informal chat about BAF and a little about ourselves.

If the day hadn’t been fun-filled enough I had then got to relax and just chat to a lot of the different people who were hanging around the BAFter hours and Opening BAF night event. I got to speak to a lovely variety of creative professionals and students who had mixed from the BAF games as well so it was great to speak to those people I had sadly missed out on and also listen in to some of the advice and discussions they had for a general small gathering of people. It was great because of how informal the night ended and relaxed it was but still inspiring, interesting and fun! It’s not every day you draw towers made of sheep with Bethesda’s Lucas Hardi or look at discussions with Valve’s Christine Phelan. I also got to have a long incredibly fun but informative chat with two of the team from Gaslight Games who were around talking to people about they have been up to with there lovely little game that was simple but addictive and lovely!

It all comes down to me though in the end from all that I have gathered from the first day of BAF, common sense I’m sure but it really hits home when you see how passionate others are or how excited I get about these events and people.

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