NCCA celebrates 21st anniversary with glowing NESTA report

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A report published last month by the National Endowment for Science Technology and Art (NESTA) found that nearly 50% of graduates working in the visual effects industry in the UK came from Bournemouth University (BU).

The news couldn’t have come at a better time, as the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) at BU celebrates its 21st Anniversary.

You’ve only got to look at the credits of box office hits to see the proof. Recently NCCA graduates have worked on Inception, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, How to Train Your Dragon, the Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Cars 2 and many more.

In the gaming world graduates work for Framestore (DJ Hero), Sega Europe and Konami (Wallace & Gromit: the Curse of the Wererabbit) to name but a few.

Sofronis Efstathiou from the National Centre for Computer Animation at BU believes graduate success is down to the ‘marriage of the arts and sciences’ in BU’s undergraduate and postgraduate animation programmes. This makes them employable and skilled in areas that other courses neglect.

“This is a fast moving industry continually innovating and developing new technologies and practices,” he said. “The NCCA has been able to remain relevant in the field of computer graphics due to its strong links and working relationships with the industry, who continually help to develop, advise and support our curriculum and research activities, for which we are very grateful.”

The link with practitioners is undoubtedly crucial, but not only does it keep courses in line with the industry, but high profile guest lecturers inspire the students to go on to do great things.

For example, Paul Franklin, who scooped a Special Visual Effects BAFTA and an Oscar at the weekend for Inception, gave a visiting practitioner lecture at BU in November and returned in December to do a Cinematography lecture.

Equally famous across the globe is games designer Peter Molyneux, who is a BU Honorary Doctorate. Peter created a new gaming genre (The God Game) and is full of enthusiasm for his subject, which he shares with students. Peter will also become an Academy Fellow at the BAFTA games awards on 16 March 2011.

Industry guest lectures, master classes and visiting practitioners give students unparalleled access to production techniques which are pertinent in the creation of many of today’s VFX films and games projects. These tend to occur on a weekly basis leading to an impressive list of practitioners to inspire, inform and encourage our students.

The ever growing list of NCCA alumni is very impressive. Ana Gomes graduated from her Masters in Visual Effects in 2009 and went to work on Inception. She describes the experience as ‘really exciting and rewarding’ and says she ‘couldn’t be more proud’ of the film’s recent Oscar, BAFTA and VES success.

Lisa Gonzalez graduated from the NCCA in 2004 and now works at MPC as the modelling lead artist on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She said: “The work that I was involved with on part 1 included the polyjuice sequence, the deatheater chase through London on the broomsticks and thestrals, and the digi-double work on Voldemort. I'm not sure if I can say much about part 2 because it is still in production!”

Fellow ex MA3D student and NCCA Lecturer, Andy Hayes, has just won a VES award for his Effects work on DreamWorks ' How to Train Your Dragon' at the 9th Annual VES Awards in Beverley Hills.

Ana concluded: “I have to say that BU provided me with a much higher chance of getting a job in this industry. I ended the course with a broad knowledge of visual effects. You are taught to create something new, from concept to final delivery and you go through every single stage from shooting to compositing. This really makes you understand the process on the whole, and you end up with both 3D and 2D skills. The fact that they use Nuke and Houdini, both highly used in the industry all over the world, also provides you with the technical skills employers look for.”

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Sally Gates
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