Falmouth Animation and Visual Effects New YouTube Channel

Falmouth Animation and Visual Effects has recently launched a new YouTube channel featuring student films and information films about the course at Falmouth. New films will be uploaded over the coming weeks and months.  To see what our current students and recent graduates have been up to take a look here:


Falmouth graduate animation workshops

Recent graduates from the Animation and VFX course at Falmouth University, Lauren Jansons and Freddie Pooley have been busy setting up their new business running animation workshops.
The pair are fully equipped with laptops, cameras, software licenses, props and art materials, ready to take their animation workshops around to festivals, events, schools and colleges around the UK.

Following some schools workshops and a successful slot at the Eden project last year, where children were queuing for the chance to make a short animation, Lauren and Freddie, with help from animation staff, Ann Owen and Kathy Nicholls at Falmouth University, have developed their workshops into a small business and are now preparing to take it on the road.

The half day or full day workshops will cover a range of different animation techniques, including plasticine stop-motion, cut-out animation, pixilation and working with optical toys such as zoetropes.  They are already getting booked ahead by schools keen to tap in to all that animation has to offer their pupils.

People of all ages, and in particular young people, enjoy talking with Lauren and Freddie because they are passionate about animation and have recent experience of what it is like to study it.  They can give an insight into what pupils could expect if they were to choose animation as a degree or as a job.  Both graduates have a special interest in art, design, and storytelling for animation and have worked into their full day workshop a chance for participants to do some pre-production (storyboarding and design), before they begin to animate.  

You can catch Lauren and Freddie at the Animation Taster Day on November the 30th at the Penryn campus, Falmouth University. 

Another great guest speaker – writer James Henry

Last week we invited writer James Henry to come and give our Level 2 Pre-Production students some feedback on their projects before they took them to the final stage.

James Henry gives us some tips on writing. (Actually, since he knows the camera is on him he's going for the 'famous writer pontificating' pose)

James is a screenwriter who has specialised in comedy, having written for 'Smack the Pony', 'Green Wing' and 'Campus' among other things, but he's also had a lot to do with animation, writing for 'Bob the Builder' as well as 'Shaun the Sheep' and 'The Sketch Show' for Aardman. So he is very well placed to understand what our students are doing and to give them solid feedback. He also has to constantly pitch ideas for films or TV series to lots of different commissioning people so he gave us all a lot of valuable (not to mention funny) advice on how best to go about it.

In the first half of the second year of the course the students choose one of two options; they can do either Pre, or Post, Production. On the Pre-Production option we look at idea generation, storytelling, concept and character design, pitching and how to make up a pitch bible. And from the pitch bible we extract a section and get the students to animate a couple of shots in the style they have devised for their idea.
[A pitch bible, for the uninitiated, is the kind of document you might take in to a producer or a production/TV company to show them what you are talking about. This is often the second stage of pitching, after you have done a verbal pitch to get their interest, but it will be the kind of thing that would be given to potential investors at something like the Cartoon Forum]

We have lots of clever ways to get students out of rigid patterns of thought and coming up with new and refreshing ideas; games, if you will, that help the brain work harder. After that initial burst of creativity we try to keep things bubbling by adding other parameters and ideas that stop things getting too rigid; then we try to put all the ideas generated into the kind of form that will engage a busy executive's attention.

A still from the pitch, 'Lab X'

We do the same for the visuals, trying to make sure that they are as fresh as they can be too, so we take a look at not only what has been done in animation but in the rest of the art and design world, ancient and modern. What we want to avoid is students being influenced only by what is current so that they don't merely make a pale imitation of what is trendy; a watered down version of something that has already been influenced by other sources. Research is our watchword here, and we get them to go to primary sources as much as possible. The research is part of the final hand-in too.

From 'Chasing Birds'

When they get to Week 6, then it's time to get up in front of everybody in the group, and our guest, to pitch the idea in the most snappy way possible. They did a great job, despite the nerves, because you wouldn't think it was too hard to talk about something you'd done in front of your friends, but it certainly is, and that is why it is such good practice for the real world.

'Under the Weather'

James gave them some very useful and incisive feedback, and in the afternoon gave them a writing workshop. We're very grateful to him for spending so much of his valuable time with us.

A still from the pitch for 'Dog Heaven'


Team work on Falmouth Animation and VFX


Team-work on Falmouth Animation and VFX is built in to the course structure and is second nature to all our students.

Setting up to film auditions for a collaborative film at Falmouth

At interview we look for a range of different people; many applicants have an art and design background but some may have maths, science or a technical background. Or just a great personality.  We look for all sorts of people and this helps to create teams whose members complement one another.

At Falmouth, industry studio practice is echoed at the heart of the course structure and the students work collaboratively to produce better animated projects by making fewer of them in the third year.

This team-work reflects the working practices of the animation industry, which can only accommodate a small number of graduate directors, but needs lots of specialists with experience of working in a collaborative studio situation.

A schedule of weekly production meetings supports the third year projects.

Animation is very time-consuming and in order to make a good film, getting the right crew together is essential for our students.

Team-work starts in the first year and students have been prepared from the outset that they will be working in this way.  They are usually looking forward to it by the time it begins.  

By the time they start their third year with us at Falmouth, students have been inspired by brilliant animation past and present from all over the world, and they will have expectations for their own third year major project way beyond the simple animated shorts that an individual might be able to do in the time available. Falmouth animation students will usually want to work in teams on ambitious, adventurous ideas, in the form of longer, more complex pieces, typically lasting minutes rather than seconds.

An award winning animation produced at Falmouth University

The very best potential projects are selected by a panel of industry professionals at the end of a formal competitive pitching process - quite an experience for the students, who always rise to the challenge magnificently.

A few first years and all of the 2nd years will later become part of the crews that will work on the projects selected from this process.  They usually come and watch the pitches, in the case of 2nd years, both to get a first look at projects they might want to work on and to see what they will have to do the following year.

The types of jobs that are offered include 3D or 2D animators, background artists, modellers, riggers, texturers, compositors and VFX artists. Students from all years also help with stop motion sets and props. These jobs and many others are a mixture of creative and technical work and represent the various interests of the students on the course.

Shooting with a green screen so that animation can be added later.

It is a mutually beneficial arrangement.  By the time they become crew for the third year projects, 2nd years have often have begun to gain an interest in a specialist area and are keen to develop their skills.  The team-work gives them the chance to do that.
And of course, the third year students are pleased to have assistance on their projects as they race towards deadlines.

They work together in groups which vary in size from 2 or 3 people up to around 8 or 9, with many 3rd years also working across several projects with the aim of building up an impressive showreel to display their specialist skill(s).

Falmouth students getting to grips with the computers.

There is a conventional film hierarchy within the teams and the directors have creative control over the projects, which in theory means that they will not accept sub-standard work from their crew.

However, the project that they are working on does not belong to the person who invented it or the director, it belongs to the whole crew.

At it's very best the studio resembles a humming beehive with each student getting on with their jobs and communicating with one another.  Though not with a waggle dance like bees do.
Well, not always...

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