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What is the Aardman Academy?

The Aardman Academy was established in 2013 to nurture and encourage new talent and to help meet the growing demand for animators in the UK. The flagship intensive 12 week Certificate in Character Animation course launched in partnership with the National Film and Television School and Creative Skillset. Drawing on Aardman’s connections and relationships in the wider industry, the course provides students with valuable insight, experience and industry connections, and our talented alumni have gone on to win awards and work at some of the most prestigious productions companies in the UK and throughout Europe.

NFTS/Aardman Character Animation Course class showreel 2015

In addition to the Character Animation course, the Aardman Academy team work with universities to develop bespoke enhancement short courses and masterclasses for students and lecturers. All courses take place at our studios based in Bristol, and are led by highly experienced animation professionals.

The Aardman Academy is incredibly important to the studio co-founders who are committed to supporting and nurturing creativity. Read what Peter Lord and David Sproxton have to say.

Developing and maintaining high level skills has always been essential to the success of the Aardman studio and this philosophy runs right through the company from the accounts department to model-making , post-production and of course animation. Talent needs to be developed and nurtured and this is especially so when it comes to the craft of character animation, which puts life and soul into puppets and models. Like a concert pianist, becoming a professional takes lots of practise and good tutorship and this is the model for the Aardman/ NFTS course of which we are justly proud and which is helping build the animation skills for an ever growing industry.

Co-founder and Executive Chairman, David Sproxton

The Aardman Academy is very dear to my heart. Skilled animators are performers who need the most sensitive understanding of movement: how it works, how to perform it, and what it expresses. Here at Aardman, we’ve always valued this talent very highly and often waited for people to ‘come along’ who had learnt those skills elsewhere; but we’ve also learnt how it can be taught.

Here we provide the teaching but also very importantly the environment of a real studio with all the challenges and the inspiration that involves. Those who take part are not trained ‘for’ Aardman in any sense – we’re not simply trying to increase our pool of available talent. We feel we’re sharing what we’ve learnt over many years and helping to prepare people for the whole industry.

Co-founder and Creative Director, Peter Lord

Take a look at the courses we offer.


This 12 week full time intensive and practical course was developed to help meet the growing demand for animators in the UK. It offers a unique training experience within Aardman’s own working studio environment and draws on Aardman’s connections and relationships in the wider industry to provide valuable insight, experience and industry connections to talented young creatives. To date, over 70% of the course graduates have gone on to gain employment within the industry.

NFTS/Aardman Character Animation Course class showreel 2015

The course is taught by a range of highly experienced animation professionals led by Loyd Price, Head of Animation at Aardman. Loyd’s impressive credits include The Nightmare Before Christmas, Chicken Run, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Flushed Away, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, and Shaun the Sheep.

The course caters for both stop frame and CG animation techniques, and students are taught in small groups to ensure maximum contact time with tutors.

With the aim of bridging the gap between education and industry, the course enables students to develop the core practical skills needed to become a competent professional animator and to create believable characters though acting, performance, movement and expression. To complement the intensive animation training, the course includes a number of masterclasses from visiting tutors which give students invaluable contacts within the industry, tips on how to promote yourself and the skills needed within a competitive industry. Past speakers have included companies such as DreamWorks, Blue Zoo, Turner, Lupus, Jellyfish, Passion Pictures, and animation legends Nick Park and Richard Williams.

2016 is a very busy year for the studio as we are in production of Early Man, the latest stop frame feature film directed by BAFTA® and Academy Award® winning director Nick Park. With so much going on in the studio, we are taking a break from running our Character Animation course but look forward to welcoming a new cohort of students in September 2017.

More details of the course and application process can be found on the NFTS website

“I would not have had the skills or the opportunities to get a job had it not been for this course.”

Read some more testimonials from former students.

The Lecturer Development Programme offers a unique opportunity for academics to develop their production skills and maintain a dialogue with the animation industry through a series of short courses, masterclasses and workshops covering a wide variety of production processes and techniques. The Programme has been designed collaboratively with both academics and the animation industry to ensure it addresses the challenges faced by institutions to remain relevant in the constantly evolving industry, and to help them provide their students with the professional skills needed for a career in animation.


The Lecturer Development Programme starts with an intensive three-day, non-residential introduction course at the world-famous Aardman studios in Bristol, led by highly experienced animation professionals. The course includes practical masterclasses, workshops and seminars covering a wide variety of animation production. Classes are taught in small groups with a flexible structure, and there is the opportunity to collaborate with Aardman and create subsequent follow-on courses, tailored to address specific teaching needs.


- Welcome and introduction from Aardman co-founder Peter Lord
- Tour of the CGI department and stop frame animation studios
- Seminar on CGI film-making chaired by senior CGI animator
- Seminar to introduce Motion Control, camera kits and best practice chaired by Studio Manager
- Masterclass on lighting led by Director of Photography
- Tour of the Digital department
- Masterclass on interactive animation
- Masterclass on modelmaking techniques for stop frame animation led by Head of Modelmaking
- Seminar led by an Aardman Director on Character Animation
- Seminar chaired by Loyd Price, Head of Animation, about what he looks for in animation reels when recruiting
- Practical stop frame animation workshop led by senior animator, encompassing performance and LAVS
- Q&A session with key staff


Lecturers, professors and technical demonstrators from higher education institutions.


Wednesday 25th January – Friday 27th January 2017


Cost £900 (including lunch and refreshments)


The Aardman studios in Bristol


Contact for more information about the Lecture Development Programme Introduction Course, or to book. Places are limited to 12 people per course so early booking advised.
The Aardman Academy will host a series of public Masterclasses at Aardman’s HQ in Bristol. The Masterclasses will cover a range of subjects and are aimed at students of animation, lecturers, teachers – and anyone with an interest in animation. Details of all the Masterclasses will be posted here very soon.
Aardman are happy to work with institutions to develop bespoke short courses, workshops and masterclasses that are tailor-made to address specific teaching needs. Please contact to discuss further.


"I would not have had the skills or the opportunities to get a job had it not been for this course. My animation had improved so much, I’ve had a fantastic time and I’ve managed to get a job! Everyone in the studio has made us feel welcome and included so a huge thank you to everyone involved!"

"Realising that I am an animator, not that I might be one."

“I loved pretty much every aspect of it. Being at a working studio has been an amazing experience.”

"Over my expectations, the course was excellently planned and executed. With the time given to the course (that passed by quickly!) it feels like it couldn’t have been used in a more effective way than this. It was exactly what I had hoped for and a complete joy to do."

For further details on this year’s course and how to apply please follow the link below
NFTS / Aardman Character Animation course

To find out more about the training opportunities at Aardman contact

If you’re under 18 & enquiring about work experience opportunities, have a look at the faq’s

Photo of group of attendees and lecturers at the Aardman Academy

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