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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.

About Aardman Academy

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.


NFTS / AARDMAN CERTIFICATE IN CHARACTER ANIMATION

Following on from a busy 2016 with the production of ‘Early Man’, the latest stop frame feature film from Academy Award® winning director Nick Park in full swing and a ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie’ sequel in pre-production, Aardman are delighted to announce the new course dates for 2017. This year’s 3 month Certificate in Character Animation course will run from 25th September to 15th December and applications are open now via the NFTS website

View a showreel of work completed by 2015 students on the course

The course is open to both CG (Maya) and Stop Frame with a maximum of six students in each discipline. Course fees are £4500 which include free lunches and a two week paid internship in Industry after graduation.

In partnership with the NFTS, this intensive 3 month Certificate in Character Animation course is aimed primarily at graduates and taught by industry professionals at the Aardman studios in Bristol. The course is led by Loyd Price, Head of Animation at Aardman (Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Flushed Away, Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists and Nightmare Before Christmas) and taught by Inez Woldman (Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Morph, Creature Comforts) with the aim of bridging the gap between education and industry and enabling students to develop the core practical skills needed to become competent professional animators and to create believable characters through acting and performance.

The course has an incredibly successful track record with over 80% of graduates now working in the industry at Aardman and at studios such as Animortal, Factory Transmedia, Blue Zoo, Isle of Dogs and Traveller’s Tales. This year we are delighted to announce Factory Transmedia are formally supporting the course.

Students will also benefit from one-to-one feedback sessions and masterclasses with industry professionals, past speakers have included Turner, Passion Pictures, Blue Zoo, Factory Transmedia, Traveller’s Tales, Animortal and DreamWorks outreach.

COURSE OVERVIEW

This course will take place at Aardman’s studio in Bristol and will be taught by practicing Aardman animators who have worked on many productions including Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, Flushed Away, The Pirates! and the Shaun the Sheep Movie. There will also be additional support from other industry professionals from both the stop frame and CG animation disciplines including Factory Transmedia who we are delighted to announce will be formally supporting the course this year. The course is short but very intensive with the main aim being to produce students with the level of animation skills needed to allow them to get jobs as animators within this competitive industry. While this is no guarantee of future success, to date over 80% of former students have become animators within the industry.

The course is open to a maximum of 6 Stop Frame and 6 CG students, with the students working in either CG (using Maya) or Stop Frame (using Dragon-Frame). Students will be taught in small groups to enable maximum contact time with staff and other visiting tutors. The course will be taught in a series of weekly assignments, each focusing on a key aspect of animation performance. Students will be encouraged to repeat and finesse each assignment during the week. The course will be based on learning technical and practical skills, providing a foundation on which students can become technically proficient animators and thereby enable them to bring their characters to life. The course is structured to build from simpler exercises towards a short sequence demonstrating character-based performance, which will be animated within scheduled production deadlines.

The course runs from 9.30 – 6pm Monday to Friday. The course fee also includes free weekday lunches and a two week paid placement after graduation in a studio in the U.K. Past placements have included Factory Transmedia, Blue Zoo, Animortal, Isle of Dogs – Wes Anderson Feature, Aardman, JellyFish, and Travellers Tales.

On completion of the course students will

  • Have improved technical animation skills
  • Be able to deliver convincing character acting and performance
  • Produce their work to a deadline
  • Understand the role of an animator with a production
  • Have benefited from masterclasses with key industry professionals
  • Have completed an industry placement

“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.

LECTURER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

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.


INTRODUCTION COURSE

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.

January 2017 participants

Here's how the first course went.

SCHEDULE

Day 1 – CGI AND STOP FRAME ANIMATION
- 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
Day 2 – LIGHTING AND INTERACTIVITY IN ANIMATION
- Masterclass on lighting led by Director of Photography
- Tour of the Digital department
- Masterclass on interactive animation
Day 3 – MODELMAKING AND CHARACTER ANIMATION, PERFORMANCE AND REFLECTION
- 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

WHO IS IT FOR?

Lecturers, professors and technical demonstrators from higher education institutions.

NEXT COURSE

Wednesday 5th July – Friday 7th July 2017

COST

Cost £900 (including lunch and refreshments)

LOCATION

The Aardman studios in Bristol

HOW TO APPLY

Contact academy@aardman.com 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.
MASTERCLASS SERIES
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.
BESPOKE COURSES
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 academy@aardman.com to discuss further.

Testimonials

"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 academy@aardman.com

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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