Aardman Academy Alumni - Where are they now?
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.
We like to catch up with our alumni to find out what they’ve been up to since completing their course and we recently spoke with class of ’15 graduate Rob Millard about his Aardman Academy experience and where he is now…
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career journey prior to taking a course at the Aardman Academy.
I started animating as a hobby from the age of 12, and used it throughout my school work and into my GCSE’s and A Levels, before studying it at uni. I enrolled on a Stop Motion Animation course at Staffordshire University, graduating in 2014 with a first class honours. I then began doing bits of work experience in and around studios in Manchester, along with making some free animated music videos to keep me busy. These lead to paid work in art and puppet departments at Factory in Altrincham where I worked up until I started the course at Aardman.
What originally attracted you to the Aardman Academy and Certificate in Character Animation?
Whilst working at Factory I met a number of graduates from the Aardman course, now working in the industry. I told them I was interested and they quickly persuaded me to apply for the course. I sought out more people online to get as many different opinions on the course and everyone I spoke to had nothing but glowing things to say about it.
In your opinion, what was the best thing about the course?
Our tutors really made the course what it was. Having people with decades of professional experience teaching us one to one on a daily basis was the most invaluable experience I think I’ve ever had as an animator.
How does it compare to any other animation courses you have taken?
The main difference about this course to my university course was that it focused totally on the craft of character animation. The structure of the course was water tight and covered as much as possible in the 12 weeks, getting everyone seriously prepped for the industry.
Did you have any industry experience prior to taking the course?
I had no professional experience as an animator, only as a prop maker and puppet maintenance guy!
Did the Aardman Academy facilitate an industry internship for you after you graduated?
Yes, I was offered a 4 week internship on Wes Anderson’s new stop motion feature film Isle of Dogs.
What has your journey looked like since graduating from the course? What are you currently working on?
It’s been fairly nonstop. A few weeks after the course finished, I helped out for a few weeks on a short film at the National Film and Television School called “The Love Story” which went on to win the Bafta for Best Short Animation. I then worked at studio Young in Manchester for a few months on two projects, on which I animated and made models. After this I had my 4 week internship on Isle of Dogs (organised by the Aardman Academy). After the 4 weeks I was offered a full time position which I accepted and I have been working on it since. I have a couple of months left and it has been an incredible experience, being given some really interesting shots to animate.
What was your personal highlight of your time at the Aardman Academy?
My tutor Loyd told us we would have “click” moments, where something we had been trying to get our heads around would suddenly just “click”! The first of these happened after trying to animate a puppet hitting a tennis ball. Loyd saw that I was struggling, so spent a lot of time with me working through his process. He went away and left me to it and suddenly – CLICK! It was a really nice moment!