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July 1 2012 1 01 /07 /July /2012 14:45


Curtis Jobling demonstrates how to draw characters from a circle and an oval. Screengrab from Bob the Builder video.


Animation students leaving college often struggle with how to integrate their need for personal expression with the necessity of earning a living. Many will be content to find employment and employer direction but many would prefer to find outlets and markets for their own creations. 

Imagineer Curtis Jobling is a shining example of how belief in yourself and your talents will bring you success in the end. While his story of work experience at Aardman is well worth hearing, having completed his art course, Curtis set out to find clients for his style of illustration.

In a presentation that he gave to a writers' group recently, Curtis made it clear that an aspiring animation creator must keep generating fresh images, a stream of fresh character ideas, and develop a portfolio. The portfolio is not a static showcase, it is kept fresh and up to date; the artist constantly sketching and playing with new ideas.

Suffice to say he did not sit around waiting for work to find him. Nor did he simply send off hundreds of job applications and haunt the letterbox every day hoping for the invitation to an interview. Like most authors and illustrators, Curtis sat down with whatever directories of publishers, production companies, and producers he could get hold of, and compiled a list of addresses for all those that he thought might respond positively to his product. Then he got out his appointment book and started phoning them.

For the details of how Curtis travelled from his home in the North West of England to London every week, visiting each producer or agent on his list, touting his portfolio; on the train journeys constantly generating new ideas, sketching new characters, coming up with fresh twists on previous stories, you can visit his website and explore.

This kind of networking stood Curtis in good stead when a production company acquired an idea generated by Keith Chapman for a new toddler television series. Curtis was approached to create sketches for a possible production design for the show which was eventually titled Bob the Builder.



Curtis Jobling demonstrates to school children how to create animation characters like Bob the Builder.
Curtis went on to illustrate other television series and to create picture books, some with a touch of Horror. Now he is the author of several picture books for young children as well as Horror series for older children and Young Adults.

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November 23 2011 4 23 /11 /November /2011 00:15

In teacher traVancouver-Film-School-Summer-Intensives-2010_3.jpgining college in the 1960s I was trained by a team from Kodak to teach filmmaking in schools. Technology was very much celluloid and spools at that time, we edited tape by literally cutting and cementing the ends of the tape together.

The concept of digital was unknown then, but whatever the technology, the planning process for visual storytelling has not much changed. I am now a narratologist, fascinated by the science of storytelling. Breaking a story down into its component parts, as the storyboard does, highlights this technical aspect of narrative.

When writing fiction for any medium, the writer has to hang the story onto the technical frame, the plot, achieved by pace, tension, mystery and suspense. By that mysterious involvement of the audi3002426059_80015e2902.jpgence (the reader) with character, the success of their involvement depends on them caring what happens. That’s where my interest in audiences comes from.

Audience engagement is as important a component as theme, style, narrative structure in evolving genre theory, something frequently complicated by the film and television industries' constant reinvention of content and technology to stimulate growth and generate profits. 

Form, style, theme and mise en scene are all aspects of genre that audiences respond to. They are one key to understanding film genre, Stephen Neale suggests, that was identified early in the development of film studies as an academic subject. Neale quotes Tom Ryall's early discussion:

"He also makes explicit the importance and the role of the audience. And he offers a definition of genre itself. ‘The master image for genre criticism’, he writes, ‘is a triangle composed of artist/film/audience. Genres may be defined as patterns/forms/ styles/structures which transcend individual films, and which supervise both their construction by the film maker, and their reading by an audience’" (1975/6: 28 in Neale, Steve, 1999, Genre and Hollywood, Routledge).

And so we see the complicated equation that must be created for each new movie that emerges into the public domain. Just one of the many fundamentals that filmmaking students have to learn at Film School to gain their diploma or degree and become a fully trained professional filmmaker and find a job in fimmaking.

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October 25 2011 3 25 /10 /October /2011 13:56

Getting a job in the U.K. animation industry is difficult but not impossible. You need to know how to qualify, how to gain experience, and how to find your way in. This article explains the basics.

Animation qualifications

At university, study one of a range of degree programmes such as animation, fine art and design, digital design, computer graphics, engineering, computer science with mathematics, film production or general film studies. A personal project show reel and/or a dissertation with an animation focus will look good on your CV.

VFS Classical Animation: Digital Ink & Paint

Vancouver Film School Classical Animation


Gain experience

Making show reels for film festival competitions is valuable experience, as is attending the festivals and networking with people in the industry. Work experience and internships while a student is invaluable. The USA Associate Program is a way of working for no wage. However, this gains college credits which is being developed by some university and industry partnerships in parts of the U.K.

VFS Classical Animation: Digital Ink & Paint

Short-term jobs

The Animation Skills Council U.K. define and set government skillset criteria to be applied in the best colleges and training facilities. Skillset.org website has suggestions for job titles and their descriptions to help you decide where to try to make your way in to the workforce. A highly recommended first job is as a runner, a temporary job which brings you into contact with many different workers and aspects of animation creation.

Aardman Wallace and Gromit Cracking Ideas exhibit at the Glasgow Scien

Wallace and Gromit on set

Finding jobs


Networking, work experience or internship can all open doors. When qualified, make sure that you have registered your details on employment sections of animation company websites, so that they can notify you of forthcoming opportunities. Moreover, look at major industry-specific magazine jobs pages, such as Mandy.com, Creativeheads.net and Grapevinejobs.com. You may also wish to find out about working in other aspects of film.


stop-motion animation

Morph from clay stop motion to digital animation

Job applications

Animation companies, however large they may have become, tend to be run like family businesses, with executives multi-tasking and including the hiring and firing in their workload. They give out very specific instructions with their job application advertisements and forms, and you will not get short-listed if you do not attend to every tiny detail. Be literate, concise and honest in filling in application forms and make sure your show reel of under six minutes has your best work first on the disk. Here are some tips on how to apply for a job in animation production.


Debbie Reynolds Auction - Mitchell Model DC-70 70mm motion picture cam

Classic (obsolete) Animation Camera

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October 2 2011 1 02 /10 /October /2011 09:29

This article considers how to find jobs in the UK film and TV industry. Jobs in films in the UK are many and varied. There is a long tradition of film-making in the UK, with notable film studios and many film support craft studios as well. 

Education and training

Although, trade skills may be learned through apprenticeships, most film-making professionals will have attended university to learn those skills informed by theory. During those training years, industry professionals will be visiting film schools and may provide useful contacts in the professional grapevine.  


Vancouver Film School Summer Intensives 2010

Vancouver Film School Summer Intensives

Workplace experience

Apprentices and trainees are training within the industry and will have a network of contacts to reach out to when the next job is needed. Undergraduate trainee film-makers will need to use internships and work placements to start to build these networks. These may lead to short-term employment which will be useful on the CV for job applications, especially in TV employment.

VFS Sound Design for Visual Media: Aquarium Recording

Sound Design for Visual Media

Jobs in TV and video production

Much film-making experience is gained within the television industry and with independent film-making companies devising new content which has been pitched to and commissioned for the main television channels. There are many small video production companies producing short films for advertisements and fillers for television which may offer short term or permanent jobs. These companies often showcase their talents on well designed websites where there may be a jobs section.

Vancouver Film School Summer Intensives 2010

Where to find jobs in the media industries

Media industry jobs are often advertised in newspapers such as the Guardian newspaper Media supplement, which has a very large number of relevant job advertisements. These may be seen at the Guardian online as well. Industry website job boards such as Grapevinejobs.com or Mandy.com or Creativeheads.net are the best places to search for new jobs in TV, animation and film. 


What is Skillset?

Skillset is a government initiative particularly aimed at securing training standards within education and other training institutions. They particularly aim to support the UK creative industries, which have a worldwide reputation and clientele. Skillset supports skills and training for people and businesses and has a dedicated section each for the film industry, the animation industry, and television and media industries.

1 Filming of 'en:Black Thursday (2011 film) | Black Thursday ' at Mors

Filming of Black Thursday (2011)

The Skillset Film website is a valuable resource for finding out about different careers in the film and television industries, and where to look for training and jobs. Each of the industry specific pages in film and television and animation has job descriptions and connections to industry jobs advertising boards (online). Read further about getting a job in animation.


 1 Filmmaking of 'Black Thursday' on ulica witojaska in Gdynia. People 

  Valerie Williamson

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October 1 2011 7 01 /10 /October /2011 14:33

Animation gives a static image the illusion of movement. You can make animations at home. Film animations are created by cel, stop motion, or computer generated methods.

1. Make a flip book

 Kristin Paulus Flip Book FlickrYou can create your own animated image by drawing stick-men on the corners of notebook pages to make a flip-book. However, it must be noted that animation images are usually made by taking photographs. Photograph the same object several times, moving it slightly after each shot. When the photos are arranged as a book and the pages flipped rapidly, the object appears to move.

2. Cel animation 

Cel animation is how 2D cartoons are animated. Slightly changed character positions have to be photographed, one by one, in sequence against a background scene. Special cameras photograph the cels frame by frame onto continuous film.

3. Stop motion animation  

Stop motion animation is a European technique, allied to puppetry. Models made of clay, based on wire frames, are manipulated against a small stage set on a table top, giving a 3D effect.
The model is photographed, slightly repositioned and photographed again.




4. Computer created animationDanny Nicholson flickr animation software

This is created online or on a PC. The appearance is often 3D and similar to stop motion animation. Special software is needed to create video animation like this, but simple online animation packages for beginners are available for download.  

5.Draw up your storyboard


 First, design a character and work out a simple story where X really needs to get to Z but first must negotiate Y.

  Fold or cut a sheet of paper into squares. Sketch the sequence of actions made by X. Draw an image of Z as imagined by X (as in a comic strip). Frame by frame, work out the story. Here are some tips from PIXAR.

6. Develop the storyboard

As the story develops, act each movement to work out how many shots each frame needs. Write the time taken under each scene you have drawn. Write the details with indication of sound effects required. 

7. Design the set

Pin up the final sketches and read the script while acting it. Record this on video or audio. Begin modelling, drawing or computing the background, environment or set. For cel animation, draw and paint different transparent cels to make layers of a picture. 425874135_c52ff0085d.jpg

  8. Take the shots

Scan the cels into a computer for colouring. Overlay background with the character shots to make sequences.

Model your stop motion character and photograph it against the stage set. Use a tripod to fix the camera.


 9. Computer creation



For computer animation, model the backgrounds as grids using specialist software. Work frame by frame. Design characters to draw, model and digitise with software.

 Editing and post-production organise the sound and image quality. Running the film makes the character appear to move.

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