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This is a guest blog by current student Stephanie Robert, studying BA (Hons) Computer Animation Art & Design.

Studying animation is a challenging course, but every day allows you to do what you enjoy doing. The assignments allow you to be innovative and creative, pushing your work in whichever direction you choose.

Spread across the week are lectures and workshops, on some days beginning as early as 9am. The week allows you to be flexible with your time, but with structured lectures and workshops put in place. During my first year, I usually had a lecture or two every day, and a workshop every other day. Lectures are often a couple of hours long, giving you the insight to topics, ideas, methods and techniques related to your assignment. The assignments that are set throughout the year are there to develop your all-round skills. The lectures follow behind to give you the starting points for you to go away and investigate yourself later. They aren’t purely focused on one part of animation, you will certainly get a look-in on many aspects.

Workshops tend to be a little longer, between two and three hours, and usually follow on from what you learnt in the lecture. Through a tutorial format, workshops teach you the computer software, skills, tools and basic understanding of what you need to know. There will be exercises to complete, and often I would stay after the workshop was over to finish off the work. I always found the workshops to be extremely helpful.

When I don’t have a 9am class, I still prefer to get up early. I find I am most productive in the mornings so I will try to get my work done out of the way. This is also helpful when you have clubs and societies in the afternoon or evening. I prefer to separate my time, to ensure that I have downtime in the evenings to give myself a rest. But everyone is different, and my schedule might not work for others.

This course is heavily dependent on self-study, which can be quite difficult for some people. You have to maintain a decent level of work outside of the lectures and workshops, and I’ve found you need to make your schedule work for yourself. Personally, I have a lot of the tools and software available to do my work at home as I work better without others around to distract me. However, if you prefer to get out of your room and immerse yourself in the animation environment, there’s plenty of places to go. Everything you need is at your disposal in the labs at the Talbot campus, where I spent a lot of time finishing off assignments towards the end of the year. One advantage of being at the labs is having your course mates around to bounce ideas off. Another is that it is recommended you submit all your assignments from the university computers as opposed to your own devices at home.

Whilst I mentioned that I had many of the tools available to me at home, there is no obligation to have these. It is personal preference to have a tablet, or buy any of the software. I found it helpful to have these as I’d spend time drawing or practicing during the evenings or weekends when I wasn’t at university. Many of my course mates opted not to buy these items, and it worked for them.

As for self-study, there are many different ways to do this. Whilst there is work set by lecturers to complete, they also set additional exercises which aren’t necessarily marked but are helpful towards developing your skills or contributing to your assignment. Whether it’s drawings, modelling, animating, lighting, rigging, experimenting, researching or watching tutorials – the options are essentially endless. Lecturers also provide links to websites, reading material, interesting topics to investigate, videos and documentaries – all to let your mind wander into the world of animation. My friends and I often found ourselves falling down rabbit holes when doing research as there was so much we wanted to look into – so leave yourself plenty of time! There were also a few times when we felt that we skimmed over interesting information that we didn’t have time to look into.

Animation was new to me this year, so it was definitely daunting seeing the amazing work my course mates could produce and feeling like my own work wasn’t up to scratch. So, if you feel like this, don’t worry! Just keep practicing and believe in yourself!

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