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Second-year BA (Hons) Computer Animation Art & Design student, Anna Shellswell, volunteered her time during this year’s BFX Festival hosted by Bournemouth University. In this guest blog, she tells us all about her experiences.

Day 1:

I was so eager to volunteer at the BFX Festival that I supported some of the pre-event preparations. I and two other volunteers packed over 600 tote bags with merchandise, BFX pens and notebooks. We also constructed display boards showing a gallery of NCCA student work from the last 30 years. Although these tasks took us the whole morning, we did it whilst laughing and getting to know each other and the time flew by.

Day 2:

Masterclasses and BFX competitions took place on day 2. I participated in the Sculpting Competition. We had 30mins to speed sculpt either a human, creature or a cartoon of our choosing. Despite the pressure, I enjoyed the experience and seeing everyone’s amazing sculpts.

Day 3:

I had an early start at 8:30 signposting guests and speakers as they were arriving for the day. I got the opportunity to meet lots of friendly animators and recruiters behind the scenes. I was then on the welcome desk, scanning people’s tickets and giving them their BFX wristbands and merch. I really enjoyed this roll as it made me feel helpful and proud to be a representative of the festival.

Day 4:

This day was my day off, so I wasn’t volunteering then. This meant I could attend all of the talks. In the evening, they held the Awards Ceremony for the BFX competitions. For the sculping competition, they showed everyone’s speed sculpts from the different sessions. They announced third and second place, and then first place, for which the prize was a lovely Wacom tablet! Although I didn’t win anything, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I will definitely do it again next year.

Day 5:

Friday was Recruitment Day! It was very exciting as many big studios came, setting up stands and doing talks offering tips for showreels etc. Before the day started, I was outside guiding studios to where they needed to be. I was lucky enough to show recruiters from Industrial Light and Magic and Framestore around, giving me the opportunity to talk about my career plans and start networking with them. I also got the chance to go around the studio’s stands before the crowds came, this meant I could have nice long chats and get good portfolio feedback and many LinkedIn connections.

As a volunteer you get a free masterclass! And so, in the afternoon, I was scheduled to help out in the Character Animator’s Survival Kit Masterclass. Not only was I there to help the speaker, Brenda from Blue Zoo Studios, but I also helped many of the people there for the class. I was able to troubleshoot a lot of problems because I had learnt a little bit of animation techniques on Maya from my degree. However, I did also learn a lot of useful things from the masterclass that hadn’t yet been covered in lectures and workshops.

Day 6:

Saturday is the final day for the Speaker Series. One of my favourite talks was from Elizabeth Rega, who flew all the way from California to talk about anatomy and how science can be implemented into animation. All the talks were so intriguing and inspiring, it made me so excited to graduate and start my animation career. I highly recommend becoming a volunteer for the BFX Festival. Its such an amazing opportunity to talk to speakers and studios behind the scenes, it is also a great thing to put on your CV.

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