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This is a guest blog by current student Sian Venables studying BA (Hons) Computer Animation Technical Arts.

What tool/resource did you find the most helpful in your placement search? 

My LinkedIn profile – I set up my LinkedIn profile before I applied to university, but only started making use of it when I began properly networking thereUniversity organised talks I attended in my first and second years as well as events such as the BFX festival provided me with many contacts that would become vital to my placement search. When researching companies in the industry I used LinkedIn to check whether I already had connections with producers and recruiters at said companies, based on who I had already met from the industry. Some of these mutual connections opened up conversations with industry artists and supervisors that then aided in my search.  

LinkedIn also allowed me to contact a handful of my colleagues before I began work at the studiowhich definitely made my first day a little less daunting! 

Hardest aspect of your placement: 

One word  dailies! 

All the way through school, especially during more student-led projects, we are encouraged to keep our lecturers up to date with our progress and to ask for help when we come across issues that we can’t resolve ourselves. Likewise, in a visual effects studio constant communication is vital. 

While I had some prior awareness of ‘dailies’ and ‘rounds’ culture before beginning work, I didn’t appreciate quite how frequent this stage of feedback was. Initially, the process of having to constantly present versions of my work to producers, supervisors and fellow artists was daunting (especially if, like me, you’ve grown up telling people “-don’t look! It’s not done yet!”) 

I quickly learnt that this contact was not only for my own benefit, but for those running the show (pun intended), and that the more versions I shared and the more conversations I started, the easier it gotDespite my initial anxieties and nerves, I soon learned to be less precious with unfinished work and actively tried to communicate with my coordinators and leads more. 

Most enjoyable aspect of your placement: 

Working as part of such a wonderful team! I hope I get to work with many of my colleagues again sometime in the near future. 

One example of how your course prepared you for the placement: 

Throughout my second year, as I became more interested in FX simulation, I found myself choosing to do FX whenever I had the chance; be that in research-based projects or when choosing my role in group assignments. As an FX artist at Encore I was actually joining a ‘3D team’, many of whom worked as 3D generalists. While I did mostly focus on FX during my time here, my course’s ‘generalist’ approach to teaching gave me the skills necessary to communicate with other artists and make pipeline hand-offs smoother. This is why in my final year – while I still have a particular love for simulation – I want to ensure I keep up my generalist learning and not specialise too finely, too soon. 

Two tips for future placement students: 

Persevere! This is especially relevant for those looking for animation placements as at some point in your search it may start to feel like there is nothing out there! I secured my placement by sending my reel to studios I was interested in and expressing what I wanted to do – there was no actual advertisement for a placement student or intern! Hence, don’t be afraid to go outside of the formal applications and just ask. 

While you’re on placement, take every opportunity you can to learn. Ask to sit in on meetings, ask coworkers what they are working on and how they achieved certain things, etc. You’ll be amazed at how generous people are with their time! 

What have you learned that you never thought you would have this year? 

BU graduates are everywhere! Meeting alumni from my course successfully working in the roles I am aiming towards has been a huge motivator as it has taught me to think, If they can do it, why can’t I? 

Three words to describe your placement: 

Teamwork; learning; laughter! 

The opportunity to complete a placement year was one of the reasons I applied to study at BU in the first place and I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am that I was able to secure and complete this placement AND have such an amazing time while doing so. That being said, even if the placement year wasn’t at the forefront of your mind when applying, or if you’re on the fence as to whether to pursue it or not, I for one would highly recommend doing so.  

I have grown so much this year; I have learnt many new technical skills and have gained insight into current industry practice, but I have also learnt more about myself as a worker and an artist. I’m returning to BU with an even greater drive to do well in my final year. 

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