Alright! Alright! Yes, it’s true I am still inspired by the recent Animex Festival at Teesside University where we had visitors and speakers form companies like Disney, Aardman and ILM. Those interviews and resources will be on this site soon! However, that genuinely pales in comparison to the enthusiasm that I left the University with on Wednesday this week….

We had our first session of the Animex Digital Leader programme at Teesside University which aims to engage and inspire more and more pupils, from more schools across the year to complement both the Animex Academy Challenge Day in June and the excellent Animex Academy workshops run by Robin Webb in Spring and Summer. Computing is an easy win for getting pupils enthusiastic and engaged and yet is often seen as hard or complicated for teachers to teach. That is why the resources on this site for teachers keep it all so simple but with incredible outcomes (That is enough of a plug thank you, Ed.). But the digital leader programme was designed to engage with schools who really want to extend some of their pupils and inspire them with the amazing University on their doorstep on a regular basis. The focus is on real industry application and ways of working….I don’t care that they are between 8 and 11 years old; they are plenty capable given the chance.

Session one involved four children from six schools and their brilliant staff support. We introduced the programme of events for the year and then focussed on the animation film production process. The children then took the role of ‘layout production’ in a new film called ‘All about Me’. Their first job was to create a 3D version of themselves in an VR app and then place the character in a virtual world so that virtual cameras and staging could be worked out for the ‘proper’ shoot later in the production cycle.

None of the children had used the software before and neither had the teachers. What do you think was the result in about an hour or so of experimentation and discovery? As with all effective schemes of work, in any subject, this activity was a starter for developing the concept, the rationale and way of working in VR for a real purpose. You can see from some of the images below how impressive the work that they produced was. In fact our aim next time is to take the process one stage further, mirroring how an actual film production works. We aim to use the University animation labs to use industry standard software to bring our characters to life. As usual, Teesside University is showing real leadership and innovation in the ‘game sand animation’ sector….this time it is just with their stars of the future.

Industry standard software?

With 9 years olds?

In one session?

I’m not worried they won’t ‘get it’, not one bit…