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Creating opportunities in the Animation industry

BA (Hons) Animation students at Norwich University of the Arts master the magic of bringing characters and stories to life through a range of animation techniques – from 2D, 3D CG to stop motion. Graduate Barnaby Nott shares some of the exciting projects he’s worked on since leaving NUA and the opportunities he has created. 

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Why did you choose to study BA (Hons) Animation at NUA?

I completed a BTEC National Diploma in Fine Art and a Foundation Degree in Art and Design at City College. It was there that I played around with stop motion animation. For my final piece at college, I made a simple line animation where I used a sewing machine to stitch every frame. This meant I made 441 separate sewn pictures to create 44 seconds of animation. 

It took a lot of patience, but I loved the reward. This fuelled my desire to pursue animation as a career. I chose to study at the NUA because the course was exactly what I was looking for and it has a great reputation.

Can you tell me a bit about your practice?

The animation course taught us every type of animation from traditional stop motion to 3D. After this, we chose which path we wanted to go down. I was from a fine art background and I enjoyed stop motion animation but I moved on to working in Photoshop and bringing my drawings to life in After Effects. This method allows me to also work with photographic elements. I always was drawn to fantasy and surrealism.

Can you tell me about your journey from NUA to what you’re doing now?

After university I was a freelance animator. I was mainly creating moving logos and adverts for local businesses. I also used this time networking and I met some fantastic people along the way. Later on, I decided to stop creating adverts and tried my hand at directing. In my spare time, I spent 4 years illustrating, animating and editing my short film ‘Tin Foil’. 

I met Danny Cotton at this time and his company Fabrication Images helped me market and distribute the film around the world. It has won 15 international awards and is now available on Amazon Prime.

Can you tell me about your project working with Laurence Crow and Robert Valley? 

I met Laurence at a gig and we were just on the same wavelength. Back then, he performed under the name Wolfe Sunday. For fun, I animated his logo for him and we stayed in touch.

Later, I was researching studios in London and discovered the amazing work of Robert Valley. Mr Valley has an extraordinary portfolio and has worked on the Gorillaz videos, animated the Murder One video for Metallica and directed and animated the award-winning short film ‘Pear Cider and Cigarettes’ amongst many other things. He has recently directed the short film ‘Zima Blue’ in the ‘Love, Death and Robots’ series for Netflix.

How did I get to know Robert? I just messaged him to say how much I admired his work. Simple as that. I believe if someone inspires you, reach out to them. One evening, I looked at my phone and I was excited to see I that had received a new message from him! We got talking from there. I knew I really wanted to work with him and I humbly asked if he would be interested in a little collaboration. I then planned out what I needed to promote Laurence and pitched the idea. He messaged back and asked if we could chat via Skype!

So for this project, Robert illustrated Laurence from the photos I sent and he created a character board for me. My main job was to put my skills into practice and bring them to life. This was a challenge because I had to cut up the illustrations into many layers and animate them in After Effects. In the ‘looking up shot’ in the first of the album adverts, I cut the picture into 70 layers, just for a few seconds worth of animation!

My composer friend Bruno Di Micco did the sound design for the first video which really added so much to the final result. Laurence Crow released How to Survive Modern Life this year under his own record label ‘Not My Dog Records’. All the profits raise money and awareness for mental health which is something we both think needs to be discussed more.

What did you value about your time at NUA?

NUA has great connections and opportunities. We made work for the BBC and also had the opportunity to pitch an advert for BREAK charity. We were taught walk cycles by the animator of the Felix the Cat cat food adverts and how to make puppets by the acclaimed Barry Purves. We even had the opportunity to pitch ideas to professional animators!

Multiple award-winning filmmaker Jon Dunleavy and BAFTA award-winning writer Keith Tutt were guest lecturers during my time on the course. The year below us had the opportunity to make animations for the London 2012 Olympics! I still have pride in talking about these experiences at the NUA to people.

On another note, it was also great to work with and be surrounded by like-minded people throughout my three-year course.

Would you recommend the BA (Hons) Animation course at NUA?

Yes. It is hard work but if you love animation this is a fantastic place to learn. We learned everything we needed to and the course even helped us create websites and business cards to set us up for the real world.

Our lecturers work hard on making the Animation course what it is- the university has great connections and the staff genuinely want us to succeed. 

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