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Creative students join industry experts for celebration of 3D animation

Posted: 23 July 2015

Interactive media students at West Nottinghamshire College learned more about the exciting world of 3D animation and computer-generated imagery (CGI) from some of the industry’s leading experts.

They joined professionals from creative agencies across the UK in hearing from some of the country’s most distinguished practitioners at the college’s first-ever ‘Create Expo’ – a celebration of world-renowned graphics software, LightWave 3D.

LightWave 3D is an animation tool used by artists in film, television, music videos, motion graphics, visual effects, video games development, product design and virtual production. Jurassic Park, Titanic, The Dark Knight and The Amazing Spider-Man are just some of the many blockbuster movies produced using the software.

Held earlier this week (Monday 20 July 2015) in the college’s state-of-the-art Create building at its Derby Road campus, Mansfield, the event brought together celebrated figures from the LightWave community for a series of talks and demonstrations on why and how they use the revolutionary software.

Attended by more than 70 people, it was hosted by internationally-respected artist Lino Grandi, 3D content and character technology lead at LightWave 3D Group. Mr Grandi, who boasts more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, jetted-in from his base in Rome, Italy, especially to front the seminar.

Speakers included Jonathan Alenskas of Darkside Animation, Simon Smalley and Ian Thompson of Fuzzy Frog, Mark Segasby of HDR Light Studio, Duncan Hewitt of Albino Igil, Andrew Otter of JCB, Ali Miah of Painting Pixels, and freelance artist and model-maker Andrew Comb.

They explained some of LightWave’s cutting-edge applications before sharing tips on its creative possibilities through audio-visual demonstrations on a giant screen inside the college’s Create Theatre.

Mr Grandi, who joined the LightWave 3D Group and parent company NewTek, based in Texas, USA, in 2011, said: “I was really impressed with the guest speakers – they showcased some very cool stuff and lots of top-quality work. It’s great that some of them asked students to show them examples of their work, which was a major professional gratuity.

“LightWave is continually striving to expand its audience and young people are the primary target, because they will be the ‘pros’ of the future.

“To succeed in the industry, students need to be able to use the tool effectively, express their creative side and become professional users in any field related to 3D effects and all that CGI can offer today. It’s really important to inspire students and encourage them to achieve their dreams, because this isn’t just a job – it’s a passion you devote many hours of your life to.

“And there’s always something new to learn – that’s the most important thing for young people to understand. Once you’ve reached your target, there’s another one to aspire to.”

Mr Grandi was full of praise for the college – in particular its £5million Create building, which is home to its creative industries and digital technologies curriculum.

He said: “I think it’s amazing that the college teaches LightWave. And the facilities are just incredible. When I saw the building I thought ‘Wow’. It looks really professional and is a great environment for students to learn in. I’d have loved to be taught in a place like this when I was growing up in Italy. The students here can’t fail to be inspired.”

The Create Expo was the brainchild of interactive media tutor Tony Hall, who said the event was aimed at nurturing the next generation of 3D artists while also bringing together industry professionals for a best practice showcase.

The college is believed to be the only one in UK that teaches LightWave; with the software forming part of its two-year interactive media courses, which are offered from the Level 2 Diploma up to university-level.

Mr Hall said: “I wanted to give current students an insight into the kind of careers they could aspire to, while also giving some of those joining us in September a taste of what they’ll be learning on their course.

“It’s brilliant that Lino and our guest speakers gave up their time for free to share their expert knowledge of the fantastic things you can do with LightWave, which will stand our students in good stead for the future.

“This has opened their eyes to what a rewarding profession the 3D industry is, and there’s no reason why they can’t go on to start their own businesses or join some of the major players using LightWave once they leave college.”

Matthew Higginbottom, a first-year HND Interactive Media student, said: “The speakers had a really deep knowledge of the programme and were very insightful. It’s one thing learning in a classroom but another thing entirely learning from such established professionals. I particularly enjoyed seeing how you can use lighting to create objects and shape.”

The 26-year-old, who is considering a career in either product or web design, specialising in 3D, added: “This has got me thinking, not just about web design but about visualisation – such as how you can sell a product by modelling it. So it’s definitely broadened my career options.”

Ian Thompson, 3d artist at video game developer Fuzzy Frog, said: "Events such as these not only have a great impact on students, teaching them about the industry, but it also helps professionals learn and share from each other.

"Having worked as a lecturer at universities in the past, I was very impressed with the facilities at the college, which give the students a wonderful opportunity to learn and craft their skills. Having this exposure to creative professionals helps to firmly bind the industry with education, enabling it to grow, with young talent getting an insight into production techniques."

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