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MA Character Animation

College
CSM
Start date
September 2019
Course length
2 years (60 weeks)

Course summary

Ideas for stories and characters, but not sure how to go about it?

Want to make your drawings move? MA Character Animation appeals to designers, artists, illustrators and others who want to learn how to animate. You don't need to have had much experience of making animation before.

This two-year course is very practical and will teach you all about how to make your characters do much more than move – you make them perform. You’ll learn timing, software, storytelling, character design, film language, take weekly life drawing and acting lessons, as well as looking into historical and critical approaches to animation. From the three short films students create on the course, we have had many award winners at international festivals.

Our real-life briefs have come from the English National Opera, Old Operating Theatre Museum, Royal Shakespeare Company, Cartoon Network, National Gallery and the Children’s Society. Past visits from the industry have include Shelley Page (Dreamworks), Philip Hunt (Studio AKA), Andy Blazdell (CelAction), Sue Tong (Illuminated Picture Company), Dave Anderson (Dog and Rabbit), Clare Jennings (Aardman/Laika Pictures), Joanna Quinn (Beryl Productions), Barry JC Purves, Osbert Parker, Daniel Greaves, Pete Bishop and Caroline Leaf.

We have a healthy employment rate after the course and our award-winning students have worked at Cartoon Network, Framestore, the Mill, BBC, Dreamworks, Industrial Light and Magic, Disney, etc. Two of our graduates have so far been nominated for Academy Awards for their animated short films – could the next one be you?

This course is part of the: Drama and Performance Programme.

Great reasons to apply

  • MA Character Animation enables you to pursue your studies whilst also undertaking part-time employment, internships or care responsibilities. You are expected to commit 30 hours per week to your studies; your taught input will normally be scheduled over a maximum of two to three days per week during term time
  • No previous animation experience needed – if you have shown us the potential to be an animator you'll have access to a comprehensive range of practical and technical workshops in animation techniques and supporting studies
  • Develop the performance of your animated characters - you’ll benefit from links with Drama Centre London, with classes in performance techniques including Visual Storytelling, Acting and Movement Studies
  • You’ll experience simulated work experience through team projects
  • You’ll enjoy close links with the industry, including numerous high profile guest lecturers, and take part in live projects with external agencies, who have previously included the London Transport Museum, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Cartoon Network and the National Gallery
  • Short films created by students on the course have been nominated for prizes at numerous festivals and competitions including the British Animation Awards, Adobe Design Achievement Awards, Taiwan International Student Design Competition, Virgin Media Shorts and Soho Rushes
  • Many of our graduates find employment in the animation industry, in London and beyond. They have worked in Oscar-winning special effects teams on films such as Gladiator, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter; acclaimed television series like Walking with Dinosaurs and Charlie and Lola; commercials; award-winning websites; TV graphics and games.

Book an open evening

3pm every Tuesday during term time - please email info@csm.arts.ac.uk to book.

Scholarships, awards and funding

Jane Rapley Scholarships

Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarships:
Home/EU | International

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for eligible UK and EU students. A full list of eligibility criteria and information on applying can be found on the postgraduate loans webpage.

Graduate news

Interview with Sacha Beeley (It's Nice That)

Showreel

Year One showreel

Cheuk Kwan Lai - Journey

Siobhan Smith - Stitch

Daisy Jacobs - Don Justino de Neve

Yukai Du - Way Out

Há Dias Assim - Days Like This

Walid Abouljoud - The Old Operating Theatre

Jiamin Liu - Near and Far

Facilities

Course details

All applicants considered for September 2017 entry will be applying for the newly revalidated version of the course.  Further detailed information will be published as it becomes available however the focus of the course remains the same.

Instead of trying to cover every aspect of a complex subject, this postgraduate course specialises in one area - animation of characters. You'll broaden and challenge your contextual awareness of animation while gaining advanced skills in communication, project management and technique.

MA Character Animation's distinctive features include:

  • Links with the drama courses within the programme enable the use of performance techniques through classes in Storytelling, Acting and Movement Studies
  • Classes in Animation History & Theory, Life Drawing and Anatomy that complement the technical animation curriculum
  • Simulated work experience through team projects, with input from industry professionals
  • An extensive alumni networking community

The course is supported and advised by Visiting Professor Shelley Page, Dreamworks.

About the course

  • MA Character Animation lasts 60 weeks structured as two consecutive periods of 30 weeks each (i.e. two academic years) in its 'extended full-time mode'.
  • MA Character Animation is credit rated at 180 credits, and comprises 3 units. Unit 1 (60 credits) lasts 20 weeks. Unit 2 (60 credits) runs for 10 weeks in the first year and 10 weeks in the second year. Unit 3 (60 credits) runs for 20 weeks in the second year
  • All units must be passed in order to achieve the MA, but the classification of the award of MA derives from your mark for Unit 3 only. In exceptional circumstances, you may be able to exit successfully achieving 60 credits (Graduate Certificate) or 120 credits (Graduate Diploma).
  • We expect you to commit an average of 30 hours per week, within which your taught input will normally be scheduled over three days in first year and two days in second year. The course structure is intended to allow you to pursue your studies while also undertaking part-time work, internships or care responsibilities.

Course rationale

From the internet and mobile phones to television commercials, games and special effects for blockbuster movies, animation is everywhere. The medium, which today takes many different forms, has permeated our visual culture.

Technologies used to create animation are evolving rapidly. The competitive nature of the software market means certain computer programmes dominate in one year before becoming obsolete the next. Against a backdrop of constantly changing industry standard software, MA Character Animation fosters a specialist, practice-based knowledge you can apply to different software packages, technical processes, creative approaches and distribution technologies in the future. Instead of focusing on a narrow range of software-specific skills, you'll build universal skills and contextual awareness of character animation.

Originally called the London Animation School, MA Character Animation grew out of an initiative by the Guild of British Animation, which represents the interests of many of the UK's top animation houses. Many existing courses, it was felt, failed to equip students with either the right skills or level of experience for swift assimilation into useful roles in the workplace. In partnership with Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, funding was raised from the Central London Training Enterprise Council (FOCUS TEC) to provide quality animation training.

Animation is a universal medium capable of communicating concepts and narratives without spoken language. A popular art form in a global marketplace, it appeals to all cultures, inviting them to apply their own visual and storytelling traditions. A feature and strength of MA Character Animation is that it attracts applicants from a wide range of practices and cultural backgrounds. About a quarter of students come from the UK, a further quarter from within the EU, while half are from outside Europe representing a wide range of nationalities. It adds up to an exciting opportunity to learn about other cultures and to develop international networks. You'll be encouraged to investigate and apply a range of different visual and storytelling traditions to your own work.

Course units

MA Character Animation aims to develop both creative and technical skills. Learning to animate is about much more than software. At the core of engaging and effective animation is an understanding of motion, characterisation and the portrayal of performance. Our hands-on, practical approach focuses on creating innovative animated characters that can move convincingly and perform with emotional and psychological nuance. The curriculum covers motion analysis and performance based animation, from the simplest bouncing ball techniques to movement in animals, acting in humans and the representation of speech.

Lectures and critiques deliver a programme of rigorous enquiry into key areas of the theory and context of character animation. Established links with the other courses in our School of Performance mean this postgraduate course offers an unparalleled application of performance methodologies to the practice of animation. Because animation is the representation of performance, the MA Character Animation course team strongly believes that all animators benefit from a study of movement and acting. As a result, MA Character Animation emphasises the analysis of characterisation through acting and the study of motion through drawing. Drawing is an important part of the course - animation classes are supported by life drawing workshops and drawing field trips. You'll also have workshops in relevant software techniques.

Throughout the postgraduate course you'll be expected to extend your present knowledge and understanding and apply them to new areas of professional practice. You'll keep a blog from the start of the course in which you document your work and reflect on your progress. Working as an animator demands professional skills - you'll be encouraged to develop your experience in problem solving, project management, planning, and communication while working both collaboratively and independently.

We encourage a networking environment through collaborative team projects, simulated work placements and group critiques. You'll also benefit from regular visits from practitioners in all aspects of production and live projects with external agencies. Our goal is to help you become a reflective, innovative practitioner able to locate yourself within the animation industry.

Unit One: Character and Movement Analysis

Unit One is an intensively taught period of 20 weeks that is designed to advance your core understanding of character animation principles. Animation techniques will be comprehensively covered and applied to traditional pencil-drawn, 2D and 3D digital techniques in a series of short creative exercises. The critical analysis of motion, including the articulation of movement, anatomy, timing, weight and effort will be supported by contextual studies in life drawing, acting, animation history and theory.

Unit Two: Characterisation studies (60 credits)

Unit Two is designed to enable you to build a narrative based effective real character performance and for you to become a self-sufficient, critical practitioner, confident to pursue your own goals. The unit focuses on two longer narrative driven character performance pieces which are designed to bring together the formation of strong character performance through narrative action and sound.

Unit Three: Final Project (60 credits)

Unit Three is designed to enable you to self-direct a longer narrative character project film. You will devise your own narrative and develop a proposal for a self-directed micro short film that you can complete as an individual or in a team, by negotiation with staff.

Teaching staff and resources

Our MA Character Animation staff team consists of experienced professionals who continue to work as consultants and freelancers in the animation, multimedia and software industries. MA Character Animation also encourages a networking community by maintaining links with ex-students, many of whom are now in high-profile employment.

MA Character Animation benefits hugely from being in the heart of London, a thriving international centre for innovative design, the production of commercials, and post-production special effects. Advertising agencies and film companies come from all over the world to have creative work done here.

Staff

Steve  Roberts

Steve Roberts

Lead Animation Tutor - MA Character Animation

Course Leader: Shaun Clark

How to apply

Opportunities for all

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and to supporting all of our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

We welcome applications from people with disabilities. If you have a disability (e.g. mobility difficulties, sensory impairments, medical or mental health conditions or Asperger’s syndrome) we strongly encourage you to contact us on disability@arts.ac.uk or +44 (0)20 7514 6156 so that we can plan the right support for you. All enquiries are treated confidentially. To find out more, visit our Disability & Dyslexia webpages.

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

*          An honours degree OR

*          An equivalent EU / international qualification.

APEL - Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning

Exceptionally applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered. The course team will consider each application that demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by:

*          Related academic or work experience

*          The quality of the personal statement

*          A strong academic or other professional reference

*          OR a combination of these factors.

Each application will be considered on its own merit but we cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

English Language Requirements

IELTS level 6.5 or above, with at least 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking (please check our main English Language requirements webpage).

Selection criteria

We select applicants according to potential and current ability in the following areas:

  • The quality of your observation
  • Visualisation skills as evidenced in the portfolio
  • The commitment and potential to realise your objectives within the timeframe of the postgraduate course.

What we are looking for

We are seeking imaginative, resourceful individuals who are committed to exploring and developing a strong individual visual language.

Making your application

For EU applicants concerned about Brexit, please see our dedicated page: Brexit Information for Students.

You should apply by clicking on the link to the direct form below. The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.

Start your application now

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following information when completing the online application form:

General information

Personal details (including legal full name, date of birth, nationality, addresses)

Current English language level

Current and/or previous education and qualification details

Employment history

Personal Statement

You will need to submit a short statement about why you want to study MA Character Animation. This gives us a picture of your interests and your suitability for our course. It should be between about 800-1000 words.

Here are some tips for what you could include:

  • Why do you want to study MA Character Animation at Central Saint Martins?
  • What have you done before and what do you know already? What are you good at?
  • What do you want to learn on the course? How do you think it will help you to develop your work?
  • In the second year, you will be making a 3 minute graduation film. What kind of film do you think you would like to make? We won’t hold you to this – you can change your mind later.

We cannot consider your application if you do not provide all of the information above.

Application deadline

We recommend you apply by the end of May to avoid disappointment.   We reserve the right to close applications earlier than the deadline above subject to spaces available.

There are two ways international students can apply:

  • One of our official representatives in your country
  • A direct application.

If you are applying directly you click on the link to the direct form below. The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.

For further advice on how to apply please visit the UAL International Application page.

Start your application now

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following information when completing the online application form:

General information

Personal details (including legal full name, date of birth, nationality, addresses)

Current English language level

Current and/or previous education and qualification details

Employment history

Personal Statement

You will need to submit a short statement about why you want to study MA Character Animation. This gives us a picture of your interests and your suitability for our course. It should be between about 800-1000 words.

Here are some tips for what you could include:

  • Why do you want to study MA Character Animation at Central Saint Martins?
  • What have you done before and what do you know already? What are you good at?
  • What do you want to learn on the course? How do you think it will help you to develop your work?
  • In the second year, you will be making a 3 minute graduation film. What kind of film do you think you would like to make? We won’t hold you to this – you can change your mind later.

Immigration history check

Whether you are applying online or through a UAL representative you will need to complete an immigration history check to establish whether you are eligible to study at UAL.  If you do not complete the check we will not be able to proceed with your application.

We cannot consider your application if you do not provide all of the information above.

Application deadline

We recommend you apply by the end of May to avoid disappointment.   We reserve the right to close applications earlier than the deadline above subject to spaces available.


After you apply

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an email confirming we have successfully received your application and providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal.  We will request any additional information from you, including inviting you to upload documents or book an audition, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

What happens next

Initial application check

We check your application to see if you meet the standard entry requirements for the course.  If you do, you will be invited to submit a portfolio through your UAL Portal.

Portfolio

You will be required to submit online a digital portfolio containing up to 20 pages of your work which should contain selected images/documentation of your work/research evidencing your current creative practice.  Following the review of the portfolio we select a small number of applicants to move on to the next stage of the process.  These applicants will be invited to an interview.

Interview

Applicants who are invited to interview may be interviewed either in person or by skype.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

You will receive the outcome of your application through the UAL Portal.

Fees & Funding

Home/EU fee

Tuition fees for 2018/19: £5,000 per year.

Please note that fees for second year of study will be subject to inflationary increase.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course.

ELQ

Home/EU students whose chosen course is at a level equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that they already hold, would will be charged the fees shown above, plus an additional £1,100 (called the 'ELQ' fee). Students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) are exempt from ELQ fees and will pay the original fee, regardless of the highest qualification held. If you have a query regarding the ELQ fee, please use this register your interest form.

International fee

Tuition fees for 2018/19: £12,430 per year.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course.

Additional costs

In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. Please read the information on our additional costs page.

Accommodation

Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

Scholarships and awards

There are a number of scholarships and awards available to students on this course. Use our search tool to find out more information.

Scholarship search

Careers and alumni

Based in London near the animation and post-production facilities of Soho, MA Character Animation has close links with the industry. Live projects with external agencies have included Cartoon Network, the National Theatre Archive, The National Gallery, Children’s Society and The English National Opera House.

Through lectures, demonstrations and workshops by working professionals, MA Character Animation maintains and values its links with the animation industry. We are committed to ensuring it remains commercially and artistically relevant in a volatile and fast-moving field.

MA Character Animation works closely with industry to ensure our graduates have the creativity, professionalism and specialist technical skills required for employment.

Short films created by MA Character Animation students have been nominated for prizes at:

  • Austin, Texas IFF Short Animation Award
  • BAF
  • Bitfilm Festival Germany
  • British Animation Awards
  • Cinanima Onda Curto Award, Portugal
  • CobraVision (ITV4)
  • Dervio International Animation Festival
  • Edinburgh IFF McLaren Award for British Animation
  • Festival Internazionale del Cinema d'Arte
  • Foyle Film Festival Animation Award
  • Junior Animator Award | MESH (Channel 4)
  • Microsoft Xbox Outstanding Student Award
  • Propeller TV Studentfest
  • Soho Rushes
  • Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Audience Prize
  • Virgin Media Shorts People's Choice.

Many of our graduates find employment in the animation industry, in London and beyond. They work in Oscar-winning special effects teams on films such as Gladiator, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter; acclaimed television series like Walking with Dinosaurs and Charlie and Lola; commercials; award-winning websites; TV graphics and games.

Our graduates have worked with companies like Aldis Animation, BBC, Studio AKA, Cartoon Network, Chase Animation Studios, Cinesite, Dreamworks, EA Games, Flush Draw, Framestore, HRA, Michael Dudok de Wit, the Mill, Moving Picture Company, Richard Purdum Productions, Passion Pictures, Pesky, Saatchi & Saatchi, Slinky Pictures, Tiger Aspect, Tandem, Twelve Foot Nine, Uli Meyer Studios, Unit 9.

For details of the wide range of careers support provided for students, please visit the Student Jobs And Careers section.

Alumni

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