Bournemouth University


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Animators facing an Olympian challenge are up to the mark

Chris Dawson

Meet the graduate..

Chris Dawson

The Project

There is nothing more inspiring than the feats of Olympic athletes, yet as the UK celebrated hosting the 30th Olympiad BU was celebrating an Olympian achievement among its own graduates.

But their efforts had nothing to do with sporting or athletic talent – they were involved in a project that sums up the BU ethos of inspiring our student community to reach new academic heights.

The graduates were from the university’s National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) and were tasked with working on the BBC’s animated film used to promoted television coverage in the build-up to the London 2012 Games.

With an enviable global reputation for excellence in the animation industry, little wonder the broadcaster turned to BU for help. More than 80 graduates of the centre have worked on Oscar nominated films in 2012 and in 2011, the centre won the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its brilliant work.

The team depicted the UK as a giant stadium with Olympic athletes preparing and competing in a range of landscapes, including a BMX rider preparing at the edge of a cliff and sprinters and gymnasts going through their paces on the streets.

Created by Passion Pictures to a concept by creative agency Rainey Campbell and Roalfe Y & R, the full two min 40 secs version of the trailer was broadcast on Tuesday 3 July 2012 on BBC One. Further 60, 40, 30 and five second edits were also used through the campaign in the run up to the Games.

The graduates were from the University's National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA). More than 80 graduates of the Centre have worked on Oscar nominated films in 2012, and in 2011 the Centre won the prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize.

The Dean

The involvement of our graduates in the cutting edge animation that helped to promote the BBC’s Olympic coverage is testament to the international reputation of BU’s National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA).

It is reputation of which we are justly proud and culminated in the award of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2011, recognition of the NCCA’s ‘world class’ teaching and research that is setting new benchmarks in the field of computer animation and digital media as a whole.

Since its establishment in 1989, the NCCA has pioneered both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in computer visualisation, animation and digital effects. We regularly welcome industry experts to our programme of masterclasses, and professional teaching staff of the highest calibre also means that our graduates are equipped with the kind of skills demanded by renowned media organisations.

Indeed, like Christian at Passion Pictures, many of our graduates have gone on to highly successful careers with some of the biggest names in the industry.

Stephen Jukes, Dean of The Media School

The Graduate

My role at Passion means I design and set up the rigs and tools we use for character animation. I also get involved with simulation, i.e. cloth and sometimes fluids; basically anywhere characters have to interact with other objects. While not actually animating the characters I usually have to provide support for the animators when trying to achieve difficult poses, there were a lot of those on the Olympics spot. The process involves a lot of interaction with the character modellers as it can be quite a challenge to get geometry to deform well and always requires carefully designed topology.

NCCA graduate Chris Dawson, Character Technical Director for Passion Pictures

The Impact

Working on an animation project for an organisation as high profile and demanding as the BBC requires a special kind of ability at the best of times. When it's animation that will be used to promote one of the most significant broadcast events in television history, the London 2012 Olympics, it requires a very special skill set indeed.

We need people who not only have the knowledge and expertise to deliver, but can work collaboratively - and of course are bursting with enthusiasm and imagination.

It is this kind of individual that the National Centre for Computer Animation at Bournemouth University consistently delivers, individuals who are making a real mark on our industry and who help enhance the reputation of companies like ours.

Little wonder the NCCA enjoys such a reputation for excellence, both here and abroad. Its graduates are of the highest calibre and long may that continue.

Passion Pictures