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Computer Animation MA: What our students say

Student profiles

Don't just take our word for it – here's what students say about what it's like to study at Kingston University.

Name: James Simpson
Course: Computer Generated Imagery (3D) MA (part time), 2012–14

Why Kingston?

There were very few choices of courses that conformed to my requirements, such as being part-time, at masters level, near London and in a very specialised field. I still wasn't sure if it was for me until I visited the campus for an open day and was impressed by the facilities and teaching staff who were passionate about the subject and had a vast range of professional experience. Convincing my employer, The Royal Opera House, that this was the right course for my job, was easy given the reputation of Kingston University and the excellent information provided to us explaining what I would be learning.

Since starting the course I have developed my technical skills and creative process by absorbing everything I can in the time I am here, the results of which are evident in my every day work in my day job.

What inspires you?

One of the things I love about CGI is that it is infinitely creative, that anything you can imagine is conceivable in a virtual environment without constraint. As a lighting designer I have always thought about colour and light and absorb my visual environment to inspire how I might re-create it on stage or in architecture. But this is still limited to the physics of light and some times I see something and can't conceive of a way to re-create it artificially. In CGI I can manipulate light in ways that isn't physically possible in the real world, and that is very exciting.

Since starting this course I have been finding it very easy to get inspired, especially whenever I watch a film and see what I could do with the skills I am learning. In particular I have recently been reading a lot of magazines, books and online tutorials on CGI which show you tools to support your creative ideas. Most of all I speak to my colleagues on my course, and my course tutors who happily share knowledge with each other and discuss ideas and tools which really get the creative juices flowing. This is always very evident after we have worked together on group work and you see how energised everyone is sharing ideas and collaborating to produce a single piece of work that has the best of all our ideas put together.

What next?

This course is about developing myself in two areas. First of all I wanted to provide more technical and professional skills to my existing job as a Lighting Visualiser, so I could improve the way I make 3D visualisations of our shows. The second area I wanted to develop is to have skills that will allow me to work in a fast growing area of theatre and entertainment. Whilst animated films have been around for 15 years or so, animated scenery is only just starting to make it to the stage. Many designers are using projected backcloths to show dynamic environments where they were once just painted. The Olympics and Queens Diamond Jubilee demonstrated how much animated content is being used in entertainment by either projecting it over a building or by having 80,000 LED panels on the back of seats which need to have video created specially for them. At the ROH we require a lot of content for our new productions which rely heavily on projection. With the skills I am learning at Kingston I could produce this work in house instead of commissioning external companies and bring myself more central to the creative process for world class Operas and Ballets.


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