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Lesson Learned

January 8th, 2014

January 8th, 2014

Take a trip up the M6 and you’ll discover that there may be more to the Beeb’s move than meets the eye.  The North West is a flourishing hub of the creative arts, none more so than the University of Bolton with its Special Effects for Film and Television course.  The three year BDes (Hons) is a programme of study which incorporates a broad range of physical effects, including make-up and prosthetics, animatronics, props and miniatures – basically all in camera work.

Characters in action

Characters in action

Created for students who wish to combine design creativity, physical model making skills and cutting edge 2 and 3D computer modelling and prototyping in the creation of a variety of special effects for film, television and theatre, the course offers a wide spectrum of opportunities in model design work, ranging from the highly accurate engineering approach of the product modeller, to the imaginative and inventive solutions of special effects designers/animators in advertising, film and TV.

Characters in final composited shot

Characters in final composited shot

While focusing on the creation and use of physical assets, digital is not forgotten and students are encouraged to both specialise in their chosen area and work across fields in order to develop an understanding of the overall production workflow and their contribution to it.

Teaching is through lectures, seminars and tutorials and a great deal of the teaching underpins academic theory as applied to real-life practical scenarios.

Modules cover various aspects of designing and making models/sets and the use of digital compositing, animation and CG to create visual effects to be used in scenes within film, TV and commercials, the majority of the coursework is project-based, and structured to simulate professional situations as much as possible.  Starting with more directed, skills-based work, the student progresses to have increasing control over their own studies, ultimately proposing creative work which reflects their own strengths and interests.

What you will study

Level 1:

Scholarship; 3D Physical Processes; Introduction to Visual Effects; Introduction to FX Modelmaking; Introduction to 3D CG; 3D CGI 2.

Level 2:

Employability and Entrepreneurial Skills; Advanced 3D Physical Processes; Multi Year Group FX Project; Portfolio; Visual Effects & Colour Correction;

History of SFX, Animatronics, Make-up, Pyrotechnics.

Level 3:

Research; Advanced FX Modelmaking; Multi Year Group FX Project; Bigature Modelmaking and Major Project.

The prosthetics and make-up work is led in-house by Richard McEvoy-Crompton, who imparts his sculpting and creative knowledge, plus technical mould making skills to students for the creation of character development, ageing prosthetic, wounds, etc.  Rick’s background is originally in Fine Art, where he developed his creative skills before moving into Special Effects and focusing on character development work with students.

He has been involved in events such as UMAe for the University and worked on several small FX heavy films, including the award winning ZomCo, Waste Management and Body Disposal.   Rick’s work is then further underpinned by specialist make-up tuition from Chrissie Halliwell, BAFTA award winning artist and head of make-up.

They have also recently been incredibly fortunate to secure the services of Neill Gorton as a new Visiting professor and look forward to his input into the course.

Recent graduates from the course have worked on films such as Captain America, The Avengers and most recently Guardians of the Galaxy.

For more information click here.

Students in the final year of the course create two projects, both carried out over a six week timescale.

Sophie face cast and mould ready for use

Sophie face cast and mould ready for use

Sophie foam latex piece out of mould

Sophie foam latex piece out of mould

The project showing work by Sophie MacDonald is a character called Mumm-ra and is a foam latex piece.  The images show early sculpt, then sculpt ready to be moulded, the face cast and mould ready for use, the foam latex ‘pull’ straight out of the mould and the final shot.

Sophie sculpt ready to be moulded

Sophie sculpt ready to be moulded

Sophie sculpt early stages

Sophie sculpt early stages

Sophie MacDonald final

Sophie MacDonald final

The second project shows work from Claire Minehane, Jodie Leader and Natalie Smith, who worked on two characters.  Images show clay sculpt, silicone prosthetic pre-painted and hairpunched, the application of the pieces, ‘on set’ footage and a final composited shot of the characters.

Natalie, Claire and Jodie applying silicone prosthetic

Natalie, Claire and Jodie applying silicone prosthetic.

Claire, Jodie and Natalie applying silicone prosthetic

Claire, Jodie and Natalie applying silicone prosthetic

We enable the students to use both foam latex and silicone as we feel that this better prepares them for industry – you never know which is preferred by your employee so best to know both.

Jodie sculpt

Jodie sculpt

Natalie pre-painted and hair punched silicone prosthetic

Natalie pre-painted and hair punched silicone prosthetic

Jodie Leader pre-painted and hairpunched silicone piece

Jodie Leader pre-painted and hairpunched silicone piece

Natalie character ready for filming

Natalie character ready for filming

Actors: Alec Walker (who also did the composited shot) and Elliot Nash.

Suppliers:

PS Composites

Precious About Makeup

Guru Makeup Emporium

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By Emma Rutherford

2 responses to “Lesson Learned”

  1. Nicola says:

    Love this article so much… I was born in Bolton with family still there. It’s good to see England can practice and what we preach,to be creative competitive artist with a first-class degree attached to it. More talent should be shown,as it’s not just pleasing to the eye 🙂 but knowledge.

  2. Thanks for sharing and appreciating their work. There’s some great creativity coming out of the UK and it’s fab to know that it’s picked up across the world.

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