Meet Alex Parker, a Master's degree student who studied 3D Computer Animation at Bournemouth University!
Student Spotlight: Alex Parker, ‘17
US hometown: Coppell, Texas
Current academic pursuits: MA 3D Computer Animation
Why did you choose the UK to study film and media?
After an interview with DreamWorks Animation Studios, I realized I needed to broaden my experiences and go somewhere where I could really focus on animating and the animation pipeline. Several of my professors recommended Bournemouth University, and after looking into their reputation and student work, it was abundantly clear that Bournemouth was where I needed to be.
Why did you choose this program?
I wanted a graduate program that was career-focused, and that would challenge me to reach industry standards with industry-level software. I was blown away by the work being produced by students on the program, and I wanted to get a fresh start somewhere that would be able to help me reach my lofty career goals.
What was your favorite class?
The course was broken up into several different pieces, one of which was focused on teaching computer animation softwares and techniques, and this part was definitely my favorite. Each software class was taught by experienced industry professionals, and the course hours felt more like sessions at an animation conference than typical classes.
Do you have a project from your time as a student that you’re most proud of?
As I did my final Master’s project independently, it was 12 weeks of getting to design an animation from the inside out, and from start to finish. Having complete creative licence over a project like that was exciting, and the short ended up being one that really represented my style as a 3D artist and animator.
What is your best memory from your time in the UK?
Being down by Bournemouth Square during Christmas time is definitely a cherished memory from my time there; holiday booths lined the streets, twinkle lights were everywhere, and there was plenty of coffee and hot chocolate all around!
What was the greatest challenge you encountered as a student?
Being an international student meant I had to jump through a few extra hoops just to get normal things done, and that was definitely a challenge. Setting up a UK bank account, transferring school credits, getting UK phone service, and understanding UK grading scales were some of the most notable struggles, but handling each of these things came with a sense of independence, and there was always help available when I needed it.
What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned on your course?
I’ve taken away a good handful of really valuable lessons from my time here, one of the most important ones being that there will always be someone who knows more about something than you do, whether it be rigging, animation, rendering, (or in my case, sometimes even turning the computer on), and there is absolutely no shame in asking those people for help! I’m a stubborn problem solver, and I’ll sit on a problem for days trying to fix something myself, when a simple question to a coursemate can sometimes fix it in minutes. The people around you have all been in your shoes at one point; this industry is a continuous learning process, and the help you can give one another is really invaluable.
What advice would you give to other students who are thinking about studying film and media studies in the UK?
On a technical note, which I can’t emphasize enough: the framerate in the UK is 25 frames per second! If you’re working in film, you’ll know what I’m talking about and understand how important that is, and why I kept a sticky note reminder on my computer all year long with this written on it! On a general note, I would say that no matter where you’re studying, the principles behind well-made film and media aren’t changing anytime soon, so no matter how far from home the UK may be, the skills you’re learning are completely transferrable.
Fact about the UK that you think people would be surprised to learn:
The UK obviously has a reputation for taking their tea time seriously, but good grief, I was so completely surprised at the extent to which this is true! I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing tea close by, and each lecture had a break for tea time, every day. It was such a change, but I really enjoyed it!
How do you think having studied in the UK will affect your future work?
Being from the US, studying all the way in the UK really reinforced the universality of animation principles and techniques; everything I learned in the UK is completely relevant throughout the industry, and I’m excited to work on projects now that I’ve got a newfound awareness of how global animation work has the potential to be.