Animation and visual effects students at BU had the chance to learn about anatomy in animation from a professor who has worked with some of world’s biggest studios to bring famous characters to life.
Stuart Sumida, Professor of Biology at California State University, shared his experiences with students from across the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) at BU during the first NCCA Christmas lecture.
His expertise around animal structure and function has led to him working and advising major studios including Disney on animated characters for games and films such as The Lion King, Tarzan, The Chronicles of Narnia and the first Harry Potter film.
“I had friends at graduate school who were animators and film-makers and as we each went on with our professional careers one of them asked if I’d ever considered giving some talks to their colleagues. So I gave this talk about horses and wolves and it turned out to be for Beauty and the Beast,” said Stuart.
“It’s always been considered useful but I had the good fortune of bringing a biologist’s perspective and over the years there’s been a co-evolution between myself and people in the industry, where they know how to mine me for information and I’ve learnt more about how to present it to them.”
Stuart, who has previously visited Bournemouth to speak at the BFX Festival, said he felt it was important to speak to students at the very start of their career.
“It allows them to get a feel for the sort of things that studios expect you to know about and their most commonly done characters.
“Each of them presents a different problem to be solved but when you solve those problems you learn about problems that are presented from many other animals.”
He added: “More than anything I want them to know that there’s this massive resource out there in terms of science and scientists - we are all happy to help and the material out there is not as inaccessible as they might think.”
Stuart also said Bournemouth’s reputation in the industry was well known and that NCCA graduates had the chance to make a real difference.
“I’ve known Chris Williams since 2002 and when he came to Bournemouth he asked me to visit. Even before he had come here, it had a reputation as being a centre for computing and computer animation excellence so it was a neat opportunity to visit.
“We are meeting students at the very beginning of their career and they have a chance to go out and have a massive ripple effect – when you go out and work in this industry, a lot of people see what you do. They don’t necessarily see you personally but they see what you do and that ripple effect is gigantic when you talk about things like film, visual effects, and video games
“I was just in a company called Creative Assembly who make a game called Warhammer and kids that were at Bournemouth four years ago when I first visited are working there on a game that I came home and found my son playing. That’s a big deal to me and really exciting.”