Manimation 2014 – Training and Skills

Posted on: Monday 24 November 2014 11:37am

IMG_2292Manimation Fusion – 20 November 2014 – The Morecambe and Wise Room, BBC Bridge House, Media City Salford. 

A day of exploration of every aspect of the current animation scene with a special emphasis on Manchester and the North West.

Training and Skills – Where are the Gaps?

Kath Shackleton from Fettle Animation opened the session with her showcase on the Creative Skillset training scheme which allowed them to take on new staff direct from animation courses at half the cost. Five trainees worked on their series ‘Children of the Holocaust’ which was commissioned by BBC Learning and was nominated for a Children’s BAFTA.  Fettle explained the training project in a specially made video.

Kath was honest about the challenges, and the need for full commitment to the scheme, but thoroughly recommended the process and the young people who benefited from it and brought benefit to Fettle’s work.

‘Children of the Holocaust’ can be seen at:


Belinda Peach Director – Peachy


Chris Bowden Producer – Mackinnon and Saunders

Jean Flynn  Producer/Director – Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick

Gina Jackson  Acting MD – Next Gen Skills Academy

Sarah Ann Kennedy  Course Leader of BA and MA Animation – University of Central Lancashire

Belinda Peach introduced the importance of the creative sector to regenerating the economy – both nationally and locally in Manchester.  Training, skills deficits, and policies associated with them were going to be vital to the success of the creative sector.

Sarah Anne Kennedy outlined the animation course at Central Lancashire and assured everyone that basic animation was part of it – i.e. not relying on computers to do it for you.

Chris Bowden talked about young people coming through – and how companies would be looking for a wide range of skills.  He used the example of  prop maker – i.e. not just animators – and there were few sources of those more esoteric skills.  Also there was a need for courses that would do more to help people with their “soft skills” – self-presentation, the way in which work actually works, working in teams, dealing with notes, pitching…

And all the speakers discussed in particular being able to take and use criticism.  It was felt that in the school system too much help was given, and too little criticism, so that when people arrive on a practical course at higher education they find it hard to take and to understand that the process is often one of creation, criticism and reiteration.

Jean Flynn followed up with the need for drawing skills, but also revealed that at CHF  they look at people in terms of how they would fit into teams, work collaboratively etc – and often colleges are not helping with any of those real-work attributes.  Often young people have the attributes but there has been no emphasis on it in their college career, so they put those skills on the back burner.

It was felt that industry links into the academic sector was the best way forward.

Gina Jackson described the Next Gen Skills Academy as “not a bricks and mortar” initiative but financed (to the tune of £6.5m) to develop new forms of apprenticeship, working with creative industry companies to build the right forms of project – and there was a particular need for animation companies to get involved.

MMU LogoAndy Wyatt closed the session with a showcase of the new Manchester School of Art animation BA course which begins in September 2015.  Andy is keen to make contact with the Manchester animation sector to join a steering group for the course and felt this would in part provide some of the links described in the previous session.  A full explanation of the new course is available here.

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