In 2011 two giants of the Visual Effects and Games Industries, Alex Hope (Double Negative) and Ian Livingstone (Eidos) compiled a report for the Government detailing how the UK can be transformed into the world’s leading talent hub for video games and visual effects. In essence the report (entitled Next Gen) showed that apart from a few leading universities and schools, the UK’s education system was letting down our young talent and creating a skills shortage, pushing the industry to source from overseas.
The National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) at Bournemouth University is the leading centre for teaching production and research in computer animation and digital effects. Not only did NCCA academics take part in the Next Gen report, which showed they were at the top of their game, but when it was published Sofronis Efstathiou and Adam Twycross (with the help of Nasreen El-Mariesh) decided to take action and address some of the issues raised.
Teaming up with Arts University Bournemouth, a highly regarded neighbouring arts university, the NCCA created a hub called The International VFX Hub, under the directorship of Peter Truckel. Tasked with generating commercial outlets and links to industry for students, graduates and academic staff, the VFX hub also aims to raise the profile of Bournemouth by supporting a series of projects.
The BFX festival was the first of these projects, which was designed to showcase the visual effects and animation industry but more importantly showcase the wave of fresh talent around the UK as well as educate and inspire the next generation. BFX launched in November 2012 to overwhelming support from industry and subsequently has some incredible partners on board, including; Double Negative, Framestore, Moving Picture Company, The Mill, Cinesite, Creative Skillset and BAFTA.
At the heart of the BFX festival is a summer competition for VFX and animation students from around the country taking place this summer, with the winning team walking away with internships at a leading UK film and visual effects studio.
The competition is followed in September with a festival programme around Bournemouth consisting of; public film screenings of the best of British visual effects, in depth workshops, a careers hub showing how to get involved with the industry as well as the awards ceremony itself. This year’s festival will also include a 2 day academic conference on campus at Bournemouth University (BU) and Arts University Bournemouth (AUB).