Wednesday 13 December 2017

3D brings animation career closer to reality for Ben Walsh

"I would definitely recommend Springboard+ to anyone who wants to make a career in this area"

25 year old Ben Walsh from Malahide in Dublin had always been fascinated and impressed by the level of artistic skill displayed by the great Hollywood animation studios in movies like Toy Story, An American Tail and the Lego Movie. He had been drawing since he was a child and while Ben loved to use pencil and watercolour, animation always interested him.

"When I left school, I studied Computer Science at DIT but I soon realised that it wasn't for me and that my heart lay in a more artistic direction," said Ben. "So I applied for one of the animation courses at Ballyfermot and was delighted to be accepted."

He graduated from the Ballyfermot College of Further Education with a Higher National Diploma in Illustration in 2012. Unfortunately, it was the height of the recession and as the course did not include the now necessary skills in 3-D animation, work was proving thin on the ground. So Ben took on other temporary employment, including a three month internship at the National Museum of Archaeology, drawing ancient artefacts by hand.

His lack of 3-D animation skills was still standing in the way of meaningful work experience in his preferred career until a friend of his mum mentioned the Springboard+ scheme. He spotted and applied for the Certificate in 3D for Games course at the Dundalk Institute of Technology which had just become available under the scheme, and was accepted following an interview and submission of his portfolio.

The course, which only began at DKIT in 2014, equips participants with skills in 3D modelling, animation, game concept development, project generation and management along with key game theory principles. The students gain vital software skills in programs such as 3D Studio Max and Unreal Engine 4.

"I attended college two days a week and in between, there were plenty of projects to be completed," said Ben. "There were only 13 of us in the class and it was great to be once again learning alongside like-minded people. We also received a lot of one-to-one support and mentoring from our three lecturers which was excellent for building confidence. One of my favourite parts of the course was creating three animated pieces of work in the 3D Studio Max program."

Ben also benefited from four weeks work experience with Glue Visual Effects in East Wall, Dublin, which handles visual effects for both film and advertising production companies. "I worked on animation for an exciting project and I loved every minute of it. I am now feeling pretty good about getting full-time work in this industry and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to make a career in this area."

Irish Independent

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