'Pocket Pals' Pockets £10,000!

Falmouth Undergraduate Secures £10k Funding for App!

Matt Brown, an undergraduate at Falmouth's BA(Hons) Animation & Visual Effects course has a real cause to celebrate with his latest project. 'PocketPals' is currently under development and will soon be launched as an app designed to increase our awareness and appreciation of the wonders of British wildlife. 

Matt talked to us about how the idea was born; 

"PocketPals came about when we first downloaded Pokemon Go in the summer of 2016. Walking through Wimbledon common we realised that we were spotting more wildlife than finding Pokemon within the game, and the game itself hadn’t mapped out all the trails. So we kept fantasising about this idea for a British wildlife based app, and we were walking around thinking “wouldn’t it be great if this was with real animals” and “don’t you wish someone would make our idea."

Danielle & Matt (and other animals)

Then out of the blue, the Matt and Danielle had an epiphany; 

"Out on another walk we had this enormous, exciting brainstorming session about all the neat features we could include and what animals we could show and so on. To which we finally realised, “You’re on Zoology, I’m on Animation, why don’t we just make this ourselves?

Handily the pair had heard about the Environment Now project, a funding scheme for young people aged 17-24 with a £10,000 award to help them produce work that tackles an environmental issue. So over the summer Matt found himself in the shortlist and so headed off to London to pitch the big idea. It was no surprise that Environment Now saw the idea had legs (or wings, or even fins) and picked it as the one to back, promptly stumping up a cracking £10,000 and a mentor from O2 to bring it to life. 

PocketPals will enable users to find, explore and learn about real-world animals and their environments. The app will utilise GPS on your mobile phone, allowing users to walk and locate virtual animals. Users will be encouraged to walk everywhere from city centres to nature reserves to collect ‘PocketPals’ - and the species found will be based from the users location and the wildlife found in those areas. There is then the opportunity to battle your collected animals for territory using the animal’s ability to display. 

Users will also be able to collect feathers and footprints, known as ‘Tracks and Trails’. Each track will have a set distance that must be walked and the reward will be a rare or high scoring species. As the user gets closer to the set distance, the footprint or feather will turn from a silhouette to a clear image to reveal the animal they are tracking.

Once back in Falmouth all Matt had to do was to pitch the idea for his final major project. Happily it got the thumbs up from our invited industry panel who gave the idea a beaming green light. This marks a first for the course which normally see ideas for films pitched. This departure from the norm is very exciting and we hope will inspire future generations of students on the course to try something new!

So over the coming months Matt and Danielle will be working with a creative team to bring the game to reality. Check your local app store soon for 'PocketPals' and remember where you heard about it first!


Spellbinding Start!

International Director Wows Falmouth Animators!

Barry in full flow!

As our students arrived back to Falmouth for the start of the new academic year they were treated to a spellbinding keynote lecture from the legendary polymath, director, animator, writer and actor Barry Purves.

In a packed theatre Barry entertained the assembled throng of eager students to a three hour info-packed talk which ranged from Shakespeare, ballet, opera, Trump and Mars Attacks! The theme of his lecture was ideas around "Forget about reality.. all art is artifice"

Barry is best known for his work in stop motion, with a career spanning nearly forty years. He spoke at length about his beginnings at the Manchester based studio Cosgrove Hall, famous for productions like ‘Danger Mouse’, ‘Count Duckula’ and ‘Wind in the Willows’. There was a sense of the uncanny for Barry as he was staying in the Greenbanks Hotel in Falmouth, where Kenneth Grahame started work on the stories that became 'Wind in the Willow', and outside Barry's room hung of Shepherd's original drawings of Mr Toad. 

Indeed it was on ‘Wind in the Willows’ that Barry cut his teeth before forming his own production company Bare Boards where he produced the Oscar nominate ‘Gilbert & Sullivan – The Very Models’ and ‘Next’ – a film that captures every Shakespeare play in seven minutes. Barry carefully went through the film breaking it down shot by shot as an exercise in semiotics.

A contemplative Mr Purves.

Barry also talked about his career which has encompassed working on Peter Jackson’s ‘King Kong’, with Tim Burton on ‘Mars Attacks!’, of his commercials, short films, love of masks, puppetry, ballet, tango and opera and his work as a theatre director with his latest production ‘Ladies In Lavender’, ironically set in Cornwall. But above all for him Barry impressed on our students the importance of story saying that "as storytellers we must find devices that allow us to talk honestly". Sage advice indeed.

And as the lecture wound to a close Barry left three nuggets of advice for our fledgling animators. Firstly he suggested to them that they  "keep the films simple" and "don’t have too many clever things". And looking back on his career he said that it had never felt like a job, that it had been years of fun, and for our animators to "enjoy it, it’s better than plumbing". Thanks Barry we'll remember that next time we have a leaky tap!

Success for Simona!

Falmouth undergraduate wins national competition!

Over the summer of 2017 first year Animation & VFX undergraduate Simona Cojocariu took part in Project Shout. The project is a national campaign aiming to raise awareness of carbon monoxide and its potential danger.

The organisers produced a challenging competition brief that excited her and got her thinking "I want to get involved!"

When Simona first read the brief she was still hard at work finishing her University course work and she knew that she wouldn't be able to have a finished animated film by the deadline. However, thinking creatively, and being a talented all-rounder, she decided to enter the Art and Illustration category. 

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste and so Simona took that as a starting point. Her artwork represented the frail and fragile contour of the human body, its vulnerability enhanced by her use of thin black lines. Her character's own hand covers his eyes as a symbol for a general lack of understanding of the dangers presented by carbon monoxide and how easily it can be inhaled.

Simona's winning work

After this silent, odourless deadly gas is breathed in, it enters your bloodstream, the blood is no longer able to carry oxygen causing the body’s cells to die. Simona tried to express that in a visually poetic symbolic way by drawing the blood vessels as tree branches attached to an infected heart. The thicker black lines that follow the branches represent the poison entering the body. The oxygen mask held desperately aloft emphasises a lack of of essential clean air.

The award ceremony was held at the Charlotte Street Hotel, London in September where the winners for each category were announced.Falmouth University were proudly represented by SImona, and her stunning illustration was awarded first prize, winning the Art and Illustration category. In addition to this Simona was also presented with a prize of £500. 

Speaking after the event Simona said "I really enjoyed meeting students from different universities that are studying similar courses and discussing ideas,work and future plans."

The Winners! (Simona - front row, far left)

The whole course team on the BA(Hons) Animation & Visual Effects course are hugely proud of Simona's achievement in this national competition. Winning this at such an early stage in her career is a huge accolade, and certainly hints towards a very successful future.

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