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There's plenty of choice when it comes to further education courses in animation, 3D art and graphic design, but one college is leading the way by using CINEMA 4D as the main teaching tool. Blackburn College has been providing education for over 120 years and is the second largest provider of higher education for a college in the UK.

There are currently over 15,000 students of all ages, backgrounds, abilities and interests, studying on courses from Entry Level through to Masters degrees. The University Centre at Blackburn College itself is situated in a dedicated, £13.5 million modern building featuring excellent facilities for students studying Animation, Design, Photography and Graphics. The College is also an Apple Authorised Training Centre for Education (AATCe).

The 3D courses on offer at UCBC include BA (Hons) Design (Animation & Illustration), BA (Hons) Design (Moving Image), BA (Hons) Design (Graphic Communication) and FdA Graphic Design. All the courses use CINEMA 4D as the main 3D package, supplemented with Adobe Creative Suite, After Effects, Final Cut Pro X and Motion and SynthEyes.

For the vast majority of the graphics students, this will be the first time they have worked in 3D, which is why CINEMA 4D is such an obvious choice of software to use. William Card, Program Leader, BA Design Year 3, explained why: "At University Centre Blackburn College (UCBC), we use CINEMA 4D because it produces excellent quality renders whilst maintaining a clear, consistent and logical interface that puts other 3D software to shame. Its learning curve means that students can get great results in a short time, which keeps them motivated to learn more."

"It is flexible enough to be used by all kinds of designers, animators and visual effects artists. CINEMA 4D's entire workflow can be learnt and managed by individual students within a relatively short time, whilst still being flexible enough for larger production teams," continued William.

Sophie Ward, a Year 2 BA (Hons) Design (Graphic Communication) student, agreed that CINEMA 4D is the ideal software package for someone new to 3D: "I think it's brilliant to use. I've never even touched it before, and within one lesson of using it, I could easily say that I would choose to use CINEMA 4D over any other software. I think it's more fun to use as it's more interactive than other packages."

The four 3D-orientated courses at UCBC are three-year, Honours-level programmes which aim to equip students for a tailored career in the ever-changing fields of animation, motion graphics, illustration, graphic design, video production, and post-production. The focus is on identifying and nurturing individual areas of specialism through various pathways as they progress on the course.

Practical assignments are balanced by contextual enquiry through the development of sound research and analytical skills in units which aim to bring together theory and practice. Animation students use CINEMA 4D for character animation and motion graphics. Moving Image students use CINEMA 4D for titling/motion graphics as well as visual effects, and Graphic Communication students use CINEMA 4D for product and packaging visualisation.

Baron Jepson, a Year 3 BA (Hons) Design (Animation and Illustration) student, explained how CINEMA 4D offers flexibility and ease-of-use, compared to other software packages: "The software is very logical to use. I especially like the Object browser. CINEMA 4D has helped me learn 3D visualisation and animation, allowing me to take part in two productions."

Baron adds: "After trying Blender, CINEMA 4D is a pleasure to use, and compared to Maya, it is quick to produce results that get you hooked. The results from CINEMA 4D are truly inspiring. I cannot wait to pass the next milestone, whatever that may be."

The images shown here are produced by BA (Hons) Design (Graphic Communication) students in a Year 2 module called 'Three Dimensional Graphic Design.' Student Mark Purser designed artworks based on The Clash's album 'London Calling,' for an inclusive exhibition for visually impaired people. He also created a design for a London taxi branded sat-nav. Another student was tasked with the challenge to come up with a blister pack for jelly beans.

When the software is easy to understand, the students are free to explore their creativity in meeting the design challenges, such as Abbey Hernandez, also currently taking the Year 2 module, who enthused, "I enjoy the scope and ability of CINEMA 4D, being able to invent anything of your imagination. The results of CINEMA 4D are amazing. Using CINEMA 4D gave me the confidence in using a program for the first time, gaining the skills to create something I never imagined I could."

By Duncan Evans, a freelance journalist, photographer and author.

Note: These images are student concepts and are not actual products of the companies.

Blackburn College: www.blackburn.ac.uk



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