Escape Studios announces UK’s first MA degree in Storyboarding and Pre-visualisation

The industry’s first Storyboarding and Pre-Vis master’s degree course, developed with mentors Blue Zoo and The Third Floor, is launching in November 2019.

Escape Studios has been offering short courses and postgraduate degrees since 2002 and now they’re launching the industry’s first specialised Storyboarding and Pre-visualisation master’s degree programme. The one-year, full-time MA programme was developed in collaboration with industry mentors including Blue Zoo Animation Studio and The Third Floor, and will provide students with a unique opportunity to learn industry-level skills while earning an internationally recognised academic qualification.

The storyboard is the major tool for directing a story, and one of the most important stages of planning a motion picture. Pre-visualization techniques are used as a frame of reference for production development. Talented story and previsualization artists utilise visual language to transform the script into a moving image through illustrations and scene compositions displayed in sequences in order to communicate the story in the clearest and most effective way and to reduce unnecessary work and costs.  Good storyboarding and pre-visualisation planning helps investors, producers, art directors, set designers, actors and production teams working on a project to get a good idea about the staging, the continuity, the camera positions, the acting of the characters and the dialogue of each scene giving a clear impression about the look of the final product in real-time.

The course’s lead tutor will be veteran storyboard artist Iliana Franklin, whose credits include Framestore’s The Tale of Despereaux.

Course tutor, Iliana Franklin said:

“Storyboard artists need to have a degree of education combining several disciplines. Art and design is one of them providing the artistic skills needed to be a professional storyboard artist. Next, a good knowledge of film studies is required in order to understand film theory and the filmmaking process. Solid computer design skills and experience with the latest technologies is an important prerequisite for becoming proficient storyboard and previsualisation artist. Some studios develop bespoke technology, others use Toon Boom, TV Paint and Maya, therefore a degree course will enhance the opportunity to learn and practice using industry relevant tools. Students on this course will be able to create a competitive portfolio using Panelforge, Maya and Storyboard Pro under industry supervision, receive expert advice and feedback before showcasing their work to prospective employers.”

Many great artists and filmmakers of the past paved the way for how we tell the modern story today. The principles and rules that they established through experience still govern the pre-production practice for any medium of film, animation or interactive media sequence. However, with the constantly evolving media environment the future of storytelling is moving towards new paradigms. New forms of storytelling have come forth including VR and AR that require fresh approaches to cater to the needs of emerging technologies and platforms redefining interaction with the public, the relationship between producers and users and changing the way we experience ourselves and the world. We are no longer just telling a story but we must listen to our active audiences transforming our models for design and production. With the huge growth in animation and VFX production in the UK in recent years there is a shortage of skilled storyboard artists and this MA course at Escape Studios will prepare competent storyboard and previsualisation artists with solid skills and expertise that the industry needs.

Alex Williams, Head of Animation at Escape Studios has worked on films including Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the Lion King (1994) and the last three Harry Potter films. Alex is at the forefront of the program’s development.

Alex Williams said:

“Storyboarding is an important part of the story-telling process and one that is currently an area of skills shortage. Industry has long been telling us that they cannot find enough skilled storyboard artists to satisfy the huge growth in animation and VFX production in the UK in recent years. Storyboarding is a basic skill that every filmmaker should have; being able to express a sequence of shots visually is one of the key skills in narrative storytelling.”

The program will take advantage of two new recently installed software packages: Toonboom Storyboard Pro, and Panel Forge, the latter a hybrid software that blends 3D modeling resources with drawing tools. Panel Forge is essentially a stripped-down version of Maya, pioneered by Blue Zoo and Jellyfish Animation, and helps to speed up the storyboarding process.

Previsualisation will be mainly taught using Autodesk Maya. In addition, Blue Zoo and The Third Floor will continue to provide mentorship over the course of the program through student work review and feedback. For more information, visit course page.

For all media enquiries contact:
Helen Morgan
Head of Communications, PR and Content

Notes for editors:

About Escape Studios
A university education, powered by industry experience and built by the best industry minds.

Escape Studios are pioneering the next wave of visual effects artists, animators and game developers by transforming higher education. With industry engagement at its core, Escape Studios’ approach to industry-focused learning, is what sets it apart from the rest.

Escape harnesses the expertise and relentless creativity of award-winning artists. Students are taught by well-connected industry experts that have worked on the likes of The Dark Knightthe Lion King and Harry Potter, plus games for multiple PlayStation titles; tapping into real insight built from years of experience in the creative industries. This is also harnessed through an industry-led Advisory Board, bringing together talent from the top studios in the sector, including Framestore, MPC, Cinesite, Double Negative, Dreamworks Animation and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, to design, develop and deliver programmes.

Escape’s 4000+ alumni (dubbed ‘Escapees’) include BAFTA and Oscar winners; they’ve worked on VFX blockbusters like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Jungle Book, Dr Strange, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Captain America: Civil War, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina, Interstellar and Gravity. They’ve also worked on bestselling games (Assassin’s Creed and Forza Horizon), award winning adverts, and some have even set-up their own studios.