Last Friday evening I had the opportunity to take a close look at the working machinery of the animation training titan that’s Escape Studios.
I can safely say that Escape are one of the best CG academies in the world, you can train there on anything from creature rigging to animation, special effects and games. Their students or ‘Escapists’ as they call them have access to top end machines to work on, a team of vastly experienced tutors, fantastic head quarters, hardware and software retail store with student discounts and even their own bar/cafe on the ground floor.
In less than an hour I met more talent than my brain can grasp
In less than an hour I met more talent than my brain can grasp, firstly there was Lee Danskin, their VFX tutor, who has worked at The Film Factory at VTR, The Moving Picture Company and co-founded Smoke and Mirrors 3D; Then I had a chat with the legendary Jeff Pratt, ex-Nasa and Pixar man in charge of the animation course. I could not find out what made him give up sunny California for our ‘picturesque’ British weather, what ever the reason the Escapists should consider themselves lucky that he did. Finally I chatted to the bubbly Nick Savy, their creatures and characters Jedi master, who used to work at Sega, Sony, Psygnosis, Glassworks, Indestructable, Double Negative and Cinesite. You can straight away sense their passion and insight in their fields. They were nice enough to have a look at my work, which threw some encouraging comments as well, thanks guys.
I managed to peek at some of their workshops in progress, in the games they were developing new levels for the no-yet-released version of Unreal, which I imagine they will all be testing later chasing each other with lasers. And just across the corridor the class was having an interesting open discussion with a visiting VFX expert from Russia, who travelled to give them feedback on the sequences they were working on for ‘The Hunt for Gollum’ project. I really didn’t want to leave the room, as you’d imagine I was crest fallen when we had to leave the classroom.
Vast experience aside they are all also really good natured people, unpretentious, friendly and with a sense of humour. I’ll definitely make sure to stay in touch with this great bunch.
Addendum: Lee if you’re reading this, I thought of another one: Coolworld, 1992. I loved the eclectic feast of styles to which Ralph Bakshi generously treated us.