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An extra dimension

Dominic Spall graduated in 2019 and works as a designer and freelancer. Describing his style as “quite surrealist and technical”, he recently worked on two BBC iPlayer projects. Ultimately, he has his sights set on London design studios.

Animation is a really powerful form of communication that lets you visualise any idea no matter how abstract. I’d been passionate about 3D graphics from the age of 12. My first animation would have been a YouTube intro way back in 2011. It’s hilariously painful to watch.

My friend and I used to film skate edits back in the day. I used to be amazed by his editing using Windows Movie Maker. So I started to learn how to video edit and then eventually got my hands on a 3D package and started mucking about in it.

After finishing my digital Art and Design course in college, logically my next step would be an animation course, specialising in 3D. The course applied a more creative approach to my technical ability. I felt that I was making more artistic animations by the end of it.

In the industry they have specialist people for specific roles. I’d say it would be more beneficial to focus and master one field then to be average across multiple. I think 3D is an emergent field covering a much broader space than 2D and Stop motion combined.

Edge Hill’s course stood out for me as they had all the equipment you would ever need. Whether it be a large Cintiq drawing tablet, or high-end workstation PCs with licences for 2D and 3D software.

The course trip to Lisbon, Portugal was a highlight. We collaborated with animation students there to create a film for an animation festival being held in the city. We had two days to come up with an idea, plan and produce it all. I was at the University till 6am working on it with my team.

I worked on an interactive projection mapping exhibition for the Tate Liverpool with my tutor Alex Jukes (below). It was another incredible highlight. I created visuals that were projected onto a suspended cube that the audience could interact with using a midi controller to change, colour, speed and display different animations.

An image of an exhibition at the Tate Liverpool. There is a table and multiple pieces of equipment in this image and a projector that is showing a display on one of the walls.
An image of the Tate Liverpool exhibition in action.

Life after graduation has gone a lot better than I thought. I thought I wasn’t ready for the big bad world, but opportunities slowly started to come to me, through social media. The tutors forward over relevant jobs to graduates – good opportunities to work on real world briefs.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some big names since graduating. I’ve worked with my favourite DJs over lockdown for an online music festival, and I’ve created 3D visual effects for a few music videos.

Most recently, I’ve been working on two jobs for BBC iPlayer campaigns. One was a collaborative effort promoting BBC iPlayer itself that’s been on the telly, which is awesome but very surreal to see. The other was promoting David Attenborough boxsets. The snake was a paid model from the web, and animating it was surprisingly simple, it just follows a spline (line). I hand-animated some secondary animation, like the tongue flicking, and it just sold the realism.

My time at Edge Hill was great, the tutors were good fun and I made some awesome friends. My advice to students? Get involved with various societies, it’s good to have friends outside of halls and class.

May 26, 2022