Our First Year So Far

First Year NTI Hannah and Daniel

Our first year New Technology Institute students have just completed their first semester and have settled into University life. We thought now would be a great time for them to let you know how they’re finding life at university and what they’ve been up to so far.

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First year BA (Hons) Video Game Digital Art students, Daniel Burrows and Hannah Baker share their experiences so far.

How have you both found the first few months of university life so far?

Daniel: It was quite easy to adjust. At the start of the course we quickly got right into sketching and art fundamentals, so from the get go the class was hanging out with each other, getting to know each other, and drawing and learning together. It’s been a lot of fun.

Hannah: I’ve enjoyed every minute so far! The course is exactly what I was looking for, and I’ve already gained so much from it. I've settled into university life quickly because everyone is so accommodating.

What has been the most fun or interesting project or activity you have been involved with?

Hannah: My latest module involves working as part of team to develop assets for a 2D platform game, and it’s been challenging but exciting! It's something new to everyone so we're all learning together and sharing our experiences and skills to come together and create something.

Daniel: We’re currently building an art asset pack for a video game, and it’s been a huge amount of fun crafting an art style, working on game mechanics, and building the art up as a group. We’re given a lot of room to explore the different potentials of making assets for a video game, and the tutors are always there to help out when we find challenges. It's a great balance between having a lot of artistic freedom while also overcoming the challenges and limitations of creating work.

What different types of projects have you been involved with so far?

Daniel: We began with working on the raw fundamentals of making art. Lots of observational drawing - going outside and exploring Birmingham, and filling up a sketchbook with a variety of subject matter. The tutors gave us some great direction to go in, and sent us out. We’re now involved with a group project that brings together game design, concepting, pre-visualization and all kinds of industry art making techniques. We’re also learning how to work within a team.

Hannah: We’ve worked individually and as part of a team, improving core art skills traditionally, and learning how to master 2D software and basic animation using these skills.

What trips have you been on so far?

Daniel: We’ve been to the Birmingham Art Museum, the University Library and a day at the Botanical Gardens. We also took a trip to spend the day at the V&A Museum of Art in London.

 Hannah: The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. A very valuable day out, and a great bonding experience!

What are you looking forward to?

Hannah:  I’m looking forward to studying how to work with 3D modelling software, and how this will work in conjunction with what I already know.

Daniel: I’m looking forward to the guest speakers and visiting tutors we have throughout the course. The potential to meet some industry veterans and gain an insight into how they work is extremely valuable, and every guest so far has provided an amazing amount of information and help. I’m also really looking forward to learning about 3D techniques in the next modules.

Have you learnt anything unexpected through the course?

Daniel: I’ve learnt quite a lot about just how varied the roles within the entertainment industry are, and the kind of specializations you can look into. I’ve also been surprised by some of the advanced techniques that are used and the depth of work that pre-production on a video game or movie goes through.

 Hannah: I wasn’t expecting to be learning animation so early! 

How have you found your tutors so far?

Hannah: Amazing! They’re very knowledgeable and supportive and do everything they can to set us up for the future by keeping us on our toes!

Daniel: The tutors have been beyond excellent. There’s something very valuable about learning from people who are not only experienced in their field, but who are also still working in the industry and still up to date with modern techniques and pipelines. With how fast the industry moves, that’s vital. They’re very much involved in what you’re learning, and they’ve always had the time if I’ve needed advice, or pointed me in the right direction with a project. Above all, they have a vested interest in helping you start a career, and preparing you for the realities of that.

Is studying at a university much different to studying at college?

Daniel: I would say that It’s much closer to being in a work-like environment than college, and the experience and attitude of the tutors is much more suited to preparing you for work in the entertainment industry than you would find in college.

Hannah: Very different. We’re treated like adults and encouraged to work to the best of our ability both in class and outside in our own time. 

What advice would you give to students who are thinking of studying with us at Birmingham City University?

Hannah: It’s not always an easy ride, but it’s 100% worth it! I’ve already gained so much experience in such a short amount of time, and the tutors bring out the potential in everyone. The past few months have flown by because it's been so much fun, and I already feel like my work has improved a lot!

Daniel: It takes a lot of passion and a lot of work to break into the games industry, and I think that this course is by far the best place to learn and gain the experience you need to do that.  You’re going to learn a huge number of skills and work with some very talented people, and there will be unforeseen challenges along the way, so it’s important keep practicing and to cultivate your passions!

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