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Based on the East Coast of England, South Essex College’s Digital Animation course is designed to provide students with the skills, knowledge and experience required for success in real-world creative environments. That means more than working with content creation systems – it also means an education in production.

That’s why South Essex College sets its students up with an ftrack account to manage projects, track assets and deliver a cohesive end product. Students get first-hand experience of what it’s like to use production tracking software in an educational setting, better preparing them for real studio environments once they graduate.

We caught up with the college’s students to see what they’ve been working on and how ftrack has helped manage projects.

Nathan Mead
Year 2, BA Hons Digital Animation

What have you been working on recently?
A performance shot: taking a audio clip from a recognisable movie and creating a motion accompany it. The task of animating this sequence was created in ftrack for me by my tutor, so I open it using ftrack connect and then when completed I publish directly from Maya to receive my feedback.

How has ftrack made this an easier project?
Remote access – I can receive feedback without being in the same room. I could be sat at home working on improvements for my 3D work, while the tutor is teaching another class, and I know I’m not disturbing them by asking for one-on-one feedback via ftrack.

Would you recommend ftrack to other students? 
Absolutely. You can communicate with your tutor and get feedback from them easily, as well as from your peers. Also it’s very easy to use – you just login to ftrack and immediately you can what you’ve been working on and what others have done too. It provides excellent oversight.

Rocchina Rizzo
Year 2, BA Hons Digital Animation

What have you been using ftrack for?
This year I’ve been actively using ftrack to publish my digital animation shots; from shots as simple as bouncing ball animations to more complex character performance shots.

How has ftrack’s integration with Autodesk Maya helped things along?
ftrack’s Maya integration makes things straightforward – it’s really easy to publish a shot when I need feedback. I’m able to log onto ftrack to keep up to date with assignments and receive live feedback with my tutors all within the app.

Do you feel ftrack is well-suited to your course environment?
Yes – it’s a well-designed platform that allows the student to fully keep up to date with all assignments. It’s an excellent way to receive quick feedback, as you can set a task to priority so that the tutor knows that you want feedback straight away. That allows you to get on creating, and learning, faster!

Callum Macfarlane
Year 2, BA Hons Digital Animation

How has ftrack helped you to become a better animator?
The ability to upload to ftrack straight from Maya has made the feedback process – and therefore the learning process – significantly easier. I typically receive feedback within about 15-20 minutes of uploading it into ftrack. Once I get it, I’m able to make amendments to the shot, then re-upload for further feedback. It enables that constant flow of improvement.

Would you recommend ftrack to other students?
Yes, highly. You assigned projects are laid out in a very intuitive manner, providing a quick update on which projects are in progress, which have been completed and which have yet to be started. When uploading to ftrack, you’re also able to add a priority tag to let your tutor know that it needs feedback, which makes things easier than bugging them in the corridor!

Joe Bumpus
Year 3, BA Hons Digital Animation

What have you been working on with ftrack recently?
I’m currently working on a short 2D animated film. It tells the story of two boys on an adventure through an abandoned house.

How has ftrack helped to break down the complexity of this project?
ftrack enables me to segment tasks into their various vital components. This makes working on specific shots or assets feel a lot more manageable. Information is easily shared through ftrack too – it makes receiving feedback really easy, as everything can be looked at and reviewed remotely.

Do you think ftrack makes life easier for animation students?
Yes. It trains students to keep up-to-date records of projects, and that organisation can be key in avoiding mistakes. Updated versions of the same task can be easily uploaded within a task, which makes progress really easy to follow.

Lydia Rose Pickering
Year 2, BA Hons Digital Animation

What features in ftrack have stood out to you?
The ability to see each other’s work is really useful in developing skills, and of course being able to get direct feedback from tutors is excellent. I also like the way we can track our time spent on each project.

Would you recommend ftrack to other students?
100%. It’s the easiest way to keep track of what work you’ve finished and what needs to be improved on.

Dan Sanders
Year 3, BA Hons Digital Animation

What have you been working on with ftrack recently?
I’ve been working on my Final Major Project animation, which is a 1-2 minute 2D animation sequence based on a comedic take on an interrogation scene. I’ve been using ftrack to collate feedback on my animated scenes or background art, as well as staying tracking how much time I spend on each shot.

How has ftrack made things easier for you?
ftrack is invaluable in monitoring tasks that I need to work. After talking to my manager I was able to set up a file structure that enables me to easily see how many shots are need for each scene in my animation. Using this setup I can upload different versions of each scene, showing me how much progress I have made over the course of the production.

The ability to track how much time I have spent on each shot is also really useful. It indicated which scenes may be lacking in terms of work.

Would you recommend ftrack to fellow animation students?
Absolutely – it’s a very effective time management and feedback tool. Using those functions you can reduce the amount of time wasted on waiting, quickly determine what needs improvement and get on with creating!

Dan Gilbey
Year 3, BA Hons Digital Animation

What has your group been working on with ftrack?
We’re producing a two-and-a-half minute supernatural/romance 2D animation, primarily in Toon Boom Animation called Forever & Always. Two characters bound by fate slowly learn about one another as they travel through human history, journeying from Egypt to Italy to England and France, and eventually meeting face to face.

How has ftrack made organisation simpler on this project?
We use ftrack to section out each scene into individual tasks such as background, bg assets, character, sound and so on. It is incredibly useful as manually organising all of this would be overwhelming and would bog down the process. Thankfully, ftrack makes all of this simple. It’s also incredibly useful for organising deadlines and time allotment with its hours bidding system.

Do you think it’s important that students get first hand experience of tools like ftrack?
Yes – it’s essential practise for industry work.

Leah Green
Year 2, BA Hons Digital Animation

What have you been working on recently?
I’ve been working on multiple 3D animated projects along with my classmates – from animating bouncing balls to full-body performance animation.

How has the ability to receive feedback in ftrack improved your skillset?
I can get feedback from my tutor instantly – even if he’s not teaching us at the time when I upload my work-in-progress animation to ftrack. We can even do this via ftrack’s handy app via our phones. This enables me to work on my animations almost continuously, which means a very quick turnaround time!

ftrack has also made critiquing my peers’ work quicker and easier, which is important, as gaining feedback from each other on our animations, as well as our tutors, is important part of our course

What stands out to you most about ftrack?
Its user-friendly interface. It makes gaining feedback from your tutor and peers quick and easy so you to carry on animating instantly, always adjusting to the feedback you have received and improving each time.

Are you interested in incorporating ftrack into your school, college or university? If you’re an educational institution looking to impart production tracking knowledge, then we’d love to hear from you and discuss how we can help.

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