In partnership with Aardman, this intensive 3 month Certificate in Character Animation is aimed primarily at graduates and is taught by industry professionals within Aardman studios here in Bristol.


The course will be led by Senior Animator Inez Woldman (Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Morph, Creature Comforts) with weekly support from Loyd Price, Head of Animation at Aardman (Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Flushed Away, Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists and Nightmare Before Christmas). The course was devised with the aim of bridging the gap between education and industry, enabling students to develop the core practical skills needed to become competent professional animators and to create believable characters through acting and performance. Each year it evolves with industry needs and best practice and is flexible to respond to feedback from previous years.

2017 students benefitted from Masterclasses presented by Richard Williams, Magda Osinska, Darren Robbie, Peter Lord, Sam Fell, Will Becher, Suzie Templeton, Mat Rees, Jess McKillop, Leanne Loughran and Daniel Gerhardt. Professionals from DNeg, Locksmith, Blue Zoo, Factory Create, Blink Ink and Traveller’s Tales all took time to come and impart some hard-won knowledge. Students also attend specific Acting for Animation workshops, life drawing and yoga, supporting animation exercises designed to challenge and expand the students’ repertoire of performance animation.

The course has an incredibly successful track record with over 80% of graduates having worked in the industry at studios such as Aardman Features, Animortal, Blink Ink, Blue Zoo, Jellyfish, Factory Create, Traveller’s Tales and on the recent Wes Anderson Isle of Dogs feature film, with an alumni community of trusted and talented animators building year on year.

Course Overview

Course dates: 24th September - 14th December 2018

This course takes place at Aardman’s studio in Bristol and is taught by practicing Aardman animators who have worked on many productions including Early Man, Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, Flushed Away, The Pirates! and the Shaun the Sheep Movie. There is additional support from other industry professionals from both the stop frame and CG animation disciplines including Factory Create and Blue Zoo who are formally supporting the course again this year. The course is intensive with the main aim being to produce students with the level of animation skills needed to allow them to get jobs as animators within this competitive industry.

While this is no guarantee of future success, to date over 80% of former students have become animators within the industry. The course is open to a maximum of 6 Stop Frame and 6 CG students, with the students working in either CG (using Maya) or Stop Frame (using Dragon-Frame). Students will be taught in small groups to enable maximum contact time with staff and other visiting tutors.

The course will be taught in a series of weekly assignments, each focusing on a key aspect of animation performance. Students will be encouraged to repeat and finesse each assignment during the week. The course will be based on learning technical and practical skills, providing a foundation on which students can become technically proficient animators and thereby enable them to bring their characters to life.

The course is structured to build from simpler exercises towards a short sequence demonstrating character-based performance, which will be animated within scheduled production deadlines. The course runs from 9.30 – 6pm Monday to Friday. The course fee also includes free weekday lunches and a two week paid placement after graduation in a studio in the U.K. (*Please see VISA details below)

Past placements have included Aardman Features, Animortal, Blink Ink, Blue Zoo, Factory Transmedia, Isle of Dogs – Wes Anderson Feature, JellyFish and Traveller’s Tales.

On completion of the course students will

  • Have improved technical animation skills
  • Be able to deliver convincing character acting and performance
  • Produce their work to a deadline
  • Understand the role of an animator with a production
  • Have benefited from masterclasses with key industry professionals
  • Have completed an industry placement

View a showreel of work completed by 2017 students on the course

NFTS Aardman Academy Character Animation Certificate 2017

See the Aardman Academy page for this course at:

* NB: VISAS: Any non EU applicants will need to check that they meet the eligibility criteria for the course, and unless they hold a valid working visa will be unable to undertake the paid internship element of the course. Please can you make this known on your application to NFTS.


This is a 12 week full time intensive and practical course based at the Aardman studio’s in Bristol.  The majority of the course is practical with students working on animation exercises to improve their skills, knowledge and experience.

Initially the course will focus on the core animation skills to ensure that students understand the key animation principles such as timing, weight and lines of action. These technical aspects of animation underpin character performance and are essential to enable students to achieve convincing performance.

Further character-based performance exercises increase the understanding of Character Posing, Blocking and Plotting the action within the shot or sequence.  Each exercise builds on what has been learned in the previous week and students will have the opportunity to video themselves acting out variations of the exercises to guide and inform their work.

The course culminates in a short character animation sequence - pre-planned and boarded to showcase the skills learnt during the course.   This sequence will be created within the parameters of a realistic production schedule and will reflect the pressures of a live production.

To complement the intensive animation training, students will have life drawing sessions, acting workshops as well as industry masterclasses. These give the students invaluable contacts within the industry moving forwards, as well as tips on how to promote yourself and the soft skills needed within a competitive industry.  Past speakers have included companies such as Blue Zoo, Lupus, Jellyfish, Passion Pictures, Factory Transmedia, Turner, Richard Williams, Nick Park, MPC, DNeg and Dreamworks.

The course finishes with a graduation screening which is open to industry, giving students the platform to show their work and network with future employers.

Following on from the course we are aiming to secure a small number of paid internships with  production companies based here in the UK. On previous courses these internships have taken place at companies such as Factory Transmedia, Blue Zoo as well as at Aardman. In many cases these placements then led to the students being offered jobs as animators.

  • Daily tuition from animators currently working within the Industry
  • Unique fast-track route into the Industry with many students going on to work as animators for UK animation companies
  • Working methods based on Industry practice
  • Situated in a professional studio environment at Aardman in Bristol
  • Learn from BAFTA and Oscar winning animators
  • Masterclass sessions from external industry


The course is led by Inez Woldman (Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Morph, Creature Comforts) There will also be additional tutorial input from other animators and directors currently working here at Aardman as well as masterclasses from external industry professionals.

Entry Requirements

Applicants do not necessarily need to have a university Bachelors degree to apply for this course, but must be able to clearly demonstrate a good level of animation ability, have a real passion for animation and be fully committed to a career in it.

Apply With

Please provide links to your on-line show reel (clearly stating your role on each shot) and your portfolio of supporting work.

How to Apply

Please contact registry via email stating your name, course of interest and contact details:
  • Unique, fast-track route into the Industry
  • Working methods based on Industry practice
  • Situated in a professional studio environment at Aardman in Bristol
  • Learn from BAFTA and Oscar winning animators