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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 is headed up by Loyd Price, Head of Animation at Aardman, with the aim of bridging the gap between education and industry and enabling students to develop the core practical skills needed for them to become competent professional animators and to create believable characters through acting and performance.

2016 is a very busy year for Aardman studios as they are in production of Early Man, the latest stop frame feature film directed by BAFTA® and Academy Award® winning director Nick Park. With so much going on in the studio, they are taking a break from running the Character Animation course but look forward to welcoming a new cohort of students in September 2017.

Course Overview

This course will take place at Aardman’s studio in Bristol and will be taught by practicing Aardman animators who have worked on many productions including Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, Flushed Away, The Pirates! and Shaun the movie. There will also be additional support from other industry professionals from both the Stop-frame and CG animation disciplines.

The course is short but very 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 70% of the 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.

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

View a showreel of work completed by 2014 students on the course

NFTS/Aardman Character Animation Course class showreel 2014

See the Aardman Academy page for this course at: http://www.aardman.com/academy/


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 main tutor on the course will be Loyd Price, Head of Animation at Aardman (credits include Nightmare before Christmas, Chicken Run, The Curse of the WereRabbit, Flushed Away, Pirates and Shaun the movie). The other main tutor on the course will be a current industry professional working in CG animation. There will also be additional tutorial input from other animators and directors currently working here at Aardman.

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: info@nfts.co.uk
  • 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