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Scott Castle's work

Scott Castles

BA (Hons) Animation

Graduated 2013

Scott Castles

Tell us about your current role:
I set up my own creative studio Castles Create soon after graduating. It’s seen some tough times but I’m happy to say it’s now grown into something I’m very proud of. I take on many projects within the marketing and communications sectors, teaming up regularly with ad agencies and content creators to deliver high-end animation and design. Most days I’m storyboarding or creating motion graphics in programs like Cinema 4D and After Effects. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the likes of LEGO, Pokemon, EPIC, KING, and many more. Another aspect of my work involves trying to grow my community and contribute to the creative culture with projects like “Arts & Cast”, my podcast series which dives into other artists' creative process.

What do you enjoy most about your role, and what are the biggest challenges?
One of the biggest advantages of working for yourself is flexibility. I’ve never been one for the 9-5 daily routine. On some projects, I work very intensely but I’m often taking chunks of time off too, this prevents me from getting burnt out and I usually spend that time learning a new skill, experimenting with new software, or just working on a passion project of mine.
The biggest challenge I face being the director of my own company is not having anyone to guide me. I have to motivate and inspire myself each day to continue to learn, set goals for myself, and confidently choose the next appropriate step for my business.

How do you feel your studies at Solent helped prepare you for your career?
Solent gave me time. Time to fail, time to grow, under a nurturing community of like-minded students and supportive faculty. Meanwhile, Southampton provided the backdrop for an often much-needed distraction with plenty to explore, creating a nice lifestyle balance.

What advice would you give to students wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Invest in a decent chair. Sedentary working is no joke, and if you neglect your body you won’t be able to do the thing you love for half as long as you would like to do it.
 Also, trust in your own intuition. It’s important to listen to others' opinions around you, especially your tutors, but there is also a time to be confident in your own direction, the difficulty is knowing when. I believe If someone has something meaningful to contribute, and you’re being honest with yourself, then you’ll know to take it into consideration.

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Oliver Miles's work

Oliver Miles

BA (Hons) Computer and Video Games - now known as BA (Hons) Computer Games (Art)  

Graduated 2010

Oliver Miles

Before joining Solent, I was learning how to 3D model as a hobby, so I already had a passion for making art for games. The course helped me build up my skills base using industry standard tools, so I was able to get a better understanding of game development as a whole, and how the different disciplines work together when making games.

I now work for PlayFusion as a 3D artist, and was involved in a large portion of creating the physical toys on Lightseekers – the game uses real life toy interaction to play. It was a challenge because everything had to be absolutely perfect before it was sent off to the manufacturer. This meant close collaboration with the concept art team to really capture the magic we wanted to deliver.

It’s really rewarding seeing something you worked on turned into a toy, so that’s my career highlight so far.

If you’re interested in a career in the 3D games industry, you have to put your own time in. A university course will show you the tools and point you in the right direction with like-minded people, but you have to take the time to master your trade. If you don't, someone else will - and they'll get the job.

It’s very hard to make big money in this industry, and moving jobs is a harsh reality that happens a lot, so this line of work is for someone who really enjoys what they do.

Be social. People hire people they would like to work with, so make friends, go to the pub, and have other interests.

It’s a small industry and managers will hire people that either they’ve had good experiences with or who they think they can stand to spend eight hours sitting next to.

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Claire Oliver

Claire Oliver

BSc (Hons) Computer Games (Software Development)

Graduated 2016

Claire Oliver

How did university prepare you for your career?
Before uni I had never seen a line of code, let alone written one and I had been out of education for ten years. By the end of the course I was able to write code extremely well and make games of my own. My course gave me the skills I needed to change my career path from hospitality to the games industry. The lecturers also helped me prepare for the interview process - what was going to be expected of me, what a coding test was, how to present myself, what should be on my portfolio and even how to dress for an interview.

What tips would you give to someone wanting a career in your industry?

Work hard. Everything is important, even if it doesn't seem it at the time. Speak to professionals and use their advice to shape your own work. Build a portfolio and make sure you believe in yourself.

Tell us about your career story so far.
After graduating, I worked for the University as a graduate associate for the computer games courses. A few months into working for Solent, a job became available with Unity Technologies. I contacted the recruiter and asked how I could apply. Instead of a formal application, he looked at my LinkedIn profile, my CV and my portfolio, which are all online, and decided that I was perfect for the role. I then had multiple Skype interviews, a programming test and a two hour interview in the office. A week later I was told I had the job.

Tell us about what you are doing now and what it involves.
I do a multitude of different things depending on what happens that day. Recently, I’ve found and successfully reproduced and reported a bug to the right people so it can be fixed; supported large, well-known companies with day-to-day account management, bug reporting and troubleshooting. I've also supported small indie companies with services integration, showing them how to make the most money off their games; and helped debug code to highlight errors in companies of varying sizes.

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Neil Jepson

Neil Jepson

BA (Hons) Animation

Graduated 2016

Neil Jepson

 

Tell us a bit about your current role: 
I am currently working on the Tom Gates animated series. I am assigned an episode and I work through the script. Usually starting with thumb nails then onto roughs. The director then gives me a list of changes to make which helps to develop the story visually. Sometimes the producer will also step in to make sure everything adheres to the brand. I then add some clean ups and maybe a bit of colour to bring the episode to a finish. While I am waiting for notes I will use the time to work on my children's book illustrations. 

What do you enjoy most about your role, and what are the biggest challenges?
Becoming a better artist is what I enjoy most. Because then things become easier and we get closer to that dream. It can be hard work. especially when the pen doesn't quite flow. Like many professions in current times, Isolation has been a challenge of course. But this kind of work can certainly feel like an escape as you tell the story and get into the heads of your characters.

My favourite Solent memory has to be seeing our films played at the Harbour Lights Cinema at the end of our third year!"

How do you feel your studies at Solent helped prepare you for your career? 
Luckily my lecturer Adam (Comiskey) had high standards - which we all had to meet to get through this course. I think this instilled in us a certain work ethic that would help prepare us for a tough industry. The animation industry is not a fairy-tale. Behind the scenes there is an enormity of hard work and graft. Late nights. Tedium. Deadlines. Pulling hair out. But the rewards are worthwhile and that’s when it becomes that fairy-tale. 

What advice would you give to students wanting to follow in your footsteps?
People will always tell you to work hard and that is true, it is important to remain focused and to draw every day if possible. Life drawing and gesture drawing is more valuable than one might think. But also keep doing courses and studying your favourite artists on social media.

But asides from hard work, it is also important to be connected. We are always told "it is not what you know but who you know" and there is truth in this. Because many jobs in the industry are not advertised. So you have to be in the circle to get chances for the work. If possible, it really helps to have a mentor. I was lucky that one of my close friends got into the industry and was able to give me guidance. My friend also critiqued my work and told me what I needed to work on. Adam also gives his students plenty of guidance even after uni, but I would also recommend keeping in touch with your animation class friends. Because it can feel like a lonely road at times and you need to help each other along the way. 

 

Darren Tucker

Darren Tucker

BA (Hons) Computer and Video Games

Graduated 2014

Darren Tucker

Tell us a bit about your current role: 
I’m a Senior Vehicle Artist working on a fantastic new project at DPS Games. DPS games is a growing company that started up just over two years ago. We are an ambitious and inclusive team, striving to achieve top quality, next generation content and solutions for our new upcoming title. A typical day working at DPS Games for me ranges quite a bit. While working with the rest of the vehicle art and vehicle design teams, I create conceptual vehicle models, and test them out in game. A big part of my role also covers the development of vehicle asset creation processes that best suit the needs of our game. We do this with a primary focus on quality, ensuring design requirements are met, and overall asset creation and production is carried out efficiently.

How do you feel your studies at Solent helped prepare you for your career?
I often think back to my time on the video games course at Solent University, as it played a vital part in where I am in my career today. I’m thankful that I was able to learn and grow as an artist among talented and motivated peers and friends. The course covered many aspects of game art creation and it was the breadth of the subject matter that allowed me to get my first job in the games industry. Having graduated in 2014 with 2D and 3D art creation, modelling and animation skill sets, as well as a core understanding of game development engines - Edge Case Games, an indie games studio saw potential in myself and my work and took me on as one of their game artists. There I had the opportunity to build in-game cinematic sequences, cinematic trailers and work on a variety of hero vehicles, environment and other art assets. I couldn’t have asked for a better studio and team to join to kickstart my career in the games industry.

What do you enjoy most about your role, and what are the biggest challenges?
The most enjoyable aspect of my role at DPS Games has to be the level of creative freedom and input we have as vehicle artists. If we think strongly of an idea that we would like to incorporate, we as a team talk it out and if it is something we can see working out well, the team will produce a working concept. This gives us the opportunity to really push what it is we make and take ownership for various aspects of our vehicles. This in turn provides many learnings, while also enforcing personal development. And although being another aspect I enjoy, this practice does come with its challenges. When creating a game it is essential that we explore and create particular designs with unique and fresh narrative driven visuals. Something that is required in order to engage the interest of any targeted player base. Incorporating this, with the functional design requirements of the vehicles, presents many challenges but challenges that myself and the team take on with confidence.

What advice would you give to students wanting to follow in your footsteps?
For anyone pursuing to join the games industry, I cannot mention this enough, work on the basics. Build up an understanding of best practices for game art creation across multiple platforms. Have patience while working this out, while at the same time enjoying the process. There are many online communities/forums to support this self development. Don’t hesitate to reach out to fellow aspiring and professional game artists, as many of us are more than happy to give feedback on work and provide both industry and creative advice.

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