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College opens state-of-the-art studio

NextGen Skills Academy managing director Gina Jackson officially opens the NextGen Studio with the Sunderland College lecturing team Keith Lawler, Matty McGrory, Mike Jaques and Ant Cain

Creative Wearside students who are the first in the country to study a pioneering industry-supported course are celebrating the opening of their new high tech studio at Sunderland College.

The state-of-the-art NextGen studio is based in the college’s specialist Arts Academy at Bede campus and has been purpose-built for the new professional and technical programme in computer games design, animation and visual effects (VFX).

Featuring professional work stations with industry standard software, along with a twelve-foot cinema screen, cinema projector, 7.1 surround sound and conference facilities, the workspace has been designed to replicate the real-world working environment of a commercial game and VFX studio.

Mike Jaques, Sunderland College’s curriculum leader for visual arts, said: “The NextGen studio is a fantastic addition to our Arts Academy and will provide our students with the tools and experience they need to develop their skills in games design, animation and VFX. Students will learn in a state-of-the-art setting and will be showcasing their talents using the latest equipment and software.”

Sunderland College is one of four colleges in the UK and the only provider in the region to teach the newly-created NextGen Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills which launches in September.

From creating visual effects for the latest TV or movie blockbuster to developing the next videogame sensation, the course will give students unprecedented access to mentors and industry briefs from a group of leading companies in the sector.

It has been designed by high-profile companies including Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft Reflections, Double Negative and Framestore, and will provide students with the skills and experience they need to launch a career in these entertainment industries.

Comparable to three A-Levels, this course has been developed by innovative organisation NextGen Skills Academy, which is backed by both government and industry investment, along with its partner awarding organisation AIM Awards.

Students will be taught a range of modules – from maths and programming to 3D modelling and augmented reality – and will have access to specialist masterclasses and webinars, as well as studio visits and events such as the EGX gaming expo in Birmingham and the Animex International Festival of Animation and Computer Games.

Mike Jaques, Sunderland College’s curriculum leader for visual arts, said: “Games design, animation and VFX industries are worth £6bn to the UK economy, yet there is a recognised skills shortage in this sector within the UK. The need to drive forward the skills and experience of young people in these creative industries is high on the government’s agenda, and we are very proud to be playing our part in developing the next generation of talent.

“The NextGen Level 3 Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills is like no other course out there. It equips students with a good foundation in art, design, maths and computing skills, which is highly desirable to employers, and they will receive ongoing guidance and feedback from professionals currently working in the industry. The course really does focus on making sure students have the relevant experience as well as the skills and knowledge to break into this exciting and innovative sector.”

Gina Jackson, managing director of NextGen Skills Academy, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Sunderland College for this first year of our new Level 3 course. Providing the most up to date content, knowledge and skills is at the heart of this qualification and it’s fantastic to see the course being delivered in such a state-of-the-art facility, using the most cutting edge technologies.”

There’s still time to enrol for this course starting in September. For more information about the course or to apply, call 0191 5116000, email info@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk or visit the NextGen Level 3 Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills course page.

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