The Irish School of Animation at Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE) was officially launched in December 2005. Ballyfermot College of Further Education has a long and successful history of delivering animation programmes going all the way back to the early 1990s and our past students have influenced in no small way the development of animation in Ireland.
The changing nature of the animation studio, from large to small, from all encompassing to out-sourcing led us to set about changing our programmes to reflect this new industry situation and the launch of the Irish School of Animation represents the culmination of this changing process.
The core of the Irish School of Animation is a focus on animation drawing and character animation coupled with an emphasis on strong visual design. The school aims to bring visual representation to the strong tradition of storytelling in Ireland.
The animation industry is rapidly expanding worldwide and now also encompasses film, special effects, digital games and advertising. The Irish School of Animation currently offers three animation programmes, a BA (Hons) Animation, a HND in Animation and an Animation Drawing Studies certificate programme all with the aim of producing graduates who will lead the way forward in this ever changing industry landscape.
Launch of ISA
On 15th December 2005 the Irish School of Animation (ISA) was launched at Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE), by Shelley Page, the European representative for Dreamworks Animation. The opening of the new school brings the first ever honours degree programme in animation to Ireland, validated by the University of Dundee.
History of Animation at BCFE
The history of animation at BCFE actually dates back to the mid 1990s when Don Bluth (former Disney employee and founder of the Dublin-based Sullivan Bluth studio) was involved in establishing the first ever animation department in Ireland at BCFE. Today over 100 students from across the globe study at the school, where a suite of three animation programmes are on offer.
The first animation programme, Animation Drawing Skills, is a one year foundation programme, which has a particular emphasis on the development of strong life drawing skills, the core element which differentiates the BCFE programmes from programmes available elsewhere. The two-year Higher National Diploma in Classical and Computer Animation builds on the skills developed in the foundation programme and includes modules in historical and theoretical analysis and script writing. Essentially its aim is to equip each student with the ability to take an animation project from conception to completion. The honours degree aims to integrate the students’ technical and academic skills and is largely self-directed. The programme involves the production of animated films and a researched dissertation.
The animation programmes at BCFE are primarily delivered in the College’s Arts Building with additional state of the art digital TV, film and sound production/editing suites at the college’s Media Building. Alongside these modern facilities, the animation department is staffed by lecturers with key academic knowledge and relevant industry-based experience.
The Animation Industry
The introduction of the first ever honours degree programme in animation at BCFE has come at the right time. The global animation industry is rapidly expanding while the film industry has also of late made great use of animation. Television programmes and advertisements have become more reliant on animation not to mention the computer game industry, which year on year grows to reach larger audiences. This rapid growth in the animation industry goes someway towards explaining why the number of jobs in the industry in Ireland has increased in the last few years.
Former students of the Irish School of Animation have been nominated and have won Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, BAFTAs, IFTAs, Annie’s and many more. Our graduates have gone on to work for International companies like Disney, Dreamworks, Blue Sky Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Weta Digital, Aardman, Lucasfilm, Rhythm & Hues, Double Negative, Framestore, Rare and Irish Studios like Brown Bag Films, Jam Media, Cartoon Saloon, Jam Media and Boulder Media. For more information check out our Alumni page.
Focus of ISA
With technology constantly evolving and the industry ever changing, the focus of the Irish School of Animation is clear – to bring strong visual representation to the tradition of storytelling in Ireland and to ensure that future graduates of the Irish School of Animation tap into this rich tradition and become the digital storytellers of the future.