This paper highlights the challenges, obstacles and new opportunities presented by the pandemic disruption to teaching delivery and assessment, and the new blended learning and teaching opportunities that have evolved as a result across a range of different arts, design, craft, technology and production based subjects within the computer animation and visual effects discipline. The National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) at Bournemouth University, UK offers three undergraduate and three Masters courses. The NCCA’s motto has been “technology in the service of the arts” and as such the teaching ranges from arts and design, programming and scripting, cinematography and camera acquisition to production craft based units. The first UK Covid lockdown caused an abrupt disruption to face-to-face teaching and an immediate switch to online delivery. Being familiar with technology workflows enabled the NCCA staff and students to transition smoothly into the new normal as far as the software production and programming teaching was concerned. Tutorials and supervisory meetings worked very well online. The life drawing and camera acquisition based teaching, however, proved more considerably more challenging and are discussed in detail in this paper. This paper focuses on the author’s experience of leading three units – Visual Studies, Visual Effects Photography and Acquisition, and, Visual Storytelling and Previsualisation – as well as teaching on the Moving Image Theory and Practice unit, and supervising group and individual projects on the undergraduate Group Project, Research and Development, Personal Inquiry, and, Final Major Project units during three phases; adapting and improvising mid-unit at the start of lockdown, changes to delivery and assessment during lockdown, and, redesigning and delivering post-lockdown. The paper also explores the wider public engagement opportunities provided by the online and blended delivery in terms of the teaching method, delivery, nature of assessments and workflow.
Dr Rehan Zia holds a practice-led PhD in photography/visual effects craft practice. Rehan has been awarded the Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society (FRPS) – the highest level of RPS distinctions – as well as the Fellowship of the Royal Society for Arts (FRSA). Visual storytelling lies at the core of Rehan’s creative practice, teaching and research. He has a passion for telling stories through light, form and colour, creating images that lie on the cusp of fantasy and realism. Rehan teaches a wide range of visual effects and camera acquisition related courses at the Bournemouth University’s prestigious National Centre for Computer Animation in the UK. These courses include practice areas such as camera acquisition, visual storytelling, previsualisation, cinematography, compositing, matchmoving, digital texturing and lighting, project management and photography for visual effects, computer animation and games. Rehan has a keen interest in course design and has delivered a number of talks on best practice in teaching visual effects and computer animation for The Creative Skillset (now known as ScreenSkills). He has exhibited work at a number of group and solo exhibitions and his images have been published in print and on the BBC.