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NextGen students at Uxbridge College were recently invited to join the multi-award winning VFX studio Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) for an inspiring three-day remote work experience placement! Since being founded by George Lucas in 1975, Industrial Light and Magic has set the standard for visual effects, creating some of the most stunning images in the history of film. They have won 16 Best Visual Effects Oscars for their work on films including Star Wars, the Jurassic Park and World films, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Students were tasked with responding to a sample moodboard brief from ILM to "Redesign the Production of the Jurassic Park car interior scene." This is similar to a real brief that a VFX Production Designer/Concept Artist within their Art department would receive.

Overall, 31 students from 11 NextGen colleges were invited to join the remote programme, with two students from Uxbridge College taking part. The students worked collaboratively with their peers from across the NextGen network to brainstorm, research and create their moodboards and designs before pitching their work to a panel from ILM.

ILM artists and staff were on hand throughout to support, answer questions, and inspire the students. As well as dedicated staff offering real-time feedback, students attended masterclasses on the VFX production pipeline hosted by ILM artists. They were also given access to resources and presentations from the ILM archives to help with their work.

Amy Backwell, Emerging Talent Specialist at ILM, said of the work experience: "We recognise that Nextgen is a centre of excellence for developing young talent in the Games, Animation and VFX industries. We currently partner with NextGen for our apprenticeship programme as well as training for our Production Support Trainees on the Kickstart scheme.

"We wanted to offer our established 3-day online programme to Level 3 students specifically at NextGen colleges in order to help feed into our existing talent pipeline. At ILM, we really care about diversity & inclusion and so developing a programme aimed at young people from different backgrounds is at the top of our strategic plan.

"The programme incorporates a mixture of department talks with artists and team projects, as well as problem-solving and presentation exercises. All of these are skills that we feel are vital for a successful career in VFX, and it's useful for students to have exposure to early on. We hope it inspired and engaged the students so they went away from the placement feeling motivated, and hopefully helped solidify their decision to join the visual effects industry."

Mohammed Kurdi (see image for an example of his work), a second year student on the Aim Qualifications Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation & VFX at Uxbridge College said: "My work experience at ILM was amazing! Seeing all the hard work that goes into making the top films was incredible and has helped me gain a new appreciation of the art form!"

Secander Sadat, who is in the first year of Aim Qualifications Level 3 Diploma in Games, Animation & VFX at Uxbridge College, said: "My favourite part of the work experience with ILM was being surrounded by like-minded individuals with a passion for 3D and Visual Effects. Thanks to informative talks and demonstrations held by industry professionals, I have a great understanding of the VFX production pipeline, and I can look forward to specialising in my own sector. While working on a mock industry brief, I've learnt just how essential good teamwork is in this field of work and now I'm always striving to be a supportive and collaborative worker."

Luke Vinicombe, Section Leader & Course Team Leader, Computing and IT & Creative Technology, at Uxbridge College, said: "The work experience that students have been able to attend with ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) and 4wardFutures, has provided fantastic opportunities for them to engage with the creative industry in ways in which they have not been able to before. It has given them the first-hand insight into the expectations of employers and working practices, and the ability to develop industry-ready skill sets.

"For students, these exceptional opportunities to learn and be inspired by industry professionals are a must when introducing them to the creative fields they are looking to work in. It provides vital knowledge & understanding of the working world and the requirements they need to strive towards for their prospects."

Other Uxbridge College students also took part in a range of work experience placements, with industry professionals from Playstation & Xiotex Studios, @Playtra, Team17 & Activision, New Star games, and Framestore, as well as independent consultants. Warrington based charity 4wardFutures, which supports young people to access career and progression opportunities, also ran a week of remote work experience.

Are you interested in studying Games, Animation and VFX and having the opportunity to learn from industry? Find out more about our NextGen programme here:

NextGen (our partner's website):