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Escape Studios announce the Ridley Scott Awards

Story by: Jack Foley

ESCAPE Studios, the premier visual effects school based in central London, has announced The Ridley Scott Awards, a new initiative to seek out and support film, television and computer games creatives.

Award-winning British director, Ridley Scott, has launched a new enterprise that seeks to reward and promote the very best creative talent in the visual effects and games industries.

Scott, who has used extensive special effects in films such as Gladiator, Alien and Blade Runner, said: "I am honoured to have these awards named after me. Escape's initiative is vital to the discovery of new talent for the UK's creative industries."

Together with Scott, Escape Studios has recognised that, with the UK fast becoming a strong force in all areas of visual effects and games production, it is vital that efforts to encourage and develop the next generation of artists is maintained.

For the Awards' winners, the prizes on offer - which include an exclusive training package at Escape Studios - will provide an enormous foot-up into a notoriously inaccessible profession; for Escape Studios, the winners will continue the flow of creative talent passing through their doors.

The Ridley Scott Awards are comprised of four categories - Animation, Visual Effects, Motion Graphics and Games - with each of these individually sponsored by a key organisation from the creative industry.

The awards provide a fantastic opportunity for anyone wanting to enter the visual effects, games, television or animation industries but who doesn't know how.

Winners from each category will be given full training at Escape Studios; full copies of both Alias Wavefront's Oscar-winning 3D Animation package, Maya, and Apple's industry standard tool for digital compositing Shake, and an exclusive work experience placement with the corresponding sponsoring facility.

Dominic Davenport, Escape's managing director, commented: "Escape Studios is honoured to have the support of an industry luminary such as Ridley Scott, as it only emphasises the importance of such an initiative and the benefits of industry focused education."

Entry to the award scheme is open to anyone who is not currently employed in the fields of visual effects, 3D animation, motion graphics or games development. School leavers, college leavers and graduates or those wishing to enter the industry from other fields are all invited to participate.

The closing date is Tuesday, September 30, 2003, and no entries received after this will be judged.

All entrants must enter online at in order to be eligible for the awards.

Adds Mr Davenport: "The Ridley Scott Awards are designed for those who have artistic skill but haven't had the opportunity to be educated in the techniques and processes. These awards reward potential rather than accomplishment, a concept which is central to Escape Studios ethos."

Launched in response to the lack of training facilities outside of the US,
Escape has made huge splash since opening its doors to a new generation of creatives in July 2002.

Hundreds of students have successfully completed skills-led training in the latest 3D computer animation and 2D visual effects, with many going on to work in the creative industry.

The world of digital special effects is an exploding market and the latest technology has revolutionised the industry.

The techniques employed are key to the success of high profile releases, such as the recently developed Matrix Revolutions movie and the Lord of the Rings films.

Escape's team of tutors, are handpicked from both sides of the Atlantic, and are supplemented by leading industry figures to ensure that techniques and technology are always one step ahead but grounded in the real-world.

The curriculum has been developed in association with design and post-production executives at the BBC, The Mill and The Moving Picture Company (MPC).

The course programme has been developed to cater for both entry-level students and established industry talent seeking to develop their skill-set.

Students are taught on state of the art IBM workstations to emulate a fully operational production environment. Packages taught include Alias Wavefront Maya, Softimage XSI, Pixar Renderman, Apple Shake, Discreet Combustion and Adobe Photoshop.

The Award categories

The Aardman Award For Animation

In the interests of simplicity and keeping things as open as possible, it has been decided to go for an open brief with only a few key guidelines. The awards are looking for a concept for a character-based animation sequence of any description within these parameters.

The Lionhead Studios Award For Games

Hansel & Gretel and the House in the Woods. The two characters are in a situation where they have to work co-operatively in order to resolve it. Perilous, humorous, adventurous, it's up to you!

The CNX Award For Motion Graphics

The challenge is to storyboard a live-action branding piece with an all pervading CNX 'X' logo. Everything in the CNX world is infused with CNX, from human genes to the fibres in their clothing to the molecules in the air that they breathe.

The Moving Picture Company Award For Visual Effects

The brief is to visualise and storyboard an effects driven set piece given little to no direction from the script. A good example of this is in the first Lord of the Rings film. When the fellowship is underground in the mines of Moria, there is an elaborate chase down a huge stone staircase. For this entire sequence the script read, 'The fellowship run down the stairs'.

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