NATIONAL FILM AND TELEVISION SCHOOL
An innovative course in which students focus on creativity
Four years on from the introduction of its Games Design And Development MA, the National Film And Television School’s course has made a name for itself as a comprehensive and fiercely creative undertaking. Head of games Jon
Weinbren, who has 20 years’ industry experience, including roles at EA and Sony, tells us what sets it apart. Why should students choose NFTS? There’s really no other place in the country – if not the planet – like the NFTS. It’s one of the world’s top film and television schools and we have the awards, accolades and alumni to back this up. At its heart is a set of two-year MA programmes in different film and television specialisms, and during their time here students work together on a variety of exercises and outputs, culminating in key graduation projects across fiction, documentary, animation, television entertainment and, of course, games. It’s a great experience for the game students to be working with screenwriters, music composers, sound mixers, production designers, producers, visual effects people and other specialists, many of them set to be the best and brightest in their future fields. Why did you decide to add a game course to NFTS’s portfolio? The game course was set up to be an engine for games innovation – a place where a diverse group of people from all sorts of different backgrounds can develop their creative and technical skills across all areas of game design and development, and learn how to create meaningful, evocative and engaging playable experiences. What do you look for in prospective students? Many of our students come from beyond the confines of a traditional games background, so since we started our students have always aimed to bring something fresh and new to the medium. In fact, what I now see is the industry starting to speak more of that language – a realisation there’s a world of untapped possibilities to explore. Which tools do you focus on? We do a lot of work with Unity, but we’re not averse to looking at the alternatives if students are particularly keen to work with them. We have access to all the engines if we need to. Art/animation-wise we use Autodesk products such as Maya, the Adobe suite and so on, but we also have a range of more obscure packages that enable us to automate character creation, rigging, environment building, materials and texture creation and more. Since our students have to specialise in everything, they need ways of quickly creating content without access to a 15-person art and animation department. So we use previsualisation techniques used in the VFX industries to rapidly create assets we can use in both prototypes and in final game projects. What do you hope your students will take away from their time at NFTS? Our students get the opportunity to work with the best and brightest future practitioners from across the media production disciplines, and they’ll come out with a portfolio of game projects that shows off their ideas, vision and practical development skills. They’ll also have had two years’ inspiration, two years of relentless motivation to make great games, which inspire and engage with players beyond the norm, and two years of extremely hard work and a lot of fun along the way.
“Our students have always aimed to bring something fresh and new”
The National Film and Television School has been training graduates for the creative industries since 1972