Animation film

Bachelor and master Audiovisual Arts > animation film

In 1966, the internationally renowned animator Raoul Servais established the animation programme at the Academy. It was the first of its kind in Europe. Servais’ pedagogic ideal was a training with a solid technical foundation on which original artistic perseverance could bloom.

In the past, animation was easy to situate and recognize, and films could only be seen at the cinema or on television. Nowadays, animated films and animation in general are everywhere. There is not only a thriving festival circuit for short films and a revival of the artistic animated feature, but animation also appears in the context of the performing arts, in museum installations and performances, in digital editions such as animated children’s books, in moving images on the internet, in all manner of visualizations and simulations … Since the digital revolution, the definition of animation as a frame-by-frame medium has become increasingly meaningless. The programme’s focus is now elsewhere: whereas in 1966 it was relatively easy to say what animation was, we now start from the question as to what animation could be.

Even though the medium has changed dramatically over the past fifty years, Servais’ pedagogic model is still relevant. By setting up both narrative and non-narrative projects, we invite students to engage in intensive research into their role as creators within the medium. Both the wealthy tradition and the wide variety of contemporary possibilities are explored in these projects. The development of technical skills is always related to the student’s individual focus.

A team of about fifteen practice teachers coaches the students in the bachelor and master studios, each from his or her own specific artistic perspective and technical expertise. The first part of each of the bachelor years is dedicated to assignments that predominantly focus on the knowledge and skills pertaining to the medium. Students learn to achieve results in a purposive and investigative way, in which the process is more important than the eventual product. The second part of the year offers the time and space to absorb all of that input. Students can try their hand at the medium, add their personal touches and work out a personal project.

To counter any attitudes aimed at quick and easy results, in the first bachelor you follow a process-based track that stimulates personal initiative. This creates the opportunity to learn from mistakes. During the second bachelor year the focus gradually shifts towards finished projects, culminating in a successful graduation project at the end of the third year.

All of this is a preparation for the master, where students can engage in in-depth artistic research. Here students are responsible for their curriculum and choose two mentors, one from a theoretic and one from a practical background. The contextualizing theory courses from the bachelor programme are replaced with a range of Dutch- or English-language seminars. These will help students with the reflective part of their specific artistic research and occasion interdisciplinary encounters. These seminars are platforms for discussion where students from many different programmes come together and are offered the opportunity to discover each other’s work. In the studios too, students can frequently consult with each other and keep track of each other’s working processes. A similar exploration and stimulation of the individual practice comes with the internship that is part of the master programme. Individually or with a group, students establish contacts with the professional world and field-test their creativity. As trainees, our students have worked on projects as diverse as television commercials, theatrical projects, film productions and more. The entire process eventually results in a master’s project. This finished product is evaluated and commented on by filmmakers and professionals from the cultural sector.

Research is an inherent part of our ambitions as an academic programme. It is sometimes hard to state explicitly what we are looking for or name what we have found. Education in the arts is about fine-tuning all the senses and the mental processes that relate to them. We strive to kindle enthusiasm in our students for the enormous potential inside and around them. Our goal is not to cram our students with a bulk of data, but to activate them as creators and fan the creative fire.

In October 2014 both the film and animation programmes of KASK were accepted as a member of CILECT and GEECT.