Back-to-back Rookies world title triumph

Talented Flinders University students have grasped the hotly contested The Rookies #1 in the world for Digital Illustration title for the second year in a row.

In partnership with CDW Studios, Flinders students triumphed over peers across 581 academic institutions worldwide to win the 2018 award.

The win backs up the University’s reputation as the world’s best digital illustration school.

Lecturer Katie Cavanagh says the win is testament to the calibre of students, tutors and lecturers, as well as the Flinders Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Effects and Entertainment Design) three-year degree.

“Winning the Rookies, School of the Year: Digital Illustration in 2017 was amazing; holding the title for the second year against such strong competition underscores the rigour of our world-class degree,” Ms Cavanagh says.

“Of particular note, Flinders students were ranked among the most industry-ready participants in the international competition,” she says.

CDW Studios founder Simon Scales says the Flinders/CDW entry was impressive for the number of students participating and the consistently high quality of work.

Dean Ilango’s remarkable digital landscape.

“We had 93 student images involved in our entry and the scoring takes every one of them into consideration. The overall standard of work from first to third years was incredible,” says Mr Scales.

“We had roughly equal numbers of males and females make the draft.

“In a traditionally male dominated industry we are really proud to be turning out such as strong and balanced cohort.”

Rookies winners from around the world have gone on to work on films such as Guardians of the GalaxyThe MummyWonder Woman and Iron Man and AAA level games such as HellbladeFar Cry and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.

Ms Cavanagh says Technicolor’s plans to set up in Adelaide will further boost South Australia’s visual effects credentials.

“The future in the VFX space is looking bright,” she says.

“Existing local companies like Monkeystack and Mighty Kingdom are going strong and increasingly employing graduates.

“The opening of the international company Technicolor will transform employment opportunities for artists in Adelaide.

“South Australia has always been a creative state but now there is more work for artists here.”

Over the past nine years The Rookies, founded by Andrew McDonald and Alwyn Hunt, has cemented itself as an iconic pathway for graduates in the visual effects and entertainment design industry.

“It always seems so cliché to keep saying each year that the quality and standard of entries keeps getting better, but it just keeps happening,” says The Rookies co-founder Mr McDonald.

Flinders University isn’t resting on its winning laurels and will continue to refine its creative arts degrees in 2019 to remain at the cutting edge.

This includes changing the name of the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Digital Media) to the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Effects and Entertainment Design).

The Rookie entry ‘Flooded City Rebuilt’ by Duncan Li.

“The degree is really good and the name change allows us to communicate that in more detail,” Ms Cavanagh says.

“Back when the digital media degree began, the term ‘digital media’ meant something because it was new, it was still in that transition from print to digital.

“We have changed the name to Visual Effects and Entertainment Design to help clarify both for the students and for prospective employers what the students have studied.’”

Flinders is also introducing a new Bachelor of Creative Arts (Enterprise) degree, focusing on the creative and cultural industries and entrepreneurship.

“We became aware that there were a lot of students who were putting together their own degrees – combining their creative arts studies with topics from the business school and other areas so they could come out with the skills they needed to negotiate contracts, do their own marketing, be sole traders, and understand how accounting works for creative people,’ said Dr Tully Barnett, Lecturer in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University.

“Flinders University has responded to this by creating a formalised course that draws on the expertise of our New Venture Institute to equip students with business skills for the new gig economy and prepare arts students for the future of work in the creative industries.

“The Bachelor of Creative Arts (Enterprise) is about the business of arts and culture for the twenty-first century. Rather than focusing on a specific creative practice, the degree looks at the engine of creative enterprise itself,” Ms Barnett says.

About the Rookies

The Rookies is an international awards and mentor program for young designers, creators, innovators and artists in film, animation, games, virtual reality and architecture visualisation.

The 2018 competition attracted 9,971 digital projects created by 2,914 students from 87 countries.

These students battled it out for Rookie of the Year, Game of the Year and Film of the Year titles, as well as Studio Internships and Scholarships.

This was an increase from the 2017 competition which attracted 2,752 entrants and 8,725 digital projects, in which Flinders and CDW also took home the #1 title.

The 2018 winning schools by category are:

  1. Feature Animation: Gnomon (Los Angeles, United States)
  2. Digital Illustration: Flinders University/CDW Studios (Adelaide, Australia)
  3. 3D Motion Graphics: Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, United States)
  4. Game Development: Howest University (Kortrijk, Belguim)
  5. Visual Effects: Gnomon (Los Angeles, United States)

The official judging panel this year included John Howe (famous for his J. R. R. Tolkien worlds), Pavani Boddapati (CG Supervisor, Weta Digital), Rob Coleman (Head of Animation, Animal Logic) and 60 other equally influential and respected industry veterans.

Entries were judged on criteria including creative skills, technical skills, presentation, variety of skills, complexity, raw talent, and employment potential.

The 2018 results, including Top 10 Best Digital Illustration Schools, can be found here.

Rookies concept artwork ‘Jager Dragon Blooded Elf’ by Angela Garnaut
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