Studying at Breda University of Applied Sciences

Studying at Breda University of Applied Sciences

Yaro Copijn, a 3D Character Animator, offers valuable insights into his studies at Breda University of Applied Sciences.

Meet Yaro Copijn, a 3D Character Animator and current student. In this article, Yaro shares valuable insight into studying at Breda University of Applied Sciences.

The Rookies - Breda University of Applied Sciences
Nearly every course/project is team-based where individual contributions are assessed and used to develop a games industry professional that is ready to be effective from the 1st day of internship or graduate job. We want students to start with a foundation in either art, programming or design and t…

Can you introduce your school to us and share what makes it special from your perspective?

Breda University of Applied Sciences (BUas) (speaking from a Games Visual Arts Perspective) is a wonderfully diverse place where you meet people from all over the world, united by a common goal: to create. Although the primary focus is on games, some are more inclined toward VFX or film. Despite the emphasis on games, there's flexibility to undertake projects that enable exploration of interconnected fields and specialisations. This allows you to shape your portfolio the way you want it.

Of course, it has its flaws here and there, but where I initially came to make more contacts and develop my skills as an artist, I found a community.

At Breda, I have formed lasting bonds with like-minded colleagues and friends that will undoubtedly shape my future career, and this is what makes it special in my opinion.

What made you choose BUas, and has it lived up to your expectations?

Originally, I was drawn in by the chance to work on a large AAA project after this track, as well as a place where I could learn to work with motion capture and delve deeper into animation. I am working hard (with the support of BUas) to make this 1st aspiration a reality.

But learning to work with mocap while gaining a better understanding of the fundamentals of animation has definitely come to fruition.

I had the chance to lead the mocap team at BUas and learn all that I could about it, both the hard and soft skills. Additionally, I worked on several projects to build my skills and understanding of animation. Even though there wasn't, at that point, a dedicated teacher for that, I was supported and guided by the rest of the staff. 

How do students and teachers interact at BUas, and is there a supportive mentorship dynamic?

From my experience, all day-to-day interactions are super casual; you are treated as equals, feeling a bit as if you are colleagues. This creates a great atmosphere where you can crack a joke and learn serious skills at the same time. This, in my opinion, is the great basis of the supportive mentorship dynamic; all teachers want is for you to succeed in what you want to do. Support is always there, but it can vary depending on the circumstances, relying on who you are, how you best learn, and what you require. One project might be less hands-on from staff, and the next might be more involved. It all depends on what you need at that moment and your wishes.

What have you found most valuable about your learning experience so far, and how has it impacted your artistic growth?

Collaboration is at the forefront during the four years at BUas. Making games is a team sport. The focus is on interdisciplinary collaboration (Example project), where you learn about communication techniques, how to overcome hurdles, and how your specialisation fits into this cycle. All of this happens while actively working on projects, providing a learn-as-you-do experience. This approach has significantly enhanced my ability to see and understand the process of making games. While theory is valuable, learning how to apply it in practice has been even more beneficial to me.

Independence, where there is a lot of great focus on collaboration with others and other disciplines.There's also encouragement to explore and learn independently, teaching me how to acquire new skills more productively on my own. This skill set enables me to continue learning even after my time here is done.

Leading the Motion Capture team as a supervisor (with Kim & Max ) taught me a lot of hard skills and knowledge about the equipment (Both Xsens & Vicon) and ways of applying that. It also instilled in me a variety of soft skills, teaching me how to operate effectively in a team, handle "clients," and manage and arrangements shoots, etc.

Can you share an example of an assignment where you received valuable feedback from your teachers?

Currently, I am engaged in an ambitious project where I initially went a bit overboard in terms of scope. My supervisor and teacher, Denise Emerson, helped me recognise these points, but we decided to make only a slight adjustment in scope. and only after going through this experience I understand why. because being told something doesn't always drive the point home. This is why I needed to go through this and Denise guided me in seeing this, while not coming up empty handed at the end of it. Thanks to this experience I understand what my limits are, and still have a project that I can be proud of.

This gave me a deeper understanding of the importance of balancing ambition and scope, instead of just being told to mind scope. It's crucial to focus on creating what you want to showcase rather than just producing a movie.

This process has made me more aware of the constraints, helping me realise what the most important elements are. In this instance, the priority was creating a shot for my reel that demonstrates my proficiency in working with mocap for gameplay animation.

What helpful resources or opportunities does BUas provide outside of regular classes?

Outside of the standard curriculum, BUas offers Guilds, clubs and support groups. Guilds are weekly gatherings of peers of all years specializing in specific topics (animation, tech art, environment, concept art, etc.) where we exchange feedback, share valuable resources, and support each other in furthering our studies.

Clubs are gatherings outside regular school hours where you can explore interests beyond games with peers, such as cooking, role-playing/D&D, botany, old-school games, and inclusive support clubs like Neurodiversity, Ethics and Women in Games.

These additional initiatives at BUas create a vibrant community, bringing together people from all disciplines and years to discuss specialisations and offering diverse clubs to cater to various interests and support.

Can you describe any collaborative projects or experiences that have enhanced your artistic skills and fostered teamwork?

As mentioned before teamwork is the corner stone in games education and over the years there are many projects to foster teamwork and help you enhance your skills in a team environment.

"A Final Transmission" was a project conducted outside of school, involving collaboration with professionals from the film industry. Together, we exchanged knowledge and created a short film using motion-capture technology. This collaborative effort deepened our understanding of storytelling principles and expanded our toolset, as well as learning about different collaboration techniques as we adapted an asymmetrical collaboration method.

Leading the mocap team was also one of the most valuable experiences I've had. It involved learning how to collaborate effectively with peers, shouldering the responsibility for shoots and equipment, and ensuring that all logistics were arranged. This experience taught me valuable lessons in teamwork, trust, and how to streamline tasks while dividing up responsibilities fairly.

In year 2, there was also an interdisciplinary game concept block where we were taught various communication techniques and how to best embrace different people, their communication and working styles. These lessons are something that will stay with me throughout my future career.

Have you had the opportunity to work with industry professionals or participate in real-world projects during your time at the school?

We had the opportunity to visit Guerilla and learn firsthand how they approach mocap shoots. This includes understanding all the prep work that goes into making a shoot happen, as well as practical skills like working with their set up and the software, understanding the livelinking of the data, better understanding for directing gameplay purposes, and marker placement, etc.

In "A Final Transmission," we had the privilege of working with professionals from the film industry learning about their branch, they in return learning about ours. where we collaborated on crafting a short film. With a beautiful end result that went on to be showcased at film festivals around the world.

How does the art school promote diversity and inclusivity within its student community, and how has this enriched your educational experience?

As mentioned earlier, BUas has various Guilds, Clubs, Support Groups, some specifically designed to promote diversity, such as the Neurodiversity Club, Ethics And Women in Games. In the first year, there are also mandatory Ethic lectures covering different topics of inclusivity and good communication.

In the second year, during collaboration projects, there are lectures focusing on various communication methods and strategies for creating an optimal workspace for everyone involved. These initiatives underscore BUas's commitment to inclusivity and providing a well-rounded educational experience.

What are your future goals, and how do you feel your school has prepared you for them?

My future goals involve joining the master program at BUas to further explore and expand my knowledge. Ultimately, I aspire to become an Animator in the games industry, working on engaging projects in either cinematic or gameplay animation.

BUas has prepared me well in many aspects, providing valuable experience in collaborative work as well as fostering a sense of self-sufficiency. While I have found the overall preparation commendable, I would have appreciated a few more opportunities to develop additional hard skills as an animator. It's encouraging to hear that after this feedback, the curriculum is being adjusted to integrate more opportunities for skill development.

Yaro Copijn (He/Him), is a 3D Character Animator specialising in Mocap - Keyframe work. Yaro loves animating everything from colossal monsters 🦖 to the small birds in the trees🦉. Check out more of Yaro's work via his Rookies profile.