How I Won the Grads In Games Search for a Star Award

SAE London student Chris Woods who’s studying Game Art & Animation has won the Games Animation category of Grads in Games’ Search for a Star awards.

The Aardvark Swift awards initiative is a celebration of emerging talent within the games industry, which also recognises exemplary creative media education providers (naming SAE as one of the leading Games education institutes).

Chris’ victory follows the news that he was selected as a finalist alongside students from other institutions including Plymouth College of Art, the University of Portsmouth, Escape Studios, and Staffordshire University.

Chris said: “I was a bit shocked at first when I found out I’d won, but once it sunk in fully I felt great! It’s definitely given me a big confidence boost in finding a job in the games industry, the whole team at Grads in Games have been really nice and friendly. I’ll reiterate that any students thinking of taking part next year should definitely give it a go as it’s a great opportunity to build your experience, produce another piece of work for your portfolio, and get feedback from industry professionals. Also a massive thanks to Amil my lecturer and the rest of my class for helping to make my time at SAE so much fun, even in the current lockdown situation!” 


For his submission, Chris used a Space Mech Soldier rig to create four different animation states to fit the brief. These states were ‘Idle’ (where the Soldier looks around as he hoists his gun into the air); ‘Powering Up’ (where the soldier dives into a forward roll to get into a low, kneeling attack position); ‘Release’ (where a volley of shots is released towards the target) and ‘Recovery’ (where the soldier climbs back to his feet with a flashy reload of his gun).


SAE London Programme Coordinator for the Animation and VFX school at SAE, Amil Metcalfe, said: “It is fantastic to hear that one of our London students, Chris Woods, has been selected as the winner of the Search for a Star Games Animation category. Chris was new to the world of 3D when he joined us. Since the beginning of his journey, he has demonstrated passion and dedication, going from strength to strength during his time with us. I have no doubt he will be an integral part of any team he joins. Here at SAE, we pride ourselves in the passion and commitment of our team and getting the best from our students. With a hyper-focus on the industry, pipelines and career paths from our game design courses, we always endeavour to provide the best possible learning environment for our students to create, learn and grow.”

SAE London Campus Director Nathan Loughran said: “We are delighted that the hard work and talent of our student, Chris Woods has been recognised. Reaching the finals is in itself a great achievement but to go on and win the Games Animation category is exceptional. It is testament to his hard work and ability and we are delighted for him. At SAE we work hard to nurture and develop young talent by creating a culture that mirrors a professional environment and prepares our students for work in the Creative Industries. It is fantastic when our teaching approach is validated and seen as meeting the expectations of the professional industry, so to be named one of the top providers for Game Art Animation is something we’re very proud of.”

Chris heard about the Search for a Star competition when Aardvark Swift visited SAE London to deliver a talk on how to break into the games industry last November.

SAE is extremely proud of Chris’ achievement in winning the Games Animation Search for a Star award and is looking forward to following his career, which will no doubt be filled with lots more accomplishments like this.


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