Tuesday, February 25, 2014

FAO Everyone: A Course Title Change? Dropping The 'G' - A Discussion

Dear all - we need to consult with you about a proposed change to the title of your degree course.  

Wait!  Stop! Don't panic!  Nothing is going to change in terms of content, curriculum, profile, existing relationships with industry and alumni etc. Your course isn't changing. Everything is fine. Relax!  

The rationale prompting the discussion around a change of name for the degree is very simple and entirely practical, and it all boils down to the 'G' (as in 'Generated').  

According to lots of market research undertaken by the University, the term 'Computer Generated' isn't top of the list when you're sixteen/seventeen considering a future in 'computer animation'.  'CG' is industry terminology (one with which we're all familiar on the course), but not the terminology of the pre-degree classroom or indeed of UCAS.  Put more simply still, young people looking for our course aren't finding it as easily as we'd like them to, because their search terms don't include 'Computer Generated'.  This is a term they come to know very well, but don't know prior to joining us. 

We're proposing a very small change: moving from 'BA Hons Computer Generated Arts & Animation' to 'BA Hons Computer Animation Arts'.  Needless to say, Alan and I have been discussing this for a while, and we're happy that dropping the 'generated' doesn't change the course philosophy or emphasis.  I've also talked with Meg Bisineer about the proposed change and now I'm interested in what you think about 'dropping the g'.  (We've also learned from the research undertaken that even having something as simple as an '&' in a course title can be unhelpful!)

So, I'd very like to hear your views, which you can leave as a comment, or if you'd rather, you can email me directly at pgomm@ucreative.ac.uk.  The idea of change can be unwelcome I know, but I'm asking you to consider if the 'g' is key to our course - or if it's something we can lose without too much soul-searching.

So, for your consideration: 'Ba Hons Computer Animation Arts'

I look forward to your considered responses!  Much appreciated :)


  1. Oooh - public debate time. I'll get the ball rolling.

    The name, Computer Animations Arts certainly doesn't roll off tongue as as easily as CG Arts and Animation. I think that's purely a 'new things are scary' thing and the name will eventually stick. Though I have to say it's a little bit sterile. I do understand the desire for something which is straight to the point but it could be argued that it's too generic. A quick Google search shows that it brings it in line with a few other university courses. Including one at Bournemouth with the exact same name. I can imagine a situation where people looking at work which is produced on this course could potentially get mixed up with other courses, and vice versa. A touch confusing and slightly overwhelming, perhaps.

    Alternatively, perhaps an exclamation mark after each word would generate some some extra buzz?

    Computer! Animation! Art!

    Also a Google Image search of Computer Animation Arts brings up a picture of me sitting at a computer desk looking really grumpy. WTF? That's one good reason perhaps you wouldn't want to change the name...

    Joking aside, the new name changes little in the grand scheme of things. It's still representative of the course and the work it produces. At the end of the day, the thing which will attract people to the course will always be great work made by it's students and the effective marketing of that work to relevant demographics. A name is just a name, and any prospective student who is serious about studying 3D animation is going to do a good amount of research on different options.

    1. Ok....how many other people have put Computer Animation Arts' into Google and looked for Tom? I did...:)

    2. My problem is that the name would also seem to suggest that course is entirely focused on animated art. Which isn't the case. There's room on that course for people ranging from character artists, to toy designers, and of course animators.

      Animation followed by arts suggests that it's animation only.

    3. But to be honest, it doesn't really affect me :P I've already dropped the 'and Animation' from my resume anyway!

  2. I feel like there needs to be something between animation and arts; as the two are seperate to me. It doesn't really roll off the tongue, and whilst I understand the idea behind 'computer' - it's such a layman's term to me. It would surely help for people searching for the course, but upon graduation a degree in 'Computer animation arts' would probably make me question it as an employer. Why not have a different 'public' facing name to the 'graduation' name. A degree in CG Arts sounds a lot better on a resume, and by the time they graduate, they will understand the 'CG'.

    Here's some ideas too.

    Digital Art and Animation
    Digital Animation
    Digital 3D Art and Animation

  3. Might as well throw my two cents even if it has nothing to do with me. And coming from a guy who has "3D Digital Design" written on his degree, whatever you decide on can't be much worse :p

    I do not believe I've ever seen BA Hons Computer Generated Arts & Animation written out without the CG abbreviations, so if Computer Generated is the official name then I understand the want for change.
    I'd like to point out, however, that CG is in my surrounding at least more commonly considered "Computer Graphics" rather then "Computer Generated". Not to be confused with CGI. And the industry communities around the web (i.e. CG Society, CG hub, CG Channel, CG Arena etc) echo that notion and treat as all areas of digital art. Be it concept art, matte-painting, poly-modelling, sculpting, animation, FX or whatnot. And any young people even slightly interested in an degree in digital art 'should' have come across the term "CG" if they ever used the interwebs. But who am I to argue against the might of market research ;)
    Though, I hope it is an exaggeration that interested minds can not find the course unless they use the terms "Computer Generated". If so, then I do agree something needs to be done. Of course the real problem there seems to be a seriously strict search-engine or the the lack of any keywords or meta-optimization. So that is something that I'd try to tackle before considering a name-change.

    Now "Ba Hons Computer Animation Arts" does have all the right words even if it doesn't roll of the tongue very easily. If I had no prior knowledge of the course and with the lack of any punctuation marks, it does sound like a degree in purely the arts of animation. But if using "and" or "&" is to be avoided, then adding exclamation marks like Tom proposed is not half bad even if screaming at people might not be a very nice. And personally Digital has a better ring than Computer to my ears, even if I find CG as a term most descriptive.

    Now back to making resogun cubes!

  4. I've gotta agree with Jon on this one, Digital Art(s) and Animation has a nice ring to it.

  5. Computer Arts Animation sounds right to me instead of Computer Animation Arts. I like Jon's Idea of having it as Digital Animation too. :)

  6. Good stuff!

    So, the wisdom here isn't around what 'we' think, but rather trying to imagine how a younger pre-degree candidate might be thinking about the area of 'CGI'. Research has shown than 'animation' is the key search term, even from people interested in concept art, VFX, special effects, or indeed those areas that satellite the discipline; to put it another way, 'animation' is the key search term even when the searcher is interested in the constituents of that discipline (digital set, character design, modelling and so on). It's the biggest door into a series of smaller, specialist rooms - and the door most frequently opened at the start of the process. Computer Animation Arts is, by definition, pluralistic (it denotes more than one 'art') and this sense keeps all the existing options on the course in play. It was suggested originally that we move to 'Computer Animation' only, but obviously this doesn't express what we do adequately. The other bit of prevailing wisdom is that the term 'Digital' isn't returning searches either - or at least isn't anymore; 'Digital' is as non-descriptive as 'Computer' - but they connote the same thing. The point about the term 'computer' is that it at least relates to 'CGI' and 'CG' in a way that Digital does not. All reference to 3D and 3D Design is to be avoided within the matrix of the UCAS search engine, because (again) research shows that it gets lumped in with product and furniture and shifts completely out of its discipline category (and is thus harder to find).

    Sebastian's comment re. the limitations of a specific search engine is valid, but that's the bit we're not in control of.

    There is a simple issue of visibility at the front end of the process - and that is where an issue has been detected. There is also an additional 'visibility' issue internally between Ba Hons Computer Game Arts and our 'G', which has dogged us for sometime and we're keen to no longer be conflated with another degree programme (which again is causing pre-applicants confusion - I know, they do seem very confused!)

    So 'Digital', '3D', 'Three Dimensional' 'Computer Graphics' are all ineffective, because, in UCAS-land (which is the only land that matters when you're a pre-applicant obviously), all these terms further 'disappear' the course of which we (and you) are rightly protective.

    In UCAS-land Computer Animation Arts switches lights on and opens doors onto further, more detailed searches... which is the thing we need it to accomplish more successfully.

    1. So why can't the public facing name be 'Computer Animation Art's' and the course end name, when you graduate, remain as 'CG Art and Animation'? Or is that not something that can be realistically done? At work we have changed our name, publicly to Dovetail Games, but the trading name still remains as Railsimulator.com - and our contracts and such all reflect that.

    2. Hi Jon - well, I'm guessing because that duality would create further confusion, if not in the minds of our undergraduates (who aren't confused about anything remember), then certainly in the minds of UCA and maybe the outside world, as the moment students graduate, the course they were on ceases to exist. It would be difficult, for example, to align alumni with the current course, if, in fact, there were no ever any actual graduates from the named course (if you see what I mean).