Alex Parkinson is in the second year of a degree in Animation at the University of Salford. In 2014, she was a finalist in a university competition to create an animated Christmas card. Although she didn’t claim the ultimate prize, her work was spotted by musician Ben Williams, who was so impressed he invited Alex to create a video to accompany his single, I Can Do That.
Alex has since gone on to create animations for the national radio DJ Steve Penk, who has displayed her work on his YouTube channel. She explains how a lifelong love of art and cartoons has brought her succcess before she’s even completed her degree.
“I’d always loved drawing - cartoons mainly - and I’ve played about with stop motion but hadn’t really done anything professionally with cameras before I started the course,” explains Alex. “In fact, before I came to the university I was working in a cake shop. It was actually my sister who spotted the course and thought it would be perfect for me. She was right.”
Before taking the job in a cake shop, Alex had studied Maths, Art and Music Technology at college, all subjects which are highly relevant to her degree, she says. “Art is relevant for obvious reasons, and the music experience has proved really helpful with the sound syncronisation and lip synching. Maths also really helps with curves, lines and angles.”
Settling in quickly, Alex had developed the skills to create an e-card for the university’s competition after completing just two months of her course. “The competition launched in November of my first year,” she says. “All the shortlisted entries were shown at an event at MediaCityUK, and that’s where Ben saw my animation.
“He got in touch and explained what he was looking for – the lyrics of his song were very visual and he wanted a cartoon character of himself to perform the actions. The first stage was to create the character; I did a full page of different face designs and he chose the one he liked, which I then developed into an animation. I had quite a lot of freedom with it and was able to interpret the lyrics myself. I made little thumbnails of the story board for him to approve, and then I animated each scene.”
After putting the finished animation on her Facebook page, Alex received a further enquiry from another songwriter and she’s currently working on a second music video. She was also chosen by her lecturers to provide animations for the DJ Steve Penk.
“He wanted an animated version of his wind-up calls for his YouTube channel, so I created those for him as well,” says Alex.
“I know I still have a couple of years to go and have a lot to learn, but I think it’s really important to take opportunities as they come up. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.”
You can see Alex’s animations at:
Christmas Card Animation - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sej6C5jal8w
Steve Penk 1- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOvfzdp5yXM
Steve Penk 2- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxK6jFYSWPM
I Can Do That Music Video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HvgoIg8SRQ