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Successful graduates set to inspire next generation at international animation festival

13 May 2022


Two high-flying Teesside University graduates are returning to the University to pass on their knowledge and expertise to the next generation.

The pair are guest speakers at this year’s Animex Festival and there will be a focus on accessibility and bridging the gap between disabled people and the games industry.

Animex is an annual international festival celebrating the best of animation, VFX and computer games which attracts speakers from all over the world and has been hosted by Teesside University for over 20 years.

This year will see Chris Goodyear and Bianca Iancu listed among the guest speakers at the event which takes place from 16 to 22 May at Teesside University and Middlesbrough Town Hall.

Chris, graduated from Teesside University with a BA (Hons) Creative Digital Media in 2012 and went on to form Many Cats Studios. Chris is a deaf games developer and freelance producer and formed his company to help bridge the gap between disabled and neurodiverse people and the games industry. He is passionate about highlighting the skills and talents of disabled and neurodiverse people within the industry and ensuring everyone has a platform for their voice.

Chris said: “It is really important to me to help make the games industry more accessible for people with disabilities and to demonstrate that you can succeed no matter what obstacles are in front of you.

“I received support from Teesside University, through Launchpad, to help establish my business. The mentoring and funding were really important and helped me to get where I am today.

“Animex is a staple of the North-East games industry and has an amazing reputation, bringing developers and professionals to Middlesbrough from around the UK, and all over the world.

“It is a strange feeling to be coming to Animex as a speaker after years of attending as a student, graduate and then professional. But I am excited to bring the topic of accessibility to Animex and am passionate about encouraging people to pursue their dreams.”

Bianca, graduated from Teesside University with a BA (Hons) 3D Computer Character Animation in 2014. She is currently London-based working remotely as an Animation Lead for Bomper Studio who are based in Caerphilly near Cardiff, Wales. She works on 3D Animation for short films, commercials, games, VR experiences, and kids’ television.

We are extremely proud of our international reputation for animation and computer games which enables us to attract high calibre speakers from the world’s biggest studios to our Animex Festival.

Siobhan Fenton

She said: “My time at Teesside was the first introduction I had to software practices and dynamics of working with like-minded people that I encounter day to day right now.

“I was able to get a taste of multiple different disciplines while studying the 3D Computer Character Animation course. It was very self-driven and I had the freedom to direct my assignments towards the aspects of animation that I was most interested in.

“Animex was also a big draw when joining Teesside University - it meant I had the opportunity to speak to professionals currently in the industry. It was definitely a highlight when I was a student and for the years after.

“It's an absolute pleasure to be invited back to contribute as a speaker this year. It will be very gratifying to be on the other side answering student questions and hopefully providing the insight that forerunners also gave me.”

As well as Chis and Bianca, Animex will also hear from experts from the world of animation who brought movie blockbusters such as Fantastic Beasts and Star Wars to life, as well as those who have worked on huge franchises including Harry Potter, Shrek and Space Jam. There will also be a range of screenings, workshops and exhibitions to compliment the event.

The Animex Festival is part funded by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, with sponsorship from Wacom.

Siobhan Fenton, Associate Dean (Enterprise and Business Engagement) in Teesside University’s School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies, said: “We are extremely proud of our international reputation for animation and computer games which enables us to attract high calibre speakers from the world’s biggest studios to our Animex Festival.

“At Teesside University we are committed to providing our students with the skills and expertise to flourish once they graduate and we are delighted to welcome back Chris and Bianca to Animex this year. They have both enjoyed incredible success since studying here and I am sure they will be an inspiration to everybody in the audience.”

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