Access: VFX, ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund and 3Dami run initiative for animators aged 11-18

YAY UK 2023 winners

The winners of the Young Animator of the Year competition were announced on 12 November, with the winners having their work premiered at a special screening session at the Manchester Animation Festival. 

Run by Access:VFX, ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund and 3Dami, the initiative invites budding animators aged 11-18 to submit their creations to the initiative’s awards programme each year. The programme aims to provide aspiring animators from a range of backgrounds with access to and advice from professionals and studios in the animation, games and VFX industry.

Entrants submitted their work into one of six categories, and the winners had their work reviewed by professionals from across the industry, but they’ll also get the chance to tour Access:VFX’s members’ studios, including Aardman, Blue Zoo and Axis.

Young Animator of the Year winners

Best Stop-Motion Animator Aged 11-14: Nuk Jansen, Edinburgh, Age 14
Best 2D Animator Aged 11-14: Pavlos Xenophontos, London, Age 14
Best 3D Animator Aged 11-14: Jeremiah Achene, Derby, Age 14
Best Stop-Motion Animator Aged 15-18: Ben Mullan, Bedford, Age 18
Best 2D Animator Aged 15-18: Thomas Langridge, London, Age 17
Best 3D Animator Aged 15-18: Euan Garbut, Glasgow, Age 16

Before the winners were announced, the young animators on the programme were set various mini challenges by industry experts from across the UK’s VFX and animation industry, allowing them to hone their skills before producing their own original films. As part of the YAY UK programme, animators were encouraged to use opensource software that’s available to anyone, many of which are standard tools for the VFX and animation industry. The skills learned and developed as part of the programme are ones that are directly transferable to future careers.

Amy Backwell, emerging talent specialist at ILM and one of the programme’s judges, said: “The quality of the films this year were phenomenal. It’s brilliant to see a variety of short films executed to such a high quality with storytelling, technicality and the fundamentals of animation and form in mind. In visual effects, it’s imperative to demonstrate the ability to create realistic and believable content and that’s exactly what these shortlisted entries showcased. It’s exciting to see the level of talent improving every single year!”

Tom Box, co-organiser of YAY UK, board member of Access:VFX, chair of ScreenSkills Animation Skills Council and managing director of Blue Zoo Animation Studio, said: “This year’s showcase of entrants for the awards truly epitomised the jaw-dropping creativity and boundless potential of creative teenage animators from across the UK. Each year the quality gets better and better, and the industry judges had an almost impossible job of picking the winners. It was wonderful to be able to present the winners with their trophies at Manchester Animation Festival in person, giving a platform to the next generation of talent, and hopefully inspiring many more animated careers in the process.”