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TAFE students share learning on tour of China animation hub

Western Australian TAFE students on a road in China with Chinese students.

In December 2017, ten Western Australian TAFE students and two lecturers visited Zhejiang in China for an invaluable digital animation study tour. The group from North Metropolitan TAFE and South Regional TAFE was hosted as part of 30th anniversary celebrations of the Sister State relationship between WA and Zhejiang.

Hangzhou in Zhejiang is an animation hub of more than 200 animation game companies, producing approximately $11.5 billion in revenue annually and hosting the China International Cartoon and Animation Festival since 2005. The tour saw students immersed in digital animation with some of the world's leading industry organisations. Students attended classes at several Chinese institutions and visited leading animation companies, the China Animation and Cartoon Museum and the Zhejiang National Animation Industry Base.

The tour followed a February 2017 digital animation masterclass in WA, where South Regional TAFE students hosted Zhejiang Business College students as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations.

Prior to the group's trip to China, Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said, "Western Australia's education and training sector is integral to our Sister State relationship with Zhejiang, promoting the exchange of culture, knowledge, skills and ideas on both sides. Hangzhou is a world leader in the digital animation field, our students are set to receive an unparalleled opportunity and gain unique insights into their chosen industry. This exchange will improve the digital knowledge and skills of Western Australian students and promote our State as an ideal location for digital animation production collaboration."

Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Paul Papalia said, "In the global digital animation industry an understanding and appreciation of other cultures is an invaluable asset. This opportunity will allow talented Western Australian students to build their international connections and develop cultural awareness that will make them competitive in this billion dollar sector."

TAFE Western Australia offers a range of digital animation courses to international students, including the Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media (Animation)at North Metropolitan TAFE and the Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technologyat South Regional TAFE.

A series of study tour highlights were published on Facebook and the popular Chinese social media channel WeChat. Read some highlights below.

Wechat post Facebook post

Robbie Beresford, studying Diploma in Screen and Media at North Metropolitan TAFE:
"The China Animation Exchange Program was an outstanding experience. Throughout the week we visited many towns, museums, markets, temples and four different creative arts colleges, being taught many different traditions and techniques. From relatable 2D and 3D animation, to something we weren't that familiar with. For example sculpting, clay animation, panoramas, Chinese paper cutting, ink painting... the list goes on. The programs that the Chinese students used to create the animations we saw were the same kind that we use over here. But the inspiration in their work over there was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness in person, and I know that it will have quite an impact on all our work that we make in the future, at TAFE or at a future job.

Throughout the whole trip, I learnt that interacting with the students at the colleges was my favourite thing to do. It was somewhat of a challenge to communicate to them alone… it made it very entertaining to ask questions and get a response back.

Overall I know that everyone had a great time in Hangzhou, China. We all made new friends… talking through our own artwork and building relations was the most memorable part of the trip and it shouldn't matter what language you speak. I was looking for what I wanted to do next with my academic pathway. Taking this educational trip really opened my eyes to how diverse the animation field is and what types of jobs are out there. I was really inspired by the amount of dedication and hard work that goes into the students work pieces in china. I hope that these exchange programs can continue so that keen students can have the same great experiences that I had."

Student group at Chinese village

Kristina Rondilla, studying Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media at North Metropolitan TAFE:
"We visited Zhejiang Zoland animation Co. Ltd, a company that makes animated TV series and games, China-bigdata Technology Co. Ltd, a company that runs for different TV platforms, and last but not the least Animation School of China Academy of Art Xiangshan Campus where they gave us a tour. Throughout the day it's been relatable to me especially the animation school that we went into. As I am an animation student I've been thinking that they must've been doing the same sleepless nights like us just to get those short film animation and art projects to be fantastic as possible. Also having a bit of experience in playing games and watching short film animation from the Zoland Animation Co. is fun, they made these games that are simple but enjoyable to play.

After watching the animation we were guided to the rooms where senior students were diligently doing their work... upon looking at the wall there's a lot of different character designs. We were told that the senior students put that out for the first years to see, to motivate them and do their work and I think that is a good idea… as an animation student it makes my hand itchy to just draw right there."

Student using VR equipment

Nikayla Stern, studying Diploma of Screen and Media (Animation & Visualisation) at North Metropolitan TAFE:
"The lecturers brought up a 360 degree film that was interactive… I found this really interesting to watch and was super happy when we were shown how it was made and got the chance to be involved creating the project. Once we had filmed the scene we took it back to the computer room to edit. There were a lot more steps than I thought there would have been and programs like Photoshop and Autopano Giga were used to clean up the scene… It was very interesting to see this process and the different ways the college used the programs."

Student group in Chinese computer lab

Gary Quintrell, studying Certificate IV in Digital Media Technologies at South Regional TAFE:
"Early start today, travelled for an hour and a half to Zhejiang University of Media and Communications Tongxiang campus where there are 14,000 residential students, which is an incredible number of people at one campus. This is more than the population of my town of Margaret River Western Australia. This campus is very new and very impressive in every way, from the size, to the architecture – it is truly amazing.

By being enrolled in TAFE this year, and being in a class environment where I have had to communicate and collaborate with fellow students, I found that I was extremely comfortable in the classroom environment, and I am sure this helped with the whole experience.

It was incredible to see the large number of Chinese students dedicated and willing to further their education and always smiling and enjoying it. It was a very friendly environment to be in and this is one of many campuses that we have been to, I have felt the same in each one."

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