Elena Nikolova – what is it like to teach Animation in Game Dev Advanced?

Elena Nikolova is one of the animation teachers at ARC Academy.  As well as being a great professional, she is genuinely funny and always ready to help and share what it feels like to be part of the academy not as a student, but as a lecturer – the connection between the knowledge and the students. So we decided to ask her a few questions, the answers to which you can find below in the interview:

Introduce yourself. Tell us what is your occupation at the moment and what are you teaching at the academy? 

Yuhu! I’m an animator, who animates characters and breathes life into 3D models. I have a bachelor’s degree in “Animated Cinema” and an additional specialization in 3D animation of characters. I have worked both as a 2D and as a 3D designer. I have been a team leader of “Tabtale”- a company in the top 10 most downloaded mobile games. I have worked as an animator in “Snapshot Games”, where I was part of the team “Phoenix Point”. If you haven’t guessed yet, I teach Animation at ARC Academy.

What does inspire you as a lecturer in ARC Academy? 

By the fact that in Bulgaria the education in the field of digital arts and computer games is not very developed and needs to be updated, in general it could almost be said that until ARC, such education was almost non-existent.

Very soon you gave the first online lecture at ARC academy on the topic of Animation/Rigging. What was your impression of it? 

The fact that students seek knowledge in such an extraordinary situation was a very pleasant feeling.  To see how seriously they take even a casual suggestion or direction, is incredibly invigorating. The first online lecture was absolutely spontaneous and really interesting.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of online learning? 

Online lectures have their advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that you are not obliged to be physically present in a specific place and you are free to attend the lecture wherever you want. You can wear pajamas and make tea. But online education can’t replace human contact between teacher and student. It can’t satisfy the need to be shown and tested in real-time. You can read the question in the student’s eyes much easier than in the silence behind the microphone.

What does inspire you as a lecturer? 

I want to add that I am not the best animator in Bulgaria and there are probably many more suitable lecturers than me for this position. But what inspires me is that I want to share with my students what I have. People have said “If you really want to understand something, try to explain it to someone else”. I am inspired by the dreams of the students and when I see the growth and the progress of people, knowing that I am part of it.

Which is the most interesting part of your profession? 

The most exciting thing about being an animator is that I animate something inanimate. I find it interesting not only to observe, but to be the creator of the process turning an idea into a “living” being and to see the result in the end. In teaching there are many interesting moments when I look inside myself and find unexpected surprises- there are so many things that a person does in his work unconsciously, principles built with the experience, that you seldom even think about.

Interesting facts: 

  • The animation in the game “Cuphead” not only resembles the old, classic style of Disney. It is actually painted by the traditional method – drawing by drawing on paper. It was subsequently scanned and inserted into the game.
  • The famous painter “Loish” painted the concepts for the main character Aloy in the game Horizon: Zero Dawn.