Meet the PANEURAMA Team: Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg & Animationsinstitut

We asked our team from the PANEURAMA project to briefly introduce themselves, share the areas they are working on, and respond to some questions addressing current challenges and opportunities in the industry.

We hope you will enjoy reading their insights. The interviewees are Christian Müller and Lukas Holzwarth from Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg and the Animationsinstitut.

Christian Müller from Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg and the Animationsinstitut

Christian Müller

Head of 3rd Party Productions & Talent Initiatives
@Filmakademie Baden-Würrtemberg and the Animationsinstitut

Lukas Holzwarth from Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg and the Animationsinstitut

Lukas Holzwarth

Assistant Study Coordination “Beyond Studies”
@Filmakademie Baden-Würrtemberg and the Animationsinstitut

Q: Can you provide a brief overview of yourself, your professional experience, and the institution you work in?

Since it was founded in 1991, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg has become one of the world’s leading film academies. The project-oriented “learning by doing” concept has greatly contributed to this. Its Animationsinstitut trains outstanding talents at the highest level in the fields of Animation, Visual Effects, Technical Directing, Animation/Effects Producing and Interactive Media. Beyond study, it offers international talent & IP development initiatives and promotes a vivid community between students, graduates, faculty, and staff. In addition, the institute runs a Research & Development department and is responsible for the annual international FMX – FILM & MEDIA EXCHANGE.

At Animationsinstitut the PANEURAMA project is run by Christian Müller, Head of 3rd Party Productions & Talent Initiatives, and Lukas Holzwarth, Assistant Study Coordination “Beyond Studies”.

Christian has been active as a creative producer in various areas of the cultural and creative industries for over 25 years. Currently, he is responsible for the Beyond Study activities at the Animationsinstitut. At the same time, with his production company eyecatchproductions, he realises projects with a focus on contemporary, sustainable and effective forms of production; pre-recorded as well as live, linear or interactive, real and animated. The professional origin of Lukas lies in traditional news and film production. Having started recently at the Animationsinstitut he is really looking forward to participating in such a future-oriented project. This brings him closer to the things that really matter: our future and our education.

 

Q: In recent years, what do you consider the most significant changes within creative digital education? How has it affected your institution? Could you give some examples?

The shift to online education, work, and meetings, accelerated by recent crises, has shown the potential of digital platforms to maintain continuity despite challenges, highlighting the need for digital equity and effective technological solutions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning are transforming creative digital education by promising personalization and efficiency but also pose risks like job displacement and deepening the digital divide.

For an institution such as Animationsinstitut, which is not part of the Bachelor/Master/CreditPoint system, it might be quite easy to adapt to the needs of its students and their projects. At the same time like many others, we had to deal with the pandemic situation and the sudden change of not being able any more to provide on-site education. With combined efforts, this was technically arranged, but the effect on personal teaching/mentoring/project development is still affecting the educational processes.

 

Q: What, in your opinion, are the primary challenges currently faced by creative digital education and how is it affecting your institution? Could you give some examples?

In addition to the uncertainty of the future caused by multiple crises in the world around us, the digital age has ushered in an era where the vast volume of online information and content, disseminated by influencers of varying qualifications, poses a significant challenge.

Navigating this landscape demands critical evaluation skills to discern credible sources, especially when formulating guidelines for ethically correct usage of technology. Staying abreast of developments in a rapidly evolving world further complicates this task, requiring continuous learning and adaptability to integrate the latest insights into practical applications.

The Animationsinstitut exemplifies a proactive stance in this context by defining its own perspective on e.g. AI amidst a plethora of external influences. This approach underscores the importance of establishing a clear, informed viewpoint while remaining open to evolving discussions and advancements, thereby contributing constructively to the broader discourse on AI’s role and impact.

 

Q: Could you please identify the most significant opportunities for creative digital education and possible ways to address them?

Spatially and temporally independent access to data revolutionizes the way educational content is delivered, offering unprecedented flexibility in learning. This autonomy in access enables learners to engage with materials at their convenience, breaking traditional barriers of time and location. A shift in online education is evident in the evolution of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Learning Management Systems (LMS), reflecting changes in accessibility, content delivery, and pedagogical strategies to meet diverse learner needs and preferences in a digital landscape. In the context of the PANEURAMA online skills development package, for which the Animationsinstitut is primarily responsible, the optimization and quality assurance of this capability is crucial.

 

Q: What do you think are the most important hard skills in the area of creative digital education in which you are working? 

Maintaining quality and expertise in an era dominated by rapidly changing trends presents a significant challenge, requiring a steadfast commitment to excellence and relevance in content creation and delivery. It necessitates a balance between adapting to new developments and preserving the integrity and depth of educational offerings. Emphasizing continuous evaluation, research, development and creative thinking helps in distinguishing trends that have the potential to enhance learning outcomes and foster innovation, ensuring that the pursuit of currentness does not compromise the quality of education, especially in our creative content-/story-oriented environment.

 

Q: What advice could you give to industry professionals to foster closer collaboration and partnership with educational institutions? Could you share some examples?

The Animationsinstitut is offering project-based studies with freelance teaching staff rooted in the industry. Given this background, we can highly encourage industry professionals to engage with the educational sector to not just give in their knowledge but also gain experience outside the established structures. Cultivating an open, tolerant culture towards workflows and methodologies benefits companies by enhancing collaboration and adaptability to market and technology changes. This flexible, knowledge-focused training approach boosts innovation and the integration of new tools, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and shared knowledge, positioning creatives for success in evolving industries.

 

Q: What do you think creative digital educational institutions should focus more on to better prepare young artists for their careers?

As education in the creative sectors has a lot to do with personal content and stories on a highly artistic level, it is crucial to find a balance between efficiency and perfectionism. Realistic views of workload, production pipeline and team structures are essential for setting achievable goals and effective resource allocation, ensuring outcomes are practical and mitigating overambition risks. Efforts should be focused on high-impact tasks, enhancing productivity, and promoting a sustainable work ethic and soft skill development that prioritizes progress. By fostering individual strengths, the aim is to enhance resilience, enabling individuals to effectively manage and thrive amidst the complexities and demands of their professional and personal environments.

 

Q: What do you think are the most important soft skills needed for students and graduates who are going to work in creative digital industries? Could you give some advice on how to develop them?

An important soft skill would be critical thinking. It involves rigorous analysis and unbiased judgment formation, highlighting the need for knowledge and continuous learning. Especially in the creative sector an exposure to different opinions and feedback broadens one’s understanding, challenges preconceived notions, and facilitates the appreciation of complex issues from multiple angles. This process enhances cognitive flexibility and promotes the adoption of a more nuanced, empathetic approach to problem-solving and decision-making. At the same time, it’s essential to ensure learners recognize their role as part of a team, not just as individual contributors.

Acknowledging the importance of both hard skills and soft skills is crucial for holistic development, emphasizing collaboration, communication, and interpersonal skills alongside technical or specialized knowledge.

 

Q: Could you provide suggestions or recommendations for students and graduates aiming to succeed in the current market?

Taking business endeavours seriously necessitates well-considered actions and staying “up to date”, underscored by a comprehensive market overview and meticulous research. This approach ensures that decisions are informed by a deep understanding of market dynamics, competitor activities, and consumer trends, enabling strategic planning and execution that align with both current realities and future opportunities. Such thorough preparation and analysis are foundational to navigating the complexities of the business landscape effectively.

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