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Experts from Star Wars and Coco among highlights of international animation festival  ​

Industry experts who have worked on titles including Star Wars, Pixar’s hit animation Coco, action adventure film Thor: Ragnorak and cult video game series Wolfenstein will be among the star guests at Teesside University’s annual Animex Festival.

Taking place at Teesside University over five days, from 14to 18 May, the Animex Festival attracts hundreds of people from across the globe and is the largest festival of its kind in the UK. It draws some of the games and animation industries’ brightest and future stars together to share their knowledge with the next generation.

Now in its nineteenth year, May’s event also sees the exciting addition of Animex LIVE, where music conducted by renowned video games composer Austin Wintory will be performed by Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra in the newly refurbished Middlesbrough Town Hall. There are still tickets available for Animex LIVE, which takes place on Monday 14 May and they can be purchased from the Town Hall Box Office.

Joining Austin at Animex this year are Dan Snape and Teesside University graduate Sam Dawes, from Industrial Light and Magic. They both worked on the visual effects for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and will talk about the compositing aspects of the film and look at how they work on shots to bring the various elements of the production from set to screen.

In addition, Sarah Beth Eisinger, Effects Technical Director at Pixar, will take the audience behind the scenes of Coco – taking a closer look at some of the effects, such as ghosts and the marigold bridge and hidden Easter eggs in the movie. She will also discuss the importance of effects in driving stories forward.

Switching to computer games, Animex will also hear from Daniel Robson, another Teesside University graduate who now works as a Senior Environment Artist for Machine Games. Daniel will be giving an insight into the creation of the environment art, production pipelines and the challenges faced by the studio when developing Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.

Andy Hayes, Head of Effects at Framestore, will also be on hand to discuss the extensive visual effects on Marvel’s Thor: Ragnorak.

Another exciting first at the year’s Animex will see a number of pop-up screenings of animations submitted for the Animex Awards shown in various locations across Middlesbrough, including the Twisted Lip, Skins and Needles and Bar Zero.

Running alongside Animex this year is ExpoTees, the School of Computing, Media & the Arts’ annual creative showcase of work by final year students as they prepare to graduate and start their careers. It provides the students with an opportunity to have their work seen by the biggest names in industry.

Tim Brunton is Senior Lecturer in Games Animation at Teesside University and Project Manager for Animex.

He said: “The line-up this year is amazing and we are really proud of the calibre of guests and speakers we have been able to attract.

“Animex has a reputation as one of the best festivals of animation and computer games. It is a fantastic opportunity to bring together leading lights and future stars of the industry to share knowledge and best practice.

“Everybody is really excited about this year’s event and I am sure it will be an incredible success.”

To find out more about Animex and to buy tickets, visit