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Cartoon film dispels software career myths

by david.nunes

What’s the first thing that comes into your head when you think about working in software? That you’ve got to be geek? That you spend your life cooped up in some dark basement staring at a computer screen? That it’s incredibly dull?

The reality is very different, and Sunderland Software City is dispelling some of these myths in a new cartoon film showing teenagers what working in software is really like.

The six-minute-long animation, aimed at 11-17 year-olds and available on YouTube, sees a pair of teenagers discovering how a career in software can take them places they’d never imagined – like music, fashion, computer games, films and sport – and that people who work in the industry aren’t really geeks at all.

Sunderland Software City is the regional initiative supporting the growth of the software industry in the North East and Chief Executive Officer Bernie Callaghan says that building a talented workforce in the region is key to continuing the growth of the local software sector.

He said: “The North East is increasingly a location of choice for the software industry and one of the things which makes our region so attractive is the talented and inventive workforce.

“If the local software industry is going to continue its recent expansion we’re going to have to keep growing that talent pool, but we know a lot of young people are put off even thinking about a career in software because they think it has nothing to do with the things that interest them and it’s not somewhere people like them work.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth, and we thought an animated film would be an appealing and relevant way to set the record straight.

“A career in software can take you wherever your interests lie and all you need is to be creative, able to work in a team and good at solving problems. Any technical skills you can pick up really easily right here in the North East”.

The film is designed to be shown in schools, where it can be accompanied by:

· Visits from local companies like those shown in the film, i.e. Mere Mortals, 4Projects, Isherwoods and Sonodrome

· Lesson plans where Key Stage 3 students can use software to design their own planet

· Fun and interactive workshops.

Kat Pattison from local company Sonodrome is one of the film’s stars.

“There’s a load of misconceptions about what it’s like working in software and even what the people who work in software are like, and we were really excited about getting involved in a project which would get young people thinking differently about the sector and even about making a career here,” she said.

“Software is a brilliant place to work, and we’re glad to get the chance to tell the world”.

The animation was produced by Gateshead-based animation studio Kuro Dragon, in partnership with film-makers Yourfilm and sound specialists Mudshark Audio.

“This was an extremely enjoyable and challenging project to be involved in and Sunderland Software City were fantastic clients,” said Kuro Dragon founder Stuart Howard.

“We produced the 2D animation within a very tight time scale while collaborating with the talented guys at Yourfilm and Mudshark Audio to composite the final piece. We are extremely pleased with the outcome and will be entering the animation into upcoming national awards.”

Sunderland Software City initiative is benefiting from over £6.5m of European Union investment from the ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13, secured through regional development agency One North East. The ERDF programme is bringing over £300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.

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