Charlene Stewart
Publish Date: Friday, 9 June 2023
Charlene Stewart

HyFlex Learning – Diploma in Animation

#Invercargill #Animation #Graduate #Screen Arts #Student Profile #HyFlex

Auckland-based Digital Business Analyst, Charlene Stewart was working in the insurance industry and had been looking for the opportunity to study animation for some time, but was finding it a challenge to locate courses that could be done remotely and part-time.  Already in full-time employment, she knew she would be juggling her study alongside work and family commitments.

However, it all changed when she made the big move south to Invercargill in late 2021, and found what she was looking for. 

“I was looking at SIT's prospectus for my son, who had just finished high school, and thought I'd take a look at their animation courses for myself. I noticed they offered a Diploma in Animation course with asynchronous (HyFlex) learning options, which is what I enrolled for.” 

Charlene said prior to her programme starting she was looking forward to having access to new and exciting facilities and equipment, at SIT’s Centre for Creative Industries – Te Rau o te Huia. SIT has met and exceeded some of her expectations.

While working on a stop-motion project she was able to borrow some much needed equipment. “The tutors (Traci and Chris M), showed me how to use it, and I was able to film and complete my project at home, to the same standard as my peers who are studying on campus full-time,” she explains.

“It is one thing to study the theory and think you know how to do things, it's another to be able to experience it hands-on, with industry-standard equipment and tools, and SIT makes that possible,” she adds.

Charlene says she is really enjoying the creative process - from start to finish - in her studies, listing course highlights thus far:

Storyboarding – “Seeing my idea come to life slowly as it moved from just a logline, to a story, to a script, then the story board and finally the animatic with scratch tracks – This is very motivating.”

Stop-motion animation – Getting to do so many different things  - designing and building the puppet, set and props. “Seeing it come to life with each picture was even more rewarding than I thought it would be.”

Boot camps – “These were great as it really pushed me out of my comfort zone by trying my hand at different things and equipment.”

Studio Digital – “Learning how to use Maya, creating a vector art portrait and my very own pitch bible.”

“My favourite subject has to be stop-motion as that is where my greatest interest lies, but I am also looking forward to Drawing, Principles of Animation and 2D Animation next year.”

Charlene says her studies have helped make the creative process clearer – where to start and what to think of and consider, when working on a project.

She rates having good time management skills as a necessary, as well as asking for feedback, “to keep improving on your work”. Learning the industry way of doing things takes the top spot on her most valued list, and she’s also made the most of opportunities to engage with other students on her course.

“... I really enjoyed the days I did go to campus for the boot camps ... interacting with the other students and tutors, ... I was surrounded by others with similar interests as me, which is great!”

“I also appreciate how SIT gives its students a platform to showcase their work through various expos during the year.”

Using the technology required for her programme has posed the biggest challenge for Charlene – such as using Remote Desktop at home - but she has been proactive, and found ways to continue working on her projects until issues have been resolved. She’s used services - the IT Helpdesk - for support, and SIT loan laptops with the required software installed, which helped greatly and ensured Charlene stayed up-to-date with her course requirements.

Looking ahead to the future, once she’s completed her diploma, Charlene says ideally she would like to work on more stop-motion projects professionally and full-time. “Getting into puppet, set and prop building, as well as actually animating.” In the meantime, she is continuing to practise these skills and build her portfolio, by working on smaller personal video projects. 

To those thinking of studying animation, Charlene says “If this is your interest – go for it! It’s very rewarding to see your ideas come to life, but it takes work and discipline.”

“I am thoroughly enjoying this course and the skills we’re learning – Thanks again SIT for making it possible to do this asynchronously!”


Hyflex courses at SIT provide students with three options to choose from in their learning: distance, in their own time (asynchronous); remote, real-time (synchronous); or on-campus (traditional). The beauty of HyFlex learning is that it allows students to base their learning around their schedule and needs, without being disadvantaged in accessing course material and requirements.

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