Monday, 19 February 2018

Why Animators Need to Show Their Work

One of the hardest skills for animation students to learn is how give and receive criticism.  We all tend to be shy about our work (especially when we are learning something new) and, when our work is criticised, that criticism can feel very personal.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Aaron Hartline Explains the Line of Action

Aaron Hartline
Pixar animator Aaron Hartline was in London last week, giving a talk at the VFX Festival in Shoreditch.

Later that day, Aaron gave a great talk at Escape Studios in Shepherd's Bush about some of the important principles of animation, including the Line of Action - a concept first developed by Disney animator Preston Blair, who published one of the first practical books on learning animation back in the 1950s.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Free Storyboard Masterclass on Feb 22nd

Francesca "Chess" Adams
On Thursday February 22nd Escape Studios in London is hosting Blue Zoo storyboard artist Francesca "Chess" Adams, who will be talking about her work as a storyboard artist on TV series such as "Digby Dragon"

Storyboarding is one of the most interesting parts of the pre-production process. It's where drawing meets storytelling.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Mini Iron Giant Reunion in London Last Week

Barry O'Donoghue, me, Mike Nguyen and Sydney Padua
Last week we had a mini Iron Giant reunion; Mike Nguyen (who animated lots of great shots of Hogarth) was visiting London from Korea, via Ireland, where he has been working with Producer Barry O'Donoghue on "Little Caribou", an independent feature film that I personally can't wait to see on the big screen.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Get Ready for March 5th Spring Class

The book all animators need
Our next class at Animation Apprentice starts on 5th March. We're excited to welcome new students on their animation journey; junior animators are still very much in demand, especially in our home town of London, and my inbox is full of requests from studios for fresh talent.

So, how to get ready for March 5th? It's always good to do a little preparation and get a bit of a head start.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Why Animators Still Need Business Cards

At the VFX Festival yesterday I found myself asking a number of my students - have you brought plenty of business cards?

Almost none had. In this digital age, you might think that business cards are a little old-fashioned, but actually, you'd be wrong.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

MPC Recruiting Animators at the VFX Festival

Sara-Laila Francis of MPC
Who's at the VFX Festival this week?  Events like this are important to attend. Yes, the talks are interesting, but one of the most important reasons for turning up to an event like this is the chance to meet talent recruiters from animation and VFX houses.

MPC's Sara-Laila Francis was there yesterday, talking to students and graduates about opportunities with MPC, one of London's leading VFX houses.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Great Free Maya Rigs at Thinking Animation

Thinking Animation is a great source of free animation rigs, including some really fun fan-made resources so that animators can work on characters like Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy or even Elsa from Frozen.

The website, which describes itself as "an online animation portal, blog and learning resource where animators can inspire, share, and study" also has a lot of super useful resources, such as tips on finding work, and some free lessons too.

Some of the rigs you can find elsewhere at sites such as animationbuffet, but others are more or less unique to this site.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Steve Woodhouse Animator at Sister Pictures

Congratulations to Animation Apprentice graduate Steve Woodhouse, who has landed a position as a creature animator at Sister Pictures, an independent television production company based in Clerkenwell, London.

To see more of Steve's excellent animation, and the strong demo reel he developed at Animation Apprentice, visit his Vimeo channel here.


Saturday, 3 February 2018

Online MA in 3D Animation - New Course Video



Here's an updated course video for our Online MA in 3D Animation, explaining what's in the course and what makes it so unique. In a nutshell, it's the world's first online MA in Animation - a practical course which teaches both the practice and theory of 3D Animation, developed in partnership with Buckinghamshire New University. We are currently welcoming applications, and to apply for your place, just follow this link.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Dominic Rayner Animator at Operator's Creative

Operator's Creative, Old St, London
Many congratulation to Animation Apprentice graduate Dominic Rayner who has just started a job as an animator with The Operator's Creative, a creative agency based in London near Old Street

Prior to that, Dominic worked as a character animator at Lipsync Post, on a new feature film combining animated creatures with live action footage. 

To see more of Dominic' work, including his demo reel, follow this link.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Lee Caller Teaching Animation at Escape

Many congratulations to Animation Apprentice graduate Lee Caller, who recently started a new job teaching animation at Escape Studios.

Lee is an excellent animator and also an excellent teacher, able to pace the class effectively and make sure that everyone gets to a professional level of skill.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Tracked Plates for Animators

We're liking this website that offers tracked plates for animators.

VFX artist Dietrich Magnus has built a library of tracked plates which he has filmed and tracked himself, allowing animators to experiment with animating in a VFX environment for a low entry fee of £25.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Demo Reel Tips from Blue Zoo

What should go in a an animator's demo reel? It's a question that gets asked by almost every animation student, as they start to polish their shots, cut a demo reel, and start to look for work.

To see our 12 steps to craft a great demo reel, follow this link.  However, it's always good to get multiple points of view, and recently a Blue Zoo director posted his tips on what to put  (and what not to put) in an animation demo reel.  We agree with all of it, especially his advice on keeping it short, and his key observation that your work as an animator is "only as good as the worst thing on your reel".

To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Why NDAs Really Do Matter

23 year old digital artist Joel Butcher was recently sued for contempt of court by the Soho-based VFX house Double Negative. Butcher, like all VFX artists working for the company, signed an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) stating that, among other things, he would not upload confidential materials to the internet.  Unfortunately, Butcher shared some of the footage he was working on with a friend who - apparently without his knowledge - posted the footage online.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Why Animators Must Back Up Data

Hard Drive - full of moving parts
There are few things more depressing than being told by a student that their hard drive has died, and they have lost all their work.

This means essentially starting afresh, back to the beginning to start again the long, slow slog of building up a demo reel.  It's hard to over-stress the importance of backing up your data. It's a pain in the neck, and it takes time, but never forget that a hard drive is a delicate piece of technology filled with vulnerable moving parts.

Hard drives don't last for ever and, like all tech, will (eventually) let you down. The secret is to back up your data. But how best to do this? We take a quick look at some of the options.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Why Animators Need to "Progress the Action"

Brer Fox - copyright Disney
One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators is not progressing the action in their animation. In other words, making animation that is too static and immobile.

Progressing the Action is a concept developed in the Animator's Survival Kit, in which Williams describes it as the "secret of lipsync". But what does progressing the action really mean? And how does it work in practice?

Friday, 19 January 2018

Animation Taster Day Friday Jan 26th

Learn to animate a bird in flight
Want to try computer animation, but not sure if it's right for you? Come along to an Animation Taster Day in London on Friday January 26th.

Animation Taster Days are all about helping prospective students learn about character and creature animation, and find out what an animator's job is all about.

The classes take place at Escape Studios in Shepherd's Bush, West London. You will work with Autodesk Maya and the Adobe Creative Suite, and you’ll get a hands-on introduction to 3D Animation techniques, all for just £25!  By the end of the day you'll have your own piece of animation uploaded to your YouTube channel.  So, how do you sign up?

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Why Animators Should Draw Facial Expressions

Copy an Emoji
3D animators don't necessarily need strong drawings skills (I know many excellent 3D animators who don't draw well at all), but an ability to draw at least a little bit does help, especially for creating rough thumbnail sketches to plan out your animation.

One of the most common mistakes made by student animators is to leave out the facial expressions on their thumbnail sketches. You'd think that it would be obvious to include facial expressions, but many students don't - probably because faces can seem hard to draw.

In fact, adding rough facial expressions doesn't need to be that difficult. Think of the emotion you want to convey, and then copy an emoji. Is the character happy? Sad? Angry? There's an emoji online for every expression.

Monday, 15 January 2018

50 Ways to Sit by Kevin Parry



50 Ways to Sit by Kevin Parry follows on from 100 Ways to Walk, an inventive and clever imagining on the many different ways in which people move, and what this tells us about their character and personality. 50 Ways to Sit takes the same idea, and shows how much variation there in the way that different people might carry out a normal, simple action, like sitting down. It also shows how important it is for animators to get used to acting out their shots, filming themselves, and then using the footage as reference for their work. It's one of the most important, and least well understood, parts of the animation process.

Friday, 12 January 2018

"Bring Your Own Animation" Monday 22 January

Calling all London-based animators - "Bring Your Own Animation" is taking place on Monday 22 January, hosted by Kate Gabriel, 3D Artist at MPC.

BYOA is an animation event that takes place every month at a pub in London, generally on a Monday night. This month the event is taking place at The Lukin pub in Fitzrovia.

If you are a student who is working on a shot or an updated reel, bring your work on a USB or hard drive and get feedback from professional animators. You'll also hear the local gossip and find out the word on the street; there is often useful intel like - who is hiring?