Monday, 12 March 2018

Why Eye Direction Matters

Characters must look at one another
One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators (and sometimes senior ones) is to animate characters who aren't really looking at each other.

Eye direction is a tricky thing to get right, but it's vital that your characters need to engage with one another - and this means looking in the right direction, at the other character's eyes.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Free Rigging webinar Tonight at 7pm

Mike Davies - the man who rigged Smaug
Rigging Supremo Mike Davies, veteran rigger whose film credits include The Hobbit and The Minions, is hosting a free webinar on the art of rigging tonight, Thursday 8 March at 7pm.

If you're interested in learning rigging, be sure to sign up for this free webinar hosted by London's Escape Studios.

If you'd like to register (it is completely free), follow the link here to sign up.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Why Animators Need to Blink

Everybody blinks, a lot. But since we do it without noticing, we're not really aware of it. One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators is to forget to add blinks to their characters.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Everything Comes From The Core

Everything comes from the core
For animators, everything comes from the core. When you create motion, it should always come from the core of the character's body, usually the hips, often known as the Root Control, or COG (centre of gravity control).

When a character turns their head, you might not think this motion comes from their core, but in fact it does, and you need to make sure that the action is motivated from the character's core, else the motion will feel robotic. 

Thursday, 22 February 2018

The Making of Paddington Two

One of the best animation talks at the recent VFX festival in London  was the presentation by Framestore on the making of Paddington 2.

Lead animator Liam Russell presented breakdowns of several key sequences in the film, including the excellent prison sequence, and the hyper-kinetic train sequence at the end of the movie.

He also gave some great tips on what kind of animation demo reels Framestore looks for - scroll down to the bottom to find his personal take on this always-important subject.

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.