Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Animation Apprentice is Going to VIEW

VIEW Conference 2109
Animation Apprentice is going to VIEW, the 20th International VFX & Computer Graphics Conference that takes place every year in Turin.

This year the VIEW conference runs from Monday 21st October until Friday 25th October.

We'll be there, participating in panel talks and also running a one-day masterclasses in Maya demonstrating some creature animation techniques.

Our classes are aimed at complete beginners and require no prior experience with Maya.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Ross Anderson Pulls a Rabbit from his Hat

Ross Anderson
Canadian author and animation historian Ross Anderson has finally finished his book - Pulling a Rabbit Out of a Hat - The Story Behind the Making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Ross was first interviewed by animation blog FLiP back in 2013, about writing of the book, which has taken six years to bring to fruition.

Ross's book has finally hit the bookshelves; he was signing copies this week at this year's Annecy film festival.

Ross's book aims to be the definitive history of the making of the film. I've been looking forward to buying my copy for years. Among the highlights are Tom Sito's hilarious sketches and scribbles that documented the roller coaster ride that was the making of the film.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Pixar Advice for Graduates



Check out this excellent just-released video from Pixar on tips for animation graduates, offering some great advice on how to break into the industry. Among the most interesting comments from Pixar employees: "I applied....three times; friends and family told me to give up, saying, 'they're just not that into you'." (she made it in the end).  Another one says "Every time you get rejected...is an opportunity for you to improve yourself". And also "the learning didn't stop in college, there are still opportunities to improve yourself".  Great advice from some great talent. To see why animation graduates need to be the rhino, read this blog post.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Nickelodeon Explains the Art of the Pitch

David Steinberg at Annecy
Animation veteran David Steinberg from Nickelodeon made a great presentation at this year's Annecy animation festival on how to pitch animation ideas to Nickelodeon.

Nick does most of the design and creation in house, but the "meat and potatoes" of animation is usually subcontracted out to other studios, often overseas, around the world.

So, what does Nickelodeon ("Nick", for short) look for in an animation pitch?

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

MPC and a Flying Elephant

At last week's VFX festival at Escape Studios, MPC lead animator Oliver Dale explained how MPC approached the Making of Dumbo, the 2019 re-make of the 1940s animated Disney classic.

The starting point for the animators was to begin with live action reference. Dumbo is a baby elephant, so his motion has been based on real footage, and he has to fit into the real world of live action photography.

The animators began the process by animating walk and run cycles, and then added their own embellishments, to make the process "as efficient and as refined as possible".

Bringing Dumbo to life was a big challenge, in part because of the high expectations of this re-make of a much-loved film.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

ILM & "Fallen Kingdom" at the VFX Festival

Fallen Kingdom
One of the highlights of today's VFX Festival at Escape Studios in London was the presentation by Jance Rubinchik, animation supervisor at ILM on the making of Jurassic World, and Fallen Kingdom.

The talk was a masterclass in creature animation, demonstrating how much careful research goes into the creation and animation of the dinosaurs.

The Jurassic World series of movies as are a "balance between science and entertainment", as the film-makers try to keep both audiences and paleontologists happy.

From the point of view of animators looking to tackle realistic dinosaur animation, the lesson is simple: use as much reference as you can, and make sure you use live action reference that is as close as possible to the anatomy of the creatures you are trying to animate. 

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Why Animators Have Too Many Poses

Art Babbitt & Richard Williams, c1973
One of the most common mistakes made by student animators is to have too many poses, making the overall performance feel too busy, too over-animated.

Veteran Disney animator Art Babbitt used to say that junior animators had too many poses, and veteran animators had too few. When we start off young and enthusiastic we tend to throw in the kitchen sink.

The trick is to have the right number of poses for a shot, and let the characters stay a while in the poses we have chosen. The best way to do this is to draw clear thumbnails at the beginning, with clear poses, and not have too many poses for the shot.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

VFX Festival June 5-6 in Central London

The VFX, Games and Animation Festival 2019 is back again, this time taking place 190 High Holborn WC1 in central London.

This year the VFX festival has been split into three separate but overlapping events. All of the events are well worth attending, and we strongly recommend that any of our students in the London area attend.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Getting Feedback at Animation Apprentice

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.

There are a number of ways in which students at Animation Apprentice can get feedback and critique. First and most obvious is directly from me - I personally tutor all the students at Animation Apprentice.  But we also have a dedicated Facebook Classroom, where students post their work to get feedback.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

What Goes into an Animation Bible?

Shorescripts.com is an excellent resource for aspiring writers and creators, not just for traditional scriptwriters but also for anyone interested in pitching their own  animated TV series.

Best of all is this link to a full page of animation bibles, including classic TV shows like He-Man and Batman, showing how writers and animators go about putting together the all-important animation "bible", the crucial part of any animation pitch.

Monday, 13 May 2019

AniMates: Thurs 13th June in Tunbridge Wells

Animation Apprentice graduate and Motion Graphics expert Neil Whitman is organising a meet up of animation folks in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

The idea is to get animation professionals (and aspiring animators) together to associate, talk shop, and help each other out.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

How to Plan Animal & Creature Animation

Kiwi animation by Oliver Canovas
Our master's degree animators, studying at Buckinghamshire New University, are currently working on their third animation assignment, DA703 PR1, which involves the creation of a piece of animal or creature animation, combined with a performance.

Animal and  creature animation is among the most challenging work an animator can tackle, because it involves creating believable animation - usually based on live-action reference - and also an element of anthropormisation - making the animal or creature act in a believable way, perhaps including dialogue and lipsync.

So, how should our students plan out a piece of animal or creature animation? Start by watching the 10 minute video below.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Animator's Resource Kit

We're liking this handy blog - The Animator's Resource Kit, a useful one-stop-shop for lots of animation-related stuff.

It has plenty of information on subjects like links to animation forums, communities, animation competitions, Maya rigs, tools - and places to submit work.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Cartoon Forum 2019: Deadline 8 May

Cartoon Forum: 16-19 September 2019
What is Cartoon Forum? And why should animators know about it?

Cartoon Forum is Europe's biggest TV pitch-fest for animation, so if you have an idea for a TV series in your head, Cartoon Forum is the place to pitch it.

The deadline to submit your series project this year is 8 May. So, you have a little more time to sharpen your pencils, fill out some forms - and make your pitch perfect.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Why Animators Need Sound Design

Sound Designer at work
Animators need sound design. If you're animating a shot, remember that the visuals are just 50% of the experience; the rest is audio.

Audio is made up of music, sound effects, dialogue and - sometimes - narration.

Occasionally, good sound design means having no sound at all, or very little. But there is usually some work to be done, and animators neglect sound design altogether at their peril.

Monday, 15 April 2019

How to Write a Cover Letter

How do you write a good cover letter? And what does one look like anyway?  Everyone knows you need to write a cover letter to get a job, but lots of students get stuck at the point of actually writing one. So, to make things simple, check out our sample cover letter below.

A cover letter is like any normal letter. You put your own name, address, telephone number and email address at the top. Make it easy for them to contact you. Add the url of your website and/or demo reel (if you haven't done that yet, do it first).

Below that, you put the company's name and address. Address the letter to the person who does hiring at the company - most likely their head of recruitment or HR.  Below is our suggested template; feel free to edit it and personalise it to make it your own.

Friday, 12 April 2019

April 11 Second Club

This month, our masters' degree student animators are working on DA702, their character animation Module, with a view to entering The 11 Second Cluba monthly character animation competition in which aspiring animators practice their skills.  The Master's students practical assignment for the module is due on Monday April 22nd.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Summer Class Starts on Monday 6 May

"School Run" by Lee Caller
Our Summer classroom starts on Monday 6th May 2019.  You don't need to know Maya beforehand (we teach everything from scratch), but it's always a good idea to do a little preparation.

Below is a brief list of stuff to get you under way. You don't have to do all of it, but tick off a few of the things on this list and you will be a making a great start on your animation career.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Why Animators Should Always Tell a Story

Animators are story tellers. Every animation should have an idea behind it, one that tells a story.

Junior animators focus on learning technique - and technique is very important. But it is also important to think carefully about the story behind your shot.

Who is your character, and why are they doing what they are doing?  What is the scene about? What do they want, and what do they fear?  These things are important because if your shots forms part of an interesting story, it will be much more interesting to watch.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

What is "Successive Breaking of Joints"?

Art Babbitt & Richard Williams in Soho c 1973
What is "Successive breaking of Joints"? It's really another way of talking about flexibility and overlapping action, which are very similar concepts.

The basic underlying premise is that in any action, everything shouldn't happen at the same time.

It was an idea developed by Disney animator Art Babbit, who gave a series of animation lectures at Richard Williams Animation in Soho in the 1970s.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Blender -v- Maya: Which is Best?

Which is better: Blender or Maya? It's a question we often get asked here at Animation Apprentice, and the answer depends on what you need to do.

Both software packages are very good, and both can be used to create excellent 3D animation. But there are some important differences which students should be aware of.