Monday, 25 September 2017

Access VFX in London this Week

Access:VFX events are taking place next week, at visual effects studios across Soho. Access VFX is all about promoting diversity and inclusion in our industry.

Events are being held at The Mill, Framestore, Double Negative, MPC, Jellyfish Pictures, ILM, Blue Zoo Animation, Union VFX, Escape Technology, and UK Screen Alliance.

We're encouraging our students to attend these events; they are great opportunities to network and meet working professionals in our business. You can book your free tickets online through

Sunday, 17 September 2017

100 Ways to Walk by Kevin Parry

"100 Ways to Walk" is an excellent video by Kevin Parry, a collection of walk cycles intended as inspiration for animators. The key point of the video is that the way we walk says a lot about who we are, how we are feeling, how our day has been. A great walk cycle is the entry point for character animation - can the animator describe a character simply by the way he or she moves? It's one of the first things we teach at Animation Apprentice, but a good walk cycle can remain elusive even for an experienced animator. Acting one out yourself, and filming yourself doing it, is a great way to get started.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Animation Insider's eBook - Free from Squeeze

Animation Insider's Ebook - free from Squeeze!
Get your free copy of the Animation Insider's eBook, downloadable from Squeeze animation studio in Quebec.

This free digital download describes the workflow of talented animators such as Mike Nguyen, Victor Navone and Jason Ryan.

It 's a remarkable insight into how experienced animators approach a shot, and very useful for students looking to develop their own animation workflow.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Animation Apprentice Character Reel 2017

Check out our latest Character Animation Reel, featuring work by many of our talented students, some taking our 30 week course, others doing our online MA in animation. Animators aren't just technicians, they are entertainers, and the job of the animator is not just to master the art of character animation, but to craft an interesting and compelling performance. Congratulations to Steve Woodhouse, Victoria Bailey, Jinng Hwee Tan, Joe Gamble and Joris Van Laar on their excellent animation.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Animation Apprentice Masterclass at VIEW 2017

Animation Apprentice is hosting a creature animation masterclass at VIEW, the 18th International VFX & Computer Graphics Conference.

VIEW takes place every year in the beautiful Italian town of Torino (Turin), and we'll be there running a one-day masterclass in Maya on 25th October, demonstrating some cool creature animation techniques.

The class is aimed at complete beginners and requires no prior experience with Maya.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Classic Graph Editor in Maya 2017

New look Graph Editor
Not everyone loves the Maya 2017 interface. In particular, the new-look Graph Editor isn't necessarily as easy to use as the old version (or maybe it's just that I'm getting older and I don't like change).

So, if you want life to stay the same as it used to be - how do you get your Classic Graph Editor back?

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Celebrating Our New MA Graduates

Alexi Balian, Charlie Falconi, Tim Millson, Neil Whitman, Stephen Young. 
Today was Graduation Day at Bucks New University and our new MAs in Animation made a little piece of animation history.

Our first graduating cohort aren't the first animation MAs in the world, but they are the first to get their MA purely online.

And, despite living in far-flung parts of the world, many came to Bucks for the graduation ceremony, for the chance to wear a robe and a silly hat and - at last! - meet up in person for the first time.

KeyFrame MP - Video Playback for Animators

Keyframe MP Overview from Chris Zurbrigg on Vimeo.

KeyFrame MP - Video Playback for Animators - is an excellent video playback tool that we are recommending to all our students.  Unlike most free playback tools (such as Media Player), KeyFrame PM gives you super useful features like scrubbing (with audio), single frame advance - all the stuff you need as an animator to play your work back frame by frame and trouble shoot the mistakes. At $79, KeyFrame MP isn't free, but it's much, much better than most of the free stuff that is out there. And, since Apple has stopped supporting their very useful tool Quick Time Pro, KeyFrame MP now fills a gap in the animator's tool kit.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Tripod for Filming Animation

Photo-R Tripod
One of the best ways to get live-action reference for a piece of animation is to film yourself acting it out, capture the footage on your phone, and then import the footage onto an image plane in Maya.

But how you film yourself acting it out, if it's just you? Someone has to operate the camera, after all. The answer is - you need a tripod. We're recommending this excellent (and inexpensive) tripod, made by Phot-R, for mounting your phone/camera, while you do the performance.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Pose Lib for Maya - Save Your Poses!

Pose Lib - free at
Pose Lib is a great free tool for managing poses and animation in Maya.  It's a super-useful free script for animators; you can use it to record a pose for any object in Maya, meaning that you can build a library of poses for your characters.

To use Pose Lib, download the tool, select your character, hit the "new pose" button, and a pose file is created in the relevant directory, along with the corresponding icon (a .bmp file).

Monday, 28 August 2017

Free Sound at YouTube Sound Effects Channel

Where can you find free sound effects for your animation? Sound design is something that animators at a big studio take for granted - because someone else does it for you.

But when you are creating your own animation, and your own animation demo reel, you need to think (at least a little) about sound effects, and sound design, for your shots. One excellent resource for royalty-free sound effects is the YouTube Sound Effects Channel.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Animation Taster Days Aug 24, Sept 13 & 27

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 Monday 24 August, or September 13th and 27th.

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?

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Get Ready for Our September Classroom!

The book we recommend for studying animation
What kind of preparation should students do before starting with us in our summer classroom, starting on Monday 4 September?  It's always good to do a little preparation and get a bit of a head start.

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.

First, here is a short reading list to get you started. We've narrowed it down to just two key books that we recommend for all our students.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Arc the Dragon - New Rig From Josh Sobel

The very talented Josh Sobel, who brought us the excellent Kayla rig, and also the very useful (and free) Bonnie rig, has just released a new rig - "Arc the Dragon", for a very reasonable $18.

Arc is described as "a full quadruped with expressive facial control, intuitive body setup, full picker, pose library and limitless customization."

Creature rigs with a full range of facial expressions are hard to find, and this could be an excellent choice for animators looking to create a strong creature performance. We haven't had a chance to road-test Arc the Dragon yet, but if Kayla and Bonnie are anything to go by, this should be a great rig.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Alien Covenant Secrets Revealed

I saw the original "Alien" movie by Ridley Scott when I was just 12 years old - far too young really (I was terrified) - but since then I've always been fascinated by this most stylish of horror film franchises.

Framestore VFX Supervisor Stuart Penn (AvatarThe Dark KnightIron Man 3, Guardians of the Galaxy.) is about the same age as I am, and clearly could not resist the chance to work on Scott's latest instalment - Alien Covenant.

Penn gave an excellent talk about his work on the film at Escape Studios last thursday - a fascinating insight into how the movie got put together.
So, what were the secrets behind this most coveted of VFX roles - working for one of the greatest living film directors on the latest Alien movie?

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Find Your Future in London on 9 August

Want a career in creative media, but not sure what route to travel? Get yourself to the "Find Your Future 2017" event in London on 9 August.

If you're interested in working in the creative industries, but not yet ready to commit to any particular area then Find Your Future could be the careers event for you.

Representatives from some of London's top animation and VFX houses will be there (notably Double Negative and Framestore) and - best of all - the event is completely free.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Blue GFX 9 November 2017 - Save The Date!

Save the date! For all our students in the London area, Blue GFX Expo is taking place in Waterloo on 9th November 2017.

Last year speakers included Tom Box from Blue Zoo, one of the UK's biggest TV animation company, Stuart Penn from Framestore, and the folks from Autodesk showing the latest tools.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Our First Online MA Animation Graduates! Yay!

Graduation Day at Buckinghamshire New University
Our very first online MA students will be graduating in September.  Graduation Day at Buckinghamshire New University (our degree-awarding partner) takes place in early September, and we are especially proud to welcome our new MAs in Animation.

Of course, the event is something of a formality - no-one actually has to turn up, but we hope that many students will come and celebrate their achievement - graduating as Masters of Arts on the world's first online MA in Animation. There might even be a celebratory lunch!

And, in a small way, everyone there will be making a little piece of animation history.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Why Does Maya Batch Render Too Dark?

Utah Teapot
Lighting your scene using Autodesk Maya can be a tricky process. You get your lights to look just the way you want them to, and when you render out a single frame, everything looks fine.

But then, when you come to do a Batch Render of your final frames, Maya gives you a very different result - the images look much darker. Which is not what you wanted at all.

So why does Maya do this - and what is the solution?