Thursday, 18 July 2019

Get Ready for our September Class

Animation by Joris Van Laar
Our September classroom is now taking applications, and the new autumn class begins on Monday 2nd September.

It's not too late to book a place; all you need to do to start a conversation is head over to our main site and fill in a form.

If you want to learn 3D animation to a professional level - your journey starts here.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

The Lion King - Which is Better? New or Old?

I went to a preview of The Lion King last night fully prepared to dislike the new film - how could anyone top the original? And why bother with a re-make, other than to please the shareholders? (But maybe I'm just jealous - I don't own any Disney shares)

Of course, I am very biased, having worked on the original Lion King back in 1993, so I was doing my best not to enjoy the movie and to persuade myself that the original film was still the undisputed king.

But MPC, the London VFX house that did all the animation, have raised the bar for animal and creature animation to such a level that it's impossible not to be impressed by the sheer skill of the digital artistry.

The Lion King is a triumph not just of technology but of great storytelling, as the film-makers kept most of the original film but wove in new elements to keep the story fresh.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Dialogue and Lipsync Tutorial

Dialogue by Joris Van Laar
We've uploaded a new tutorial on animating Dialogue & Lipsync to our Vimeo channel.

In this 8-part video, we explain how to approach the challenge of animating dialogue and lipsync, breaking the process down into a simple, dependable workflow.

Friday, 12 July 2019

"Eat Drink Animate" by Tom Sito

Who knew animators could cook? Tom Sito, USC animation professor, co-director of Osmosis Jones and Emeritus President of the Animation Guild, has written a cookbook celebrating the recipes of animation artists.

"Eat Drink Animate" is where you can learn the secrets of Walt Disney's chili and and Tissa David's Hungarian Goulash.

I should declare an interest here - the book includes one of favourite recipes, Poisson a la BAFTA, which was reverse-engineered a few years ago from a dish I liked so much while dining at BAFTA Piccadilly that I decided to try and make it myself.

Tom is a prodigious author, with many books on animation and animation history to his name.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

How to Animate Eye Darts


Above is a short video using the free Eleven Rig, on how to animate eye darts - fast moving micro-changes of eye direction. Animators should always remember that eyes are the window to the soul - it's the thing the audience will look at most, and one of the most common mistakes made by junior animators is fail to pay enough attention to their character's eyes.  Our eyes are very expressive, and the eyes are what we look at when we seek signals for how another person is thinking and feeling. The human eye is directly connected to the brain, and the audience will watch your character's eyes. There are endless variations on eye expressions, and it's important to get it right. So, how do animators animate a character's eyes?

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Escape Studios Free Summer School 8-10 Aug

This Summer Escape Studios in London is partnering with Access VFX, London SIGGRAPH, 3Dami, and and We Are Stripes to host a free Animation Summer School.

The event takes place over three days in August,  and is aimed at 11-16-year olds interested in a career in the animation industry.

Escape Studios will host a range of free workshops across 3 days on Thursday 8th August, Friday 9th August and Saturday 10th August.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

BAFTA Guru Live Sat 14th September

Mark your calendars - BAFTA Guru Live is taking place in London on the weekend of Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th September.

We strongly encourage our students to attend at least some of the workshops; tickets are very inexpensive (just £6 for each masterclass) and are aimed at students and rising talent.

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.