Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Last Call For Our November Class!

Robot photobash by Joe Gamble
Last call for our November Class, which begins on Monday 3 November 2020.

It's not too late to book a place (but you'll have to hurry); all you need to do is visit the main Animation Apprentice site and go through a few simple steps.

If you want to learn 3D animation to a professional level, and start your new career as an animator - your journey starts here.

Monday, 26 October 2020

"Charlie and Yip" Best Animation at Flicks

I am pleased to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won Best Animation at the Flicks Film Festival in London

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

The short is really a teaser/trailer for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development.  Recently the short won Best Trailer at the Changing Face International's Film Festival (CFIFF) in Australia, "Best Trailer" at the Lisbon Monthly Film Festival, Best Trailer at the Halicarnassus Film Festival, and Best Film at the Film One Film Fest in July.

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Animation Apprentice Authorised School

We are delighted to announce that Animation Apprentice has recently been confirmed by Autodesk as an Authorised School, meaning that our students can download their free education license for Maya. 

For newcomers to the animation industry, it's important to remember that Autodesk, who make the software Maya, offer an education copy of Maya for free, which can be downloaded from the official Autodesk site.

Autodesk Maya has been the dominant software package in 3D animation for over 20 years. I first used Maya 1.0 on "The Iron Giant", back in 1998.  And today it remains the most powerful package for the creation of 3D animation, widely used in industry.

Friday, 23 October 2020

Young Cartoonists of the Year Competition 2020

The Young Cartoonists of the Year Competition is back. 

Hosted by the Cartoon Museum, which has at last re-opened after its long Covid-19-slumber, the annual competition seeks to reward rising cartoon talent. 

Judges include leading cartoonists such as Martin Rowson (The Guardian), Christian Adams (Evening Standard), Banx (FT), Peter Brookes (The Times), Nick Newman (Private Eye), and Matt from the Daily Telegraph. 

If you can think of a more eminent list of cartoonists, I'd like to see it. 

There are two categories: Under 18 and Under 30; the deadline is 23 November 2020, and entries should be mailed in (old school Royal Mail) to the Cartoon Museum.  

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Charlie & Yip Best Super Short at UK Film Fest

"Best Super Short" at UK Film Fest
I am delighted to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won "Best Super Short" at the UK Monthly Film Festival in London in August/September. 

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Using Live Action Reference for Animation

Live Action Ref by Eilin Berrio Pena
One of the skills that junior animators must master is how to use live action reference to inform their animation.

When you go and watch a Pixar or Disney movie, you see animation, not live action. But there is plenty of live action there - it's just behind the scenes. Animators typically film themselves acting out their shot, and then use that reference to create animation. Below is an example from two students, Eilin Berrio Pena and Paloma Zhu, showing how they filmed live action reference to enter the monthly 11 Second Club Competition. 

Monday, 19 October 2020

The Secret of Animating Lipsync



Above is a short video on how to animate lipsync, showing how to keep the process as simple as possible.  The idea is to break things down into easy sections so as to make sure that your work starts off simple and gradually grows in complexity as you layer in the detail. At its simplest, good lipsync is just about opening and closing the mouth on the vowels, and closing it on the consonants. But, developing a system to keep it simple and at the same time get a sophisticated result, is all part of mastering the art and craft of animation.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Webinar with Emmy-Award-Winning Rich Jeffery on 26 October at 10am

Rich Jeffrey
One of my former students, animator Rich Jeffery has kindly agreed to an animation webinar on Monday 26 October at 10am

Rich will be talking about his career in animation, what it has been like working on the Australian TV series "Bluey" , which won an International Emmy at the 8th International Emmy Kids Awards this year. 

Rich was animation director on "Bluey" Series One, and director on the Series Two. Rich will be sharing his insights into the animation industry, how we got where he is today, and what students and graduates need to do to succeed.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Why Animators Should Keep it Short

One of the most common mistakes made by student animators is to bite off more than you can chew. When it comes to short films, or acting shots - or any piece of animation, it's very easy to be too ambitious. 

It is almost always much better to do a great job on a short piece of animation than to struggle to complete something long and complex.

Animation takes a long time to get right, so allow yourself the luxury of being able to add all the bells and whistles and still make your deadline. Keep it short and sweet. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Why Animators Have Too Many Cuts

One of the many challenges faced by junior animators is where to put the camera. At its simplest, a camera can be stationary, watching the character's performance unfold. There isn't any need to cut from one angle to another. 

However, when we start to storyboard and thumbnail our work, it is often tempting to jump from one camera view to another - from wide shots, to close-ups, and then to mid shots - anything but holding the camera steady. 

The trouble with this approach is that multiple cuts can become hard to control, and the resulting performance becomes overly complicated and unnecessarily disjointed. 

Friday, 9 October 2020

The Cobbler Escapes from His Cell


Above is a shot that I animated on "The Thief and the Cobbler". It is a useful example of how to use live action reference to creating animation. This shot was animated in around 1991, and to get it right I filmed myself acting it out, using an old-fashioned video camera on a tripod, mounted near the ground to get the right camera angle. Then, I played back the footage frame by frame on the VCR, tracing over the key poses with a blue pencil on a piece of paper pressed against the glass of the TV screen, anchored with some peg bars. By doing this I was able to figure out all the key poses, and make sure the weight shifts were believable and based on real reference. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Stanislavski's 7 Questions for Actors & Animators

Constantin Stanislavski
Recently some of my students have been preparing for this month's 11 Second Club Competition. This month's line of dialogue is very short, just a woman's voice saying "what's happening?". 

The rest of the eleven second clip is made up of sound effects - the spooky sound of a siren wailing and distant rain.

All this makes for a very open brief - the scene could be about almost anything, and this permits a great deal of flexibility and creativity.

An open brief can be a good thing - it allows for plenty of invention, but it also presents a challenge - what is the scene really about?  And how do we interpret it?

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Get Ready For Our November Class

Alien animation by Jeton Lakna
Our next classroom is now taking applications, and the new class begins on Monday 3 November 2020.

It's not too late to book a place; all you need to do is visit the main Animation Apprentice site and go through a few simple steps.

If you want to learn 3D animation to a professional level, and start your new career as an animator - your journey starts here.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

"Charlie & Yip" Wins Best Trailer at CFIFF

"Charlie & Yip" - winner at CFIFF
I am delighted to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won 

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

The short is really a teaser/trailer for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development.  Recently the short won "Best Trailer" at the Lisbon Monthly Film Festival, Best Trailer at the Halicarnassus Film Festival, and Best Film at the Film One Film Fest in July.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Moon Rockz Wins "Best Sci-Fi" at Flicks

We are delighted to announce that the short film "Moon Rockz", written and directed by Molly Babington, has won an award for "Best Sci-Fi" at the Flicks Film Festival.

"Moon Rockz" was a collaboration between students at Animation Apprentice and Escape Studios, involving Animation Apprentice students Jonathan Humphries and Matt Neputin.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Do Animated Characters Need to Blink?

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

In the video below, I explain why it is that characters need to blink much more often than you might think.  Our eyelids act much like the shutter of a camera, cutting on motion and editing out everything but the important information that we actually need to see.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Why Animators Must Fail Upwards

Animators are made, not born.  All of us are likely fail in most of the things that we do, at least at first.  The key to success is to keep at it, and  fail faster.

Great animation doesn't emerge fully formed, it needs to be tweaked, revised and perfected. When you see a Pixar or Disney film, you see the finished, polished result - you don't see the pain the animator went through along the way.

Everything we do can be done better. If you don't keep trying, and practicing, and getting feedback, you will never create anything good.  Your animation does not have to be perfect; you just have to get on with it and keep practicing your craft.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Is 2D Animation Making a Comeback?



Is 2D Animation Making a Comeback? It's a question I get asked a great deal. It seems that in recent years the answer to the question is - at last - "yes".  2D Animation is booming all around the world, with studios such as Blue Zoo animation in London setting up a whole new 2D Animation division, using Toomboom Harmony for their pipeline. Nonetheless, in the end, it's all about getting the right skills. To be a successful animator, you need to learn how to animate.

Friday, 11 September 2020

"Charlie & Yip" Best Super Short Lisbon Film Fest

"Charlie & Yip" wins Best Super Short at the Lisbon Film Fest
I am pleased to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won "Best Trailer" at the Lisbon Monthly Film Festival.

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

The short is really a teaser/trailer for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development.  Recently the short won Best Trailer at the Halicarnassus Film Festival, and Best Film at the Film One Film Fest in July.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

When (If Ever) Should Animators Work For Free?


When, if ever, should animation artists work for free? This is a controversial issue and a subject on which many people in our industry have strong feelings. Students and graduates do of course often work for free, taking work experience, unpaid jobs or internships which do not pay actual money, but which offer training in the industry and real-world experience of what the world of work is like. But it's also important to value your own time, avoid being exploited, and earn enough money to avoid going broke. So, when, exactly, should animators work for free?

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Do Animators Need to Draw?



In the old days of hand-drawn animation, life drawing was an essential skill for animators. Today, 3D animation is a blend of creative and technical skills, and life drawing is less important than it used to be.  However, it still helps to be able to draw to a basic level of skill, especially for creating thumbnail sketches which can be used to plan animation.  Nowadays there are many opportunities to learn animation online, at sites such as Pixelovely and Proko. You can also draw friends and family - models don't need to be nude, and gesture drawing clothed models is just as useful for animation, and in some ways more practical, as most animated characters tend to be wearing clothing.