Wednesday, 6 August 2014

What kit do you need to get started at Animation Apprentice?

Start with a laptop
What sort of software and hardware do you need to study with Animation Apprentice? The answer is, less than you might think. Of course, you will need a laptop capable of running Autodesk Maya, but most of the software you need is completely free. Below is a (not very long) checklist of stuff to get you started.

Wacom Tablet. Photo: Wikipedia
What Do I need to get started?
  • a reasonably modern PC or Mac capable of running the latest free student license of Maya
  • a Wacom tablet - they are much kinder on your hands than a mouse. Repetitive Strain Injuries are common in our industry and the mouse should be avoided if possible. We suggest the Wacom Bamboo tablet as a good inexpensive option. The best tablet is probably the Wacom Intuos 5. Don't buy anything too small. A4 is probably a good size.

Two Screens is best
Ideally, your desktop should have two screens - one on which to watch the tutorials and a second screen on which to run Maya. Maya has lots of small buttons so a big screen is definitely an advantage.

Mac -v- PC

What should I use? A PC or a Mac?

Maya will run on both a PC and a Mac, and the scene files are interchangeable. You can use either, but we recommend a PC because:
  • All the course videos are recorded on a PC, and the interface is a little different on the Mac.
  • Maya was created for PCs
  • A number of Maya plug-ins will only work on a PC. In particular, the Parent Master plugin, which is very useful for attaching and un-attaching objects in Maya, can be tricky to install on the Mac.
  • Audio playback in Maya can be troublesome on a Mac


Maya 2014 - free for students


What sort of software will I need?

Once you have suitable hardware, you should download a copy of the latest free student version of Maya from the Autodesk website. You will need to register with them first. Animation Apprentice is registered with Autodesk as an approved school. The following software will also be useful:
  • Premiere or Final Cut, for editing your demo reel.
  • Quick Time Pro. Simple, cheap and very useful for basic editing.


Will I need a powerful broadband connection?

Yes. Make sure you have a fast broadband connection capable of uploading and downloading large files. Our Technical Videos and Tutorials can be over 200MB in size.


 What else?

You should also have a Facebook profile so you can join our Facebook classroom, and a YouTube account so you can upload your work to YouTube for review.

If you have any other questions about what we do, don't hesitate to email us at


To read more about how Animation Apprentice works, see this post, and to see the book every animator should own, click here.  To see how our feedback videos work, see this postTo see how we judge a great piece of animation, click here, and if you're wondering whether to choose a Mac or a PC, read this post. And don't forget to check out the reading list.


  1. I would recommend intuos over bamboo having used both.

  2. Yes, though Intuos is a good deal more expensive I think?