Sunday, 26 April 2015

How DreamWorks Animators Trained Their Dragons

How do animators train their dragons? Or, rather, how do they approach the complex and daunting business of creating a beautifully animated flying dragon? All animators start with a blank screen, and as professional artists we need methods that we can rely on to produce work we can be proud of, every time.  In this excellent documentary about the making of How To Train Your Dragon, DreamWorks animators talk about going to Flight School, analysing reference, and making sure that their animation was based on real, credible material that helped to bring their fantasy creatures to life.

Many of the animators talking about their methods are artists I know personally from my years at DreamWorks in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and I can personally testify that Simon Otto and Jacob Jensen know what they are talking about.  Use of live action reference to bring your work to life isn't just fancy talk by animators for the cameras - it's how these artists actually work to deliver their character and creature performances.

Watch the dragons flying and you can see, beneath the surface, the many different animals and creatures that the animators are looking at, such as birds, bats, lizards and alligators - whose movements can be used and analysed to create a believable performance.

The film runs about 90 minutes. Lots of it is showbiz fluff, but inside videos like this you can find - if you look hard enough - some real gems, valuable hard information that is truly insightful in terms of how animators approach their work.

Every time an animator approaches a shot, they face a blank screen.  Learning a system to produce reliable results every time is what we teach at Animation Apprentice.

To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link. For more information on finding work and surviving in the animation and visual effects business, read our post on how to find a job in the animation industry, and check out our post about what not to do at a job interview. Also see our post on starting your own small animation business, learn how to create an invoice, and see how we arehelping our students find work through our film co-operative Nano Films. Download the free Escape Studios Careers in VFX Handbook. Take a look at how can help you find a job, and read our piece about how to survive as a freelance animator. Also, find out what Cinesite look for in a student's demo reel, and read our post on setting up your own animation business. Also see our post about freelancers and taxes.

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