Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Get Ready for Our Summer Class on 6 July!

What kind of preparation should students do before starting with us in our summer classroom at Animation Apprentice on July 6th?  Below is a brief checklist of stuff to get you started. It's not comprehensive, and 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.

The Animator's Survival Kit - the best book on animation?

First, here is a reading list to get you started. Buy a couple of these books online or check them out from your local library.

Character Animation Crash Course by Eric Goldberg
  1. The Animator's Survival Kit. We recommend that any serious student of animation should buy a copy of The Animator's Survival Kit, by Richard Williams. It is now the standard textbook for animators and easily the most comprehensive book available for learning animation.
  2. The Illusion of Life. The Illusion of Life was written by Disney animation legends Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnstone, and represents the accumulation of knowledge of the first "Golden Age" of Disney animation. An invaluable resource. 
  3. Cartoon Animation. Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair was the first available book on animation, and has been in print since the early 1950s, regularly updated since then. Still full of very useful material. 
  4. Timing for Animation by Harold Whittaker and John Halas is another very useful book on animation. It was first written some years ago but was recently updated and edited by former Animation Guild President Tom Sito. 
  5. Character Animation Crash Course. The Character Animation Crash Course by Eric Goldberg is an excellent resource by one of the most talented 2D animators in the world - the man behind the genie in Disney's Aladdin.
  6. The Complete Digital Animation Course. The Complete Digital animation Course by Andy Wyatt is a very useful overall guide to all the processes involved in digital animation and film-making. Especially good for the technical bits that the older books don't cover. 

OK - so you've bought a book or two - what else? The next thing to do, assuming you have a laptop at home, is get yourself a free copy of Autodesk Maya, and open it up. Maya is the main software we animate with, nowadays it's the industry standard. Below is a free tutorial in the Maya interface (there are tons of similar ones) hosted at YouTube.

Don't be daunted - just take a quick look! It does look a bit confusing at first but it's good to get familiar with the layout, and learn where the main hotkeys are, and how the interface works. You can register and get a free Maya student license here.

Animation Apprentice

Once you have done that, take a look at the week 1 videos at the website. The week 1 videos are all free and this gives you a general introduction to the medium of animation, helping you to get familiar with the language of the medium.

Fill sketchbooks!

Other useful things you can do include going to life drawing classes, and especially filling a sketch book with sketches, doodles and ideas. Being able to express an idea in a simple sketch is still a very useful skill, even in the digital age. We don't expect our students to be brilliant draftsmen, but we do expect you to be able to pick up a pencil and do a sketch - even if it's a crude one. All great ideas begin with a drawing - however simple and basic.

If you do some or all the things on this list - you will have a great head start with us on July 6th! We look forward to meeting you!


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 are helping 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 awn.com 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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