Monday, 31 December 2018

Seven New Year's Resolutions For Animators

Bong! Happy 2019!
What should an animator's new year's resolutions be? The animation business is growing fast, offering jobs and opportunities to well-trained talent. Whatever happens with Brexit in 2019, it is likely that our industry will continue to expand.

That said, the world of animation and visual effects is a competitive one, and animators need to be smart to stay on top of their game. Animators need to be good, and easy to find and hire.

So, apart from (obviously) going on a post-Christmas diet,  what are the best ways to maintain your edge in 2019?

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Apply Now For Our Online Master's Degree

The world's first online MA in animation
Animation Apprentice and Buckinghamshire New University are now taking applications through UCAS for the September 2019 intake of our part-time online MA in 3D animation.
The online MA is a unique degree which can be undertaken by students anywhere in the world, leading to a formal qualification in the field.

You will not only learn how to animate, but you will engage at Masters' level with the underpinning theory and structure behind the art form.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Winter Class Starts on Monday 7th January

"School Run" by Lee Caller
Our New Year classroom starts on January 7th 2019?  You don't need to know Maya beforehand (we teach everything from scratch), but it's always a good idea to do a little preparation.

Below is a brief list of stuff to get you under way. 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.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Stuart Sumida to London on Wed 12th December

Paleontologist and animal locomotion expert Stuart Sumida is in London next week, and will be giving at talk at Escape Studios at 190 High Holborn on Wednesday 12th December at 4.30pm.

Stuart occupies a rare cross-over space between science and entertainment, having advised countless Hollywood studios on the development of movies such as "The Lion King" and "Spirit - Stallion of the Cimarron".

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Christmas Carol at BFI on Sunday 9 December

A Christmas Carol, 1971
For all our students in the London area, why not come along on Sunday (that's this Sunday, 9th December) to the BFI on London's South Bank, for a rare screening of Richard William's animated Oscar-winning adaptation of Charles Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol.

The 22 minute short is will be screened along with two other British animated classics: Raymond Briggs' The Snow Man and also Father Christmas.

It's an opportunity to see some beautiful home-grown animation, and after the screening there will be a Q&A with directors Dave Unwin and Richard Williams.

And, you might even get a chance to have your copy of "The Animator's Survival Kit" signed by the author. 

Monday, 3 December 2018

How to Delete Mental Ray Nodes in Maya

Heavy - Mental Ray nodes
Some animators are experiencing unexpected crashes in Maya, a problem which can be caused by legacy Mental Ray nodes being opened up in a version of Maya (2017 and up) which doesn't support Mental Ray.

For example, the Heavy rig, downloadable from creative crash, is a great rig for animating walk cycles and other actions. But, it does come with Mental Ray nodes, and this may cause Maya to crash unexpectedly.

Generally speaking, it's good housekeeping to delete any legacy Mental Ray nodes from your character rig when you open up Maya. 

So, how do you do this? Fortunately, the solution is a simple one.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Bring Your Own Animation 3 December 2018

Calling all London-based animators - "Bring Your Own Animation" is taking place on Monday 3rd December,

BYOA is an animation event that takes place every month at a pub in London, generally on a Monday night. This month the event is taking place at the Smugglers Tavern in London's Fitzrovia. You can sign up here.

If you are a student who is working on a shot or an updated reel, bring your work on a USB or hard drive and get feedback from professional animators.

You'll also hear the local gossip and find out the word on the street; there is often useful intel like - who is hiring? This month is also the BYOA Christmas party, with free drinks provided by The Foundry.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Animation Demo Reel 2018



Check out some of the great work done by our students over the past year. Congratulations to Lee Caller, Joe Gamble, Joris Van Laar, Julien Rashti, Lora Dunning and Olavo Lins on their excellent work. To see previous student work from Animation Apprentice, follow these links to our reels from 2014, 2015, and 2015/16, And don't forget 2017 (Animals & Creatures) and 2017 (character animation).

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Faster Playback Promised for Maya 2019

At yesterday's BlueGFX Expo in London, Autodesk's Morgan Evans gave the keynote speech, an introductory talk promising animators plenty of new goodies in the newest release of Maya.

In particular, Evans heralded much faster playback in Maya, through a new "cached playback" feature, ensuring that the Maya Viewport doesn't have to grind its way through every polygon in order to give the user real-time playback.

It should also give animators much faster Playblasts, so that Maya animators can test their work much faster. When will this be coming? "Soon", said Morgan Evans.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

How to Animate Dinosaurs

Jurassic World
One of the highlights of October's VIEW conference in Turin, Italy, was Glen McIntosh's presentation on  the making of Jurassic World, and Fallen Kingdom.

Glen was the animation supervisor on both projects. His talk was a masterclass in creature animation, showing just how much research goes into the creation and animation of the dinosaurs.

McIntosh described the Jurassic Park series of movies as a "balance between science and entertainment", as the film-makers try to keep both audiences and paleontologists happy.

No animator knows how dinosaurs actually moved. But, dinosaurs have plenty of living relatives, such as birds,  and animators can find useful reference material in many corners of the natural world.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Why Animators Should Keyframe Everything

"Mery" rig in Maya
One common question asked by student animators is this: "Should I create keyframes for everything, or just for the control curves that I am actually going to animate?"

It's a good question, and doesn't necessarily have a simple answer.  To create a tidy workflow, it can be a good idea to be quite selective about what you keyframe, especially on big, complex production rigs.

However, in the beginning, when students are first learning the craft of 3D animation, the best (and simplest) answer to the question is this: "keyframe everything".

Friday, 16 November 2018

Samson Horse Rig by Joel 3D

We're liking this Samson Horse Rig by Joel 3D, available for free download here.

The horse rig is based on the character "Samson" from Disney's 1950s classic Sleeping Beauty.

The rig is an elegant design, with few major weaknesses. We've tested it in the classroom and it works well.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

"Indominus Rex" Dinosaur Rig by Truong

Indominus Rex by Truong
We're liking this "Indominus Rex" Maya Rig made by Truong, free to download and use for non-commercial animation.

The IRex is fan art, based on the character from Jurassic World, a genetically engineered monster hybrid between the T Rex and the raptors. Because of this, the copyright in the rig vests in the Jurassic World creators; hence the need to use a rig like this for learning purposes only.

Like all of Troung's rigs, the IRex is very well modelled and rigged, and for the most part sufficiently light to give you at least a close approximation of real-time playback in your viewport.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Two Ways to Make a Walk Cycle - Which is Best?


One of the most common questions student animators ask when they tackle their first walk cycle is this: is it better to animate the walk cycle "on the spot", as if on an imaginary treadmill, is it better to animate the character physically walking across the screen, taking two steps? Both methods of creating a cycle are effective approaches to the problem of character walks, and at animation Apprentice we teach both methods. Both, however, have their advantages and disadvantages. Watch the five minute video above to understand the difference between the two approaches, and decide for yourself which one suits you best.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Cheetah Rig from HighEnd3D - Handle with Care

Cheetah rig for Maya by Vikram Verma
It's hard to find a good cheetah rig for animation in Maya, which is a shame, as these big cats are beautiful animals, and there is plenty of excellent live action reference available for animating a cheetah run cycle.

The best rig we have found is the free Cheetah rig by Vikram Verma, available for download at Highend3D.com.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Alex Williams Animation Demo Reel



Recently a producer I've been working with asked me to cut a new demo reel - a single reel showcasing a selection of the best work I have done over the years.  Since I've been in the business so long, cutting an animation demo reel feels a bit like watching my life flash before my eyes. In my case, I started animating in the mid 1980s, so watching clips from older films like "Rollercoaster Rabbit" (1989) brings back a lot of great memories.  The best part is recalling some of the great projects I've been lucky enough to work on - such as The Lion King, The Iron Giant, and the Harry Potter series.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Ray Rig from CGTarian - and How to Use It

Ray from CGTarian
We're liking the Ray rig from from CGTarian. It's a very useful rig, adaptable and easy to use.

Ray has plenty of controls, and is especially good for facial animation, and therefore for character performance.

Best of all, Ray doesn't have any odd bugs or weird behaviours.

On the downside, Ray is rather high poly, and for that reason it can be hard to get real-time playback in the Viewport. If you're struggling to get real-time playback in your Viewport, this will slow down your workflow a great deal, and we recommend selecting a lower-poly rig.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Joris Van Laar Animator at Little Chicken

Little Chicken
Many congratulations to Animation Apprentice graduate Joris Van Laar, who is working as an animator at the Little Chicken Game Company, an Amsterdam based studio that has been designing award winning games since 2001.

Joris got his start in games working as a producer, where he gained valuable experience about creative team leadership.

Working in games, Joris spent long nights working on his animation reel, and finally broke into the industry as an animator.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

How to Get Ready for Our November 5th Class

"Tokyo Rex" by Lee Caller
November is almost upon us, and our newest animation classroom begins soon.

Our November classroom starts in less than two weeks, on Monday 5th 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.

Monday, 22 October 2018

How to Keep Your CG Characters Alive

Shere Khan by Milt Kahl
One of the most common mistakes made by junior 3D animators is to have their characters stop moving at the end of the shot - or sometimes, in the middle of it.

Unlike in 2D animation, where a held drawing can be very attractive, CG characters tend to lose their sense of life if they stop moving completely.  Digital characters need to stay alive, moving just a tiny bit, shifting, breathing, or just being.

The best way to achieve this to have a little bit of a drift or ease-in on your curves, so that the character never stops dead, but keeps moving, just a little bit.

To achieve this, it's a good idea to set keyframes on all your control curves at the start and end of the shot.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Why Animators Leave Lipsync Until Last

Marvin the Martian
One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators approaching their first dialogue shot is  to start with the lipsync, focusing on the mouth shapes first of all, and leaving the acting and body poses until later.

At Animation Apprentice our first dialogue shot uses a character rig with no mouth (think Warner Bros' Marvin the Martian), a deliberate approach that forces the animator to think about the acting and the body poses, and to make sure they hit the accents in the dialogue.

Almost without exception, experienced animators tend to leave the lipsync until last.  Lipsync isn't exactly an afterthought, but it is a lot less important than getting the acting and body gestures right.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

When Should Animators Spline Their Curves?

Graph Editor in Maya - when to press Spline?
Finding a dependable workflow is the most important thing every student animator needs to learn.

You need to be able to plan a shot from start to finish, and know that you have the tools to tackle pretty much anything a producer can throw at you on monday morning, knowing that you will have something ready for approval by friday afternoon.

Most students get the hang of blocking out their shots, pose to pose, on stepped curves, reasonably quickly.  But the next stage - knowing when to spline your curves, is much harder to get right. So, when should animators spline their curves?

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

How to Avoid "Motion Sickness" Camera in Maya

One of the challenges of learning 3D animation is knowing not just how to animate characters, but also where to put the camera, and what to do with it.  3D animators have to be cinematographers too.

The art of cinematography is complex and has many pitfalls for the unwary. The most common mistake made by junior animators is to over-animate the camera.

The general rule for animating the camera in Maya is this: Don't do anything you wouldn't do in live action.

Monday, 15 October 2018

IK -v- FK: Which is Best?

IK - v - FK - which is best?
One question that student animators often ask is about the merits of Inverse Kinematics (IK) vs Forward Kinematics (FK).  The IK -v- FK debate sounds rather abstract - a bit of a techie question. After all, at first, it's not immediately obvious what these terms even mean, let alone how to explain which option you should choose.

The question is really about hierarchies. Usually, animators are trying to decide whether to set the hands on a character to IK or FK.  If the hand controls are set to IK, then you are controlling the hands from the bottom of the arm hierarchy, from the hand control.  If you set the controls to FK, then upper arm, shoulder and body is in control of what the hands do.

In a walk cycle, you usually set arms and hands to FK, because the arms are swinging, controlled from the shoulders. But if you were to animate a sword fight, where the position of the hands is vital, then you would almost certainly choose IK.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Why Do Animators Need Clean Curves?

Graph Editor in Maya - keep those curves clean
Recently a new student at Animation Apprentice asked this question: "Why it is necessary to have clean curves [in the Graph Editor]? Can we just ignore them as long as the animation looks good?"

This is a good question. After all, the audience will only see the final result, not the curves in the Graph Editor.  So, why bother keeping the Graph Editor clean? What is the point?

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

How Do Animators Time Animation?

How to time animation?
Recently a new student at Animation Apprentice asked me this question: "How do you decide on the number of frames you use for each shot?" Which is really a way of saying "How do you time animation?".

This is a good question, very commonly asked by junior animators - and a tough one to answer. The short answer is that it takes time, and patience, as a thorough knowledge of timing and spacing takes a while to acquire.

However, one simple approach is time out an action with a stopwatch, or the timer on your phone, to get an idea of how long an action will take. Some animators will count out "one one thousand, two one thousand"... to figure out how many seconds an action might take.

But the best system of all for newbies is to use live-action reference.

Friday, 28 September 2018

The Fifteen Minute Rule

Take 15 minutes to solve the problem
What is the The Fifteen Minute Rule? It's a rule I learned while working at Sony Pictures Animation, on Open Season. It's a simple rule, and way of keeping production moving ahead.

The rule is this: if you get stuck on a problem, spend 15 minutes trying to figure out the solution. Google it, Read The Manual, check out online forums - whatever works.

But, if you still can't figure it out after 15 minutes, ask for help. Someone next to you might be able to solve the problem quickly and simply, so you don't want to spend a lot of time trying to fix a problem that has already been solved.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Richard Williams at BFI on 25th November 2018

A Moment in Time
Richard Williams' unfinished masterpiece The Thief and the Cobbler - A Moment in Time - is to be screened at the BFI on Sunday 25th November, with a Q&A afterwards.

To buy tickets to see this rarely-screened film, follow the link to the BFI website here.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

What Kind of Laptop Should I buy?

"What kind of laptop should I buy?" is a question that gets asked whenever we start a new class at Animation Apprentice.

It's a tricky question to answer, because computer specifications change all the time and - of course - it all depends on exactly what you want to use the laptop for.

But, let's say you want to buy a decent laptop capable of running Maya well, for doing computer animation and rendering out your shots.

What sort of laptop should you buy, and how much do you need to spend? Animator Amedeo Beretta offers some advice to new students.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Demo Reel Advice at Skwigly

Last week I did an interview at Skwigly, the online animation magazine, with my top 12 tips on how to make a great animation Demo Reel.

"What should go in my demo reel?" is one of the most common questions asked by students.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

BAFTA Guru Live Starts 15th September

BAFTA Guru Live, two days of masterclasses, is taking place this weekend on Saturday 15th &16th September in central London.

We strongly encourage our students to apply - tickets are very inexpensive (just £6 for each masterclass) and are aimed at students and rising industry talent.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Bring Your Own Animation on Monday 17th Sept

Calling all London-based animators - "Bring Your Own Animation" is taking place on Monday 17th September.

BYOA is an animation event that takes place every month at a pub in London, generally on a Monday night. This month the event is taking place at a new location - the Smugglers Tavern in London's Fitzrovia.

If you are a student who is working on a shot or an updated reel, bring your work on a USB or hard drive and get feedback from professional animators. You'll also hear the local gossip and find out the word on the street; there is often useful intel like - who is hiring?

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Free Rigging Tutorial by Michael Davies



We don't teach rigging as such at Animation Apprentice, the reason being that rigging is a deep rabbit hole, and there just isn't the time to explore it fully. However, one of my colleagues at Escape Studios, rigging expert Michael Davies, has recorded this free tutorial; an introduction to rigging human and humanoid characters.  Mike's impressive film credits include The Hobbit, where he rigged Smaug, and also Despicable Me, where he rigged The Minions.  Mike gets great reviews from students for his well-paced methodical style of delivery, breaking down complex processes into simple parts in a clear and transparent way.  This video is a great introduction to the art and craft of rigging - perfect for complete beginners.


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Character Walks by Alexander Savchenko

Walks and loops from Alexander_Savchenko on Vimeo.

Above is a great video on character walks by animator Alexander Savchenko. It's a great example of the amount of character and personality you can get into a character walk, and also shows how much fun you can have with simple character rigs. Student animators often think that a walk cycle shouldn't go on your demo reel - but it can, and should. Multiple different walks, runs and other gaits help to show a diversity of skill and showcase the animator's flexibility.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Get Ready For Our September 3rd Class!

Kayla by Josh Sobel, animated by Joris Van Laar
It felt chilly in London this morning for the first time this summer; a reminder that Autumn is coming and school will be starting soon.

Our September classroom starts in ten days on Monday 3rd 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.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Producing Animation Webinar on 23 August

Learn from the producer of Ultramarines
Veteran animation Producer Bob Thompson is hosting a webinar on Producing Animation on Wednesday 23 August.

The webinar, which is completely free, is titled "An Artist's guide to Animation Producers".  

Bob Thompson is an industry veteran with a long and successful track record of producing animated feature films, commercials and VFX projects, including Ultramarines and the Bionicle series.

The purpose of the webinar is to introduce artists to the business side of animation, which artists often don't understand, or tend to ignore.

But a good artist needs to get the business side of animation. After all, producers need artists who can be relied upon to deliver quality work, on time and on budget.
 

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Free Webinar in Motion Graphics Tonight

Thiago Maia - head of Motion Graphics
Motion Graphics guru Thiago Maia,  founder of Cookie Studios the hosting a free webinar in Motion Graphics tonight.

Motion Graphics isn't something we teach at Animation Apprentice, but some knowledge of After Effects never did any of us any harm.

The webinar is all about applying the 12 Principles of Animation to motion graphics work, to get more fluid and believable motion graphics.

The webinar takes place at 6pm, and is free. To sign up, follow this link.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Find a Job in Animation at Creativeheads.net

One website we're liking a lot for finding work in the creative industries - and animation in particular - is Creativeheads.net. It's a comprehensive site, well organised and easy to search.

You can sign up for their weekly jobs newsletter, and use the keyword "animation" to search for new job listings all around the world.

Anyone looking for work in our industry should be checking this website regularly - ideally every day, along with (of course) the jobs list at animationjobs.com.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Monday, 23 July 2018

Pixar Animation Workflow

Incredibles 2
Pixar animator Royce Wesley was in London recently, talking about his experience working on Incredibles 2, and also explaining his own personal animation workflow.

Royce is an experienced character animator whose credits include Brave, Coco, Robots and Inside Out.

Understanding how to plan your work is one of the key parts of the animator's skill set. Every animator has their own unique approach, and it's important to develop a workflow that you can rely on to get your shots approved without too much stress.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Free Webinar July 24

Sea Serpent - Voyage of the Dawn Treader
I'll be doing a webinar on how to animate non-human characters on Tuesday July 24th.

The webinar is hosted by Escape Studios in London and is completely free, and there will be plenty of time to take questions during the talk.

How does an animator approach the challenge of animating non-human characters? After all, you probably can't film yourself acting out the scene, so you will need to find other solutions.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Sarah Perry "Acting for Animators" Starts 24 Sept

At Animation Apprentice we teach acting as part of the animator's toolkit. One thing we can't do, however, is teach an old-school live acting class, the kind of thing you might get as a classically trained stage actor.

Sarah Perry is an actor who specialises in teaching acting for animators. Her school Shapes in Motion is teaching an 8 week evening class in London, titled "Acting for Animators", starting on Monday 24th September.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Bonnie 2 Released for $15

Bonnie 2 Rig Walkthrough from Josh Sobel on Vimeo.

Bonnie 2 has just been released by Josh Sobel, creator of many production-quality rigs that are priced affordably for students. Bonnie 2 is a "from-the-ground-up rebuild of Bonnie", Josh Sobel's first rig, which he describes as "easily the most advanced rig" he has made. Bonnie 2 isn't free, but at $15 for a solo license, she is competitively priced for a wide audience. Josh Sobel's rigs are dependable and reliable, and we recommend them highly. And, you can still download Bonnie 1.0 for free.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Keepvid is Dead. Long Live Apowersoft

Keepvid.com, the website that used to be very useful for downloading video from YouTube, doesn't work anymore, most likely due to copyright problems.

So, what's an animator to do, when you need to download reference footage from YouTube? There are a number of sites that work well, including Apowersoft - a very useful website for downloading video.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Why Animators Need Their Own Blog or Website

Animators should have their own website, or blog, and it should have your own name in the url, to make you easy to find.

The reason is simple - when recruiters are looking to hire you for a job, they will Google you, by entering your name plus the key word "animation" or "animator" in the search engine.

Hopefully, your bog, website and demo reel will pop up on page 1. If it doesn't, recruiters may well move on the next candidate. The trick with getting hired is to have a great demo reel which is easy to find.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Jason Thompson Animator at Cloth Cat

Jason Thompson
Many congratulations to Animation Apprentice Graduate Jason Thompson for starting a new position as 3D Character Animator at Cloth Cat Animation

Cloth Cat is an animation company based in Cardiff, and produces a number of TV series including Shane the Chef

You can see Jason's work, as well as his demo reel, at his official website here




Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Kevin Hudson Presents "Weeds" on 2 July

"Weeds" by Kevin Hudson
Kevin Hudson, asset artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios, is visiting London on July 2nd at 4.30pm to talk about his multi-award-winning short film "Weeds" 

“Weeds” is the story of a dandelion, rooted on the wrong side of the driveway in a barren yard surrounded by dry dirt and dead grass.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The Five Key Rules of Animal Anatomy

Stuart Sumida
One of the highlights of today's Annecy film festival was the talk by palaeontologist Stuart Sumida. Stuart is a world expert on animal anatomy and creature locomotion, widely consulted for his technical expertise on animated feature films like “Spirit”- Stallion of the Cimarron”, "Beauty and the Beast" “Lion King”, "Zootopia" and and “How to Train Your Dragon”.

In a packed room on the third floor of the Imperial Hotel, with lines snaking out into the halls (and no doubt a few fire regs being bent in the process), Stuart gave a talk titled "The Five Most Important Anatomical Rules for Animators".  

Monday, 11 June 2018

Animation Apprentice Goes to Annecy

Annecy, France
I'm heading over to the Annecy Animation Festival next week, checking out the latest developments in our industry at what has become the world's biggest animation festival.

I'll be on a panel tomorrow, tuesday 12th June, talking about how to animate non-human characters, sitting alongside my fellow panelists Alonso Martinez from Pixar, Joeri Christiaen from Thuristar, and independent animator Nicolas Deveaux.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Thumbnailing Mrs Copperbottom from "Robots"

Robots - Mrs Copperbottom
Learning to thumbnail animation is one of the hardest skills for junior animators to master, but being able to do rough thumbnail sketches is a very helpful skill because it helps the animator plan their work.

You wouldn't build a building without architectural plans. And you shouldn't start animating a shot without a clear plan of where you are going.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

How Many Retakes?

Framestore's Andrew Schlussel, Oz Gani and Ross Burgess
How many re-takes does it take to make a shot perfect? Or, put another way, how many times might an animator have to re-do a shot until it gets approved?

The answer depends on what kind of project you are working on.

The bigger the budget, the higher quality the animation, and the more the studio will tend to expect perfection - or near-perfection - from the animation team.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Grey Screen Playback Problem Maya 2018



The video above addresses an odd grey screen playback problem with Maya 2018. You open up your shot, press play, and the screen goes grey - i.e. you can't seen anything. Scrub through the timeline and the same thing happens. It's like putting on a pair of blackout shades - you can't get any work done. The only solution I have found is to open up the same shot in Maya 2017, and, under the Renderer menu in the Viewport, select Legacy Default Viewport (an option which has been disabled for Maya 2018).

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

New Bonus Week: Butterflies

Learn to animate a butterfly
We've got a new free bonus week at Animation Apprentice - Butterflies.  Adding to our range of different creature animation techniques, and reflecting the growth in creature animation, (especially at the big VFX houses) our student animators can create a believable butterfly flap cycle and performance.

As ever, we break down an apparently complex exercise into a series of simple steps, giving students a feeling of success at the end of the tutorial, and helping them to learn a new technique. This bonus week is absolutely free for all of our students.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Animating Lipsync by Pixar's Aaron Hartline

Aaron Hartline
Lipsync is arguably the least important part of animating a great acting scene. As a result, most 3D animators tend to leave lipsync until the end, or near the end, of the shot, concentrating their efforts first on getting the overall acting and body poses right.

But at a recent talk at Escape Studios, veteran Pixar Aaron Hardline explained that, counter-intuitively, he actually does the lipsync first.

So, why does one of Pixar's lead animators apparently put the cart before the horse?

Friday, 18 May 2018

Free Anchor Transform Plugin Stops Feet Sliding

Anchor Transform by Robert Joosten stops feet sliding
Sliding feet can be a problem when animating a character walk or a walk cycle. Fortunately for Maya animators, Robert Joosten’s new Anchor Transform Maya plugin offers animators an easy solution.

Rather than manually tweaking your animation to stop the feet sliding, rigger Robert Joosten has come up with a script that lets you anchor a transform for any given time range in your animation.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Free Character Walks Webinar on 5th June

"Monty" character walks
I'll be hosting a webinar on character walks at Escape Studios at 6pm on Tuesday June 5th.

Character walks are one of the most important parts of the animator's toolkit. It's where you start building a character's personality - how we move says a lot about who we are.

I will be taking a basic walk cycle and showing how, with just a few simple tweaks, you can completely change the character's mood and personality.