Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Mike Makarewicz "Ask Me Anything" Tonight

Mike Makarewicz
We're delighted to welcome Pixar animator Michal Makarewicz for a webinar tonight at 6pm with our animation students.

Mike is a 17 year veteran animator at Pixar Animation Studios, and Co-Founder of the Animation Collaborative in Emeryville, California.

Mike has generously agreed to give up an hour of his time to talk to our students about animation, breaking into the industry, and what it's like to work on a Pixar film. All questions are welcome.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

All About "Rig Wrecking"

Rig concepts from "Jerich0"
What is "Rig Wrecking"? Rig Wrecking, more commonly known as rig testing, is the process of testing your character rigs to make sure they can do everything you need them to do.

Sometimes known as stress testing, this process involves testing out all the controls to make sure everything works as it should, and all the geometry deforms correctly.

Rig testing is a necessary production step; it involves letting animators loose on the rig to do test animation. Skip this step and you will almost certainly find many problems cropping up during the animation stage of the production.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Introducing "Moon Rockz"

Jonathan Humphries is an animation student at Escape Studios who is due to be awarded his MA in Animation this summer.

Recently Jonathan volunteered to help out with "Moon Rockz", a short film made at Escape Studios, written and directed by Molly Babington.

"Moon Rockz" was a collaboration between students at Escape Studios and also at Animation Apprentice, involving both Jonathan Humphries and also Matt Neputin, also studying for his MA in Animation.

The film is a short story about the moon landings - as told from the Moon's point of view. It's a charming and funny film, to which our students contributed some excellent animation.

"Moon Rockz" is currently being entered into film festivals, and we wish it every success.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

"Charlie & Yip" in Neum Film Festival

My short film "Charlie and Yip" is a finalist in the Neum Animated Film Festival which runs from June 27th to July 2nd.

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. It's a really a teaser for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development.

Funding feature films isn't easy in the current business climate, but it's important to remember that, despite all the troubles caused by the Corona virus, the animation industry continues to thrive.

Even as live action shoots have been closed down around the globe, animation keeps on going, as studios have moved to a purely online business model.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Dragon Flight Tutorial

Dragon in Flight Tutorial 
We've added a new animation tutorial to our animation library, showing students how to animate a dragon in flight.

The tutorial uses the free Jaemin Dragon rig by Truong, which can be downloaded here.

The dragon flight tutorial can be found here, and is free for all our students.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Make Your Playblasts Look Like Renders

We're liking this helpful video by Wade Nedstadt, hosted at YouTube, which shows animators how to make a desktop Playblast in Maya that looks almost as good as a full rendered movie file. Wade Nedstadt tweaks the Playblast settings in Maya, and explains how to create a Maya Playblast "that doesn't have to look awful anymore". It's a neat way to avoid long, time consuming renders, and a smart way to speed up your workflow.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Why Animated Characters Need to Breathe

Keep your characters breathing
One of the most common mistakes made by student animators is to forget that characters need to breathe. Even when the character isn't moving, they still need to stay alive, and keep breathing.

Breathing is something that we do without thinking about it, rather like blinking. A good animator adds breath to his character, and keeps them alive.

The trick is to get into a pose, and stay there, but not let the character stop moving entirely. Some motion is necessary, just to keep a character alive and breathing.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Why Animators Must Check Their Hookups

Jerich0 - excellent shot continuity
Why must animators check their hookups? Animators are commonly assigned to work on single shots on a project, which means there will be another shot, animated by another animator, on either side of theirs.

These shots must play together in continuity, meaning that there must be a smooth flow from one to another. The pose of a character at the end of one shot should be the same pose in the next shot, or else the shots won't "hook up".

In animation terms, hookups are nothing to do with Tinder, or online dating. Hookups are about continuity, and on a film project it is the animator's responsibility to make sure that their shot hooks up with the shots on either side of theirs.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Audio First, Then Animation

Do the voice recording first
Audio first, then animation.  One of the rules of animation film-making is that the audio comes first, then you do the animation. The voice recording for the actors is done first of all, cut into the edit, and then the animators create their performance to match the dialogue.

Sometimes film-makers will try doing it the other way around, animating the characters first and then adding the voice-over, but this is almost always a mistake. The reason for this is that it is very hard to post-sync the dialogue.

The rule of animation film-making is always this: record your dialogue first, then do the animation.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Head and Shoulders Don't Turn at the Same Time

Animator's Survival Kit
One of the most common mistakes that junior animators make is to animate a character turning all at once, moving the head and shoulders at the same time. The result is that the motion feels stiff and robotic.

The solution is to offset the body parts so that you either lead with one part - perhaps the head - and then the other parts follow.

The head can lead, and the shoulders follows, or the shoulders lead, and the head follows, whatever feels most natural. The trick is to break up the action so that the different body parts overlap one another, creating the illusion of flexibility and overlapping body parts, or "successive breaking of joints", as Art Babbitt used to call it.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

How to Animate Quadruped Transitions

Free tiger rig from Truong
We're adding more animation tutorials to our Vimeo channel, including now a series on how to use the Time Editor (formerly known as the Trax Editor) in Maya to animate locomotion transitions.

The tutorials build our existing tutorials on quadruped locomotion, such as walks, trots and runs.

The transitions tutorial explains how different gaits can be combined using Maya's Time Editor.

Students who want to learn how to animate transitions should first learn to create a successful quadruped walk, trot and run cycle, before attempting to combine them into one piece of animation.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Why Animators Should Avoid a Profile View

Two characters talking in profile view
One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators when they start out animating is to compose characters in profile.

When two characters are talking to one other, it seems logical that staging them in profile should work fine, but compositionally it doesn't work well.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Linkedin Webinar 7 May 2020

Steve Vasco
LinkedIn is an important resource for animation graduates; in recent years it has become one of the principal ways in which talented animators can get their work notice and - crucially - get hired for that elusive first job in the industry.

Tomorrow Thursday 7 May Escape Studios is hosting a free "Evening With..." event with Steve Vasko from LinkedIn. 

Steve Vasko is the Manager of Customer Success at Linkedin and has over 20 years of experience in high tech industries. In this webinar Steve will explain how to build your personal brand at Linkedin - something we recommend all our students do.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Colour Scripts and Colour Theory for Animators

Finding Nemo Colour Script.
Colour Scripts are an important part of the animation process; they allow the director to get a feel for what the movie will look like, long before the animation and lighting is complete.

Colour Scripts form an important part of the development of a short film, and since our students at Animation Apprentice are film-makers as well as animators, it's important to understand what colour scripts are for.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Summer Class Starts on 5th May 2020

"School Run" by Lee Caller
Our Summer classroom starts on Monday 5th May 2020.  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. No need 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.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Free Sound Effects From the BBC

For our student film-makers, one excellent (and free) resource for sound design and sound effects is the BBC Free Sound Effects for Film-Makers.

Around 16,000 BBC Sound Effects have been made available by the BBC in WAV format for free download for use under the terms of the RemArc Licence. The Sound Effects are BBC copyright, but they may be used for personal, educational or research purposes, as detailed in the license. We're recommending this for all our students.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Why Animators Need Snappy Timing

Key pose by Joris Van Laar
One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators is to have even timing and spacing on their character performances.

Even timing and spacing produces soft, floaty animation, which lacks definition and feels mushy.  This is particularly the case when the animation is based on live action reference. Reference, if followed too closely, can end up feeling floaty and weightless.

The solution to this problem is to tighten up your key poses, and spend more time in the key poses, rather than transitioning slowly from one pose to another. Animators call this approach "snappy timing", or "tightening up the poses". Your goal is to make the motion feel dynamic and crisp.

Friday, 17 April 2020

Why Animators Should Avoid a Flat Horizon

Flat horizons are one of the curses of 3D animation - nothing gives the game away faster than a blank, flat ground plane extending into infinity. One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators is to animate a character on a flat ground plane - the sort of situation that occurs only in 3D - never in nature. After all, in life, our horizon lines are broken up by landscapes, buildings, trees - the jumble of modern urban and rural life. Watch the short video above for some tips on how to avoid the curse of the flat horizon.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Animation Industry Post-Covid 19 - Free Webinar

Paul Wilkes - Technicolor
Tomorrow Friday 17th April at 12.30pm Escape Studios is hosting a free "work fitness" webinar. The webinar, with a panel of six industry guests, will focus on networking in the animation, games and VFX industries, and what the work landscape will look like once the Corona Pandemic is behind us.

At "Work Fit Townhall: Networking Part 2" Escape Studios will engage in a virtual conversation about making and nurturing professional networks in the Covid-19 era.

Subjects will include soft skills, networking - and (of course) how to find work in a disrupted industry. As ever, we recommend that our students attend events like this one - which is completely free.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Considered Character Design by Steve Sole

"Coffee Guy" by Natalya Ropotova
Steve Sole, character designer from Tiger Aspect Productions' “Mr Bean” offers his thoughts on the importance of making a considered approach to the art of character design.

Character design isn't just about creating cool characters. It is very much a client-facing process in which designers work together with art directors and directors to create characters that work in the overall content of a production.

The key to success, Steve argues, is to take the time to consider the process carefully.  In this guest post, Steve explains the principles behind "Considered Character Design".

Monday, 13 April 2020

ASIFA Hollywood Animation Scholarship

ASIFA Hollywood has launched an animation scholarship for animation students; the deadline this year is June 1st 2020.  To find the application form, visit the Animation Educators Forum.

ASIFA-Hollywood’s Animation Educators Forum (AEF) provides a valuable link between the animation industry and animation students, and will provide well-deserved scholarships to students in their journey towards membership in the global animation community.