Saturday, 31 May 2014

How Animators can work with Sound Designers - five rules for success

A sound designer hard at work
Good sound design brings a huge amount to any project. Sound design is not just about the quality of recording itself, it's about music, sound effects, foley, and the final mix. Sound heightens our experience of a film and brings it to life. But why should animators collaborate with sound designers? Why not just do their own sound design? The answer, of course, is that when you join forces with other students or professionals who are experts in their fields, you tend to get a better result than you would achieve alone.

Once you are working in a studio as an employee or even doing freelance jobs, collaboration with other departments will be at the heart of your work.  Successful mutual collaborations with other talented artists will likely form a major part of building a long and successful career.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

How do we judge a great piece of animation?

Guilty....of not knowing The Twelve Principles of Animation
What are the criteria to apply to judge a good piece of animation? How do we critique an animator's work? Below are some of the things that we look for at Animation Apprentice when giving feedback to our students on their work. We don't pretend that this is an exhaustive list, but we think it's a pretty good start. Well-read animators will notice that these criteria have a lot to do with the Twelve Principles of Animation set out by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnstone in their classic book - The Illusion of Life. Every student should own a copy, along with The Animator's Survival Kit.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Can Our Students at Animation Apprentice Make You a Short Animated Film?

Here at Animation Apprentice we often get asked this question: Can your students make me a short animated film? The answer is a loud and enthusiastic yes. We love making animated films, and we love doing "live briefs" for outside clients. We have even set up a small film co-operative at especially to create short films.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Where can you pitch your idea for an animated feature film?

Cartoon Movie, like Cartoon Forum, should be on every animator's radar. It takes place in Lyon every year - in 2015 it will be held from 4-6 March. It is a huge pitch-fest for talent and business to get together and make independent animated feature films, and, like its cousin Cartoon Forum, you don't have to speak French - Cartoon Movie is bilingual and English is the main language spoken.

Cartoon Movie is the place to pitch your animated film idea. If you've got a concept for the next animated smash hit - this is the place to pitch it. The deadline is the end of November, so you have plenty of time to dream up a smash hit.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Winston Churchill Design Competition - £1,000 cash prize

The Winston Churchill Design Competition has just been launched. The annual competition, delivered by Pentland Group PLC in partnership with The Churchill Centre and ARTS THREAD, seeks to encourage and uncover upcoming talent, who will create a unique piece of artwork that captures Winston Churchill's essence, making his life and work relevant for a modern audience.

Friday, 23 May 2014

BBC Academy offers paid placements in some of the UK's top visual effects houses

Calling all Animation Apprentice animators! A new career shadowing scheme has been launched by the BBC Academy, offering paid placements in some of the UK's top visual effects houses, including Milk and Double Negative. Here is a chance to get real-life experience at a leading VFX house, and  get paid to do it as well.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

12 steps to create a great animation demo reel

What goes into a great student demo reel? This is one of the most common questions that we get asked by our students at Animation Apprentice; and for a good reason. Putting together a great demo reel is the single most important factor in whether or not a student will get hired, as it is a direct showcase for your work.

At Animation Apprentice we spend a full month at the end of the course working on the students’ demo reels, because they are so important. So what goes into a great reel? We suggest that there are 12 rules for success.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 - a website that every freelance animator should know about is a website that every freelancer should know about. Why? Because it's a way of finding and hiring skilled freelancers, people you may never have heard and have never worked with before. So how does it work, and how might it benefit an animator?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Eight Rules for finding an animation internship

Cinesite is one of many Soho VFX houses which offer internships
Finding internships is not easy. And yet, in an increasingly competitive world for graduates trying to break into the creative industries, it is an important step on the ladder to a successful career. A successful internship brings experience, contacts, and direct understanding of what is needed to get a job with an animation company. So how do you go about finding an internship?

Sunday, 18 May 2014

How to pull off your first freelance job

Lots of animators do freelance jobs. Even if you are working at a studio, you still have your evenings and weekends free, so why not expand your skillset by taking on freelance work? This blog post is all about how to handle your first job. Working with clients is not like working for an employer. Things are much less clearly defined, and you have to be much more proactive about giving the client what they want. Often, clients don't know themselves. You have to lead, and also be led, a tricky balance to strike.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Should graduates do unpaid internships?

This is a tough question. Lots of seasoned professionals in the entertainment industry feel strongly that graduates should never work for free - why provide cheap labour for companies who just want to exploit young talent? On the other hand, working as an intern can provide vital contacts, experience and opportunities that might otherwise prove elusive. The problem that all graduates face - and especially arts graduates - is simple. You need experience to get a job, and to get a job, you need experience. It is a chicken-and-egg problem that is not easily solved. "But why", ask many graduates, "don't entertainment firms want to take on young talent and train them up?"

Friday, 16 May 2014

Eight steps to start your own small animation business
One of the most common questions asked by our students is "how do I start my own animation business?". Our job as an online school is not just to train animators and digital artists to do excellent work, it's also about helping our students to turn that knowledge into a successful career. The most obvious route to success is to get a job, but another possibility is to set up your own small business.

In media production of any kind, jobs for life are nowadays almost non-existent. Even highly successful artists tend to be freelancers of one kind or another. But there is another way of dealing with the perpetual uncertainty of finding paid work in the arts - and that is to start your own business. So how, exactly, might you go about doing that?

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Pitch your idea for a TV series at Cartoon Forum - Deadline 27 May

What is Cartoon Forum? Only Europe's biggest TV pitch-fest for animation. If you have a project in your head that you would like to submit to producers, business angels and broadcasters, Cartoon Forum is the place to be. The deadline to submit your TV project is 27 May. So, you have just under two weeks to sharpen your pencils and polish your pitch.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

What's The Point of Learning Perspective?

The No1 mistake
Traditional drawing skills still matter in animation. Even digital animators need to be able to draw thumbnail sketches, and express an expression or a pose simply and clearly. Complex character designs always start with simple shapes, often scribbled on a napkin in a moment of inspiration. Being able to sketch and draw is still one of the most powerful weapons in the animator's arsenal.

The ability to master the art of perspective, that most Renaissance of skills first developed in 15th Century Florence, is one of the more tricky parts of the designer's toolkit. Fail to learn perspective drawing and your designs will never speak with authority. Follow this link to a wonderful blog post that points to some of the most common errors in perspective drawing, and how to fix them.


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 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.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

What does a Visual Effects Supervisor do, exactly?

Matt Johnson (left) in Los Angeles on Beverly Hills Chihuahua
What does a Visual Effects Supervisor actually do – and how do you become one? Matt Johnson, veteran VFX supervisor on dozens of Hollywood hits, including World War Z, Into The Woods, V for Vendetta, X Men, and Chronicles of Narnia, explains what a Visual Effects Supervisor actually does for a living, and how an aspiring film-maker might become one.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

How does an animator direct voice actors?

Frank Gladstone directs actors in a sound booth in Soho

Every animator will eventually, at some point, find him or herself directing voice talent for a film project. Whether it’s a short film, a personal project, or a piece of animation for a client, you will eventually need your characters to speak. And for this, unless someone else does it for you, you will need to direct actors. So how does an animator or director go about recording voices? And how do you get a decent performance from an actor? Especially if you’ve never ever done it before. 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

UK premiere - BFI screening of "A Moment in Time" - the director's cut of The Thief and The Cobbler

On June 1st, BFI (the British Film Institute), in association with the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences, is screening the UK and European premiere of Richard Williams' lost masterpiece - "The Thief and the Cobbler: A Moment in Time".

BFI will be screening a new digital version of the reconstructed work-print at the BFI/Southbank in London. Richard Williams will be in discussion with veteran film critic David Robinson following the screening. BFI members can buy tickets now and tickets go on sale to the public on May 13th:

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Escape Studios VFX Careers guide 2014 - free!

Escape Studios is London's leading private provider of visual effects training. Among the many resources they offer students is their annual Careers Guide, an invaluable handbook for any aspiring visual effects artist - including animators. Escape Studios go to a great deal of trouble to track the latest trends in the digital market, focusing especially on the skills that are currently in high demand. After all, their goal is to place their students in well-paid work in the best visual effects houses in Soho. We recommend that all of our students at Animation Apprentice sign up for a copy. Best of all, it's absolutely free.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Still time to sign up for our next class on Monday 12th May

The clock is ticking to sign up for our new class beginning on Monday May 13th 2014. We are working hard to meet our goal of being the highest quality, best value animation course in the world.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Phil Loeffler reports on the Art of Frozen

Phil Loefller, one of talented students at Animation Apprentice, attended the Disney panel discussion on the art of "Frozen" in Soho last Tuesday. We asked him to share what he learned at this rare opportunity to meet the creative talents behind the world's most successful animated feature film.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Escape Studios to host free webinar on Careers in visual effects on 2 July 2014

Escape Studios
Escape Studios are hosting a free webinar on careers in the visual effects industry on 2 July 2014. The guests are Anna Swift, Recruitment and Talent Development Manager for film at Framestore, and Ben Owen, Global Head of Recruitment at MPC. Framestore and MPC are two of the biggest hitters in visual effects in the UK, so this is an event which we highly recommend all of our students sign up for.