Monday, 30 June 2014

Animation Apprentice Student Rory Marchant Finds Work at Prime Focus

Animation Apprentice Student Rory Marchant recently found work at Prime Focus, working as a match move (also known as tracking) artist in their visual effects department.

So what, exactly, is match move? Wikipedia defines it as: "a cinematic technique that allows the insertion of computer graphics into live-action footage with correct position, scale, orientation, and motion relative to the photographed objects in the shot."

In visual effects, match move is an entry-level position, a great starting point for any digital artist hoping to establish a toehold in the industry.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

What is the Tween Machine?

Below is a simple guide to installing and using the TweenMachine plugin, one of the most useful free plugins available to Maya animators.

The free TweenMachine plugin, created by Justin Barrett, helps animators to create breakdown poses in Maya on stepped curves. It's a time saving tool that takes much of the labour out of breaking down your poses - once you are happy with the timing of the main blocking of your animation.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Jason Thompson explains why students must fail, and why professors should watch video games

Jason Thompson
Last week at the SAS (Society of Animation Studies) conference in Toronto, Sheridan professor Jason Thompson gave a brief but fascinating talk on "Why our students need to fail". Citing the book by Guy Claxton What is the point of school?, Jason argued that school is important because of eight critical things that students must learn:

Friday, 27 June 2014

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Do you need to go to university to learn animation?

The TAAFI Education Panel
On Monday 16 June TAAFI - the Toronto Animation Art Festival International - hosted a panel talk on the subject of  “An Animation Education”. The sub-title of the talk was “Do you need to go to university to learn animation?”. In other words, is it enough to study online? Or should students commit to the expense and time of a full undergraduate education? On the panel to discuss the question were Richard Arroyo – head of Games at,  Mark Jones, chair, School of Creative Arts, Aubrey Mintz, Head of Animation, California State University Long Beach, Brooke Keesling, Manager, Animation Talent, and Tony Tarantini, Sheridan College Professor of Animation. The first question was this:

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Withoutabox - Best Way to Enter Film Festivals

Withoutabox is the best, simplest and most efficient way to enter your short animated film to the countless film festivals currently welcoming submissions all around the globe.

Submit your film to just once, and you can enter most of the festivals on the planet.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Annecy Replay - see what you missed!

Annecy is the biggest, the baddest and the original animated film festival. Hosted in the idyllic Alpine village of Lake Annecy, the setting could not be more beautiful, and the hotels could not be more booked up. For those of you who missed animation's annual international shindig, either because you couldn't get a room, or you booked too late, or you simply didn't get around to it - visit this page to see the highlights. And make a point of going next year.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Where can Animators Pitch their Ideas to Producers?

The Big Pitch at TAAFI - the panel
Where can you Pitch your animation ideas? The trick with pitching is to find the folks who are actually in the market to buy new material. But short of camping outside the offices of the Disney Studios and begging for an interview, where can you go to pitch? One place worth trying is "The Big Pitch" at TAAFI, the Toronto Animated Art Film International

On Monday June 16th, the last day of TAAFI, various producers were present on stage and hearing pitches, all from studios describing themselves as “actively looking for content”. Two pitchers got to go head to head for the chance to sell their idea to a studio, and to win a prize.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Why Should Animators Watch Charlie Chaplin movies?

The Little Tramp. Photo: Wikipedia
Why should animators watch Charlie Chaplin films? Nancy Beiman, former supervising animator at Disney Feature Animation and now one of the key professors at Sheridan College in Toronto, thinks she has the answer.

It's because animators are, in the end, pantomime artists, and Chaplin was the greatest pantomimer of them all. At the 2014 SAS (Society of Animation Studies) conference in Toronto, Nancy explained how animation and silent film comedy developed together, inspiring one another to perfect the art of physical comedy.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Rex Grignon, DreamWorks animaton supremo, reveals Nine Secrets of Success

Rex Grignon
Rex Grignon is the HOCA at DreamWorks. That is to say, he is the Head Of Character Animation, and therefore holds one of the key leadership positions in the studio. He has worked on some of the biggest DreamWorks hits of the last decade, including ANTZ, Shrek, and all three Madagascar movies. Born in Canada, he came home to give the keynote speech for The Toronto Art of Animation Festival International, aka TAAFI. Rex talked about some of the key lessons he has learned over the past two decades, and most especially from his years at PDI, Pixar and DreamWorks.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Storyboarding for animation by Frank Gladstone

Lupus animation presents Storyboarding for animation by veteran animator, storyboard artist and producer Frank Gladstone. Frank is a world-class talent and an excellent teacher - last year I attended his storyboard class myself and learned a huge amount. He does lectures and workshops and tells lots and lots of (mostly terrible) jokes. Anyone looking for a crash course in Hollywood storyboarding would be well advised to sign up. The course runs from 28 July to 22 August. Full details below.

Friday, 13 June 2014

the book every animator should own

The one book every animator should own is The Animator's Suvival Kit. There has been nothing quite like it for our industry since Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnstone wrote  The Illusion of Life back in the 1970s - the first book which fully set out the secrets of Disney animation for anyone who took the trouble to read it properly.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

How Do Our Feedback Videos Work?

What makes Animation Apprentice unique? The answer is this: the high quality and precision of our bespoke video feedback. Below is an example of a feedback video recorded for one of our students, using Camtasia, which gives a flavour of how our course works. We don't just tell you what to fix - we show you how to fix it.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

How useful is an animation degree?

University - worth the price?
How valuable is a degree - what price a piece of paper with the letters BA (Hons) on it? All education is valuable only in so far as you actually learn anything useful. Today, there are around 80 courses in the UK that offer animation for undergraduate students - but how many of these courses actually teach the craft of animation? Today I got an email from animation student about to enter her third year at Uni, where, she says "I still don't really know how to animate as we have not learned any of the basics". So what is a student to do if they find their university is letting them down so badly? Below is a short piece of advice by Steve Moore, who co-authors my blog FLIP - Lifestyles of the Hunched and Goofy. Steve's article generated a lot of interest, and many posts, so I re-print it here.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

How NOT to make a Demo Reel

Shit Showreels Say from Peter Quinn on Vimeo.

Above is a funny video by digital artist Peter Quinn, who has made his own demo reel to satirise some of the most common cliches and unnecessary embellishments on demo reels. Silly graphics, pointless messages like "thanks for watching", spinning globes to suggest an international flavour - all come under fire. In the end, a demo reel is a showcase for your talent as an animator. You don't need to a bunch of fancy graphics to sell yourself, just really solid work, well presented and cut together.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Pixar offers Renderman free for students!

Pixar's Renderman, arguably the leading industry software for rendering high quality animation images, is soon to be released free to students on a non-commercial basis. Register now to get your free copy! Pixar's RenderMan is used throughout the CGI industry for the creation of stunning visual effects.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Where Are Animation Recruiters To Be Found?

Where should animation graduates look for recruiters? Or, to put it another way, where do recruiters in the animation and visual effects industries go to find fresh talent? There are many festivals and events around the world which focus on animation and visual effects, and many of them feature jobs fairs where recruiters will take a stand. So where should the ambitious student and recent graduate go looking for work? Here is our list of top places to attend.