Sunday, 31 August 2014

Secrets of Independent Film Finance Revealed

How do you finance an independent animated feature film? And what is Gap Finance? If you are trying to raise funds for a movie, gap finance is something you need to understand. In brief, it's the point in the funding process where you bridge the gap between what you have been promised, and what you actually have in the bank to start making your picture. At the European Media Forum Closing the Gap, Ian Hutchinson of Silver Reel partners explained what Gap Finance is, and how it actually works.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Jobs Map for Animation, Visual Effects and Games

Where are the jobs?
Finding work in the animation and visual effects industry isn't easy, especially getting that vital, elusive first job. Sometimes it seems like every vacancy is advertised for professionals with 2-3 years of experience, which means that finding your first gig can feel like a catch-22. You can't find a job without experience, you can get experience until you find a job. So what is the secret to finding work in these most competitive but most rewarding of industries?

Thursday, 28 August 2014

How Do You Get Your First Book Published?

A good animator is also a storyteller, and it's not unusual for animators to be writers, graphic novelists, or illustrators of children's books. But how do you get your work published? The good news is, it has never been easier to get into print. The bad news is, the economics of publishing have never been worse for both publishers and writers. Plus, writing a whole book is going to be a major effort, so you don't want to waste your time on something that no-one wants to read. So what is secret to success? Like so many things in media, what you need is a great pitch. Below is our simple guide to getting it right and ensuring that a good publisher will (hopefully) pick up your first book.

Animation Apprentice featured in 3D Artist Magazine

In this month's copy of VFX industry Magazine 3D Artist, in issue No 71, Animation Apprentice founder Alex Williams offers his Tips and Tricks for a faster animation workflow in Maya. How can an animator work smart and fast, maintaining quality while at the same time being fast and efficient?

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Steve Burch Uncovers the Mysteries of Producing Animation

Animation Producer Steve Burch
Animation Producer Steve Burch recently gave an excellent talk on Producing Animation, aimed at students hoping to start up their own small businesses and take on commercial freelance jobs. What are the challenges involved in successfully bidding on, winning - and delivering - a freelance animation job?

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Rocketseed - a short film animated by students at Animation Apprentice

Earlier this year students at Animation Apprentice worked on their first freelance commercial project: Rocketseed Email Solutions. Rocketseed is a tech company that offers clickable email banners, with built-in analytics so that a company's email can become an important marketing tool.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Timo Vuorensola, Director of Iron Sky, Explains How to Crowd Finance Your Feature Film

Timo Vuorensola, director of Iron Sky, gave a lecture at Closing The Gap, a European conference on film financing, explaining how to crowd fund an independent feature film. Iron Sky was initially funded through online sources, and later on secured more conventional funding on the back of the crowd-sourced contributions. Timo explained how he pulled off such an ambitious and successful project by starting an online fan base to help make his film.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Animation Apprentice Student Becomes Freelance Animator at Nano Films

Pete Nicholson is a student at Animation Apprentice who has been working on live briefs for commercial clients, doing short films under the banner of our mini film co-operative Nano Films. Last year he worked on Rocketseed, a short film for a global email marketing company, and is now working on The Float Folks, an intro/teaser for a brand new TV series for children. We asked Pete to talk about what it was like starting off as a freelance animator.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Cartoon Brew's new jobs page

Cartoon Brew has long been the most-visited blog for animation news, but just recently they have expanded their remit to include jobs as well. Nowadays graduates need to focus more time and effort than ever in the course of finding that elusive first job in the industry, and part of this involves keeping an eye closely on the jobs advertised online. To find the jobs page at Cartoon Brew, visit this page:

Friday, 22 August 2014

Nickelodeon Announces 2014 Student Animated Shorts Program

Nickelodeon has announced their 2014 Student Animated Shorts Program, and the deadline for submission is Monday Sept 15th. You don't have to pitch a finished film, just an idea in concept. You will need an idea, characters, a setting, a story, and some storyboards. This is an opportunity to have your idea for a TV series picked up by a major US network - time to sharpen your pencils and start brainstorming.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Animation Apprentice Graduate Giuseppe Candido lands job with The Play Studio

Animation Apprentice graduate Giuseppe Candido has landed a job with The Play Studio, a London based creative design agency specialising in motion graphics across multiple media platforms. Giuseppe starts soon as a Junior Visualiser, working the The Pillbox, a creative hub in East London.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Animation Apprentice founder Alex Williams talks about his work on Harry Potter

Animation Apprentice founder Alex Williams worked on the last three Harry Potter films, while employed at the London VFX house Cinesite, in London's Soho. We asked him to talk about what he did on this very popular films series which help to transform the scale and quality of visual effects work being done here in the UK.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Good news for London - Sarah Smith introduces Locksmith Animation

Good news for animators in the UK! A new studio is coming to town, bringing with it the prospect of jobs, creative success, and - at last - a proper animation studio in London. In this interview a few days ago at, Locksmith Animation founder and director Sarah Smith talks about her new animation venture, which is backed by London VFX house Double Negative, and supported by entrepreneur Elizabeth Murdoch.

Monday, 18 August 2014

What Skills do 3D Modelers Need to find work in the VFX Industry?

3D render for Bombay Sapphire gin
What Skills do 3D Modelers Need to find work in the VFX Industry? We talked to Royston Wilcox, who heads up the modelling department at Cinesite in Soho, one of London's leading VFX houses. Royston and I worked together on many projects at Cinesite, including Underdog, Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Marmaduke. He explained what skills are needed by aspiring 3D modelers who hope to find work in visual effects and build a successful career. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Golden Street Animation - How to Found Your Own Animation Company

Golden Street Productions was founded by Scott Petersen in 2009
In this 2013 interview at our sister blog FLiP, Scott Petersen, the founder of Golden Street Animation, talks about the perils and pitfalls of setting up his own independent animation company. What are the obtacles to going it alone? And what should anyone hoping to set up their own independent animation business do to make a success of it?

Saturday, 16 August 2014

How to Get The Taxman to Finance Your Independent Animated Feature Film

Anyone who has tried to raise money for a film project knows that this can be the hardest part of the whole enterprise. Yes, you may have a great idea, but finding the money needed to bring it to life is no easy task. For anyone in the UK trying to finance an independent film (and every self-respecting animator has a story in them somewhere) - a working knowledge of how the system works is pretty much essential. Sure, you will need a producer to help you out, but knowledge is power, so you need to get educated. One of the best ways to finance your film is called EIS - and it is an excellent way to get the taxman to help pay for your project.

Friday, 15 August 2014

What have our students said about Animation Apprentice?

Spreading The Word
What have our students said about Animation Apprentice? We think we're the best place in the world to study animation, offering the best quality training for the most competitive price. But don't just take our word for it - read what our students have said about our animation course.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

What Questions Should You Ask the Client on Your First Freelance Animation Job?

What questions should you ask a client when you start work on your first freelance job - or indeed any freelance job? It's your job as a professional to keep everything on track and deliver what you promised.

All projects start off full of optimism and excitement, but the scope for misunderstanding is great, and the risk of things going wrong is considerable.

So it's worth asking the right questions up front, to ensure that the job goes well and your happy client comes back for more. Below is a list of useful questions to get you started.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

When Should You Use the World Control to Animate in Maya?

When Should You Use the World Control to Animate in Maya? The short answer is: "never". But, as with most rules, there are exceptions.

Since this is an area of some confusion for animators learning to to use Maya, here's a brief outline of what the rules of World Control Etiquette really are.

So, what is the world control anyway?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Demo Reel of Animation Apprentice graduate Benn Garnish

Animation Apprentice graduate Benn Garnish has gone to do some impressive visual effects animation on many films, his most recent being The Fast and The Furious 6. Benn has done high level work on many feature films, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Thor, The Dark World, and Prince of Persia.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Animation Number One at UK Box Office

According to a piece in yesterday's Telegraph, animated films are now the UK's favourite, taking in as much of a fifth of all box office revenues. In 2013 animation became the top-grossing film genre at UK cinemas, making almost £250million, a fifth of total box office takings. This is good news for animators, and good news for us at Animation Apprentice. After all, we're aiming to be the best place in the world to learn animation, training our students to be the very best at this rapidly growing and flourishing medium.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Get Ready for our September Class - Watch Our Free Videos!

What is Animation all about? And what should our students starting with us in September do to get ready? For a general introduction to the medium, and a beginners guide to the language and the basic principles of animation, watch this series of free videos at Animation Apprentice. Start with The Twelve Principles of Animation, and move on to Keys, Extremes and Inbetweens - the Language of Animation. Like all art forms, animation has its very own special jargon, and you will need to know the basic grammar and some of the key terms. Plus, you'll start to get a good feel for what our course is like and how it all works.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Phil Young recalls The Golden Age of Disney Animation

Walt Disney in 1937
Phil Young is an animator, artist and teacher. He worked at the Disney studio for 25 years, working with and studying under the legendary "Nine Old Men", Walt Disney's hand-picked top animators who were synonymous with the first Golden age of Animation. Phil worked on many of Disney's biggest hits, including Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, as well as some of the legendary misses like The Black Cauldron. In this interview last year with our sister blog FLiP,  Phil took us on a sentimental journey back to the 1970s - and revealed what the Disney studio was really like back in The Olden Days.

Friday, 8 August 2014

From Pencils to Pixels - the History of Animation

From pencils to Pixels by Alan Yentob

From Pencils to Pixels - In this excellent 2003 documentary, Producer Alan Yentob tells the story of how animation went digital. It's very thoughtful hour-long introduction to the medium by one of the BBC's most experienced Producer-directors. If your knowledge of the History of Animation could use a little polishing, this is a great place to begin. Don't forget that most animation studios are well-staffed with enthusiasts who seem to know everything about animation - including what Walt had for breakfast. Knowing the history of the medium helps single you out as a fellow animation fan, someone who has a good bit of knowledge of how the industry came to be the way it is today. All of which will help you at your next job interview.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Surviving and Thriving as a Freelance Animator

If you work in the animation industry, the chances are that at some point you will be self-employed, either running your own small business or working as a freelancer. 

Even if you do land a good job as an employee of a company, most likely it will last at most a year or two, since jobs in our industry tend to be project-driven. 

Even well-established companies tend to expand and contract according to the size of their order book. 

So what’s an animator to do to stay afloat and pay the rent, let alone finance a mortgage and a family? The answer is, you have to be smart, and you must understand the rules of freelancing.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

What kit do you need to get started at Animation Apprentice?

Start with a laptop
What sort of software and hardware do you need to study with Animation Apprentice? The answer is, less than you might think. Of course, you will need a laptop capable of running Autodesk Maya, but most of the software you need is completely free. Below is a (not very long) checklist of stuff to get you started.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

So You Want to Make an Animated Film?

Making your own animated film isn't as easy as it sounds. The most common mistake made by newbies is to underestimate the amount of work involved. Everything takes longer, and is harder to achieve, than you expect. That said, it's not an impossible dream to make your own short, especially if you plan well and work smart. The trick is to plan it out properly, doing all the steps in the right order.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Hollywood Producer Max Howard Explains Independent Animated Film Financing

Max Howard
Earlier this year Producer Max Howard a lecture about how to produce an independent animated film.  He talked in detail about how films get financed, walking through all the steps necessary to get a film off the ground and into theatres. With a wealth of experience at major Hollywood Studios, and also with a number of independent animated features under his belt (plus one coming out this year - The Hero of Colour City) - there are few producers better qualified to explain how the system actually works.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Animation Apprentice Graduate Benn Garnish Explains How to Succeed in VFX

Animation Apprentice graduate Benn Garnish worked on the latest installment of The Fast and The Furious, working at Double Negative, one of London’s leading VFX houses. We asked him to talk about what it was like to work as an animator on a major Hollywood film, and what advice he can offer our students to help them forge a successful career in the visual effects industry.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Should animation artists work for free?

working for free?
Should artists work for free? This is a knotty problem and a subject on which people tend to have strong feelings.

Students and graduates do of course often work for free, taking work experience, unpaid jobs or internships which do not pay actual money, but which offer training in the industry and real-world experience of what the world of work is like.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Matchmove and Tracking - What are They and What Do They Involve?

Matchmove: it's all about cameras. Image: Wikipedia
Matchmove is one of the more technical and less well known departments in the 3D visual effects pipeline. It is also a traditional entry-level position for junior VFX artists, a great way to get your foot in the door in the industry. In this post from our sister blog FLiP, Matchmove artist Amy Lloyd explains how it all works.

Amy was for many years a lead matchmover at Cinesite in London's Soho, and has worked on countless visual effects blockbusters including Harry Potter, X Men, Moon, Battle LA and John Carter. Here, she explains what exactly her department does, and why it is so important in VFX.