Sunday, 28 September 2014

How Can You Tell If Our Course is Right for You?

free 3D software - yours to try at no cost
A career in 3D animation is not for everyone. A lot of what animators do day to day involves solving software problems, trying to make stuff work on a PC or a Mac, and cursing our computer when it doesn't. Being a digital artist isn't for everyone. One way of finding out if this is something you would like to do for a career is to do a couple of tutorials online. A great place to start is with the 3D software Blender - it's completely free, and there are many free tutorials out there to get you started.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

How to Get Ready for Our November Class

Get ready for November. Photo: Wikipedia
What kind of preparation should students do before starting with us at Animation Apprentice on  November 3?  It's worth casting half an eye forward to November, and thinking about some of the things you might do to get ready for the course. Below is a brief checklist of stuff to get you started. It's not comprehensive, and 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.

Friday, 26 September 2014

UK Creative Industries are "Worth £71.4 Billion per Year"

Creative industries are worth £71 billion a year
UK Creative industries are "worth £71.4 billion per year", according to the UK's Business Secretary Vince Cable. In an article in Wired news today, the British Government announced a big new investment in a NextGen Skills Academy to help close the skills gap in creative industries in the UK.  The story was also covered by the BBC.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

It All Started With a Mouse

It All Started With a Mouse
Below is a link to an excellent documentary on the History of Disney Animation, titled It All Started With a Mouse.  It was broadcast in 1989 - so it does not include anything from the digital era - but much of what the Disney Studio achieved is timeless, and still holds up well today. Think of classics like The Jungle Book - still great entertainment 40 years later. In short, this is an excellent documentary on the history hand-drawn animation at the studio up until the late 1980s.  The video is hosted at YouTube (for some reason I can't embed the video here) but if you follow this link you'll find it. It runs an hour and a half, and is an excellent introduction to the medium of animation.



Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Mery Rig now live - free for animators!

The Mery rig is now live and available to download. One of the many benefits of animating with Autodesk Maya is the large and growing global community of artists who collaborate on freeware projects, bringing to life excellent animation rigs like Norman and Morpheus. The latest character rig - just released - for students and non-commercial use is The Mery Project - now available to Maya users free of charge.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Free Textures!

Free textures at
Need free textures for your shot? Look no further than  It's a site packed with textures - all of them completely free.  Of course, animators don't need to be texture artists, and there is no need to produce final, lit, finished renders of your work. But, increasingly, a good understanding of the whole CG pipeline is a great asset for any digital artist - animators included.  Here at Animation Apprentice we encourage all our students to acquire general CG skills. Animation is our primary focus - but we still like to keep half an eye on the rest of the digital skillset.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

How Do You Finance Your Animated Film at Kickstarter?

Writer and film-maker Allen Stroud, author of Elite: Lave Revolution, explains how to get a Kickstarter project off the ground. The rules of raising finance for film projects is changing fast. If you have a good enough idea, there is no reason why you cannot crowd fund your project and get fans all across the globe to make your dreams come to life. Here is how it is done.

Friday, 19 September 2014

How long does it take to become a great animator?

It is a cliche that practice makes perfect, but in his 2008 book Outliers author Malcolm Gladwell argues that in order for any person to become really good at any cognitively-challenging task, they have to practice a lot. 10,000 hours-worth of practice, in fact.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Who Invests In Independent Feature Films?

Photo: Wikipedia
Who invests in independent feature films? And how does the aspiring film-maker find those investors? At the European film finance conference, Closing the Gap, Perrine Hamon of Media Deals, and Thierry Beaugard of Peaceful Fish explained what kind of investors are out there, and how to find them. Any animator who has a dream to make their own independent animated feature film needs to know just a little bit (and possibly more) about the nuts and bolts of movie finance.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Anifest Short Film Competition returns for 2014

The Canterbury Anifest Short Film Competition returns for 2014. Submissions are now open for animated shorts under ten minutes in length with entry closing on Tuesday 30th September 2014. Entries will then be considered by the Anifest judging panel, which includes Andy Frain, Producer of the cult classic Japanese animated film Ghost in the Shell, and Michael Arias, Director of Tekkonkinkreet.

Friday, 12 September 2014

What Makes a Truly Great Animator? James "JC" Chiang Has the Answer

The animator who brought you surfing penguins
Animator, Director and artist James "JC" Chiang has worked as an animator on many feature films including Robots, Ice Age - The Meltdown, Surf's Up and Open Season, and was animation director on the 2008 Veggie Tales movie. He teaches animation, and is a also an accomplished fine artist in his own right. We asked him to explain what, exactly, makes a great animator.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

How to Create a Great Demo Reel

What goes into a great demo reel? The answer is - only your very best work. Better a short reel with excellent work than a long one with mistakes which need fixing. Employers and clients will look for mistakes, errors, and unfinished work - these are red flags which suggest a digital artist who doesn't complete, or who might flounder under pressure.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Meet Alex Williams, Founder of Animation Apprentice

Alex Williams by Woody Woodman
Alex Williams founded Animation Apprentice in September 2012, having spent twenty five years working in the animation industry, and teaching animation at schools and universities including CalArts, Gnomon, Escape Studios, and The Animation Workshop in Denmark. We asked him to talk about what made him want to make the leap from working on production to setting up an online school.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Studying with us - How to Get Started

Welcome to Animation Apprentice! Once you have decided to study with us (an excellent choice!), here are some vital steps you need to take in order to get things up and running. Tackle the list below and you'll be well on your way to establishing your career as a professional animator.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Student RSA Design Awards Now Live

The RSA Student Design Awards (SDAs) is a curriculum and competition that challenges student designers to tackle design briefs focused around pressing real-world issues. They have eight briefs this year – each is focused around a different social, environmental or economic issue, and this year the challenges range from designing sustainable toys to designing ways of connecting people to their heritage. For the first time in recent history they are launching an animation brief titled ‘Moving Pictures’, which provides two exclusive audio files from the RSA Events programme, and asks students to produce an accompanying animation to energise and illuminate the content.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Nowadays there are lots of great websites to check for the latest news on who is hiring in the animation industry.  One of the best new sites that every animator should be aware of is The clue is in the name, and they have plenty of listings for the latest vacancies. Best of all, you can sign up for an email alert, and have them let you know what's new. So polish your CV/Resume, make sure your demo reel is up to scratch, and get out there and start applying.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Secret of Animation

Norman gets animated - by Giovanni Braggio
Everyone knows that animation is easy - after all, the computer does all the work for you, right? Not like the old days, where you had to draw stuff - all those hand-drawn frames, at 24 frames a second! Now, you just tell the computer what to do, and it does it! Amazing. Below is a very short video by Giovanni Braggio, revealing the hidden secrets of computer animation.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Where is the Best Place to Find Free Animation Rigs?

There are many free rigs available to Maya animators hoping to practice and learn their craft. Norman, Max, Morpheus - all excellent rigs available at no charge and easy to download, all free for non-commercial use. But beware - all rigs are different and each one has its own quirks. All take time to get used to, and each one will drive you crazy at first. Fortunately for us, The Eleven Second Club Resources Page has helpfully provided a page pulling together many of the best free rigs most commonly used for learning character animation.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Six Rules to Create a Great CV

Source: Wikipedia
CV stands for Curriculum Vitae - in Latin: "the story of your life". In the USA it is known as a résumé.  Whatever the name, its purpose is to summarise your education, life history and skills as clearly and concisely as possible, and to put the best possible gloss on your achievements. 

Employers will expect one, so it's worth spending some time on it to get it right. And yes, even animators need a CV. Your demo reel may be your main calling card, but your CV still matters.

The good news is this: once you've done it, all you need do is edit it periodically and update it.  Below are our Six Rules for creating a great CV or resume.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Does Education Kill Creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson
Sir Ken Robinson is an educator who believes passionately in the importance of teaching creativity in our schools. In an interview on Radio 4 this morning, he talked about why he thinks our system of education is broken and needs fixing. Robinson argues that creative thinking and creativity are a vitally important - and widely neglected - part of our education system. Dance, he says, should be as important as Maths, of equal value and time in the curriculum. If you missed him on the radio, you can watch his fascinating (and very entertaining) 2007 TED talk below.