Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year's Resolutions for Animators

Happy New Year from the Float Folks - animated by students at Animation Apprentice
What should an animator's new year's resolutions be? Animation is a huge and growing business, a far cry from the cottage industry it used to be even twenty years ago. But it is a competitive world, and good animators need to be smart to stay on top of their game. So here's a checklist for some simple ways to maintain your edge in 2015

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Where Does Creativity Come From? John Cleese Explains

John Cleese knows a thing or two about creativity, which is presumably why he was invited to give this talk in the video above. Trouble is, identifying where creativity comes from is like trying to analyse what makes a great poem. We all know it when we see it - but how to define it? And what does the great man conclude? I'll leave you to watch the (short) video to find out the answer.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

What is the Euler Filter in Maya?

Dr Leonhard Euler
Look under the Curves menu in the Graph Editor in Maya and you will see a button marked Euler Filter. Not knowing what it does (or even how to pronounce it), you have probably never used it - why would you?

But don't be deceived by the odd name. The Euler Filter is a very useful tool in Maya, one which can solve - almost magically - some of the most common problems we get in the rotations of curves, problems which can seriously mess up your character animation. If the rotations on your character's arms are going wild, and no amount of keyframing seems to help - you probably need a little help from Dr Euler.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Not Too Late to Sign Up for Our Class Starting on 5th January!

The clock is ticking to sign up for our new class beginning on Monday 5th January 2015. To sign up, simply go to the Register and Get Started page, and follow the steps. We'll be glad to welcome you on your journey to become a great animator.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas from the Float Folks!

The Float Folks
Merry Christmas from the Float Folks! And, of course, from all of us at Animation Apprentice.  To see more about the Float Folks, and their watery world of bobbers, dragon flies and dogfish, created by our students here at Animation Apprentice, follow this link.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Maya Won't Save Due To "Unknown Nodes" - What To Do?

Autodesk Maya is a big and complex piece of software, full of traps and pitfalls for the unwary. 

The "Unknown Nodes" error sometimes occurs when you are trying to save your work, but Maya won’t let you save. This can be frustrating, and the solution is not obvious. What is an unknown node anyway? And what should you do when this happens?

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Five Steps to Write a Great Story

Titles to Love Me Love Me Love Me by Richard Williams
How do you write a great story? You can't make a great film without one, and yet one of the most common mistakes made by rookie film-makers is to start making the film before the story is figured out.

In fact, it's not just novices who fall into this trap - Hollywood does it all the time. But with a little forethought and planning, you can start off your project with a great story. After all, story is the most important part of any film. As Pixar's John Lasseter put, "the three most important ingredients in a Pixar film are: 1. Story, 2. Story, and 3. Story". So, how do you make sure you get it right?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Why Has Mental Ray in Maya Disappeared?

Mental Ray - free with Maya
Mental Ray is a renderer that comes free with Maya - but sometimes it goes missing. One of the most common questions new Maya users ask is "Where has Mental Ray gone?!?"

Every Maya user faces this problem at least once, and the solution is not always obvious. You look in the Render Settings menu and - Mental Ray has vanished!

So, what to do to bring it back? And why does Mental Ray disappear so often?

Sunday, 14 December 2014

How to Create the Ideal Animation Workstation

An animation workstation
A good workstation is not a luxury - it's a necessity. The dirty secret of the animation and visual effects business is that sitting still and clicking away at a video workstation all day long is bad for your health.

Carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injury (RSI) are serious health problems which affect many people working in the industry.

So why don't we hear more about it? Because people don't like to talk about it. Employers don't talk about it because they don't like being sued. Employees don't talk about it because they fear if they admit to having problems they will lose their job and perhaps their career. So get educated and make sure you have a healthy workstation.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Where Can Animators Find Free Sets and Props?

Where can student animators find free sets and props for animation? You don't always want to spend time modeling the things you need for your animation shot - sometimes you just need some free stuff in a hurry. The best places to begin are and Both sites have plenty of free resources for animators to use; you can import sets, props, all sorts of useful items that will help bring your animation to life. Of course, you should always give credit to the creators - professional artists always give credit where it's due.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Thumbnails by Ruben Aquino for The Little Mermaid

The secret of great animation is in the planning. Open up a copy of Maya, the leading 3D software, and you just get a blank screen. With CG animation (or indeed any animation) you get nothing for free. So how do you fill this blank space with creative, entertaining animation? The secret of good work is to thumbnail - that is to say, to plan out your work with sketches and scribbles which create a kind of road map of where you want to go.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Aspect Ratios Made Simple

Standard aspect ratios: SD, HD and super HD
Which aspect ratio should you pick for your shot?

A basic understanding of aspect ratios is necessary for all digital artists - it's how we configure our work for the screen. 

When you render your shot, and when you edit your work in Premiere or Final Cut, you will have to make choices as to what aspect ratio to select. 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Blue Zoo Are Hiring Junior Animators!

Blue Zoo Animation
Calling all Animation Apprentice Graduates! London's leading TV animation house Blue Zoo are hiring fresh talent. Getting that first job is always tough, and it's relatively unusual for studios to be looking actively for juniors. So, time to polish that demo reel, make sure your best work is online and free of mistakes, update your CV, and send it all in with a nice covering letter.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Getting Ready for Our January Class - How To Get Started

Winter Draws On. Photo: Wikipedia
What kind of preparation should students do before starting with us at Animation Apprentice on 5 January 2015?  Needless to say, we don't want to spoil your holidays, and it's always good to have a proper break, but it's worth casting half an eye forward to the New Year and thinking about some of the things you might do to get ready for our new 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.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Meet The Float Folks! - our Latest Commercial Project!

The Float Folks - Coming Soon!
Our student animators have recently finished work on our newest commercial project - The Float Folks - a teaser for a new TV Series which is the brainchild of creator Ian Foyle. The Float Folks invites the viewer into a world of fishing floats; a small town by the reed beds where everyone gets along (mostly) - and the only way to travel is by dragonfly or dogfish. The project was animated by a number of our recent graduates and current animation students. We're excited to see this project come to life, and thrilled to have been a part of making it happen.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Brown Bag films are Hiring!

Brown Bag Films
Fancy moving for Dublin for a spell? It's not a silly question. Dublin is one of Europe's most vibrant capital cities, and regularly appears high on the list of places you might actually want to live in. Brown Bag Films are looking for a broad range of animation talent to join their thriving studio in Dublin's Fair City. If you would like to join the team behind shows like DocMcStuffins, Octonauts, Henry Hugglemonster and Peter Rabbit, then send an email attaching your CV, a well-drafted covering letter and a link to your demo reel.