Saturday, 31 January 2015

How to Make a Batch Render in Maya and Create a Movie File

A teapot
How do you make a Batch Render of your frames in Maya? Remember that when it comes to technology, things rarely go to plan.

Google is always your friend when it comes to troubleshooting technical problems. Someone out there will have the answer - if you can just ask the right question.

Below is a technical cheat sheet that should help you to create beautiful, final rendered images - and a movie file - without too many tears.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Pink Panther Released as a Free Maya Rig!

More and more Maya users are developing free rigs for use by animation students, to help them learn their craft.  Of course, Karim Kashefi doesn't own the rights to the Pink Panther, so do watch out when using anything of this nature for commercial gain (strictly forbidden) and make sure it's just to practice your animation skills.  We have not yet road-tested this rig, but we're looking forward to seeing what our talented students can do with it!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Animator's Survival Kit Now Released for iBooks

Animator's Survival Kit - now on iBooks
Faber and Faber has just announced the launch of the Animator's Survival Kit for iBooks.  The new edition brings together the complete 'Expanded Edition' of The Animator's Survival Kit with over 100 animated examples from The Animator's Survival Kit Animated DVD box set. It will be available globally, priced at £19.99/$28.99.  What does this mean for students of animation? It means you can now use the ASK on your Mac laptop - you don't need an iPad.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Jin and Joe - Two New Free Rigs for Maya Animators!

Jin and Joe - free rigs!
One of the most positive developments in recent years for students studying animation in Maya has been the proliferation of new, free rigs for student use. Recently two two rigs were released for general use - Jin and Joe, from We haven't road-tested them yet but they look cool, and we're excited to see what our students can do with these two new additions to the growing bank of material for students to learn and study animation. You can find Jin and Joe here.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Why Animators Should Go To Siggraph This Summer

Siggraph 2015
This year Siggraph is taking place in the Los Angeles Convention Center, from 9-13 August. Siggraph is the world's biggest conference on computer graphics. Like FMX in Stuttgart, or the Annecy animation festival, it is the perfect place to find out about the latest technologies, meet other animators, find the big recruiters, and figure out where the industry is heading. It is, in short, a window into the digital future. We recommend that all our students attend events like Siggraph whenever they can - nothing will give you a better insight into the animation industry.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Five Rules For Dealing With a Tricky Client

How do you deal with a tricky client?  Difficult clients are so common that there are websites such as are, dedicated entirely to horror stories written by freelancers about having to deal with hard-to-please clients. So, if you are starting off on your career, how do you handle a difficult client? Below are our five rules for success

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Free PAIE Plugin for Maya - How It Works

Autodesk Maya is a powerful piece of software, free for students to download, and now the industry standard for 3D animation around the world.

But Maya does have its weaknesses, and one of them is the difficulty of copying and pasting your animation from one rig to another. Got some great animation you want to copy on to a new rig? Computer says no.

But now the free PAIE plugin by Jacob Weiner has made it all much, much easier.  Here is how it works.

Friday, 23 January 2015

BBC Uses Animation to Teach Philosophy

The BBC has done a series of a short animated films to illustrate the History of Ideas, a courageous and bold way of trying to make philosophy accessible to a broad audience. The idea is to use cartoons to make relatively complex ideas easier to understand.  Here at Animation Apprentice we applaud this innovative use of animation to bring tricky ideas to a wider audience. Animation used to be a tiny cottage industry, but now it's everywhere, a universal medium growing in popularity and used in many different media.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Brad Bird and the Magic Circle

The Iron Giant
Many years ago I worked on The Iron Giant, a wonderful film and a priceless opportunity to work with one of the very best animation directors - the legendary Brad Bird.

I learned a great deal from him both as a director and an animator.  Brad's style of directing was always clear; he always knew what he wanted, and how to communicate it to the animators.

One of the cleanest and most useful concepts I learned from him was the importance of "The Magic Circle" - a simple rule of composition, and the animator's best friend in a tight spot. Here is how it works.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

How Do You Re-Set Your Preferences in Maya?

Add caption
Maya can be a bit buggy and there will be times when, if it isn't working right, you need to
reset your preferences, and start from scratch.

So how do you reset your preferences in Maya? In Windows it's a pretty easy process, though on a Mac it can be trickier.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Marc Godfrey Animator at BBC Bitesize

BBC Bitesize
Marc Godfrey was one of the first students to sign up for our course at Animation Apprentice.

He is also one of the most dedicated, and we are proud that his dedication and commitment to the craft of animation has been recognised by the industry in the form of a job witha new Glasgow-based company "Once Were Farmers".

Sunday, 18 January 2015

How Do Students Enter and Win in Animated Film Festivals?

There is no better way for a student to launch their career in animation than to enter and win animated film festivals around the world.

However, as the competition gets tougher all the time, how does a student have a decent chance to enter their film, get noticed, and win prizes?

We asked veteran DreamWorks storyboard artist Nassos Vakalis, whose short film "Dinner for Few" has been winning festivals all over the world, to explain the secrets of success.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Maya 2015 Bugs - Problems and Solutions

Last year Autodesk released Maya 2015, free for students and universities, and another leap forward in what has become the leading software for the animation industry around the world.  However, like many new releases, it is not without its bugs and glitches. Here are some of the main bugs, and some possible solutions.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Giuseppe Candido Freelance Animator

Giuseppe Candido at
Giuseppe Candido is a graduate of Animation Apprentice who has built a successful career as an animator and 3D generalist, working on many and varied projects for a wide variety of clients.

We asked him to talk about his recent work, and what it takes to be a successful freelance animator.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Announcing The World's First Online MA in Animation

Animation Apprentice is excited to announce the launch of a animation world-first - the first online MA in animation.  Building on our partnership with the Animation and Visual Effects Course at Buckinghamshire New University, we are helping to launch a new online post graduate degree which can be undertaken by students anywhere in the world.  Above is a short video that explains what the new course will look like, and how it works.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Why Doesn't It Work? Resolving Technical Problems

Why Doesn't It Work? Image: Wikimedia
Why doesn't it work? Below is a list of possible solutions to some frequently-encountered technical difficulties.

Remember that every technical problem, no matter how infuriating, has a solution.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Nous Sommes Charlie

Today at Animation Apprentice we stand shoulder to shoulder with our French colleagues to uphold the right of all artists to speak their mind and express their views regardless of who might be offended. Cartoonists are not used to being murder victims.  Our hearts go out to the victims themselves, and the families of those who were murdered in the course of doing their jobs, fighting to the last for freedom of speech.

To see how cartoonists all over the world are responding to this brutal act of terrorism, follow this link.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Framestore, James Bond, and the Skyfall Title Sequence

Diarmid Harrison Murray was the keynote speaker at last year's BlueGFX Expo in London. He was there to talk about the title sequence for Skyfall, which he directed, tackling the project with a small team at Framestore, one of London's leading visual effects houses.  Diarmid explained in some detail how he and his team managed to pull off the animated titles for the most recent installment in the world's most successful film franchise.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Free Life Drawing Classes at!

Free life drawing at
Animation is a blend of creative and technical skills, and a good animator needs both to survive. It is true that digital animators don't need to draw with the same degree of skill as they did in the days of hand-drawn animation, but good draughtsmanship still helps a great deal, not just for design work but for storyboards, thumbnails, visual development and all the other related areas that a good animator often gets called upon to do.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Hair Simulation in Maya - the XGen Tool

Rapunzel - great hair!
One of the best new features of recent releases of Autodesk Maya is a big step forward in its hair simulation capabilities. The new tool is called XGen, it came free with Maya 2014, and is also bundled in Maya 2015. The XGen tool was developed by Disney/Pixar and was used on their recent film Rapunzel, to generate the heroine's gorgeous, bouncing tresses. Now it is yours to use for free!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Blue Zoo Explain How to Make a Hit Animated TV Series

Q Pootle 5 by Blue Zoo
The annual Blue GFX Expo is a treasure trove of visual effects industry lectures and workshops. Among the excellent presentations was a talk by Adam Shaw of London's Blue Zoo, who created the animated TV series Q Pootle 5. In effect, his lecture was a fully-fledged workshop in how to put a TV series together from start to finish. So, if you have ever wondered - how do you get your own TV series off the ground? - here's how they pulled it off.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Why Animators Should Go to FMX in May

FMX is the place to be if you want to break into the visual effects industry. It takes place in Stuttgart every year - this year from May 5th to May 8th 2015. It's a big, bustling, crowded, brain-boiling congress of people who work in the global visual effects industry, getting together for their annual shindig. Everyone shows up - and there are lectures, screenings and panel talks on every imaginable aspect of the visual effects process.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Seven Rules to Make a Group Project Work
Group projects always sound like a great idea, in theory. In practice, things rarely go according to plan. Why do they go wrong?  Usually it's due to a lack of individual responsibility. Everyone in your group will tend to think that, where there's a job to be done, someone else will do it. The result is paralysis - nothing happens. This is a problem for all group projects, and students film projects are no exception. So, save yourself some pain and heartache by following this step-by-step guide to making a group project work. These are the rules to live by.