Thursday, 28 May 2015

Headlines - The University Of Hertforshire's Annual Student Showcase

University of Hertforshire - Headlines
One of the highlights of the animation year in the UK is Headlines, the University of Hertfordshire's annual student Exposé, where the Uni shows off the very best work done by their graduating students. It is a testament to how well respected the UH Animation & VFX courses have become that so many leading industry players show up - including London's Framestore and also MPC, both of whom have employed many UH Grads. The emphasis on many of the industry presentations was on the future of our industry, as new technology opens up new horizons. So, what was in this year's show?

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

All Aboard the Harry Potter Studio Tour

Harry Potter Tour
I recently took the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Leavesden, visiting the 80-hectare studio complex which was used for filming the Harry Potter series of films. The tour might sound like a three hour trivia odyssey for Potter fans, but in fact it turned out to be as good an introduction to the art, craft and science of visual effects film-making as almost any amount of classroom instruction - and far more fun.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Summer Internships at Blue Zoo!

Blue Zoo are offering two six week internships in their London studio; one working in our commercials team, ideal for someone with bold ambitions to be an animated commercials director, and another in their TV series department for someone starting out on a mission to become an expert CG character animator. We strongly encourage our students to apply.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Twelve Steps to Finding the Perfect Summer Internship

Interview, a short animated film by Mikkel Okholm and Mikkel Brons-Frandsen
How do animation students find summer internships and placements in the industry? Jobs in the entertainment industry have always been highly competitive, and even unpaid internships can be hard to find, So how do you track them down? There are many ways - official jobs postings, word of mouth, rumours in the pub, personal contacts, even cold-calling - all of these can be effective ways to find a summer placement in the business. Below are the twelve key rules we think are vital for success.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Student Showcase - Steve Woodhouse

3D render by Steve Woodhouse
Animation Apprentice student Steve Woodhouse has posted some excellent architectural renders recently. This kind of 3D work is highly complementary to the study of animation, and a great addition to his digital skillset. Animators are increasingly expected to have a working understanding of the rest of the CG pipeline, especially in smaller studios, where multi-tasking is often necessary. And, of course, if you are making your own film, then a knowledge of the whole process is more or less essential.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

How Disney Animators Created Beautiful Acting in Frozen

Watch Disney's smash hit animated film Frozen and you will find some first class acting, beautiful work which arguably takes the medium to a whole new level of sophistication and skill. But how do animators achieve such great acting? The answer of course is just the same as it would have been at the Disney studio 70 or 80 years ago: if you want great acting, study great actors. Below is an excellent shot progression showing how animators on Frozen used live actiion reference to bring their shots to life.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Portfolio Requirements for Our New Online MA in Animation

Life drawing - excellent training for animators
Thinking of applying for our new online MA in animation? One of the most common questions we get asked by prospective students is: What should go into my portfolio? The answer is - a bit of everything. Drawings, Painting, Life drawing, sketches, scribbles. But most especially - 3D digital artwork. So, what exactly do you need?

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Planning Animation - Fagin Thumbnails by Glen Keane

Oliver and Company
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 you get nothing for free; you must fill the blank space with creative, entertaining animation. 

The secret of doing great work is to thumbnail - that is to say, to plan out your work with sketches and scribbles - drawings which create a kind of road map of where you want to go.  

In the video below, I show how master animator Glen Keane approaches the business of doing animation thumbnails.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Introducing The Animus Creature Rig

Animus rig by Nick Miller and Lin Xiong
Finding great rigs to study creature performance isn't easy.

Here at Animation Apprentice we are recommending that our students test out the Animus Rig, created by the very talented Nick Miller and Lin Xiong, and released as freeware into the Maya community.

Animus is a great rig for a number of reasons, one of the most important being the wide range of facial controls, which makes it very good for sophisticated creature dialogue and lipsync. So, how does it all work?

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Still Time to Sign Up For Annecy on June 15th!

Annecy - still time to sign up
Annecy is to animation as Cannes is to Film. Like Cannes, there is no particular reason why this small and rather attractive town on a lake in the French Alps should host the world's biggest animation festival - except for the fact that they have always done so. They got there first, and while many towns and cities now have animation festivals, Annecy is the first, the original, the biggest and still the best. So, should animators go all the way to the French Alps to find out about animation?

Monday, 11 May 2015

Free Maya Rigs from

CG MeetUp - full of great resources for animators
CGMeetup have posted a list of free rigs for animators to download and start using themselves. Here at Animation Apprentice we encourage all our students to try out new rigs and see where inspiration leads you. There are more and more excellent free rigs being released into the Maya community and this only helps our students to produce more and better work. To find the list of free rigs, follow this link.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

A New Project For Nano Films!

Here at animation Apprentice we believe not just in training our students for a career in the animation industry, but we think we can do better - and actually find them jobs. Partly, this involves placing students in internships, recommending them for work whenever opportunities arise. But we can be more proactive than this, by taking on small freelance jobs at Nano Films, making short films for commercial clients and utisiling our pool of talented students to do the animation. Just recently we brought in a new job for a repeat customer, on our tight deadline. So, what can our apprentice animators expect if they get involved?

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Just One Week to Submit Your Animated TV Series to Cartoon Forum!

Do you have an animated TV series or TV special in development? And if not, why not? Our animation students are not just technicians, they are creators, brainstorming new ideas and concepts in animation, searching for the next Peppa Pig or Charlie and Lola.  But you can't do it alone - animation is a team sport.  A successful TV series needs co-producers, financing, broadcasters and new media partners. And where do you find those? Well, Cartoon Forum is where.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Performance Capture in The Hobbit

Motion Capture, nowadays often called Performance Capture, gets bigger all the time and is increasingly used as a part of the animator's toolkit. In the excellent video above, animators from WETA Digital who worked on The Hobbit explain how MoCap was used to create the barrel ride sequence in the second film in the series. It's a fascinating insight into how MoCap can be incorporated into the production pipeline, used creatively by the animators to improve and polish their performances.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Free Textures from Pixar!

Pixar have recently released a number of free repeating textures from their archives - for use in 3D animation. The archive was first created in 1993, and is now free for use by the rest of us - for the first time ever.  Included in the free release are bricks, metals, fabrics, skins, ground surfaces, and tons of other stuff. All of them are designed to repeat seamlessly with no nasty visible joins.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

London VFX Internship Opportunity for Animation Apprentice Students!

Soho VFX
Animation Apprentice has been contacted recently by a leading London animation and VFX house looking to arrange for some Motion Graphics/Animation students to do internships, at 2-4 week intervals, starting in May and rolling out through the Summer. They specialise in "high-end moving image design", and their recent work includes Eurovision Greatest Hits, Sunday Night at the Palladium, The Voice, Strictly Come Dancing and The BBC Music Awards.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Still Time to Apply for our New Online MA in Animation

The world's first online MA in animation
It's not too late! There is still time to apply for our brand new online MA in animation, launching here at Animation Apprentice in partnership with Bucks New University in September 2015. This is a unique degree which can be undertaken by students anywhere in the world, leading to a formal qualification in the field. You will not only learn how to animate, but you will engage at Masters' level with the underpinning theory and structure behind the art form. So, what is this degree all about?