Friday, 30 October 2015

Animation Taster Day at Escape Studios on Wednesday 2 December!

Not sure if 3D Animation is for you, but you'd like to try it out?

Anyone in the London area who would like to do a one-off "taster day" for 3D animation should come along to Escape Studios on Wednesday 2 December.

I'll be hosting a one-day class to introduce students to the key tools for 3D animation, and get to grips with some cool character and creature animation. The day costs £25, and is bookable through the Escape Studios website.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Still Time To Sign Up For Our 2 November Class!

There is still time to sign up for our new class beginning next week on Monday 2 November 2015.  We believe that we provide the very best animation training that money can buy, for the lowest possible price.

Our students at Animation Apprentice are finding jobs with leading studios like Blue Zoo and Jellyfish Pictures, proving that our teaching methods work. We are helping our students to find paid work at a high level in our industry.  So what's stopping you? Sign up now to kick-start your animation career!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Recommended Free Rigs - Meet SimpleBot!

Simple Bot. Cute and Funny.
One of the many rigs that we recommend for student use in the early stages of learning animation is the SimpleBot Rig.

SimpleBot was created back in 2009 by Alex Puente and can be downloaded at He is a two-legged robot character, perfect for learning animation.

Like most rigs, SimpleBot has his quirks and foibles. So how can our students get the very best out of SimpleBot?

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Virtual Colouring Book from Disney

In this superb video from Disney, you can see children colouring a virtual colouring book - bringing characters to life in virtual reality - or "augmented reality" - even as they colour in the pages of the book in the traditional way.  It's a remarkable piece of technology, which shows just how fast the world is changing in terms of the way that children learn traditional skills. Hats off to Disney for re-inventing the colouring book - and making it better than ever.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Why Not Enter the VES Student Awards?

The 14th Annual VES Awards are fast approaching, and we encourage all our students here at Animation Apprentice to enter Category 23: Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project. 

The award is sponsored by Autodesk, who make Maya, the leading animation and VFX software, and is a great opportunity for any ambitious student to kick-start their career. Of course, you'll need some serious VFX skills to make it happen, but if you're an animator with good all-round digital skills (or some techie friends whose skills are complementary to your own) this could be a competition for you.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Animation Apprentice At The Irish VFX & Animation Summit 20-22 November 2015

The third Irish VFX + Animation Summit opens on 20 November in Dublin and kicks off with a screening of Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur.  We'll be at the Summit, hosting a masterclass in how to create entertaining animated characters.

This year’s speakers are some of leading figures in VFX and Animation, talented artists who have worked on films such as The Martian, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ex Machina.

Best of all, the summit absolutely free! So what are you waiting for? Book your ticket now!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Recommended Rigs - "Monty" The Green Pea

One of the many rigs that we recommend for student use in the early stages of learning animation is the Monty Rig, created back in 2007 by the very talented Raveen Rajadorai, and free for download at

Monty is a simple character who is described by his creator as "a simple ball with legs. You can control his eyebrows, eyes and do squash and stretch on him".  We would also add that he's very cute, easy to learn, you can easily change his colour and he looks very nice wearing a hat.

Like most rigs, Monty has his quirks. So, how can animators get the most out of the Monty rig?

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Animation Reading List for Our November 2nd Class!

What books do we recommend that animators read before starting our winter class on Monday 2 November?

Books may be a bit old school these days, but a good book is still a great place to start learning about and exploring the world of character animation.

We're also very selective; we won't make you buy a ton of books you won't have time to open, let alone read.  So, what is on our animation reading list?

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Download the Free Escape Studios Careers Handbook!

Escape VFX Careers Guide
Escape Studios has long been one of the best places to get a first class training in VFX. Among the many free resources offered students is the annual Careers Guide, an invaluable handbook for any aspiring visual effects artist - including animators.  Escape Studios track the latest trends in the digital market, focusing especially on the skills that are currently in high demand.  We recommend that all of our students download a copy.  Best of all, it's absolutely free.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Recommended Free Animation Rigs - Rhett The Clydesdale

Rhett The Clydesdale. Free at
Rhett The Clydesdale is a great rig for learning to animate horses. Created by Noxlabs and available for free download at, Rhett is perfect for student reels and quadruped locomotion. Just don't use Rhett for commercial use - his license is strictly for education and personal learning.

One of the great features about Rhett is what he doesn't have - a tail. Not having to deal with overlapping action frees you to concentrate on the main event - quadruped locomotion. However, like most rigs, he does have some odd quirks.  So how does Rhett actually work?

Monday, 19 October 2015

Cake-O-Mation is Here at Last!

Some say 3D Animation is the best, others argue for a revival of hand-drawn 2D Animation.  Others still argue that Stop Motion rules.  But here at Animation Apprentice we are loving the work of French animation Alexander Dubosc, who makes animated cakes - both extraordinary and delicious.  Dibosc creates spinning zoetropes, a technology that goes back to the mid 19th century (and, arguable, ancient China), which he has re-invented as the Caketrope.  Or, as we're calling it, Cake-O-Mation.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Free IBL Lighting Tutorial for Animators

Here at Animation Apprentice we focus primarily on character and creature animation - we don't dig deep into the rest of the 3D pipeline.  But we do expect our students to master the basic skills in Maya - such as modeling, texturing and lighting.  Students need these skills so as to be able to make a killer demo reel, or even make a short film of their own.  Fortunately, for those who want to expand their skills beyond animation, there are now many, many free resources on the web, especially at YouTube, to learn many of the basic disciplines in Maya.  Above is a great little free tutorial on Image Based Lighting (IBL), which is a great way to light your shot using beautiful images, such as a seascape or a sunset.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Body Mechanics Mega-Pack - 12 Great Rigs by Joe Daniels for just $40

Joe Daniels describes himself as a Character Animator, storyteller, and cg generalist.  He is also a pretty hot rigger, and has put together a "Body Mechanics Mega Pack" of different animation rigs, perfect for animators learning motion mechanics.

The pack costs $40 (around £25), which isn't bad considering it includes twelve different characters.  We're recommending Joe's rigs for our students here at Animation Apprentice, at least for the early Modules where we concentrate on body mechanics rather than acting and facial expressions.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Teach Yourself Basic Rigging in Maya for Free!

Nowadays, every animator should know a little bit about rigging.  Here at Animation Apprentice we encourage our students to spend a little time mastering the basics, so as to be better acquainted with the problems and challenges of creating a great character rig.  It's harder than it looks, and a little time spent on this will give you a new respect for what riggers have to deal with.  The video above by James Thompson is a clear and straightforward basic introduction to the art of rigging. If you'd like to give it a go - this is the video we recommend for absolute beginners.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Free Virtual Reality Showcase at London's BFI IMAX until 18 October

"Virtual Stories" is a Virtual Reality Showcase currently exhibiting at London's BFI IMAX until 18 October.  Sixteen projects from some of the world’s greatest VR creators are on display.

Virtual reality has been "the next big thing" for some time now, but somehow has never quite fulfilled its potential.  Now, technology is at last catching up with the ambitions of VR pioneers, offering an immersive experience for games and storytelling that could just change the way we experience media.

For our students who live in London or nearby, this is a chance to see the very latest in virtual reality at this free exhibition at BFI IMAX.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

How To Get a Job as an Animator - By Tom and Tony Bancroft

Check out Tom and Tony Bancroft's podcast on How to Get a Job as an Animator.

I worked with both Tom and Tony Bancroft back in the days when the Disney Studio in Orlando, Florida was just a feldgling startup - long before it produced movies like Brother Bear and Mulan. We worked together as animation rookies on the short film "Rollercoaster Rabbit".

Both Tom and Tony excellent animators who went on to have a great career at Disney.  So what, exactly, do they say is the secret of getting a job?

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

BFI Explains - How to Become an Animator

BFI is the UK government body which promotes film in the UK, often financed by grants from the National Lottery.  They also run the BFI Film Academy, which seeks to help young people break into the film industry.

In this five minute video titled "How Do You Become an Animator?", leading animators in the UK talk about how they got started, and how they made it in the business.

Interviewees include Aardman's Peter Lord, who created "Morph", and indie animator Joanna Quinn, whose unique animation style has won her dozens of awards.  So what are the secrets of their success?

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The October 11 Second Club Competition is - Star Wars!

May The Force Be With You
What are you doing this October to polish your animation skills? Here at Animation Apprentice we encourage all our student animators to enter The 11 Second Cluba monthly character animation competition in which aspiring animators practice their skills and get their work noticed.

Animators from all over the world participate, animating a character speaking a line of dialogue, or, sometimes, a sound effect - this month is a chance to animated a jedi light sabre battle!  Best of all, entry is free! So what are you waiting for?  Let's get started!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Learn Basic Texturing in Maya for Free!

Here at Animation Apprentice we focus primarily on character and creature animation - we don't dig deep into the rest of the 3D animation pipeline - there just isn't the time. But we do expect our students to master the basics of the Maya pipeline, so as to be able to make a killer demo reel (or even a short film).  Fortunately, for those who want to expand their skills beyond animation, there are now many, many free resources on the web, especially at YouTube, to learn many of the basic disciplines in Maya.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Remembering The Iron Giant

In this excellent blog post, animator Stefan Franck reflects on  what it was like to work on The Iron Giant under the leadership of the supremely talented Brad Bird.

Iron Giant has just been re-released in theatres in the USA, a fitting tribute to a film which under-performed at the box office when it was first released in 1999.  For those of use who worked on the film, this was a huge shock. How could such a great film perform so poorly? Why did no-one want to see it?

Conspiracy theories grew. The studio wanted to kill it (because giant corporations love losing money!). The marketing department screwed up.  "They" wanted to close down Warner Bros Feature Animation. "They" wanted to teach Brad Bird a lesson.