Friday, 29 January 2016

See the Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts at BFI on 5 February

The British Film Institute on London's South Bank is hosting a special screening of the animated short films which have been nominated for an Oscar this year.  

You can see the films on just one night: Friday 5 February 2016 at 7pm. 

The evening is a chance to see some of the best work in our industry, mostly by independent film-makers, and - who knows? - you might even meet some of the creators in person!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

How to Write a Dissertation

Calling all Online MA Students at Animation Apprentice! Skills You Need is a very useful website, with some great resources for our students tackling the Online MA.

In particular, this page offers some helpful advice on how to write a dissertation. It's pretty general advice, but it comes recommended by the academic team at Bucks as being a good starting point for your dissertation journey. To find the site, follow this link. And if you're wondering about how to accurately reference your written work, don't forget this excellent site.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Six Leading Animation Directors Interviewed by the Hollywood Reporter

The Hollywood Reporter has interviewed six leading animation directors: Pete Docter (Inside Out), Pete Sohn (Good Dinosaur), Richard Starzak (Shaun the Sheep), Steve Martino (Peanuts Movie), Charles Kaufman (Anomalisa), and Roger Allers (The Prophet). The directors talk about their shared journey bringing animated films to the screen, and the many challenges they had to overcome along the way. The panel discussion is one hour long.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Meet Bouncing Ball & Ultimate Ball

The free bouncing ball rig is one of the rigs we suggest that students download when they first start learning animation. It's available for free download at highend3D. We also recommend the Ultimate Ball, also downloadable from

Why start with a bouncing ball? Well, pretty much every animation course on the planet starts with a ball. It's where students first encounter the concepts of timing and spacing, and also how to use important tools such as the Graph Editor.

But it's also where students begin to learn the importance of giving a performance. Even a bouncing ball can be made to look fun and interesting or dull and boring.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Eagle Animation by Lee Caller

Above is some excellent animation of an eagle in flight by Animation Apprentice student Lee Caller.  It's really nice shot, incorporating a live action plate and also using live action reference to get a realistic and believable result. We asked Lee to explain how to get the best out out of the Bald Eagle rig, free for download at Creative Crash.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Why Invisible Effects Are Hollywood's Best Kept Secret

Suffragette reel from Union Visual Effects on Vimeo.

This excellent article at the Daily Telegraph explains why "invisible effects are Hollywood's best kept secret". Of course, everyone knows about the eye-popping visual effects work that brings us flying spaceships, massive explosions, and fantasy creatures of all kinds. But the movie business is now full of effects that no-one even notices. Digital crowds bring an empty racetrack to life in "Suffragette" (see the video above).  Effects artists remove acne from a famous actress having a bad skin day - the 3D artists who make these effects are the unsung heroes of our industry.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Time to Download the 2016 Escape Studios VFX Careers Handbook

Time to download the free Escape Studios 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 brand new, and it's absolutely free.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Who Will Win The Oscar For Best Animated Feature Film?

Who will win the Oscar this year for Best Animated Feature Film?

This year there are five nominees: Anomalisa, Boy and The World, Inside Out, When Marnie Was There, and Shaun The Sheep, by Aardman Animation in Bristol.

Animation has surely come of age. Just a few years ago there were three nominees in the category, and the category itself is only 15 years old,  having been first created in 2001. Prior to that, there were so few animated films every year that it would have been a one-horse race, with Disney winning every time.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Why Not Enter The January 2016 Character Design Challenge?

Character Design Challenge!
Many animators enjoy designing (and possibly even modelling and rigging) their own characters.

So why not polish your design skills by entering the monthly Character Design Challenge?

It's a bit like the Eleven Second Club, but for character designers. The group only started up in January 2015 and it already has an astonishing twenty five thousand members.

This month's design challenge is .....Roller Derby! So what are you waiting for? Let's get designing!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Meet Cogswell - the Flying Dragon!

Meet Cogswell!
This new Cogswell dragon rig looks awesome. We haven't had a chance to road-test it fully yet but it could be just the thing for animating flying fantasy creatures, or for quadruped locomotion. It has a full facial rig for expressions and acting, and you can download it free from this site here.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Redboard - a Better Way to Storyboard?

As everyone knows, animation starts with a hand-drawn storyboard process, then goes to 3D Layout, and finally to animation.  

But what if you could combine the storyboard process and 3D Layout, to make your animation pipeline work faster, with fewer mistakes? 

This is what Redboard, a new animation and pre-via storyboard software, aims to do. And best of all, it actually works.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

New York's Metropolitan Museum Releases its Archive For Free!

Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art has posted hundreds of thousands of images online for free non-commercial use under the Creative Commons License.

That means you can use the images in your work, as long as you're not profiting from them, and as long as you credit the Met.

What's so great about that? Well, if you've been to the Met, you will have seen one of the world's greatest collections of art, ranking up there with the British Museum, Paris's Louvre and Florence's Uffizi as a treasure trove of beautiful things.

And now, all these fabulous images are free for us to use.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

"Prologue" Nominated for a BAFTA

A still image from Prologue
Animation guru Richard Williams (who directed The Thief and the Cobbler, and was animation director on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), has had his six-minute animated short Prologue nominated for a BAFTA, in the category of Best Animated Short.

The two other films nominated are Edmond (by Nina Gantz and Emilie Jouffroy), and Manoman (by Simon Cartwright and Kamilla Kristiane Hodol)

The nominees for Best Animated Film are Shaun the Sheep, Minions, and Inside Out.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

January Eleven Second Club!

Here at Animation Apprentice we encourage all our student animators to enter the monthly Eleven Second Cluba character animation competition in which aspiring animators practice their skills and learn the craft of character performance. Animators from all over the world participate, animating a character speaking a line of dialogue, which is provided every month by the club. Best of all, entry is free! So what are you waiting for?  Let's start animating!

Friday, 8 January 2016

Buster Keaton and The Art of Visual Comedy

Buster Keaton was one of the great comedians of the silent comedy era. In this eight minute video, you can see why, like Charlie Chaplin, Keaton was a master of the visual gag.  Why should animators study this stuff? Because animators are actors, and we have to make our acting work on a visual level.  If your scene doesn't work with the sound turned off - it isn't working.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Animation Reel by Rory Marchant

Animation Reel 2016 from Rory B Marchant on Vimeo.

Check out the excellent animation reel above, recently cut together by Animation Apprentice student by Rory Marchant. Rory has some excellent work in here, a great blend of character and creature work. Congratulations to Rory on a fine achievement!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Animation Blocking from Zootropolis

The Keys: Zootopia from Kyle Kenworthy on Vimeo.

The short video above (just 8 seconds) is a very nice example of good animation blocking from the upcoming Disney film Zootropolis, recently posted at Kyle Kenworthy's excellent animation blog.  What do animators mean by "blocking"? We mean the process of establishing the main key poses in a shot, using stepped curves (i.e., single poses without any smooth transitions), so that we can test whether or not we are telling the story of the shot.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The Cinematography of Akira Kurosawa

This fascinating video (8 mins long) explores what exactly it is that makes the cinematography of famed Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa so special. Critics have admired Kurosawa's film craftsmanship for years - but what is it that makes his style so unique, and his movies so special? Apparently, it's all about movement - specifically, the motion of objects in the frame. But why should animators study this stuff? Because cinematography is a part of our craft. Knowing how and where to put the camera, and how to get from one shot to another, is a vital part of any film-maker's skillset. So watch and learn from the master.