Thursday, 31 March 2016

Steve Begg at Escape Studios Tonight On Spectre

Escape Studios in London's Shepherd's Bush is hosting a special VFX event tonight with Steve Begg.  Steve will discuss the visual effects work done on on Spectre, his fourth James Bond film and his third as VFX Supervisor.

With over 27 years' experience in the industry Steve Begg has taken the role of VFX Supervisor on titles such as Skyfall, Batman Begins, Casino Royale, The Golden Compass, Red Dwarf, and Aliens.

Events like this offer a rare chance to meet some of the leading figures in the London VFX industry, find out what skills are in demand, ask questions, and find out who might be hiring. Best of all, the event is completely free!

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Animate Lipsync The Easy Way!

Above is an excellent video on how to animate lipsync, showing how to break things down into easy sections so as to make sure that your work starts off simple and gradually grows in complexity as you layer in the detail. At its simplest, good lipsync is just about opening and closing the mouth on the vowels, and closing it on the consonants. But, developing a system to keep it simple and at the same time get a sophisticated result, is all part of mastering the art and craft of animation.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Toonz 2D Software Pipeline Free From Today!

Toonz, The animation software used by legendary Studio Ghibli (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Spirited Away) is set to become open source today. Which is to say, in plain English: free.

The new free software will be called OpenToonz, and will allow animators all over the world to make 2D animation at no charge.

This represents a big new democratisation of the medium of animation. Now, any animator can download Toonz, watch the software demo (see below) and start animating.

Of course, Autodesk has long allowed students to learn its 3D software, Maya, for free. But now, 2D animators are getting a big helping hand. Essentially, Toonz now represents a free pipeline for a short film, feature film or TV series.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

What Charities and Trusts Provide Grants for Educational Study?

The system of loans and grants put in place by the UK Government a few years ago for the funding of higher education in the UK is now well-established and well understood.

But lots of potential students are not aware of the many other sources of funding that are out there. You'd be surprised how many charities and trusts provide grants for educational study.

These grants vary enormously, and they are often aimed at students from poorer backgrounds or from groups who are less-well represented at university or otherwise disadvantaged.  So, how do you find them, and how do you apply?

Friday, 18 March 2016

How Do Animators Stay Creative? Blue Zoo's Top Ten Rules

Blue Zoo is one of the UK's most successful independent animation studios. Founded in 2000 by a group of university graduates, they have gone on to produce excellent commercials and TV Series, as well as some very creative independent short films.

But how does a studio like Blue Zoo stay creative, while at the same time managing the demands of a commercial pipeline, and getting their jobs done on time? At the recent Escape Studios VFX Festival, Tom Box explained how they get it done.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Pete Nicholson Animation Intern at King Bee

How do aspiring animators secure an internship in the animation industry? This is a question asked by lots of students.

An internship at an animation studio can be a necessary first step to entering the industry. It will give you real-world experience of the business, helps you to build contacts and may lead to a job.

Animation Apprentice student Pete Nicholson has just landed an internship with King Bee animation, based at the historic Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, just outside of London.  We asked him to talk a little about how it came about.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Pete Docter Explains The Inspiration Behind Inside Out

In this excellent video from Pixar, Pete Docter Explains the inspiration behind Inside Out, Pixar's Oscar-winning feature film and arguably their most inventive movie to date.  Playing with some very grown-up themes of neurology and psychology, Pixar manages to entertain young audiences while giving adults plenty to chew on.  Pete Docter is one of the most talented living animation directors, a creative artist who manages to create entertainment with a serious undercurrent. Watch this short video to get an insight into how he came up with the ideas behind Inside Out.

Monday, 14 March 2016

How Does The Graph Editor Work?

Check out this cool gif from which explains in a simple diagram how the Graph Editor in Maya works. It's a beautifully simple graphic and shows you the meaning of stepped curves (top left), linear curves (top, second from left) and spline curves (top, third from left). These are the three most commonly used settings in the animator's tool kit. For animators first starting out in Maya, it's a great way to get familiar with the Graph Editor.

Friday, 11 March 2016

What Does it Mean to "Bake Your Curves" in Maya?

Not that kind of baking
What do 3D animators mean by “baking curves”? Baking curves in Maya is a way of creating keyframes on every frame, so that you can then go in and edit the individual keyframes, and adjust the performance of your animation. 

Let’s say - for example - that you have created a 13 frame run cycle with our old friend Monty - the green pea with legs. Turn on your infinity curves, and set your timeline to 100 frames, and your character will keep running for the full 100 frames, because Maya's infinity curves will keep the character running for an infinitely long time.

But let’s say we want to add a performance to the end of the shot. Perhaps Monty stops and sees an old friend. Or falls down a manhole. Or has to dodge a falling object. We can’t do this because the infinity curves are turned on. If we change the run cycle, it will change every single step, which we don’t want. So, what should we do?

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Edward Muybridge - The Animator's Photographer

Edward Muybridge
Sooner or later all students of animation come across the work of Edward Muybridge.  Muybridge was a pioneering English photographer who spent much of his life in California, photographing studies of human and animal locomotion.

Muybridge's work, now in the public domain (i.e. the copyright has expired) is still of great importance to animators, despite having been done more than 100 years ago.

For almost any kind of animal locomotion, Muybridge is still very useful for life-action analysis, even in the era of YouTube. 

Muybridge was the first person to figure out the precise details of horse locomotion, proving that in a full gallop there was a period in the horse's stride where all four feet left the ground - something that was impossible to detect with the human eye.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

3D Animation Taster Day at Escape Studios in London on April 1st

Bring characters and creatures to life!
For anyone in the London area, come and learn about character and creature animation at our Animation Taster Day at Escape Studios on Friday April 1st!

I'll be doing a one-day "animation taster" to introduce students to the basics of 3D animation in Maya.

Your career as a 3D animator starts here!

We will use industry-standard tools like Autodesk Maya and the Adobe Creative Suite, and you’ll get a hands-on introduction to 3D Animation techniques. The full day costs just £25. By the end of the day you'll have a cool pice of animation uploaded to your very own YouTube channel.  So, how do you sign up?

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Free Storyboarding Webinar Hosted by Escape Studios on Wednesday 30 March at 5pm

Escape Studios is hosting a free animation webinar on the subject of storyboarding, and I'll be taking the opportunity to demonstrate some shiny new software - Redboard.

Redboard is a great new piece of kit, developed in London's Soho, that allows storyboard artists to integrate the storyboard process with the 3D Layout dept. It's a kind of hybrid technology - part previz, part storyboard.

It was created by animators who were frustrated by the problems caused when storyboard sketches got turned into actual shots in the 3D layout dept - and things began to go wrong.  Redboard is a way to control the storyboard pipeline from the start, making choices about camera and cinematography up front.

Friday, 4 March 2016

March 2016 Eleven Second Club!

Here at Animation Apprentice we encourage all our student animators to enter The 11 Second Club, the 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, which is provided on the first day of every month by the club.

This month the line of dialogue is taken from the 2004 smash hit comedy Mean Girls. The lines are spoken by the characters Mrs George, played by Amy Poehler, and Cady, who was played by Lindsay Lohan.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Time To Get Ready For Our March 7th Class!

What kind of preparation should students do before starting with us  at Animation Apprentice on March 7?  It's always good to do a little preparation and get a bit of a head start.

Below is a brief list of stuff to get you under way. 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.

First, here is a short reading list to get you started. We've narrowed it down to two books that we recommend for all our students.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Animation Jobs - Where Are They?

How do you keep on top of the latest jobs in the animation industry?

Remember, animation jobs go fast, and you need to keep an eye on the right websites and Twitter feeds.

Cartoon Brew is one of the sites you should check regularly, as well as animated Nowadays graduates need to focus more time and effort than ever in the course of finding that elusive first job in the industry, and part of this involves keeping an eye closely on the jobs advertised online.