Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Why Animators Should Do Facial Expressions 1st

Planning out animation isn't an easy process. In theory it is simple, but in practice there are many pitfalls for the unwary.  One of the most common errors made by novice animators is to leave the facial expressions until last.

You might think to yourself "I'll save time by blocking out the main poses, and then work on the facial expressions later", but the danger with this approach is that you might never get around to doing the facial expressions at all, and your animation will be lifeless and flat.

One of the early lessons I learned at Blue Sky Studios on "Robots" back in 2003 was how to block out the character's main facial expression from the very beginning, thus determining the main acting beats in the shot.

What is the character thinking and feeling? This is a choice you should make at the very start.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Why Animators Should Avoid Jump Cuts

A jump cut
What is a jump cut? and why should animators try to avoid them?

A jump cut is a cut in film editing in which two sequential shots of the same subject are taken from camera positions that are almost the same.  The result of the cut is to "jump" from one shot to another, in a way that can be disconcerting and can take the viewer out of the story.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Download Paragon Assets Free

Paragon from Epic Games
Epic Games and Unreal Engine have released their "Paragon" online assets for free. Any student at Animation Apprentice who wants to use these photo-real characters in their projects can use "$12 million worth of assets" for no charge.

The online game Paragon was cancelled in March last year. Developer Epic Games (owners of Unreal Engine) announced that they would release all $12,000,000 worth of game assets for free use by anyone working with the Unreal Engine 4, via the Unreal Engine Marketplace.

The first wave of released content included 20 characters, with their respective skins, animations, VFX and dialogue, along with over 1,500 environment components.  To find the Paragon assets online, follow this link.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

DJV View - Frame by Frame Playback

Animators need to be able to play back their shots frame by frame, in order to analyse what needs fixing. One very useful (free, and open source) tool for previewing image sequences is Djv. You can find Djv at Djv Djv runs on all the major platforms and is easy to use, though it has one big drawback - no audio.  

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Online MA at Bucks New University

"School Run" by MA student Lee Caller
Animation Apprentice and Buckinghamshire New University are now taking applications through UCAS for the September 2019 intake of our part-time online MA in 3D animation.

The online MA 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.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Why Animators Should Never Cross The Line

The 180 Degree Rule. Wikimedia
What is "Crossing the Line?", and why should animators never (or, almost never) cross it?

"Crossing the Line" is also known as the 180-degree rule, and it is one of the fundamental rules of cinematography.

Like most rules of film-making, the only way to really understand the 180 Degree Rule is to break it, figure out what went wrong - and then work out how to fix it next time.

Let's say you have a shot with two characters talking to one another. Draw an imaginary line between the two characters. This is the "line" that we should not cross.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Film Freeway - How to Enter Film Festivals

Film Freeway is a great way for students to enter short films into international competitions.

Rather than enter your film individually into lots of different festivals, film-makers can create one upload to a single portal, and then apply through Film Freeway for as many competitions as you like.

Film Freeway has over recent years come to replace IMDB's Withoutabox, which is being discontinued and will close down in October 2019.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Why Animators Should Learn to Be the Rhino

Durer's Rhino
Why should animators be like a rhinoceros? Because rhinos have thick hides, and animators need thick hides too, because applying for work in the animation industry is not for the faint-hearted.

Even though the animation industry is booming, and there are many opportunities, searching for work can be a dispiriting process.

Once upon a time you'd get a rejection letter; nowadays the most common outcome is silence - just being (and feeling) ignored.

But it remains true that the single most common reason why animation graduates don't get jobs is a very simple one:

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Meet AZRI by Matthew Bachnick

We're liking the look of the new free AZRI Rig, a new animation rig for Maya 2018 and above, created by Matthew Bachnick.

AZRI is aimed at game animation, allowing users to achieve a high frame rate even when working on older or lower-spec machines.

The license allows for educational and non-commercial use.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Spring Class Starts 4th March 2019

Car animation by Lee Caller
Our Spring classroom starts on 4th March 2019.  You don't need to know Maya beforehand (we teach everything from scratch), but it's always a good idea to do a little preparation.

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.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Mend the Gap on Monday 4th February

Next week on Monday 4th February Film London is hosting an event in our capital city titled: Mend the Gap - a debate on animation training and employment.

There are over 100 university courses in the UK teaching animation, but few of them prepare students with the practical skills they will need to find work in industry.  Instead, many (possibly most) courses tend to focus on academic content, writing essays on animation rather than actually doing it.  As a result, many animation studios recruit entry-level talent from European animation schools, not from the UK. So what can be done to fix the problem?