Thursday, 31 December 2020

Best Rigs for Animation in Maya

Morpheus - endlessly flexible
What are the best rigs to use when creating your own animation in Maya?

There are many excellent free rigs and sets provided by Maya enthusiasts for student use, and many others available for just a few dollars. 

So what are the very best freeware rigs, and how can you find them?  Below is a list of some of the best, and how to get the best out of them.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Why Animators Need to Storyboard

Storyboard by Anastasia Gurova
One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators is to have too many cuts, and for relatively simple exercises to become overly complex with multiple cuts and camera moves.

The trick in the beginning is to keep it simple. If you do want to cut, or move the camera, it is important to do a rough storyboard first so that you figure out well in advance what the best shot structure is. 

Should you start with a close-up? Or a wide shot? sketch it out in advance, and figure out what the shot order should be.  Best of all - keep the camera still, and don't cut. 
 

Friday, 18 December 2020

How Monty's Eyebrows Work


How do you animate Monty's eyebrows? 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 Raveen Rajadorai, and free for download at CreativeCrash.com.  Monty's brow controllers are Nurbs surfaces. If you tick Nurbs Surfaces under the Show tab in your Viewport, the brow controls will pop up as five small spheres running across his forehead.  You can individually select and rotate them to get various brow expressions.  Watch the short video above to find out how Monty works. For more on how to use Monty, read this blog post

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Charlie & Yip Wins Best Trailer at Dreamachine

I'm delighted to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won another festival award -  Best Trailer at the Dreamachine International Film Festival.  

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

The short is really a teaser/trailer for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

New Year Classroom Starts 4 Jan 2021

Alien animation by Jeton Lakna
Our New Year classroom is now taking applications, and the new class begins on Monday 4 January 2021.

It's not too late to book a place; all you need to do is visit the main Animation Apprentice site and go through a few simple steps.

If you want to learn 3D animation to a professional level, and start your new career as an animator - your journey starts here.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Charlie & Yip Best Animation at Krampusnacht

My short film "Charlie and Yip" has won another festival award -  Best Animation at the Krampusnacht Freeky Film Festival.  

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

The short is really a teaser/trailer for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development. 

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Belgis Al-Mahdiova Animator at TikTokRobot

Many congratulations to Belgis Al-Mahdiova who has landed a job as an animator at TikTokRobot, a UK animation studio.

Belgis took our 30 week course at Animation Apprentice, developed her demo reel, and then applied for positions as an animator. 

Belgis also attended industry events in London, learning from animation professionals and building up her own network.

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Victoria Bailey Releases "Turtley in Love"

Many congratulations to Animation Apprentice graduate Victoria Bailey, who has just published her new book: "Turtley In Love", a short animated story for children.

"Turtley In Love" was written and animated by Victoria through her new publishing venture Wonky Pictures.

Join Tommy the Turtle as he battles the elements and journeys through the unknown in his quest to find Celia, his one true turtle love.

Monday, 30 November 2020

How Long Should a Demo Reel Be?


How long should a demo reel be? This is a question I often get asked at Animation Apprentice. The simple answer to the question is, for a student reel, "about 30 seconds to a minute". But there is a longer answer, which is a little more complicated.  A demo reel is the single most important means of landing that crucial first job in the animation industry, so it's important to get it right. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

How to Fix a Floaty Walk Cycle

How do you fix a floaty walk cycle? Walk cycles tend to be floaty because junior animators often (make that usually) forget to add the "squash" or "down" position in which both feet are bearing the weight of the body. It's an easy mistake to make, especially if you are animating a walk "on the spot", on an imaginary treadmill, where the character's body stays still and the feet travel backwards.  In this ten minute video I show exactly what the problem is, and how to solve it. The solution is simple - but only when you know how to fix it. 

Sunday, 22 November 2020

How Much Do You Charge Your First Client?

 

One of the most common questions I get asked at Animation Apprentice by students and recent graduates is this: "What should I charge for my first freelance job?".  First of all - congratulations! You have your first client. Now you have to figure out the scope of the work, and how much to charge.  Generally, at the start of your career, you want to keep your rates as low as possible. Work as cheaply as you can afford to in the beginning, do a good job - and your clients will come back for more. Before you know it, you'll be building up a portfolio career as a freelance animator.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

How to Solve Technical Problems


Why doesn't it work? Technical problems are the bane of the animator's life - but inevitable whenever you are working with tech tools. In the video above I explain the best approach to solving technical problems; the secret is to get help, but make sure you ask the right questions, and provide the maximum amount of information so that others can help you. Below is a list of solutions to some frequently-encountered technical difficulties.  Remember that every technical problem, no matter how infuriating, has a solution. You are not the first person to face the problem - there is an answer out there somewhere. 

Friday, 20 November 2020

Live Action Reference with Pernille


A while back I was teaching a class at The Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark, one of Europe's best animation schools. Students are required to film themselves acting out a shot and then use the acting as reference for the animation. One of the best examples was this shot animated by Pernille Flyvholm.  Like all the students, Pernille filmed herself acting out the shot, filming multiple takes until she got it just right. The live action has some great detail in it - such as the little flip of the phone in the character's hand - an authentic detail that makes the acting feel believable. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Angelo Garrizone Animation Intern at King Bee

Angelo Garizzone
Many Congratulations to Animation Apprentice graduate Angelo Garrizone who has recently landed an animation internship with King Bee animation, based at the historic Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, just outside of London.

King Bee have worked on many animation projects, including music videos and TV series. They use Maya, Flash and Photoshop to do much of their work.

Angelo worked hard at building an animation demo reel, and also had to complete a test in Adobe Animate in order to secure the position.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Lee Caller "Special Mention" Award at ANSFF

"Jelly Cars": Special Mention at ANSFF
Animation Apprentice is proud to congratulate Lee Caller whose short film Jelly Cars has won a "Special Mention" Award at the Arte Non Stop Film Festival in Argentina. 

This is the second award for Jelly Cars; earlier this year the short won a "Five Stars" Award at the British International Amateur Film Festival.  Lee graduated from Animation Apprentice several years ago and now teaches animation at Escape Studios in London. 

Friday, 13 November 2020

How Feedback Works at Animation Apprentice

 

How do students get feedback at Animation Apprentice? I personally tutor all my students, who receive a weekly bespoke feedback tutorial on their work, showing how to fix mistakes and how to make it better.  In addition, we have a Facebook classroom where students post their work, receive positive feedback, and give creative criticism to others.  Being able to take criticism ("notes" in the industry) is part of the process of creating great animation. When you first show your work to a client, they will have comments, and they won't always love your first efforts. Whether you're working at a studio, or doing private client work, or just working on your own personal work, animators need to learn to incorporate criticism in order to make your work the best it can be.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Charlie & Yip Nominated Best Trailer Bucharest

I am pleased to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won an award nomination for Best Trailer at the Bucharest Film Festival.   Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

The short is really a teaser/trailer for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development.  Recently it won the "Scream Award" at the Berlin Flash Film Festival, Best Animation at the Flicks Film Festival in London,  Best Trailer at the Changing Face International's Film Festival (CFIFF) in Australia, "Best Trailer" at the Lisbon Monthly Film Festival, Best Trailer at the Halicarnassus Film Festival, and Best Film at the Film One Film Fest in July.

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Nine Questions to Ask Your Client


What questions should you ask a client when you start work on your first freelance job? Most projects start off full of optimism and excitement, but there is always a risk of things going wrong.  It's worth asking the right questions up front, to ensure that the job goes smoothly and well, and your happy client comes back for more. In this video I explain about the Nine key questions to ask your client before you get started.

Friday, 6 November 2020

Why Walk Cycles Need Sine Waves

Sine wave in Maya's Graph Editor
Animators like sine waves. Not because we are good at maths (it was my worst subject at school) but because in 3D animation, a sine wave typically shows that your animation is smooth and flowing, without bumps or mistakes.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Why Rejection is Information


In this short video, I explain why animators should not be discouraged by rejection. Not getting a job is always frustrating, but you should never be downhearted. Instead, consider why you didn't get the job, and ask what you can do better next time. Better yet, ask the company why you didn't get it; they are very likely to tell you (few bother to ask), and the information they give you can be very valuable. For example, they might be looking for expertise in a certain kind of software, in which case - download the trial version and start learning. Or, perhaps, they just weren't hiring after all - in which case you can re-apply. Whatever the reason, being rejected is never a reason to give up. The information you gain will help you to keep persisting until you land that crucial first job in the industry. 

Friday, 30 October 2020

Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)

What is the best free screen recording software? For Mac users, Quick Time offers a simple and free solution. 

Another excellent option is the Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), which is free and highly effective. OBS is easy to install and free to use, for Windows and Mac devices.

Thursday, 29 October 2020

"Charlie and Yip" Wins "Scream Award" in Berlin

I am pleased to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won the "Scream Award" at the Berlin Flash Film Festival

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

The short is really a teaser/trailer for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development.  Recently the short Best Animation at the Flicks Film Festival in London, Best Trailer at the Changing Face International's Film Festival (CFIFF) in Australia, "Best Trailer" at the Lisbon Monthly Film Festival, Best Trailer at the Halicarnassus Film Festival, and Best Film at the Film One Film Fest in July.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Last Call For Our November Class!

Robot photobash by Joe Gamble
Last call for our November Class, which begins on Monday 3 November 2020.

It's not too late to book a place (but you'll have to hurry); all you need to do is visit the main Animation Apprentice site and go through a few simple steps.

If you want to learn 3D animation to a professional level, and start your new career as an animator - your journey starts here.

Monday, 26 October 2020

"Charlie and Yip" Best Animation at Flicks

I am pleased to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won Best Animation at the Flicks Film Festival in London

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

The short is really a teaser/trailer for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development.  Recently the short won Best Trailer at the Changing Face International's Film Festival (CFIFF) in Australia, "Best Trailer" at the Lisbon Monthly Film Festival, Best Trailer at the Halicarnassus Film Festival, and Best Film at the Film One Film Fest in July.

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Animation Apprentice Autodesk Authorised

We are delighted to announce that Animation Apprentice has recently been confirmed by Autodesk as an Authorised School, meaning that our students can download their free education license for Maya. 

For newcomers to the animation industry, it's important to remember that Autodesk, who make the software Maya, offer an education copy of Maya for free, which can be downloaded from the official Autodesk site.

Autodesk Maya has been the dominant software package in 3D animation for over 20 years. I first used Maya 1.0 on "The Iron Giant", back in 1998.  And today it remains the most powerful package for the creation of 3D animation, widely used in industry.

Friday, 23 October 2020

Young Cartoonists of the Year Competition 2020

The Young Cartoonists of the Year Competition is back. 

Hosted by the Cartoon Museum, which has at last re-opened after its long Covid-19-slumber, the annual competition seeks to reward rising cartoon talent. 

Judges include leading cartoonists such as Martin Rowson (The Guardian), Christian Adams (Evening Standard), Banx (FT), Peter Brookes (The Times), Nick Newman (Private Eye), and Matt from the Daily Telegraph. 

If you can think of a more eminent list of cartoonists, I'd like to see it. 

There are two categories: Under 18 and Under 30; the deadline is 23 November 2020, and entries should be mailed in (old school Royal Mail) to the Cartoon Museum.  

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Charlie & Yip Best Super Short at UK Film Fest

"Best Super Short" at UK Film Fest
I am delighted to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won "Best Super Short" at the UK Monthly Film Festival in London in August/September. 

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Using Live Action Reference for Animation

Live Action Ref by Eilin Berrio Pena
One of the skills that junior animators must master is how to use live action reference to inform their animation.

When you go and watch a Pixar or Disney movie, you see animation, not live action. But there is plenty of live action there - it's just behind the scenes. Animators typically film themselves acting out their shot, and then use that reference to create animation. Below is an example from two students, Eilin Berrio Pena and Paloma Zhu, showing how they filmed live action reference to enter the monthly 11 Second Club Competition. 

Monday, 19 October 2020

The Secret of Animating Lipsync



Above is a short video on how to animate lipsync, showing how to keep the process as simple as possible.  The idea is 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.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Webinar with Emmy-Award-Winning Rich Jeffery on 26 October at 10am

Rich Jeffrey
One of my former students, animator Rich Jeffery has kindly agreed to an animation webinar on Monday 26 October at 10am

Rich will be talking about his career in animation, what it has been like working on the Australian TV series "Bluey" , which won an International Emmy at the 8th International Emmy Kids Awards this year. 

Rich was animation director on "Bluey" Series One, and director on the Series Two. Rich will be sharing his insights into the animation industry, how we got where he is today, and what students and graduates need to do to succeed.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Why Animators Should Keep it Short

One of the most common mistakes made by student animators is to bite off more than you can chew. When it comes to short films, or acting shots - or any piece of animation, it's very easy to be too ambitious. 

It is almost always much better to do a great job on a short piece of animation than to struggle to complete something long and complex.

Animation takes a long time to get right, so allow yourself the luxury of being able to add all the bells and whistles and still make your deadline. Keep it short and sweet. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Why Animators Have Too Many Cuts

One of the many challenges faced by junior animators is where to put the camera. At its simplest, a camera can be stationary, watching the character's performance unfold. There isn't any need to cut from one angle to another. 

However, when we start to storyboard and thumbnail our work, it is often tempting to jump from one camera view to another - from wide shots, to close-ups, and then to mid shots - anything but holding the camera steady. 

The trouble with this approach is that multiple cuts can become hard to control, and the resulting performance becomes overly complicated and unnecessarily disjointed. 

Friday, 9 October 2020

The Cobbler Escapes from His Cell


Above is a shot that I animated on "The Thief and the Cobbler". It is a useful example of how to use live action reference to creating animation. This shot was animated in around 1991, and to get it right I filmed myself acting it out, using an old-fashioned video camera on a tripod, mounted near the ground to get the right camera angle. Then, I played back the footage frame by frame on the VCR, tracing over the key poses with a blue pencil on a piece of paper pressed against the glass of the TV screen, anchored with some peg bars. By doing this I was able to figure out all the key poses, and make sure the weight shifts were believable and based on real reference. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Stanislavski's 7 Questions for Actors & Animators

Constantin Stanislavski
Recently some of my students have been preparing for this month's 11 Second Club Competition. This month's line of dialogue is very short, just a woman's voice saying "what's happening?". 

The rest of the eleven second clip is made up of sound effects - the spooky sound of a siren wailing and distant rain.

All this makes for a very open brief - the scene could be about almost anything, and this permits a great deal of flexibility and creativity.

An open brief can be a good thing - it allows for plenty of invention, but it also presents a challenge - what is the scene really about?  And how do we interpret it?

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Get Ready For Our November Class

Alien animation by Jeton Lakna
Our next classroom is now taking applications, and the new class begins on Monday 3 November 2020.

It's not too late to book a place; all you need to do is visit the main Animation Apprentice site and go through a few simple steps.

If you want to learn 3D animation to a professional level, and start your new career as an animator - your journey starts here.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

"Charlie & Yip" Wins Best Trailer at CFIFF

"Charlie & Yip" - winner at CFIFF
I am delighted to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won 

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

The short is really a teaser/trailer for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development.  Recently the short won "Best Trailer" at the Lisbon Monthly Film Festival, Best Trailer at the Halicarnassus Film Festival, and Best Film at the Film One Film Fest in July.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Moon Rockz Wins "Best Sci-Fi" at Flicks

We are delighted to announce that the short film "Moon Rockz", written and directed by Molly Babington, has won an award for "Best Sci-Fi" at the Flicks Film Festival.

"Moon Rockz" was a collaboration between students at Animation Apprentice and Escape Studios, involving Animation Apprentice students Jonathan Humphries and Matt Neputin.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Do Animated Characters Need to Blink?

When do we blink?
One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators is to forget to add blinks on their characters, especially on a head turn. Everybody blinks, a lot. But since we do it without noticing, we're not really aware of it.

In the video below, I explain why it is that characters need to blink much more often than you might think.  Our eyelids act much like the shutter of a camera, cutting on motion and editing out everything but the important information that we actually need to see.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Why Animators Must Fail Upwards

Animators are made, not born.  All of us are likely fail in most of the things that we do, at least at first.  The key to success is to keep at it, and  fail faster.

Great animation doesn't emerge fully formed, it needs to be tweaked, revised and perfected. When you see a Pixar or Disney film, you see the finished, polished result - you don't see the pain the animator went through along the way.

Everything we do can be done better. If you don't keep trying, and practicing, and getting feedback, you will never create anything good.  Your animation does not have to be perfect; you just have to get on with it and keep practicing your craft.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Is 2D Animation Making a Comeback?



Is 2D Animation Making a Comeback? It's a question I get asked a great deal. It seems that in recent years the answer to the question is - at last - "yes".  2D Animation is booming all around the world, with studios such as Blue Zoo animation in London setting up a whole new 2D Animation division, using Toomboom Harmony for their pipeline. Nonetheless, in the end, it's all about getting the right skills. To be a successful animator, you need to learn how to animate.

Friday, 11 September 2020

"Charlie & Yip" Best Super Short Lisbon Film Fest

"Charlie & Yip" wins Best Super Short at the Lisbon Film Fest
I am pleased to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won "Best Trailer" at the Lisbon Monthly Film Festival.

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

The short is really a teaser/trailer for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development.  Recently the short won Best Trailer at the Halicarnassus Film Festival, and Best Film at the Film One Film Fest in July.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

When (If Ever) Should Animators Work For Free?


When, if ever, should animation artists work for free? This is a controversial issue and a subject on which many people in our industry have strong feelings. Students and graduates do of course often work for free, taking work experience, unpaid jobs or internships which do not pay actual money, but which offer training in the industry and real-world experience of what the world of work is like. But it's also important to value your own time, avoid being exploited, and earn enough money to avoid going broke. So, when, exactly, should animators work for free?

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Do Animators Need to Draw?



In the old days of hand-drawn animation, life drawing was an essential skill for animators. Today, 3D animation is a blend of creative and technical skills, and life drawing is less important than it used to be.  However, it still helps to be able to draw to a basic level of skill, especially for creating thumbnail sketches which can be used to plan animation.  Nowadays there are many opportunities to learn animation online, at sites such as Pixelovely and Proko. You can also draw friends and family - models don't need to be nude, and gesture drawing clothed models is just as useful for animation, and in some ways more practical, as most animated characters tend to be wearing clothing.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

30 Week Course or MA - Which is Best?



One of the most common questions I get asked at Animation Apprentice is this: Should I take the 30 Week Course in 3D Animation, or do the Masters' Degree in partnership with Bucks New University? - Which is Best? The answer, of course, is that it depends on what you want to do.  If you want to be trained to be a 3D animator, and find work in the industry, you don't really need any letters after your name. But if you have an ambition to teach animation, especially in higher education, then you should do the MA. Watch the video above to find out more.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

How to Find an Internship in Animation



How do you find an internship in the animation industry? It's a question we often get asked here at Animation Apprentice. Internships can be an important stepping stone to a career in animation. If an internship goes well, it might lead to a job, and even if it doesn't, it still looks good on a graduate CV. Finding an internship is a lot like finding a job, though perhaps a little harder in some ways. Watch the short video above to see how to go about it.

Friday, 4 September 2020

Copyright Law for Artists & Animators



One common area of confusion for artists, including animators, is copyright law. What does copyright mean? How does it come about? What do terms like "public domain" mean? Many of these terms are commonly misunderstood, and copyright law forms part of a complex system of global laws which vary from one country to another. Fortunately, the basics of copyright law are easy to understand. Watch the short video about for a basic introduction to copyright law, and how it works for animators.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

"Charlie & Yip" Wins Best Trailer at Halicarnassus

I'm proud to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won "Best Trailer" at the Halicarnassus Film Festival.

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea.

The short is really a teaser/trailer for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Creating a Great Demo Reel



How do animators create a great demo reel? And what goes into a great demo reel? Putting together a professional-quality animation reel is the ultimate goal for all of our students here at Animation Apprentice. It is the principle means by which our graduates find work in the industry. In this short video I suggest that there are seven key rules for success.

Monday, 31 August 2020

Working on "The Thief & The Cobbler"



One of my subscribers at my YouTube channel recently asked me what it was like working on "The Thief & The Cobbler" - the almost-completed animation classic sometimes described as "the greatest animated film never made".  I could write a book on the subject - and there is a very useful Wikipedia page on The Thief which explains in detail what happened to the film. Above is a short video giving my personal take on working on the film - which was one of the best experiences of my career in animation.

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Dominic Rayner at Immersive VR Education

Dominic Rayner
Many congratulations to Animation Apprentice graduate Dominic Rayner who is working as Senior Animator at Immersive VR Education.

Immersive VR Education is a virtual and augmented reality company working in the field of training and education, based in Waterford City, Ireland.

Dominic is based in the UK, working remotely from England, where he has built a complete home office from where he is able to work for global clients.

Dominic's career is an example of the importance of flexible working in the post-Corona economy. The animation industry continues to thrive, but animators must be flexible and be prepared to work from home, managing their own tech support and working with their own equipment.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Why Animators Need To "Hit The Accent"

Hitting an accent - Animator's Survival Kit
Animators need to "hit the accents" in a line of dialogue.

By "accents", we're not talking here about a regional accent - say a Scottish or Welsh accent - we're talking about making it clear in the poses that the character is speaking the line of dialogue.

In this case an "accent" is the part of the line of dialogue that has emphasis, and need to be punctuated. Take a look at the example from the Animator's Survival Kit above and left.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Why Animators Need to Post at Facebook




Why do animators need Facebook? Because as a student animator, you need to be able and willing to show your work, and you need to learn not to mind about taking criticism.  We all tend to be shy about our work, especially when we are learning something new, and, when our work is criticised, that criticism can feel very personal. Learning to take criticism is one of the most important skills a student animator can learn.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Why Animators Still Need Life Drawing

Fast sketches to capture a pose
In the old 2D days, life drawing was an essential skill for animators. Today, 3D animation is a blend of creative and technical skills, and life drawing is less important than it used to be.

However, it still helps to be able to draw to a basic level of skill, especially for creating thumbnail sketches which can be used to plan animation.

Nowadays there are many opportunities to learn animation online, at sites such as pixelovely and promo. You can also draw friends and family - models don't need to be nude, and gesture drawing clothed models is just as useful for animation, and in some ways more practical, as most animated characters tend to be wearing clothing.

So, how do animators learn the basics of life drawing?

Monday, 24 August 2020

Why Don't Animation Graduates Find Work?



What is the Number One Reason why animation graduates don't find work in the animation industry? It isn't Corona Virus, it isn't that their demo reel isn't ready, and it isn't that they are not good enough or sufficiently qualified to find work. In fact, the No 1 reason why animation graduates don't find work in their chosen field is....watch the short video above to find out.

Sunday, 23 August 2020

The Importance of Being on LinkedIn




How do animation graduates break into the industry? At the VIEW conference in Turin last year I was invited onto a recruitment panel hosted by New York's School of Visual Arts, hosted by SVA's Director of Career Development Angie Wojak.  Also on the panel was the recruiter Tiffany Feeney of Talent Outpost, an independent recruitment agency based in Switzerland.  Tiffany's big message to recent graduates looking for work?  "Be on Linkedin".

Friday, 21 August 2020

Animating "Ruber" on "Quest For Camelot"



One of my YouTube subscribers recently asked me to talk about what it was like animating "Ruber" on "Quest For Camelot".  I worked on "Ruber" on "Quest" back in the late 1990s, when the animation industry was booming, and there was a lot of optimism about the future of 2D animation. "Quest" was a great experience for me; I got to be a lead animator on the villain, which was a big role, and a really fun one to do. Plus, I got to work with Gary Oldman, and I was even invited to draw him delivering the lines in the recording booth - drawings which I was later able to use for key poses in the scenes I animated.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Animation Jobs and Corona Virus



Corona has cost many jobs across the globe, with plenty more layoffs still to come. However, the animation industry continues to thrive, so our message to all our students and recent graduates is a positive one - there are opportunities out there, for those who are diligent in the search for work, and can take advantage of the new remote-working economy. The animation industry is growing, because animation can be done remotely, and the world is still hungry for fresh animation content. Corona is costing many people their jobs, but it is also creating opportunities for animators who can work remotely and flexibly.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

How to Find Work in the Animation Industry



How do you find work in the animation industry? First of all, don't be too worried by Covid-19.  The virus has certainly changed the jobs landscape, but the good news is that animation continues to flourish. Unlike live action filming, animation can be done remotely, and there is a large and growing demand for fresh animation content.  Here in the UK, many animation studios are still actively looking for talent.  Remote working is booming - consider the case of one of my former students, Daniel Baidoo, who is working from home in Malta for an Italian Animation Studio on a British TV Series.  Truly, animation has become a global business.

Monday, 17 August 2020

Webinar: Animation Writer Evgenia Golubeva



Last week I interviewed one of my former students, Evgenia Gurova, who has become a successful writer at Disney Animation.  Evgenia is an award-winning animator, writer and director; she has also forged a career as a writer and independent film-maker, entering her animated films in festivals around the world and winning international prizes for her work. For anyone who missed the live event, watch the video above to find out more about Evgenia and her remarkable career.

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Why Animators Need Treadmills for Walk Cycles



Animating walk cycles can be tricky; it can be especially troublesome to get the character's feet moving backwards at a steady speed, without bumps or wobbles. This is especially true for animators animating a walk cycle "on the spot", where the body stays in place but the feet move backwards underneath the body. To help solve the problem, it makes a lot of sense to import a treadmill into the shot. The treadmill helps to clarify the mechanics of shot, and allows the animator to visualise what is going on when the feet travel backwards.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Why Animators Need Thumbnail Sketches

The secret of good animation is in the planning, and good animators always plan their work.

The single most important skill that animators learn at Animation Apprentice is how to develop a reliable workflow for animation, so that our students can tackle any animation task with confidence.

One of the key tools our students learn is how to thumbnail their work. Thumbnail sketches are quick, expressive, simple drawings that are used to plan the action and tell the story of the shot in a few simple clear poses.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Why Animators Always Create a Shot Camera


One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators is to forget to create a shot camera, or to delay creating one until it's too late. If you were on a live action set, one of the first things you would do is set up your camera and decide what the shot was going to look like. But in Maya, because we get a Perspective View for free, animators often forget to create a shot camera. This is a mistake - watch the video above to find out why.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Webinar with Disney Writer Evgenia Golubeva

Evgenia Golubeva
Join me on 13th August at Noon for an animation webinar with Evgenia Golubeva, one of my former students, who is now a writer at Disney Animation.

In this free webinar I'll be asking Evgenia some questions about her remarkable career in animation.

Evgenia is an award-winning animator, writer and director who is currently working as a writer at Walt Disney Animation in London.

Evgenia took my animation course, and has since forged a career as a writer and independent film-maker, entering her animated films in festivals around the world and winning international prizes for her work. You can sign up for the webinar here.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

How Much Should I Charge for a Freelance Job?

One of the most common questions I get asked at Animation Apprentice by recent graduates is this: "What should I charge for my first freelance job?".

First of all - congratulations! You have your first client. Now you have to figure out the scope of the work, and how much to charge.

Generally, at the start of your career, you want to keep your rates as low as possible. Work as cheaply as you can afford to in the beginning, do a good job - and your clients will come back for more. Before you know it, you'll be building up a portfolio career as a freelance animator.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Charlie & Yip Best Film at Film One Fest

Here at Animation Apprentice we're proud to announce that my short film "Charlie and Yip" has won "Best Animation" at the Film One Fest.

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea. It's a really a teaser for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Bonus Week - Performance Capture

We've added a new video tutorial demonstrating the use of motion capture in animation, showing animators how to take a character with motion capture data and clean it up to create polished animation.

Performance Capture, or Motion Capture, (or "MoCap"), is a growing part of the animation industry. It's something our students need to be able to work with effectively, as many animation studios - and especially games studios - rely heavily on MoCap for their animation pipeline.

The tutorial uses the popular and dependable Norman rig, which can be downloaded free here.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

How to Block Out a Pantomime Shot

Pantomime Animation with Kayla by Joris Van Laar
How do you block out and plan a pantomime animation - an animated scene without dialogue? The trick with animation is to plan it out thoroughly in advance.

In the case of pantomime animation, we teach a workflow that is reliable and dependable, one which will get your shots approved on time, with minimal aggravation.

The secret of success lies, as ever, in the planning. Plan your work properly and you won't go wrong.

Monday, 13 July 2020

"Meet the Scottish Studios" on July 23rd

The Scottish animation industry is hiring - so it's time find out about job opportunities north of the border.

Animated Women UK are hosting a free online event for recent graduates titled "Meet the Studios", featuring representatives of some of Scotland's most successful animation studios, including Axis, SellOut and Wild Child.  The event takes place online on Thursday July 23rd from 3-5pm.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Oliver Canovas Animator on "Hat Shop"

Oliver Canovas is one of our student animators at Animation Apprentice; he graduated with honours in 2019, having been awarded his MA in 3D Animation.

Oliver recently collaborated with a student film project at Escape Studios, working on the short film "Hat Shop", written and directed by MA student Stevie Stedman.

"Hat Shop" is a short story set in a futuristic robotic world, and was completed entirely under Lockdown, working remotely from home. "Hat Shop" is currently being entered into film festivals.

Oliver did some excellent animation on the film, gaining useful experience on working on group projects, to a defined brief, taking direction and notes, and making changes to his shots. Most studio work is collaborative, so group projects of this kind are important in developing "soft skills" and teamwork.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Mike Makarewicz "Ask Me Anything" Tonight

Mike Makarewicz
We're delighted to welcome Pixar animator Michal Makarewicz for a webinar tonight at 6pm with our animation students.

Mike is a 17 year veteran animator at Pixar Animation Studios, and Co-Founder of the Animation Collaborative in Emeryville, California.

Mike has generously agreed to give up an hour of his time to talk to our students about animation, breaking into the industry, and what it's like to work on a Pixar film. All questions are welcome.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

All About "Rig Wrecking"

Rig concepts from "Jerich0"
What is "Rig Wrecking"? Rig Wrecking, more commonly known as rig testing, is the process of testing your character rigs to make sure they can do everything you need them to do.

Sometimes known as stress testing, this process involves testing out all the controls to make sure everything works as it should, and all the geometry deforms correctly.

Rig testing is a necessary production step; it involves letting animators loose on the rig to do test animation. Skip this step and you will almost certainly find many problems cropping up during the animation stage of the production.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Introducing "Moon Rockz"

Jonathan Humphries is an animation student at Escape Studios who is due to be awarded his MA in Animation this summer.

Recently Jonathan volunteered to help out with "Moon Rockz", a short film made at Escape Studios, written and directed by Molly Babington.

"Moon Rockz" was a collaboration between students at Escape Studios and also at Animation Apprentice, involving both Jonathan Humphries and also Matt Neputin, also studying for his MA in Animation.

The film is a short story about the moon landings - as told from the Moon's point of view. It's a charming and funny film, to which our students contributed some excellent animation.

"Moon Rockz" is currently being entered into film festivals, and we wish it every success.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

"Charlie & Yip" in Neum Film Festival

My short film "Charlie and Yip" is a finalist in the Neum Animated Film Festival which runs from June 27th to July 2nd.

Charlie and Yip is a short film about a kid who takes his pet to school for Show and Tell, which turns out to be a bad idea. It's a really a teaser for my indie feature film project "My Haunted House", which is still in development.

Funding feature films isn't easy in the current business climate, but it's important to remember that, despite all the troubles caused by the Corona virus, the animation industry continues to thrive.

Even as live action shoots have been closed down around the globe, animation keeps on going, as studios have moved to a purely online business model.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Dragon Flight Tutorial

Dragon in Flight Tutorial 
We've added a new animation tutorial to our animation library, showing students how to animate a dragon in flight.

The tutorial uses the free Jaemin Dragon rig by Truong, which can be downloaded here.

The dragon flight tutorial can be found here, and is free for all our students.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Make Your Playblasts Look Like Renders




We're liking this helpful video by Wade Nedstadt, hosted at YouTube, which shows animators how to make a desktop Playblast in Maya that looks almost as good as a full rendered movie file. Wade Nedstadt tweaks the Playblast settings in Maya, and explains how to create a Maya Playblast "that doesn't have to look awful anymore". It's a neat way to avoid long, time consuming renders, and a smart way to speed up your workflow.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Why Animated Characters Need to Breathe

Keep your characters breathing
One of the most common mistakes made by student animators is to forget that characters need to breathe. Even when the character isn't moving, they still need to stay alive, and keep breathing.

Breathing is something that we do without thinking about it, rather like blinking. A good animator adds breath to his character, and keeps them alive.

The trick is to get into a pose, and stay there, but not let the character stop moving entirely. Some motion is necessary, just to keep a character alive and breathing.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Why Animators Must Check Their Hookups

Jerich0 - excellent shot continuity
Why must animators check their hookups? Animators are commonly assigned to work on single shots on a project, which means there will be another shot, animated by another animator, on either side of theirs.

These shots must play together in continuity, meaning that there must be a smooth flow from one to another. The pose of a character at the end of one shot should be the same pose in the next shot, or else the shots won't "hook up".

In animation terms, hookups are nothing to do with Tinder, or online dating. Hookups are about continuity, and on a film project it is the animator's responsibility to make sure that their shot hooks up with the shots on either side of theirs.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Audio First, Then Animation

Do the voice recording first
Audio first, then animation.  One of the rules of animation film-making is that the audio comes first, then you do the animation. The voice recording for the actors is done first of all, cut into the edit, and then the animators create their performance to match the dialogue.

Sometimes film-makers will try doing it the other way around, animating the characters first and then adding the voice-over, but this is almost always a mistake. The reason for this is that it is very hard to post-sync the dialogue.

The rule of animation film-making is always this: record your dialogue first, then do the animation.