Tuesday, 24 April 2018

How to Animate a "Two Shot"

Squirrels by Henry Fenwick
Animating two characters acting is, obviously, more complex than animating one.

One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators when they animate two characters interacting is to forget that the audience can only look at one thing at a time.

The basic rule is when animating two characters is to keep it simple, and try to avoid having too much happening at once.

Monday, 23 April 2018

How to Create a Face Camera in Maya


We recommend always creating a Face Camera when you animate characters in Maya. The reason for this is that you don't want to keep having to zoom in on your character in the viewport to find the facial controls. Constant zooming in and out will slow down your workflow and, worse of all, encourages the animator to neglect the facial expressions altogether. Good facial expressions are crucial to making good animation, because it's how we know what the character is thinking and feeling. And without an emotional underpinning, your audience won't connect to your animation.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Locksmith Animation Opens in Primrose Hill

Sarah Smith, Elizabeth Murdoch, Julie Lockhart
Good news for the London animation industry; the long awaited Locksmith animation studio, first announced back in 2014,  has opened its new premises in Primrose Hill, housing up to 70 artists.

Locksmith is backed by London VFX house Double Negative, and also supported by entrepreneur Elizabeth Murdoch.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Ross Anderson Pulls a Rabbit out of a Hat

Canadian author and animation historian Ross Anderson is putting the finishing touches on his forthcoming book - Pulling a Rabbit Out of a HatThe Story Behind the Making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Ross's book aims to be the definitive story of the ground-breaking film which I, along with with many others, was lucky enough to have worked on back in the late 1980s.

Almost everyone who worked on the film now knows Ross - his many recent visits to London included trips to the pubs where we used to drink after hours, and Ross interviewed many, many people who worked on the film to tell the story as accurately as possible.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Graduation Day 4 September 2018

Graduation Day 2017
Graduation Day is coming. Our newest MA animation graduates will attend graduation day at Buckinghamshire New University in High Wycombe, on Tuesday 4th September at 2.30pm.

On that day, Bucks will welcome all the online MA graduates to come and celebrate their achievement.

Of course, the event is something of a formality - no-one actually has to turn up, but we hope that many of our online animation students will come and celebrate their achievement - graduating as Masters of Arts on the world's first online MA in Animation.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Where are the Games Jobs?

Check out the excellent Gamesmith Dev Map of games development studios (and therefore games jobs) around the world. It's a great starting point for anyone looking to apply for work as an animator in the rapidly expanding games industry.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Blue Zoo Summer Internships Now Open

Applications for Blue Zoo's summer internships are now open. These 6-8 week paid placements in animation, storyboarding and visual development are described by Blue Zoo as "like a real job but without the demands & expectations, allowing participants to develop and learn how a big animation studio works and real projects are run".

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Thumbnailing Baloo by Frank Thomas



Continuing this weeks' theme on the making of animation thumbnails, in the video above I show how Frank Thomas thumbnailed a shot from The Jungle Book, way back in the 1960s. Frank Thomas was one of the greatest Disney animators, one of Disney's so-called "Nine Old Men" (the studio's animation elite), and the system of using thumbnail sketches to plan your animation hasn't changed a lot since then.  The trick is to create a plan for your animation so that, long before you start creating poses in Maya, you already have the shot figured out in your head.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Thumbnailing Boog from "Open Season"



Learning to thumbnail animation is one of the hardest skills for junior animators to master, especially if they are not comfortable with drawing. But being able to do rough thumbnail sketches is an important part of the animator's toolkit, and in the video above I demonstrate how I approached thumbnailing a shot I animated on "Open Season". The trick is to create a plan for your animation so that, long before you start creating poses in Maya, you already have the shot figured out in your head.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Weight Lift by Olavo Lins



One of the hardest things to achieve in 3D animation is the creation a sense of weight.  Weight is hard to simulate because our characters are just pixels - they have no intrinsic weight, so we have to create it from nothing. This means understanding how our bodies move, how the physics works, and knowing where the weight is at any given point during any given action. It's also important to create a sense of fun and entertainment around the shot, so that it isn't just a technical exercise. In this weight lift exercise above, Animation Apprentice student Olavo Lins shows how it's done.  Congratulations to Olavo on an excellent piece of work.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Why Animators Should Always Take Two Steps

One of the most common mistakes by junior animators is to animate a character taking just one step.

The reason this doesn't work only becomes clear if you try doing it. Take a single step and...guess what...you'll take a second step.

The fact is that everyone takes two steps.  Life is like a dance, we are constantly using our bodies in a one-two one-two motion. It's tempting to animate a character taking a single step because it seems to make sense. After all, so much of what we do with our bodies is automatic; done without thinking. But, if you try taking a single step, you'll quickly realise why you need a second catch-up step to maintain your balance.

The reason this matters is because, as animators, we need to make our work feel lifelike and believable. If we don't get it right, it feels weird, and the audience will notice.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Why Eye Direction Matters

Characters must look at one another
One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators (and sometimes senior ones) is to animate characters who aren't really looking at each other.

Eye direction is a tricky thing to get right, but it's vital that your characters need to engage with one another - and this means looking in the right direction, at the other character's eyes.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Free Rigging webinar Tonight at 7pm

Mike Davies - the man who rigged Smaug
Rigging Supremo Mike Davies, veteran rigger whose film credits include The Hobbit and The Minions, is hosting a free webinar on the art of rigging tonight, Thursday 8 March at 7pm.

If you're interested in learning rigging, be sure to sign up for this free webinar hosted by London's Escape Studios.

If you'd like to register (it is completely free), follow the link here to sign up.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Why Animators Need to Blink

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

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Everything Comes From The Core

Everything comes from the core
For animators, everything comes from the core. When you create motion, it should always come from the core of the character's body, usually the hips, often known as the Root Control, or COG (centre of gravity control).

When a character turns their head, you might not think this motion comes from their core, but in fact it does, and you need to make sure that the action is motivated from the character's core, else the motion will feel robotic. 

Thursday, 22 February 2018

The Making of Paddington Two

One of the best animation talks at the recent VFX festival in London  was the presentation by Framestore on the making of Paddington 2.

Lead animator Liam Russell presented breakdowns of several key sequences in the film, including the excellent prison sequence, and the hyper-kinetic train sequence at the end of the movie.

He also gave some great tips on what kind of animation demo reels Framestore looks for - scroll down to the bottom to find his personal take on this always-important subject.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Why Animators Need to Show Their Work

One of the hardest skills for animation students to learn is how give and receive 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.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Aaron Hartline Explains the Line of Action

Aaron Hartline
Pixar animator Aaron Hartline was in London last week, giving a talk at the VFX Festival in Shoreditch.

Later that day, Aaron gave a great talk at Escape Studios in Shepherd's Bush about some of the important principles of animation, including the Line of Action - a concept first developed by Disney animator Preston Blair, who published one of the first practical books on learning animation back in the 1950s.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Free Storyboard Masterclass on Feb 22nd

Francesca "Chess" Adams
On Thursday February 22nd Escape Studios in London is hosting Blue Zoo storyboard artist Francesca "Chess" Adams, who will be talking about her work as a storyboard artist on TV series such as "Digby Dragon"

Storyboarding is one of the most interesting parts of the pre-production process. It's where drawing meets storytelling.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Mini Iron Giant Reunion in London Last Week

Barry O'Donoghue, me, Mike Nguyen and Sydney Padua
Last week we had a mini Iron Giant reunion; Mike Nguyen (who animated lots of great shots of Hogarth) was visiting London from Korea, via Ireland, where he has been working with Producer Barry O'Donoghue on "Little Caribou", an independent feature film that I personally can't wait to see on the big screen.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Get Ready for March 5th Spring Class

The book all animators need
Our next class at Animation Apprentice starts on 5th March. We're excited to welcome new students on their animation journey; junior animators are still very much in demand, especially in our home town of London, and my inbox is full of requests from studios for fresh talent.

So, how to get ready for March 5th? It's always good to do a little preparation and get a bit of a head start.