Thursday, 31 December 2015

Eleven Rules to Become a Great CG Animator

Cross the finish line in style
Part of the secret of having a successful career as a 3D animator is learning how to be good and fast at the same time. Directors want quality, Producers want speed. You must please them both.

Animation producers like animators who do the job well, on time, and are a pleasure to work with.  If you have all three of these qualities - a long and successful career in the industry will be yours. Below are our top tips for animating in Maya - how to be both good and fast.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Free Rigs for Maya Animators at Animation Buffet

Animation Buffet is one of the best places to go for free rigs for animation students working in Maya.

Alongside the Resources page of the Eleven Second Club, Animation Buffet is probably your first stop to find character and creature rigs that are fully functioning, reliable - and free.

One of the pleasures of creating character and creature animation in Maya is the growing quantity of freeware produced by Maya animators all around the world. So bookmark Animation Buffet now, and start downloading and experimenting with new rigs.  Who knows, it might inspire you to do the best piece of animation you've ever done! Below are some of the rigs we particularly like:

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

UCAS Deadline - 15 January 2016

UCAS - still time to apply - but hurry!
Thinking of applying to Escape Stduos to study the Art of 3D Animation? It's not too late! The next big UCAS deadline is 15 January 2016, and we are welcoming applications for our new integrated BA/MArt.

Below are some good reasons why we believe we are building one of the best animation courses in the country, and how you can get started on your new career as a 3D animator.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Aspect Ratios Explained - What Is An Aspect Ratio Anyway?

Aspect Ratios. Wikimedia Commons
Screen aspect ratios are one of the more technical aspects of our business - confusing when you don't understand it, but easy when you know how.

Why do our students need to understand aspect ratios? Because it's how we configure our work for the screen.  It's something that every film-maker needs to learn eventually, because it's what the audience will see.

When you render your shot, and when you edit your work in Premiere or Final Cut, you will have to make choices as to what aspect ratio to select.  So, to take the pain away,  below is a brief summary of how it all works.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Big Hero Six Animation Workflow Revealed

Shot Breakdown: Fred basketball test from trent correy on Vimeo.

Above is an excellent shot breakdown video by Disney animator Trent Correy - all about how he planned out one of his shots on Big Hero Six. How does an animator actually plan their shot? There is, of course, no single answer to this question - every animator has their own workflow that works for them.  That said, most animators approach a shot in fairly similar ways, thinking about it, planning it, thumbnailing it, making a kind of mental road map to guide them to their destination.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

What Will You Do In 2016?

The period between Christmas and New Year is a good time to reflect on the past twelve months, and also make plans for the future. After all, it's just about the only time of year when everything stops. No emails, few phone calls - time at last to think and reflect. And time also to look forward to 2016, and wonder how best to use the coming year. If you want to start a career in digital media, now is the time to make the changes.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Last-Minute Christmas Presents for Animators - The Illusion of Life

The original animation bible
Stuck for a Christmas present for the animator in your life? There's still time to pop to your local bookshop and get a copy of The Illusion of Life, by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnstone, two of Walt Disney's legendary "Nine Old Men".

This hefty book is the original "animation bible", first published in the 1970s, and the first time anyone set out in print the accumulated wisdom of the Disney studio.

The 1970s were a lean time for animation; Walt Disney was dead and the revival that would come with Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and The Little Mermaid (and, later, with 3D animation) was still far in the future.

So what's so great about this old book, and why is it still relevant today?

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Merry Christmas From Escape Studios - and Tiny Tim!

Spot the Difference
Way back in 1971 I was the voice of Tiny Tim - age four years.

The reason I got the job was because my Dad's old animation studio in  Soho Square in London had taken on their first really big project - a TV adaptation of Charles Dickens'  A Christmas Carol, and they needed a little kid to do the voice-over.

By chance, I was just the right age.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Time To Sign Up For The SIGGRAPH 2016 Student Volunteer Program

Time for our students to sign up for the SIGGRAPH 2016 Student Volunteer Program! The deadline for team leaders is 12 January 2016, and the deadline for student volunteers is 9 February 2016.

But wait, why would our students want to volunteer for SIGGRAPH? Simple - it's all about who you might meet.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Where Will Our Ba/MArt Students Live?

Felda House is located in Wembley, North London.
Thinking of applying for our new BA/MArt in the Art of 3D Animation, but not sure where you might live?

Below are three suggestions for undergraduate student accommodation within striking distance of Escape Studios in Shepherds Bush. All of these options have been vetted and approved by Pearson College.

Prices vary, and start at around £140 per week. Students can choose from three locations: Wembley, Westbourne Park and White City. 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

"More Stuff" by Blue Zoo - with Animation by Escapee Marc Godfrey

More Stuff by Blue Zoo Animation from Blue Zoo on Vimeo.

Escape Studios graduate Marc Godfrey worked on this excellent short film by Blue Zoo animation, one of the UK's best indie animation houses and a studio that takes seriously the business of keeping its creative juices flowing. One of the ways they do this is by making short films, involving their staff creatively and ensuring that their work is experimental, fun and interesting. We're proud to congratulate Marc on his contribution to this excellent short.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Escape Studios Demo Reel 2010

Check out our students' excellent work from a few years ago by watching the video above. Escape Studios have been preparing students for work in the Visual Effects Industry for many years, and we have something like 4,000 Escapees working in the business. So, even though our BA/MArt in Animation is a new course, it's not like we're starting from scratch - we're building on the solid foundations of many years of work.  My favourite shot is the one of St Paul's cathedral being blown up. I don't know what it is exactly, but there's something very entertaining about watching our students destroy London's famous landmarks - digitally, at least. But then, that's the thing about great effects - you can let your imagination roam, and create amazing images that no camera could ever capture.

Friday, 18 December 2015

How Do Animation Students Enter Their Films and Win Prizes at Film Festivals?

Photo: Wikimedia
There is no better way for a student to launch their career in animation than to enter and win animated film festivals around the world.

However, as the competition gets tougher all the time, how does a student have a decent chance to enter their film, get noticed, and win prizes?

We asked veteran DreamWorks storyboard artist Nassos Vakalis, whose short film "Dinner for Few" has been winning festivals all over the world, to explain the secrets of success.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

VES Needs Volunteers For Their Christmas Party!

The VES - that's the Visual Effects Society - is hosting a Christmas party tonight, Thursday 17th December (from 12 noon through to midnight) and they need some volunteers to help them to welcome guests and other small tasks.

This is a great chance for our students to meet professional VFX artists in an informal setting, make contacts, have some fun, and do some serious networking.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

What Happens At Escape Studios' Applicant Days?

Escape Studios HQ in Shepherd's Bush
Applied for a place on our 3D Animation, Games or VFX undergraduate course, for entry in September 2016?

If so, you've probably had a letter inviting you to attend an Applicant Day here at Escape Studios, and you might be feeling a bit worried.

Don't panic! An Applicant Day, such as the one taking place tomorrow 17 December, is really a chance for us to get to know each other, and for you to find out more about what we do at Escape Studios.  So, what specifically are our Applicant Days all about?

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Escape Studios Visits Aardman Animation!

Hanging out with Shaun and Dad
Aardman animation is arguably our most famous animation company here in the UK - Britain's answer to Pixar or DreamWorks.  Aardman's films have a universal appeal, and characters such as Wallace and Gromit have conquered the box office all around the world. Shaun the Sheep is their latest success story, making $85m worldwide.

I was in Bristol on Friday to see Aardman's latest showcase of student work. Their twelve week animation programme, sponsored by the NFTS, is one of the few short courses in the UK that seriously teach the art of 3D character animation, not unlike the 12 week course we're running early next year.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Create The Perfect Animation Demo Reel

What goes into a great animation demo reel? Putting together an excellent reel is the ultimate goal for all of our students here at Escape Studios. Your demo reel is the key to finding work in the industry.

So what are the secrets of a superb animation demo reel? We suggest that there are twelve rules for success.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Teaser for our BA/MArt in 3D Animation Now Live!

Check out our brand-new teaser above for our new integrated BA/MArt in the Art of 3D Animation. Our new course launches in September 2016, and our goal is to be the best 3D animation course in the country. That's a big ambition, but check out the work done by our students above. When I go to Open Days and UCAS events to talk about our work, I have to remind visitors that all the work they see on our demo reel (including all the work shown above) is done by our students - not by industry professionals. And the shots you see were done in just three months of study at Escape Studios, on our short courses. Now, just imagine what you could achieve in three years.


The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To find out more about our new BA/MArt starting in September 2016, follow this link.   To apply, visit the offical page here

Friday, 11 December 2015

How Do DreamWorks Animators Train Their Dragons?

How do animators train their dragons? Or, rather, how do they approach the complex and daunting business of creating a beautifully animated flying dragon?

All animators start with a blank screen, and as professional artists we need methods that we can rely on to produce work we can be proud of, every time.

In this excellent documentary about the making of How To Train Your Dragon, DreamWorks animators talk about going to Flight School, analysing reference, and making sure that their animation was based on real, credible material that helped to bring their fantasy creatures to life.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

How to Find an Internship in the Animation Industry

Interview by Mikkel Brons-Frandsen
How do animation students find  internships and temporary placements in the industry? It's a question we get asked a lot here at Escape Studios.

Jobs in the entertainment industry have always been highly competitive, and even unpaid internships can be hard to pin down.

There are many ways - official jobs postings, word of mouth, rumours in the pub, personal contacts, even cold-calling - all of these can be effective ways to find an internship in the business.

Below are the twelve key rules we think are important for success.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

How To Get Your Name Listed at the IMDB


The Internet Movie Database, or IMDB, is the principal portal for finding people who work in film and broadcast media. It's where you go to look people up.  Gone are the days when you had to dig through back copies of Variety to find out someone's track record - knowledge is now just a click away.  Being listed is important.  Anyone in the movie business who isn't listed, needs to be.  But how do you get onto it? Specifically, as a recent graduate, trying to building yourself a reputation in the industry and an online presence, how do you get your name included in the IMDB database? Here's how the system works.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Hamilton and Kidd Bring Virtual Reality to Escape Studios

Hamilton & Kidd

At Escape Studios we are always looking for ways to make our classroom content as cutting edge as possible. And why can't our students engage with the recent leaps in VR technology, which are at last bringing to life the long-overdue promise of VR?

This past week the guys from Hamilton Kidd came to Escape to give us some training in the very latest in VR tech.

Monday, 7 December 2015

How MPC Created a Digital Arnold for Terminator Genisys

He's back! As a digital double of himself
At the recent BlueGFX Expo at London’s South Bank, Moving Picture Company (MPC) Software Developer Marco Romeo talked about some of the recent work done by MPC on the film Terminator Genisys.  In particular, he described how MPC painstakingly rebuilt a digital version of the young Arnold Schwarzenegger (to do battle in the movie with the real Arnold), using a better facial rigging system with Fabric, and using new facial simulation research.

Here at Escape Studios we always recommend that our students attend events like BlueGFX Expo, and of course the upcoming VFX Festival in February 2016.   You never know who you will meet, and what you will learn about the latest technology in our industry.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

How Will You Escape?

To see some of the excellent work done by students at Escape Studios, check out the demo reel above.  Remember, this is student work - none of these shots were done by industry professionals.  This work was all done by our students after just three months of classroom study - on our short courses.  And if this kind of quality can be achieved in just a few months, imagine what can be done in the three years it takes to complete a BA.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Film Night at Escape Studios on Friday 11 December!

Next Friday December 11th is Film Night at Escape Studios! We'll be screening the cult animation classic The Iron Giant, a film which initially performed badly at the Box Office but nonetheless scored 96% fresh at RottenTomatoes, and has since developed a huge following of fans.  I'll be introducing the film, showing some of the shots I animated, and talking about what it was like to work for one of the great animation directors - Brad Bird. Watch the (extremely silly) teaser above for details.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

How Do You Cast a Movie? - BAFTA Explains

You wish! Photo: Wikimedia
How do you cast a movie? The question is just as relevant for animators as it is for live-action film-makers.

If you are hoping to get an animated film project to the big screen (and we want all our students to aim high), then at some point you need to think about casting. And, the bigger the star you can attract, the more likely your movie is to get made, because investors and sales agents will feel more confident that audiences will pay money to see it.

At a recent event at BAFTA in London, part of the BAFTA Guru series of lectures, a panel of industry experts discussed how, exactly, indepedent film-makers can go about casting their film, even if they don't have a big budget to land a big star.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Where Are Animation Recruiters To Be Found?

Annecy - world's biggest animation festival
Where should animation graduates look for recruiters? Or, to put it another way, where do recruiters in the animation and VFX industries go to find fresh talent?

There are many festivals and events around the world which focus on animation and visual effects, and many of them feature jobs fairs where recruiters will take a stand.

Recruiters like to attend festivals because they know they can reach a large number of animators in a short amount of time. So, where should the ambitious student and recent graduate go looking for work? Below is our list of top places for students to attend.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Time to Enter the December 11 Second Club Competition!

Here at Escape Studios we encourage all our student animators to enter The 11 Second Cluba 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 every month by the club. Best of all, entry is free! So what are you waiting for?  Let's start animating!

Monday, 30 November 2015

The One Book Every Animator Should Own

The one book every animator needs to own is The Animator's Survival Kit. There has been nothing quite like it since Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnstone wrote  The Illusion of Life back in the 1970s - the first book which fully set out the secrets of Disney animation.
The Animator's Survival Kit is top of our reading list for all our animation students. So what's in it and why is it so important?

Friday, 27 November 2015

What Are The Challenges of Running an Animation Studio? Blue Zoo's Tom Box Explains

Tom Box is the co-founder of Blue Zoo, one of the UK’s leading TV animation studios.  Blue Zoo does animation in a broad range of styles, both 2D and 3D, and is responsible for a number of successful TV series.

All their work is done in CG, and almost all of it is made in Maya.  They describe themselves as doing “CG character animation with a bold quirky style”, and at last week's Blue GFX Expo at London’s South Bank, Tom talked about The Eight Biggest Problems involved with running an animation studio, and how Blue Zoo goes about solving them.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

DreamWorks Animator Simon Otto Explains the Animation Process

In this excellent video recently released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, DreamWorks animator Simon Otto (How to Train Your Dragon) explains how the animation process really works. It's only seven minutes long, and Simon shows succinctly and clearly how animators actually work together in a big studio to create huge projects. Animators are actors, giving a performance.  As he puts it: "Creativity is about searching for something, and when you know it's good, you need to catch hold of it and not let go".

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Stuart Sumida Reveals the Secrets of Quadruped Locomotion.

Stuart Sumida
Stuart Sumida is one of the leading experts in Hollywood for animal locomotion on feature films, not just on traditional 2D pictures like “Spirit”- Stallion of the Cimarron”, or “Lion King”, but also modern 3D films like DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon”.

Stuart describes himself as “a paleontologist who gets to work with animators” and, in between teaching anatomy to medical students, he consults on movies for Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks. I was personally lucky enough to work with him both on "Lion King" and also on "Spirit".

At last week's VFX Festival in Dublin, Stuart showed what makes him such a unique resource for animators dealing with the challenges of animal locomotion.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Paul Franklin Explains What Makes Oscar-Winning VFX

VFX Supervised by Paul Franklin
One of the best things about studying at Escape Studios is the excellent guest speakers who drop in, industry professionals who talk to our students about the work they have done. 

At a recent talk at Escape Studios, Oscar winning VFX supervisor Paul Franklin explained what goes into the making of the blockbuster films he has supervised, such as Dark Knight, Inception, and Interstellar - released this time last year. 

Franklin has also won two BAFTAs and is the co-founder of the global VFX powerhouse Double Negative.  

Clearly, Franklin is an artist who knows VFX inside out, and he offered our students a unique insight into how big budget visual effects movies get made, and what a visual effects supervisor actually does.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Why Should Animators Watch Charlie Chaplin Films?

Wikimedia Commons
Why should animators watch Charlie Chaplin films? Nancy Beiman, former supervising animator at Disney and now a professor at Sheridan College in Toronto, has the answer.

It's because animators are pantomime artists, and Chaplin was the greatest pantomimer of them all. At the SAS (Society of Animation Studies) conference in Toronto, Nancy explained how animation and silent film comedy developed together, inspiring one another to perfect the art of physical comedy.

Being a good animator isn't just about learning the craft of animation - though that is important.  It's also about creating a compelling performance that people will actually want to watch.

If animators want to know how to create great acting scenes that will entertain an audience - they should study Charlie Chaplin.

Meet Escape Studios Renderfarm - SkyNet!

Very friendly, we promise!
One of the many things that makes Escape Studios a unique place to study is Skynet - our powerful renderfarm. Unlike the Skynet in the Terminator films, our render farm is very friendly, and won't be taking over the world anytime soon (hopefully).

Go to most universities and colleges in the UK and the renderfarm is usually just the PC you are working at, plus whatever else you can hijack overnight.

But here at Escape, we take processing power seriously - we want all our students to have the maximum capacity to create stunning digital artwork.  So, for the techheads among you, we asked Jack Bosworth, one of our in-house engineers, to explain how Skynet works.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Amazing Fantastic Incredible - A Marvelous Memoir - the Autobiography of Stan Lee

Amazing! Fantastic! Incredible! - The autobiography of Stan Lee is out! Titled "A Marvelous Memoir" (Geddit?), this new book chronicles the extraordinary career of comics legend Stan Lee.

In fact, Lee was on Radio 4 this morning, talking about his career, and, despite being 92 years old, still telling great stories (clearly much told, but with no loss of enthusiasm) about turning points in his life like the birth of Spiderman.

Spidey and the other Marvel characters have since gone on to found what is apparently the most successful film franchise in history, bigger even than Harry Potter or James Bond.

So what about the royalties? Mr Lee must be rolling in gold, right? After all, he created the characters. Well, apparently not. Stan Lee was, as he put it: "a writer for hire". It was the company he worked for that got rich on the royalties, not him. And this is an important lesson for all our students:

Don't sign away the rights to your creations, unless you absolutely have to. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

What Are The Nine Secrets of Animation Success? Animation Master Rex Grignon Explains

Rex Grignon
What are the Nine Secrets of Success in the animation industry?  Rex Grignon, the Head of Character Animation at DreamWorks, thinks he has the answer.

Rex has worked on some of the biggest DreamWorks hits of the last decade, including ANTZ, Shrek, and all three Madagascar movies.

At a festival in Canada Rex talked about he key lessons he learned over the past two decades, and most especially from his years at PDI, Pixar and DreamWorks. So what are The Nine Secrets of Animation Success?

Monday, 16 November 2015

Where Will Our BA/MArt Students Study? Right Here in Shepherd's Bush!

Shepherd's Building - our home in The Bush
We are delighted to announce that students accepted on to our four-year BA/MArt in the Art of Computer Animation starting in September 2016 - now formally validated by the University of Kent - will be studying right here in Shepherd's Bush.

We're taking extra space in the Shepherd's building, just south of Shepherd's Bush Green, which is our current home.

It means we can expand our current operations, rather than having to find new space in a different part of town.

Friday, 13 November 2015

2016 Escape Studios VFX Festival - Tickets Now On Sale!

Tickets are now on sale for the 2016 Escape Studios VFX Festival. The Festival takes place from February 23rd - 25th next year, and brings you the latest in VFX, games, animation and motion graphics.

This year we've got tons of great speakers, including MPC - talking about their work on The Martian, and The Mill talking about augmented - and virtual - reality.  Come along and find out what the Next Big Thing is in animation, Games and VFX.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Our Brand New Animation Course Starts on 15 February 2016!

Come and learn the art of 3D Animation!
We're delighted to announce that our awesome new animation course is launching in February 2016!

Starting on 15th February, this brand-new 3D animation course includes twelve weeks intensive classroom tuition plus a further three months on-line mentoring, so that our students can practice in their own time and polish their skills.

So, what exactly can our new animation students expect?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

BlueGFX EXPO Takes Place on Thursday 19th November 2015

Blue GFX Expo is taking place in London on 19th November 2015.  This year speakers include Tom Box from Blue Zoo, the UK's biggest TV animation company, Stuart Penn from Framestore, and representatives from Autodesk showing the latest Maya tools.  For all our students, this is a great chance to catch up with new technology and meet in person people from the UK's top animation and visual effects houses.  And best of all, it's completely free.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Escapee Simone Ciliani's Demo Reel Rocks!

Simone Ciliani - showreel oct 2015 from simone ciliani on Vimeo.

Check out the just-cut 2015 VFX demo reel of Escapee Simone Ciliani. Since leaving Escape studios Simone has gone on to work on blockbuster VFX hits like Guardians of the Galaxy, 300 - Rise of an Empire, Maleficent, Dracula Untold, Kingsman - Secret Service Edge of Tomorrow, Fast and Furious 7, and Percy Jackson - Sea of Monsters

Monday, 9 November 2015

Escape Studios Movie Night!

Film Night is one of the many ways we work to give our students a great experience here at Escape Studios. We serve drinks and popcorn, and we sometimes show films that our tutors have worked on, so they can introduce the film and talk about what it was like working on the movie. 

For example, we'll be screening The Iron Giant on 11 December, and I'll be introducing the film, showing some of my shots, and talking about what it was like to work for one of the great animation directors - Brad Bird.

A digitally remastered version of the Iron Giant has recently been re-released in theatres in the US - a fitting tribute to a film which underperformed at the Box Office but has since become a cult classic.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Meet Oscar Winning VFX Supervisor Paul Franklin on Thursday December 10th

Oscar Winning VFX Supervisor Paul Franklin is being interviewed in Stoke Newington on Thursday December 10th, to talk about some of his work in visual effects.

Paul Franklin has collected Oscars for films like Inception, which broke fresh ground in the VFX industry, creating extraordinary effects.

He is also an excellent and entertaining speaker, and we highly recommend that our students attend what promises to be a fascinating evening.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Lost Disney Film Found in the BFI National Archive - Meet Oswald The Lucky Rabbit!

The BFI were digging around recently in the back of their sofa (The BFI National Archive) and guess what they found? Not just the missing remote and a ton of loose change, but a long-lost Disney short featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the character created by Walt Disney before he struck gold with Mickey Mouse.

The film is called Sleigh Bells and was first released in 1928. You can buy tickets to see the film yourself at BFI on London's South Bank.

But first - who the heck was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit anyway?

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Come See Us at Design Your Future in Manchester on 22-23 November, and in London on 10-11 November

Escape Studios will be at the Design Your Future event organised by UCAS in Manchester on 22nd 23 November; we'll be showing some cool animation tools and explaining how we can help students become professional animators and visual effects artists.  Got questions about our BA/MArt in 3D Animation? Want to know what we do, and how we can help kick-start your animation career? Come and meet us at the Pearson College/Escape Studios stand!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Danger Mouse is Back!

Danger Mouse is back! And Penfold too!
Danger Mouse, the secret agent who was a 1980s TV star, has returned to our screens.  According to the wise people who release stats on TV ratings, Danger Mouse is a "colossal hit" with young audiences, topping the ratings in the UK. This is excellent news for the British animation industry, since Danger Mouse is a home grown hit, and is brought to life by Dublin based Boulder Animation, who - according to their website - are "always looking" for talented artists and animators to join their staff.  So, what are you waiting for? Time for our animation graduates to polish their demo reels and send in their CVs!

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Bancroft Bros, Andreas Deja, and Disney's "Nine Old Men"

In this excellent podcast from The Bancroft Bros, Tom and Tony interview legendary Disney animator Andreas Deja (Gaston, Hercules, Scar) about his new book on the masters of Disney animation: The Nine Old Men.

But who were the Nine Old Men? And why should we still care? The answer is, these were the animators who created, developed and nurtured the original Disney style.

It's not an exaggeration to say that they created the medium of animation and made it what it is today.  

Friday, 30 October 2015

Got a Great Idea for an Animated Feature Film? Pitch it Now at Cartoon Movie!

Cartoon Movie - pitch your project!
Do you have an idea for an animated feature film project you'd like to get off the ground?  If so, you should submit it to Cartoon Movie!

The Deadline to submit a feature film project to Cartoon Movie is 25 November 2015.  If your project gets selected, you will be able to pitch it to almost 1,000 animation and industry professionals from forty countries, including 120 distributors & sales agents.

But why should animation students want to pitch their feature film ideas? Well, why not? Perhaps you could be the next Walt Disney or Jeffrey Katzenberg? And you'll never find out if you don't try!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Our BA/MArt in the Art of Computer Animation is Validated by the University of Kent!

Pearson College London (the parent company of Escape Studios) and the University of Kent have announced a new partnership - Kent is to be our new validating partner for our university degree programmes.

So, anyone thinking of studying animation with us in September 2016 and wondering - who will award my degree? - you now have your answer.  Our BA/MArt in the Art of Computer Animation is a Kent University Degree!

Animation Taster Day at Escape Studios on Wednesday 2 December!

Come and learn about character and creature animation at Escape Studios! Our one-day animation "taster" is now taking bookings. Your career as a 3D animator starts here!

Working with tools such as Autodesk Maya and Adobe Photoshop, you’ll get a hands-on introduction to 3D Animation techniques, all for just £25. do you sign up?

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Microsoft Invents Computer "In-Betweener" to Revolutionise Hand-Drawn 2D animation

Microsoft Research, together with the University of Hong Kong and the University of Tokyo, have created a new technology that promises to automate the business of "in-betweening", the tedious hand-drawn process that smooths out the motion of 2D Animation.

The new technology has the snappy (not) title of "Autocomplete Hand Drawn Animations."  The big question for 2D animators is....does it work, and if so, where can we buy it?

Monday, 26 October 2015

Brad Bird Explains The Mystery of "The Magic Circle"

The Iron Giant has recently been re-released in theatres, offering a chance to this superb film on the big screen again.

Working on Iron Giant was part of my animation education - and it was a wonderful opportunity to work for one of the very best animation directors - the legendary Brad Bird.

I learned a lot from him both as a director and an animator.  Brad's style of directing was always clear and precise.  He always knew what he wanted, and he knew how to communicate it to the animators.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Come See Us at the *Free* Irish VFX & Animation Summit 20-22 November 2015

The third Irish VFX + Animation Summit opens on 20 November and kicks off with a screening of Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur.  We'll be at the Summit, hosting a masterclass in how to create entertaining animated characters.

This year’s speakers are some of leading figures in VFX and Animation, talented artists who have worked on films such as The Martian, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ex Machina.

Best of all, the summit absolutely free! So what are you waiting for? Book your ticket now!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Time to Enter the VES Student Awards!

The 14th Annual VES Awards are fast approaching, and we encourage all our students here at Escape to enter Category 23: Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project. 

The award is sponsored by Autodesk, who make Maya, the leading animation and VFX software, and is a great opportunity for any ambitious student to kick-start their career.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

What's On Our Animation Reading List?

What books do we recommend that animators read before starting our new BA/MA in the Art of 3D Animation?

Books may be kind of old school these days, but a good book is still a great place to start learning about and exploring the world of character animation.

We're also very selective; we won't make you buy a ton of books you won't have time to open, let alone read.  So, what is on our animation reading list?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Framestore, Skyfall, and a Masterclass in Motion Graphics

Framestore is one of London's leading visual effects houses, bringing unique characters and creatures to life.  In recent years they have established themselves as global pioneers of VFX techniques, producing a wide range of animation including title sequences.

Framestore animated the title sequence for Skyfall, and at a recent VFX forum Diarmid Harrison Murray explained how he and his team managed to pull off the animated titles for the most recent installment in the world's most successful film franchise.  Here is how they did it.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Henry Fenwick Running at Prime Focus

Prime Focus
Working as a runner doesn't sound that glamorous - but it is a tried and tested way to break into the animation and VFX industry.  Last year Escapee Henry Fenwick finished a three week work experience at Prime Focus Film in London's Soho.

We asked him to share his experience and also his advice, with a view to helping other animation students know what to expect when becoming a runner at a Soho studio.

In short - Is it Worth Taking a Job as a Runner?

Friday, 16 October 2015

The World's First Cake Zoetrope - The CakeTrope

Some say 3D Animation is the best, others argue for a revival of hand-drawn 2D Animation.  Many maintain that Stop Motion rules.  But here at Escape Studios, we recommend all our students take a close look at the work of French animation Alexander Dubosc, who makes animated cakes - both extraordinary and delicious.  Dibosc creates spinning zoetropes, a technology that goes back to the mid 19th century (and, arguably, ancient China), which he has re-invented as the Caketrope.  Or, as we're calling it, Cake-O-Mation.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Nine Simple Ways to Blow a Job Interview

Interview, by Mikkel Okholm and Mikkel Brons-Frandsen
By the time you get to being interviewed for a job, most animation and visual effects companies probably already want to hire you.

Why? Because the thing that counts for most in getting hired is your demo reel. They are not hiring you for your good looks or charming conversation - they are hiring you for your skill and talent in digital media.

That said, interviews do matter. They are important mostly because this is the point at which many otherwise excellent candidates blow it, and throw a great opportunity away.  How does this happen? Below are some of the most common reasons why good candidates fail to get hired.