Wednesday, 30 September 2015

aTools - The Free Utility Belt for Maya Animators

aTools - "The ultimate free utility belt for Maya Animators"
aTools is a new free download for Maya that describes itself as "The ultimate free utility belt for Maya animators."  It was created by Portuguese animator Alan Camilo, and is extremely useful for all kinds of tasks in Maya.

aTools is completely free, it makes your work flow faster, and is very easy to install - just drag and drop aTools into your Maya viewport.  Here at Escape Studios we are always on the lookout for tools and plugins that make the animator's workflow faster and more efficient. After all, to succeed in our industry, animators need to be both good and fast.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

How Do Animators Use Live Action Reference To Create Believable Animation?

Horse in Motion by Edward Muybridge
How can animators use live action reference to create believable animation?  Back in the old 2D days of hand-drawn animation, rotoscoping (as it was called) was a legitimate, if much criticised, method of achieving a realistic look and feel to your animation.

Today, the technology has changed, but 3D animators still need to study live action to help inform their animation.  This is especially the case when doing complex animal or creature animation, of the kind that is much in demand in VFX movies.  So how, in practice, does a MAYA animator use live action reference to get a great result? Below are some techniques for making it work.

Escape Studios VFX Festival: 23 - 25 February 2016

Mark your calendar for next year's annual Escape Studios VFX Festival. The Festival takes place from February 23rd - 25th 2016, and brings you the very best in VFX, games, animation and motion graphics.

Escape Studios is London's leading provider of world-class, studio-ready talent for the VFX, Games and Animation industries.  To sign up for the mailing list (and benefit from an early-bird discount when tickets go on sale), go to the official site here.  So what exactly is in the festival, and what can you expect to see?

Monday, 28 September 2015

Marc Godfrey Animator at Blue Zoo

Blue Zoo - World Class Animation
Marc Godfrey is a very talented animator and a graduate of our short courses at Escape Studios.

We are proud that his dedication and commitment to the craft of animation has been recognised by the industry in the form of a job Blue Zoo, now the UK's largest independent TV animation studio.

Friday, 25 September 2015

What Does a Visual Effects Supervisor Do, Exactly? VFX Supe Matt Johnson Explains

Matt Johnson (left) in Los Angeles on Beverly Hills Chihuahua
What does a Visual Effects Supervisor actually do on a movie? Well, D'Oh! They supervise the VFX! But really, what do they do, and what contribution do they make to a film?

Matt Johnson, veteran VFX supervisor on dozens of Hollywood hits, including World War Z, Into The Woods, V for Vendetta, X Men, and Chronicles of Narnia, explains what a Visual Effects Supervisor actually does for a living, and how an aspiring film-maker might become one.

Do animators need to know this stuff? Of course! here at Escape we teach our animators to understand the whole VFX pipeline, so you are properly educated in the deep magic of modern film-making.  Being a successful animator isn't just about bringing characters to life - it's about understanding how the whole process works.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Free Animation Experience Day at Escape Studios on Saturday 31st October!

Come and see us!
Come along to our free Animation and VFX Experience Day on Saturday 31st October! We will be giving our prospective students an insight into what we do here at Escape Studios.  This will be similar to the taster day we did at Escape earlier this year - though with much more emphasis on animation and games. We'll be showing you some cool animation tools and giving you a feeling for what our course is like, and how we plan on creating the very best course in computer animation in the UK.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

How To Tell If 3D Animation Is Right For You?

free 3D software - yours to try for free!
What is involved in a career in 3D animation?  A lot of what animators do day to day involves solving software problems, trying to make stuff work on a PC or a Mac, and cursing our computer when it doesn't.

Becoming a successful digital artist raises many challenges.  One way of finding out if this is something you would like to do for a career is to do a couple of tutorials online.  A great place to start is with the 3D software Blender - it's completely free, and there are many free tutorials out there to get you under way. Here is how to get started.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Portfolio Tips for Our New BA/MArt

Life drawing - good training for animators
Thinking of applying for our new BA/MArt in The Art of Computer Animation? One of the most common questions we get asked by prospective students is: What should go into my portfolio?

The short answer is - a bit of everything: drawings, painting, life drawing, sketches, scribbles, 3D digital artwork - whatever you have to hand - ideally uploaded to a website or blog.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

PBS Documentary on the Life of Walt Disney

Walt Disney at PBS
PBS has just broadcast a major new documentary on the life of one of the greatest Americans - Walt Disney.  If you missed the original broadcast you can now catch up at the PBS website here.

Why should animators learn about Walt Disney?  Because he was the founder of our industry, and the man who above all others defined the medium we work in today.  His methods have never been surpassed and even today animated films are still made essentially the same way he made them - though with better technology.  The PBS download is absolutely free.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Nephtali - Glen Keane's Latest Masterpiece

Ever wondered what master animator Glen Keane has been up to since he left Disney back in 2012? "Nephtali" is what.  In this beautiful short film combining live action with animation, Glen shows why he is regarded as one of the best animators alive.  I was lucky enough to have worked with him on "Pocahontas" back in 1993, and his animation notes for newbies like me are still among the most valuable training materials I use in the classroom. In this film, Glen shows us why traditional 2D animation still matters.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Calling All Animators - BlueGFX is Coming to London on 19th November!

Blue GFX Expo
Mark your calendars; Blue GFX Expo is taking place in London on 19th November 2015. Previous year's events have been superb - in attendance in 2013 were the founders of Blue Zoo, the UK's biggest TV animation company, the guys from Framestore who did the animation for the Skyfall title sequence, and representatives from Autodesk showing the latest simulation tools.

There are so many talks on cutting edge CG tools that can be hard to choose which ones to attend.  For all our students at Escape, this is a not-to-be-missed chance to catch up with the latest technology and meet in person the people who run the UK's top animation and visual effects houses.  And best of all, it's completely free.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Open Day at Pearson College London on Friday 18 September!

This Friday September 18th we have an Open Day at Pearson College London. Among the stuff to see is our new Creative Industries Room on the 10th floor of our main building on The Strand, where we aim to give prospective students a better understanding of what our courses do and the kind of careers that they lead to.  Among the cool stuff we'll be showcasing is the Occulus Rift, a piece of virtual reality kit that is changing the landscape for the creative industries.

Cinematography at BAFTA with Ben Davis

One of the best things about BAFTA is its focus on regular lectures and seminars on filmmaking, many of which are open to the public.

A recent event at the Picture house Central on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue featured an interview with Cinematographer Ben Davis, whose screen credits include Kick-Ass, Before I Go to Sleep and Guardians of the Galaxy. But why should an animator need to know about cinematography? Because animators are film-makers, and anything that helps you to understand the art of visual story telling will make you better at your craft. And who better to learn from than one of the UK’s best cinematographers?

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Download the Free Escape Studios VFX Careers Handbook

Escape VFX Careers Guide
Escape Studios, now part of Pearson College London, has long been one of the best places to get a first class training in VFX. Among the many resources offered students is the annual Careers Guide, an invaluable handbook for any aspiring visual effects artist - including animators.  Escape Studios track the latest trends in the digital market, focusing especially on the skills that are currently in high demand. After all, our goal is to place students in well-paid work in the best visual effects houses in London and overseas. We recommend that all of our students download a copy.  Best of all, it's absolutely free.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Book Recommendation - Animated Performance by Nancy Beiman

Animated Performance by Nancy Beiman is just published in its second edition. This is an excellent book from a master animator, one who now teaches at Sheridan College, widely regarded as one of the top places in the world to study animation.

Nancy was a supervising animator at Disney (most notably on Hercules) and she really knows her stuff. And, as a full-time professor, she knows how to communicate her knowledge.

Any serious animator should have this book on their shelf; copies will be available to our students in the library.

You can buy it here.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Animation Legend Richard Williams Releases Trailer for "Prologue"

A still image from Prologue
Animation guru Richard Williams, who directed The Thief and the Cobbler, and was animation director on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, has released a first look at his new six-minute animated short Prologue.  The short film was first screened at Annecy in June of this year, and will be playing soon in selected theatres in Los Angeles. Williams is the author of The Animator's Survival Kit, now the essential textbook for all aspiring animators, as useful for 3D artists as it is for 2D practitioners.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Why Not Enter the September Eleven Second Club Competition?

What are you doing to polish your animation skills? 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 get started!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

BBC Radio 4 Explains "The Business of Film"

BBC Radio Four ran a recent series by Mark Kermode on the Business of Film, which you can still catch up with via podcast.

Specifically, how do films get developed, financed and then distributed? It's a handy and informative series which simplifies much of the apparent complexity of the film business. We recommend that any student who is interested in making their own independent animated film (why not? We should all aim high) listen carefully.

And take notes!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Escape Studios Student Animation Reel

Character Animation at Escape Studios by David Davis with "Alice"
This demo reel of student work was done at Escape Studios back in 2011. The work done here was completed at the Escape Studios short courses - intensive 3 month courses in character animation. Much of the work here is of a high professional standard and many of these students have gone on to have successful careers in the animation industry.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Escape Studios Integrated BA/MArt in Computer Animation Launches in September 2016

BA/MArt at Escape Studios (part of Pearson College, London) launches in September 2016
Escape Studios have long been London's leading provider of short courses for the visual effects industry, with an enviable track record in placing students in the growing animation and VFX industry in London and around the globe.  Now, as a part of Pearson college, we are launching a new four-year BA/MA in computer animation in September 2016.  I will be designing, running and teaching the course. So, what can our new animation students expect from us?