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.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Blue Zoo and the Making of Q Pootle 5

Q Pootle 5 by Blue Zoo
Blue Zoo are one of the UK's leading animation companies, making world-beating TV series - sold and distributed around the globe.

So how do they do it? In a recent talk at Blue GFX, Adam Shaw (one of the co-founders of Blue Zoo) explained how he created the hit animated TV series Q Pootle 5. His lecture was a fully-fledged masterclass in how to put a TV series together.

So, if you have ever wondered - how do you get your own TV series off the ground? - here's how it works.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Free Virtual Reality Showcase at BFI IMAX until 18 October

"Virtual Stories" is a Virtual Reality Showcase currently exhibiting at London's BFI IMAX until 18 October.  Sixteen projects from some of the world’s greatest VR creators are on display.

Is VR the next big thing? It's been around for a while, but the technology has never quite been there to make the dream a reality. Now, perhaps, things are changing.  Come and see the very latest in virtual reality and immersive storytelling at this free exhibition at BFI IMAX.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Disney Create Virtual Colouring Book

In this superb video from Disney, you can see children colouring a virtual colouring book - bringing characters to life in virtual reality - or "augmented reality" - even as they colour in the pages of the book in the traditional way.  It's a remarkable piece of technology, which shows just how fast the world is changing in terms of the way that children learn traditional skills. Hats off to Disney for re-inventing the colouring book - and making it better than ever.

Who Are Blue Zoo?

Here at Escape Studios we want to nurture a generation of animators who understand not just the tools of their job but the skills necessary to become a successful entrepreneur. 

And why not? At a recent BlueGFX Expo event, Blue Zoo founders Tom Box and Adam Shaw explained how they went from being university graduates to owning and running the biggest TV animation co in the UK.  They also offered some excellent insights into the biggest question for our own animation graduates - how can aspiring animators get a job with Blue Zoo?

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Meet Mathilda! - An Excellent Free Animation Rig

Mathilda, courtesy of SCAD
After a long period of development, Mathilda is here! This excellent free rig, now available for use by Maya animators all around the world, was designed and built by students at SCAD - The Savannah College of Art and Design.

The Mathilda rig has a very strong range of facial expressions, and uses a new plugin from AnimSchool to help you select the controls.  If she looks strangely familar, it's because she's modeled after the actress Natalie Portman.

We're excited to see what our students can do with this latest addition to the growing range of freeware available to those learning to animate in Maya.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

How Do Animators Break into Character Design?

BoxTrolls - designs by Luis Grane
How do animators break into character design? Character design is one of the most fun and challenging jobs on an animated film, entitling the artist to give free rein to their imagination, come up with great ideas - and even get paid to do it.

We asked Luis Grane, an animator and character designer whose work can be seen on dozens of animated films including Prince of EqyptHotel Transylvania, Ratatouille, and Open Season, to talk about this work and how he broke into the industry.  Last year Luis did character design work for The Box Trolls. So what is involved in working as a character designer at a big studio - and how do you get there in the first place?

How to Get a Job as an Animator - by Tom and Tony Bancroft

Check out Tom and Tony Bancroft's podcast on How to Get a Job as an Animator.

I worked with both Tom and Tony Bancroft back in the days when the Disney Studio in Orlando, Florida was just a feldgling startup - long before it produced movies like Brother Bear and Mulan. We worked together as animation rookies on the short film "Rollercoaster Rabbit".

Both Tom and Tony are excellent animators who went on to have a great career at Disney - and beyond.  So what, exactly, do they say is the secret of getting a job?

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

How Do You Become an Animator? BFI Explains

BFI has a remit to promote film in the UK, and the BFI Film Academy have put together a short five minute video titled "How Do You Become an Animator?", which includes interviews with leading animators in the UK on how they got started, and how they made it in the business.

Interviewees include Aardman's Peter Lord, who created "Morph", and indie animator Joanna Quinn, whose unique animation style has won her dozens of awards.  So what can our students learn from their success?

Which is Best for 3D Animation - a PC or a Mac?

Anyone thinking of embarking on a career in computer animation might be asking themselves - What platform is best for animation in Maya - a PC or a Mac?

The good news is - you can use both.  The bad news (for Mac users anyway) is - the PC is probably better.

Monday, 5 October 2015

How Do You Create The Perfect Animation Workstation?

A student watches a tutorial on his iPad
and does the exercise on a separate screen
In our industry, a good workstation is not a luxury - it's a necessity. The dirty secrets of the VFX business are carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injuries (RSI).

These are potentially serious health problems which affect many people working in our business.  No-one talks about it much - but it's there all the same.

So how can our students make sure they have a long, successful career, and a healthy workstation? Step one - get rid of the mouse.

Rich Jeffrey Animator at Studio Joho

Check out the excellent animation demo reel of Rich Jeffrey, an animation student at Escape Studios who took our three month intensive character animation course.  Rich had never done 3D animation before he started studying at Escape, and he built an excellent demo reel, impressing everyone with his swift grasp of the software, and the excellent character performances that he created.  If Rich can do this in just three months of study at Escape Studios, imagine what our students can achieve in three years on the new BA/MA in the Art of Computer Animation.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Glen Keene and The Secret of Animation - It's All in the Planning

Glen Keane. Wikimedia
The secret of great animation is in the planning. Open up a copy of Autodesk Maya, the leading 3D software, and you just get a blank screen.  With CG animation (or indeed any animation) you get nothing for free. So how do you fill this blank space with creative, entertaining animation?

The answer is - you need to learn to thumbnail. That is to say, you must learn to plan out your work with sketches and scribbles, which create a kind of visual road map of where you want to go.

In the video below, animation tutor Alex Williams analyses Glen Keane's approach to thumbnail skteches and shows how Glen uses them to create beautiful animation. 

Peppa Pig Sells for £140m

Peppa Pig - global hit
The three animators who created Peppa Pig have sold a 70% stake in their company to Entertainment One (better known as "E1") for £140m.

Peppa Pig is a very British success story - a piece of home-grown animation that has been sold successfully all over the world.  The creators of Peppa, Mark Baker, Neville Astley and Phil Davies, are now very rich indeed.

The trio, who graduated from Middlesex Poly in the 1980s, are living proof that if an animator can create a hit character, and hang on to the rights for long enough - the world is their oyster.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

What Was It Like To Work on The Iron Giant?

Brad Bird's animation classic The Iron Giant has just been re-released in theatres in the USA, a fitting tribute to a film which, though critically acclaimed, seriously under-performed at the box office when it was first released in the summer of 1999.

In this excellent blog post, animator Stefan Franck reflects on  what it was like to work on The Iron Giant under the leadership of the supremely talented Brad Bird.

For all of us who worked on the film, its box-office failure was a massive shock.  We were devastated.  How could such a great film perform so poorly? Why did no-one want to see it?

Inevitably, conspiracy theories grew. The studio wanted to kill it (because corporations love losing money!).  It was a deliberate tax write-off. The marketing department screwed up.  "They" wanted to close down Warner Bros Feature Animation. "They" wanted to teach Brad Bird a lesson.

Your First Freelance Job - What Questions Should You Ask The Client?

Here at Escape Studios we want all our animators to be fully prepared not just for employment but also to be able to create their own companies in digital media: in other words, to be successful entrepreneurs. 

Big companies like Frame Store, MPC, Blue Zoo and Double Negative all began as tiny start-ups - why can't our students do the same?

So, as part of a series of posts on new media entrepreneurship, we ask - what questions should you ask the client when you start work on your very first animation freelance job?