Thursday, 16 May 2019

How Does Feedback Work at Escape Studios?

Feedback at Escape Studios
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.

There are a number of ways in which students at Escape Studios can get feedback and critique. First and most obvious is in the classroom, from your tutor. For the second year undergraduate students, that's me.

We also have Studio Assistants (SAs) whose job it is to help students when they encounter problems - especially technical ones. Studio Assistants are always available, usually sitting at the back of the class.

Facebook Classroom
We also have a dedicated Facebook Group for each class. An online classroom, it's where students post their work to get feedback, and it's where we run animation dailies.

The importance of criticism
Being able to take criticism ("notes", as they say in 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, animators need to be flexible, and learn to incorporate criticism in order to make things better.

Notes being given at our Facebook Group
Online Classroom
Here at Escape Studios each class of students has its own dedicated Facebook classroom. Each classroom is a closed group; only our students can join. It's where our students post their work for critique, ask technical questions.

Closed Group - members only
Because it's a closed group, everyone can post their work, safe in the knowledge that the only people who can see it are other students, and tutors. It's a place to make mistakes in a safe environment.

Wisdom of the crowds
We all start off feeling shy about our work, but as we grow in confidence it gets easier to post test animation and get constructive feedback. When you post your work in a forum, you open up the problems to a broad range of solutions - you never know who is going to come up with a great suggestion for how to make the shot better.

Learn to take criticism - and give it too
It is good practice for working in industry, not just to solicit comments, but also to learn to be able to give constructive criticism. Animators help each other out on production all the time by giving one another tips and suggestions, and your best resource at a new studio is often the person sitting next to you.

Oz Gani from Framestore
Industry feedback
We also host regular industry feedback sessions, where students can get feedback from industry guests.  Oz Gani from Framestore is a regular industry guest, helping the second year animators to polish their skills and make their work better.

Industry feedback is important because it helps to keep us grounded in the real world of the animation industry, reminding us of what animators will be expected to do when they are facing actual clients.

Getting feedback for our students from industry is very much at the heart of what we do at Escape Studios, and there is no better way to get our students up to industry standard than to bring in professionals to critique their work.

Tutor feedback
Simone Giampaolo, Aardman director
Our students should never forget that there are many animation tutors at Escape Studios. The first year is taught Amedeo Beretta, and the third year animators are taught by Michael Davies.

Lee Caller looks after the short course and MA students. Other tutors such as Aardoman's Simone Giampaolo are regular guests.

Any one of them can be asked for feedback and critique.

Sometimes students are shy to ask for help, which is why all our tutors are encouraged to walk around the classroom to make sure everyone is in good shape. But don't be shy - always stick your hand up if you need assistance. It's what we're here for.

Peer feedback
Just like in an animation studio, it's always a good idea to ask your peers for feedback. Ask your neighbour, or someone in the class whose animation skills you admire; someone with a good eye for animation - and how to fix it.  Learning how to give critique to your peers is excellent training for industry.

Adam & Eve Mk II by Sebastian Kuder
Bespoke video Feedback
Sometimes our students need detailed video feedback on their work. If you need video feedback on your shot, send me the Maya file (don't forget to include the audio file if there is one) at and I'll send you frame-by-frame video feedback.

Online learning
We also have a range of tutorials hosted at Vimeo which teach the art and craft of animation, as well as related areas such as modeling, texturing and lighting. You can find the Vimeo channel here. You can learn a huge amount online.

March of the Potguins by Michael Vodden
Don't sit at the back of the class 
For those of you hiding in the back row, get in early tomorrow and grab one of the front row seats. Look the tutor in the eye, and say "would you mind take a quick look at my work?". We will always say yes. 

In conclusion
There are five principle ways to get feedback at Escape Studios:

  1. From your tutor, in person
  2. Online, at the Fb Classroom, or via video feedback
  3. From your peers, either in class or online
  4. From the Studios Assistants
  5. From Industry

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our BA/MArt in 3D Animation, follow this link.  To apply for our storyboarding evening class, visit this page here.  For the next 12 week animation course, click here.

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