Sunday, 31 May 2020

Beyond Lockdown - What Will Happen in September?

For the past eight weeks our students have been working from home, just like the animation industry has done, moving our classrooms online and working remotely. The results have been stunningly successful; our second year animators now have six films in festival competition - five more than this time last year.  Of course, we don't yet know what things will look like come September, but we can count on some kind of blend of online and (hopefully) a return to classroom learning.  Watch the short video above to hear from our Deputy Dean, Saint John Walker, on how we've adapted to teaching online, see some of the great work created by our undergraduate students, and find out what the future holds.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Escape Studios in Unreal 2020 "Sizzle Reel"

Just like last year, Escape Studios is once again proud to have our students' work featured in the Spring 2020 Unreal Engine "Sizzle Reel". The VR Escape Room The Order Of Quadrivium was featured in Unreal Engine Student Showcase, Spring 2020, further evidence (if any were needed) of the very strong work being done by our games students at Escape Studios. Congratulations to them all on making the cut, and on another stellar year of games design.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Animation Thrives Under Lockdown

"Trolls on Tour" earned $100m on streaming devices
According to a recent piece in The Guardian, the animation industry is thriving despite the Corona Lockdown. 

Unlike live action shoots, which have been shut down due to Covid-19, the animation industry is expanding, as programmers scramble to replace live-action content with animation. 

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Why Animators Must Test Their Pipeline Early

Test Render from "Animal Lover"
Part of the process of making an animated film is to test your pipeline thoroughly, so that you can rely on it to render out all your shots on time.

Rendering, as our head of Games, Simon Fenton, memorably puts it: " when everything starts to go wrong".  At Escape Studios, just like on production, we have deadlines, and those deadlines must be adhered to.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

What Are CBBs? (Could Be Better)

"Could Be Better"
What Are CBBs? In film-making, CBB stands for "Could Be Better". Towards the end of any production, you must final your shots in order to hit the deadline - the film must be finished on time.

But, the director may not be completely happy with all of the shots, and he or she may ask for extra improvements that may impact the production schedule. When this happens, you need a CBB list.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Why Must Animators Check their Hookups?

Jerich0 - excellent shot continuity
As our second year animation students get ready to submit their film projects for Studio Module PR5001, it's important to remember that animators always need to check their hookups.

What does this mean? In animation terms, hookups are nothing to do with Tinder, or online dating. Hookups are about shot continuity, and making sure that one shot "hooks up" with another.

On a film project it is the animator's responsibility to make sure that their shot joins up seamlessly with the shots on either side of theirs.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Last Call For Storyboarding on 1st July

Francesca "Chess" Adams
Last call for our evening class in Storyboarding with Francesca "Chess" Adams, veteran story board artist at Blue Zoo, one of London's leading animation houses, which returns on 1st July 2020.

This evening class in storyboarding is scheduled to be taught online, and runs for eight weeks.

Chess brings her long experience of working on shows like Digby Dragon and The Go Jetters, reflecting the huge increase in animated content being created right here in London in recent years, and the growing trend towards digital storyboarding tools such as Panel Forge, which speed up the process and help to bridge the gap with 3D Layout.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Last Call For Character Design on 29 June

Artwork by Andrea Torrejon
Last call for our Character Design Evening Class, which is returning to Escape Studios on 29 June 2020.

Character Design is an eight week evening class taught by Andrea Torrejon, an experienced character designer whose recent work includes the Disney TV Series "101 Dalmation St".

Like all of our courses, this class is taught by a working industry professional; Andrea will guide students through the principles of character design, building up to a live industry brief.

Learning character design isn't just about drawing cool characters; it is also about learning what the industry actually needs from a character designer - turnarounds, model packs and an animation "bible".

Friday, 22 May 2020

Industry Feedback from DNEG

Santiago Colomo
Yesterday we were fortunate to welcome DNEG animation supervisor Santi Colomo and Dara McGarry, Artist Manager at Double Negative, for online industry feedback with our students.

Santiago Colomo is an animation supervisor at DNeg, with 16 years experience in the industry.  Santiago and Dara joined us online via Google Meet and Syncsketch to offer feedback to our animation students on their short film project "Moon Rockz", directed by Molly Babington, which is nearing completion.

Industry feedback is at the heart of what we do at Escape Studios; it helps our students to connect with the commercial world and make sure we're teaching industry-relevant skills.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Why Animators Need "Rig Wrecking"

Rig concepts from "Jerich0"
What is "Rig Wrecking"? Rig Wrecking, more commonly known as rig testing, is the process of testing your character rigs to make sure they can do everything you need them to do.

Sometimes known as stress testing, this process involves testing out all the controls to make sure everything works as it should, and all the geometry deforms correctly.

Rig testing is a necessary production step; it involves letting animators loose on the rig to do test animation. Skip this step and you will almost certainly find many problems cropping up during the animation stage of the production.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

What Does an Animation Producer Do, Exactly?

What Does an Animation Producer Do, Exactly? In this 20 minute webinar, hosted at the Escape Studios YouTube Channel, veteran animation producer Bob Thompson explains what the role of an animation producer is, what they do, and how artists can best work with producers. Producing animation is a growing part of what we do at Escape Studios, with a number of recent Escapees going on to fill production roles at animation and games studios such as Sony Playstation and Framestore.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Escapee Evgenia Golubeva Writer at Disney

Evgenia Golubeva
Many congratulations to Escapee Evgenia Golubeva, an award-winning animator and director who is currently working as a writer at Walt Disney Animation in London.

Evgenia studied with us on our animation short course, and has since forged a career as a writer and independent film-maker, entering her animated films in festivals around the world and winning international prizes for her work.

Evgenia starting working in January 2019 as a writer at Blue Zoo Animation, bringing her talent as an animator and storyteller to the commercial world of TV cartoons, before making the leap to Disney.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Producer Bob Thompson Consults on "Jerich0"

Bob Thompson
Veteran Animation Producer Producer Bob Thompson is consulting with the makers of the award-winning film "Jerich0", which has recently returned from a virtual trip to Stuttgart, home of Animation Production Days (APD).

APD is an international forum to bring together animation talent with potential co-producers, broadcasters and distributors of original creative content.

"Jerich0" has proved itself a festival winner; the next step is to take it to a wider audience, with the potential for broadcast and distribution through commercial channels.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Previs & Story MA - September Reading List

Our MA in Previs and Story returns on 30 September 2020, and some students have been asking us what books they should read before class begins.

A good book is still a great place to start learning and exploring the world of storyboarding and previsualisation, and there are many excellent resources available.

Below are some of the best books we recommend on the subject.

Prepare to Board! by Nancy Beiman
Top of our list is Prepare to Board! by Nancy Beiman, an excellent book from a master animator and board artist who now teaches at Sheridan College in Canada.

Friday, 15 May 2020

We Have Lift-Off! VFX Festival Goes Online

The VFX Festival is back. Hosted by Escape Studios, the VFX festival is a celebration of visual effects, animation, games and motion graphics.

For the last seven years the festival has been hosted in London, most recently at the South Bank Centre, but now, for the first time, the VFX festival is going virtual, with online talks and panel discussions.

Next week we're hosting two free events, part of the Virtual Series for Schools and Colleges. First up is We Have Lift-Off!: Your first steps to a career in VFX, Animation and Games, which takes place on Tuesday, 19th May at 2pm.  To sign up for the event, follow this link.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Animation Webinar: "The Making of Jerich0"

In this webinar, hosted at the official Escape Studios YouTube Channel, Escapee and animation director Sarah Andrews explains the process of making her short film Jerich0, which has been winning awards in multiple film festivals, including being short-listed for a student BAFTA.  In this 20 minute video, Sarah explores the production pipeline, how the film was made, and some of the hurdles and challenges which the team had to overcome.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Toonboom Harmony is Back on 7 October

Harmony animators at Escape Studios
Our popular 2D Animation evening class in Toonboom Harmony is returning on Wednesday 7 October 2020.

The class runs for 10 weeks, one evening a week (Tuesdays), and is an introduction to animating in Toonboom Harmony, one of the leading software packages for the creation of 2D animation.

Harmony animators are much in demand, as 2D animation experiences a significant revival, both in the UK and overseas.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Introducing "Birds Connect Our World"

We're proud to present the short film "Birds Connect Our World", written, directed and animated by Escapee Wing Lan Lilian Fu.  Lilian took our evening class in animation in ToonBoom Harmony, taught by Plamen Ananiev, and she applied her new skills to make this short film, commissioned by the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP).  The film, which was made entirely under the Corona Lockdown, tackles the challenges faced by migratory birds in Asia, and what can be done to protect them and their natural habitats.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Escape Students Win Awards at Sci-On Fest

"Joe" wins Director's Choice Award
Many congratulations to the makers of Adam & Eve Mk II and Joe, which have both won the "Director's Choice" award at the Sci-On film festival in Reno, Nevada.

Adam & Eve Mk II is a modern re-telling of the Genesis story; Joe is a short story about a cleanup robot that goes wrong.

Despite the challenges caused by the Corona lockdown, and many festivals cancelling or moving online, our student films continue to experience growing festival success.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

"Evening With..." Robert Valley 14 May

Artwork by Robert Valley
On Thursday 14th May, Escape Studios welcomes Oscar-nominated Director, Animator and Character designer, Robert Valley to one of our regular "Evening With..." events.

Robert Valley is an animator with a remarkable career that includes hits such as Aeon Flux,Tron: Uprising, Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots and ‘Zima Blue’.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Why Animators Need Mood Boards

Mood Board for "Animal Lover
Mood Boards are an important part of the process of making an animated film.

Mood Boards, such as the one on the left for the award-winning short film "Animal Lover", allow the director and art director to get a feel for what a film will look like, long before the animation and lighting is complete.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Students - Download Your Free Maya License

For newcomers to the animation industry, and especially for our students starting with us this September, it's important to remember that Autodesk, who make the software Maya, offer an education copy of Maya for free, which can be downloaded from the official Autodesk site.

Autodesk Maya has been the dominant software package in 3D animation for over 20 years. I first used Maya 1.0 on "The Iron Giant", back in 1998. And today it remains the most powerful package for the creation of 3D animation, still by far the most widely used in industry.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Animation Summer Reading List

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

A good book is still a great place to start learning and exploring the world of character animation, and there are many excellent resources available.

Below is a brief list of some of the best books that we recommend.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

"Evening With..." LinkedIn's Steve Vasko 7 May

We're hosting a virtual "Evening With..." event with Steve Vasko from LinkedIn via Zoom on Thursday 7th May at 5pm.

Steve Vasko is the Manager of Customer Success at Linkedin and has over 20 years of experience in high tech industries.

Prior to LinkedIn, Steve worked at Autodesk, focused on the Media and Entertainment industry in marketing and supporting products such as Maya, Flame and 3ds Max. In this webinar Steve will explain how to build your personal brand at Linkedin - something we recommend all our students do.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Escape Students Win Awards at the LSSFF

"Draw" - Highest Commendation
Many congratulations to the makers of "Draw""The Golden Acorn", Home Sweet Home"Jerich0", "Flame" and "Vivi Ossa", all of which have won awards at the London Seasonal Short Film Festival (LSSFF).

"Draw", "The Golden Acorn", and "Home Sweet Home" won laurels for "Highest Commendation".

In addition, Sarah Andrews BAFTA-shortlisted "Jerich0" received an "honourable mention", and "Flameand "Vivi Ossa" both received a "Special Mention".  Despite the challenges caused by the lockdown, our student films continue to enjoy growing festival success.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Industry Feedback with DNeg on Monday

Dara McGarry
We're delighted to welcome back David Prescott, Senior Vice President of Creative Production at Double Negative, and Dara McGarry, Artist Manager at Double Negative, for some online feedback with our students on Monday 4 May.

David and Dara will be joining us online via Google Meet and Syncsketch to offer feedback to our second year animation students on their film projects.

Industry feedback is at the heart of what we do at Escape Studios; it helps our students to connect with the commercial world and make sure we're teaching industry-relevant skills.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Free Animation Taster on Wednesday 6 May

Lee Caller
We're running a free online Animation Taster at Escape Studios on Wednesday 6 May at Noon, taught by veteran animator Lee Caller.

Taster Classes are a great chance to learn about character and creature animation, and find out what an animator's job is all about.

You will learn how to use Autodesk Maya and get a hands-on introduction to 3D Animation techniques. No prior knowledge of Maya - or any software - is required.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Industry Feedback with Shelley Page 6th May

Shelley Page
Animation industry veteran Shelley Page will be giving our students industry feedback on Wednesday 6th May.

Shelley has been working in feature animation since 1986, with credits including "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", "Shrek 1-4", "Shark Tale", "Madagascar", "Kung Fu Panda", and "How to Train Your Dragon".

As always, engagement with industry is at the heart of what we do at Escape Studios. What skills are in demand? Who is hiring? And how do we prepare our students for the industry as it will be in two or three years time?