One of the most entertaining parts of the Character Animation course that I teach at Escape studios is the lesson where the students invent, design and pitch an original animated character to myself and the rest of the class. The purpose of the exercise is to get students thinking not just about the technical side of character motion and action but also to think inventively and creatively. Can we invent characters as well as animate them? The visual effects industry is often demanding in terms of time and energy, and one of the best antidotes to the problem of "burn out" is to keep the creative spirit alive. After all, we all went into the arts to invent and create, not just to polish other people's ideas.
Shapes In Motion was founded in 2010 by Sarah Perry who is not just an actor but an acting and movement coach. Having met Sarah recently at Escape Studios I wanted to tell you more about the interesting coaching work she does with animators. Sarah has been working in the visual effects industry in various tutoring/coaching capacities on a freelance basis since 2008, with recent clients including MPC and Double Negative.
It seems there is an abundance of technology conferences to choose from this year. For fellow technology enthusiasts out there, this is an exciting time, as we are treated to an ocean of updates, new releases and ground breaking developments. One conference we give a particular seal of approval to is the much anticipated CVMP (Conference for Visual Media Production), now in its 8th year running. This is a conference dedicated to the geeks of the visual media production industries, whether that is in film, broadcast or games.
We just caught up with Stu Schwartz—last year’s CG Whiz winner. Here’s what he had to say about the experience and knowledge he’s gained and, of course, a few tips for this year’s submissions:
I learned a lot this last summer at Escape Studios as a student and intern but one of the most important things I want to make sure students and aspiring artists know is that I found out how important networking can be. The more you get out there and meet people, the more opportunities will present themselves. Escape is located right near the heart of countless studios and is always putting on events and connecting with other studios and industry professionals. It's been a great environment for meeting other artists and potential employers. So keep that in mind as you move forward in your careers.
Pixar, renowned for their cutting edge animation, know better than anyone the advantages of saving time where possible. The technical directors and supervisors on Cars 2 were faced with the challenge of building locations for this feature length animation. Those of you who have seen the sequel will remember that the lead character, Lightning McQueen, is being sent around the globe to race in the world Grand Prix. The challenge for the Pixar creative team was to build recognizable cities, on a very broad scale.
MARI is a relatively new piece of software, and is becoming more popular with artists as its reputation for efficiency and adaptability becomes more widely known. As with any piece of new software there is a period of trial and error before you really get to know its full capability. It is in light of this that Henry South, lead texture artist at Framestore, is offering to share his top 23 tips when working with MARI.
Giuseppe Candido is not only a recent character animation course escapee, but now also a very talented animator and a skilled Maya Generalist. He has put together one of the most charming demo reels we have seen here at Escape Studios. Giuseppe combined many of his student exercises into a circus project - creating a stunning short film in the process, and all completed from scratch in just six weeks.
I'm really honoured to have been asked to join a panel of speakers for a session on Continual Professional Development (CPD) Education and Training at the International Animation Festival (LIAF) in London.
Both animation enthusiasts and novices alike, will be delighted by The Barbican Centre's brilliant animation show Watch Me Move. From Winsor McCay's 1914 classic Gertie the Dinosaur, to Steven Spielberg's T Rex in the 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park, the exhibition educates and entertains in equal measure.
Here is something cool to brighten your Friday afternoon and to prepare you for the weekend. It has been doing the rounds this week, and was even featured in the Metro earlier in the week.
We are proud to congratulate Helen Streeter on her new position as a runner at The Mill. Helen recently completed the character animation course at Escape Studios, and worked hard on putting together a showreel demonstrating her animation skills. The Mill is one of London's leading VFX houses and recently re-opened its film division following strong successes in commercials and music videos. The biggest hurdle in visual effects is always getting that first job and we couldn't be more pleased for Helen - congratulations.
My walk down memory lane continues...
I went on a simulator ride called 'Slot Car Boogie' at the weekend. it was actually made by some old friends at Rocket Films in Bournemouth quite some years ago. 1996 I believe! Rocket Films are sadly no longer trading but it lead me to wonder who makes these kind of films today? It's hard to find any reference of it in the UK, which is a shame as we were obviously quite good at it.
This work would have been done on a Silicon Graphics machine running PowerAnimator. To put this into perspective, this would have cost around £60-80K for the SGI hardware and the software for just one artist... Oh, how lucky we all are now!
If you know of any companies that do this type of work in the UK, do let me know.
As with most of my memory lane trips, the memories were normally pre Internet revolution. I have however found this on YouTube, Slot Car Boogie by the originator Ian Williams.
Those of you starting out in the CG industry may be interested to know that the Sydney Opera House is currently running an animation competition.
The Animation Festival ‘Annecy’ invited me to give a talk about my career as an animator and to lift the lid on a few Animation Mysteries as well. As much as I love working at Escape Studios, it was great to talk about my life as a freelance animator and some of the jobs that have shaped my career like ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ and ‘The Lion King’. It was also nice to see that people were interested in this too!
I thought it was going to be one of those 'office' moments when a colleague pulled some papers out of his bag and said "you must see this"... He is important, so I paid good attention...!