Animation Mentor: Complete!

blog_picThat’s all folks! 18 months, came and went at lightening speed! It is hard to believe that it is already over. I had such an amazing experience attending Animation Mentor. I met so many inspiring people and was fortunate to learn from the best in the industry. Animators from the most respected studios around the world. Each and every mentor I had brought new and unique views to the art of animation. I learned more in this last year and half about animation as art but also as an industry that I ever imagined. If you have been following my blog from the beginning then you saw as we started with the most basic of exercises the “bouncing ball” and as I progressed through the program we finally finished with multiple character acting shots.

As I prepare to attend my final Q&A session tomorrow evening, I’m reflecting on all that I learned and all the areas where I still need to learn more. Animation Mentor really taught me how to animate. Prior to coming to Animation Mentor, I knew I wasn’t ready to animate professionally, but I didn’t realize just HOW far away from that goal I was. After going through this program, I feel like I finally have a real solid foundation to work with. I plan to start searching for jobs and I am willing to take any sort of paid opportunity I can get my hands on. However, I know that I still have a lot of room to grow as animator and there are so many topics that I wish to delve into and explore. Things, like creature animation, video game animation, and of course always improving my acting shots. One of things about pursuing animation is that you are ALWAYS a student. There is always something to learn, and even many students at Animation Mentor were professional working animators. This industry is always progressing, the characters get more complex, the movies and games get more detailed and that requires that the animators continue to keep learning and pushing the art form forward.

Aside from all the technical and artistic knowledge I learned from AM, I got to make a TON of new friends with fellow animators and artists from around the world! I always loved being in class and seeing animators from India, Brazil, Norway, Germany, USA and countless other countries. This art truly is global and animation can communicate at so many levels. The community at AM is the most helpful, friendly, supportive and inspiring group of people I’ve ever been around. Everyone is always offering feedback, and advice on how to improve or how to fix a problem with a shot or even just sharing great animation with each other. Even though it was an online school, it never really felt that solitary. There were so many opportunities to hop into video chats on google+ and talk with your friends while animating to the wee hours of the morning.

I am eagerly awaiting when I get to meet all my classmates in-person at our graduation in November. The graduation is going to take place at the same time as the CTNx Animation Expo in Burbank, California! I cannot wait to get out there and celebrate and meet everyone.

I am more inspired and more eager then ever to keep animating. I already have tons ideas that I want to animate and get to work on to improve my reel. Getting into this industry can be extremely tough and it takes a lot of determination and hard-work. I plan to keep treating this blog as I did while I was in school. I am going to keep posting regular updates on my new shots as I develop them, because I enjoy doing it and it keeps me accountable and motivated!

I could probably go on for days about my experience at Animation Mentor, but I don’t want to keep rambling and I’m sure you are all eager to see my graduation demo reel! I just wanted to thank Animation Mentor and all my mentors for such a great learning experience. I also couldn’t have done it without my super supportive fiance who has put up with all my late-night classes and days spent animating. Finally, my awesome parents and sister who have always supported my dreams and goals.

Finally.. here it is, my graduation reel (I highly recommend you watch it on vimeo in HD):
Also – the 2 person acting shot was lit by a good friend of mine from Purdue, Andrew Kennedy – check out his work at
[vimeo w=720&h=405]

AM Class 1: Week 8 – Blocking a Vanilla Walk & Strength Pose

This week’s assignment was the beginning of a two week long assignment. This first half of it was to block in the animation of a vanilla walk. A vanilla walk is a plain or basic walk, not much character to it just your average walk. It is actually quite a challenge to not add some characterization to it. The slightest amount of bounce or rotation or even speed in a step can add character to a walk. This was also our first real foray into the workflow of going from Blocking in “Stepped” keys to “Polish” with spline keys.

Blocking is a process that animators use to get the idea of a shot down into the computer without having to polish it to final. Blocking is the stage after planning. During planning you have come up with a general sense of the timing, spacing and poses you want to hit. In Blocking you go into the computer (Maya) and start roughing in these poses and getting the timing and spacing nailed. Blocking is great because in a studio an animator is able to show a blocking pass to a director and let him/her know where they are going with the shot and get it approved to keep going in that direction or if they need to change up their idea some.

At Animation Mentor and they really want us to work in a workflow that is similar to what the professionals work in, so we have to use “Stepped” tangents to block the assignment it. Stepped tangents means that when we play the animation the computer is not creating any in-betweens. All we are seeing is the poses we have created and it “pops” from one pose to the next. In Blocking we get our Key Poses, our Extreme Poses, and our Breakdown Poses all laid out. Then during a stage called “Blocking Plus” you start adding your in-betweens into the scene. All of this is done with “Stepped” keys until eventually you tend to have a key almost every 2-4 frames. We don’t want the computer to do a lot of the work because the computer is not good at guessing our inbetweens. Finally we take the shot into “Polish” mode. In Polish mode we convert our tangents over to a smooth mode and let the computer do some work.

This week we had to just get the Blocking done. Next week we turn in a “Polished” version of our walk or just a Final version.

Along with a walk, we also had to create a pose showing physical strength.

Walk Planning:

Walk Blocking:
(youtube drops some frames so there is a slight pause at the beginning that is not really there)

Strength Sketches, Pose & Revisions:
Revisions were mostly just to clean up the hands so they were more readable and not so close together.

I am already busying polishing my shot for Week 9 which is a lot of work so stay tuned for another update soon!