AM Class 3 – Week 1: New Class and BIG changes!

Hey everyone! Well, I had a brief couple of days between Class 2 ending and Class 3 starting. I am very excited to be starting this new class though! My new mentor is Mike Stern and was part of the first class of graduates of Animation Mentor. He has since been working at DreamWorks Animation Studios for 7 years! He has worked on some of their most popular movies including How to Train Your Dragon and is now working on the sequel to it! Some of you may know but, Animation Mentor recently introduced some huge changes to the curriculum in order to keep the students as marketable and attractive to studios as possible! This change went into effect this term for me by taking the new version of Class 3.

Class 3 is now a collaborative class, meaning, weeks 4-12 will require the 9 other classmates of mine + my mentor to all work together to create a very small short film/sequence by the end of week 12! We get to learn about how to link up shots and make the animation look consistent throughout the sequence, stuff you can’t learn without collaboration! What is great though is that Animation Mentor is now officially a “Studio School” meaning that we are literally simulating the work environment of a studio as close as possible. As animators all we have to worry about his animating and layout/story ideas in these films, and the other students in the VFX side of the school will be worrying about the lighting, composting, rendering etc! They also introduced a new pipeline tool that works just like the ones used at the major studios! We now store all of our files and can access all the assets, rigs everything through a very sophisticated asset management tool called AMP (Animation Mentor Pipeline). This tool allows for us all to work collaboratively, share files, and for our mentor to even open our files up and work right in them to clarify a point. Also did I mention, NEW RIGS! These things are amazing and I cannot wait to get down to working with them.

Another big change is that our e-critiques are now live! We get to have our critique during the weekly Q&A just like dailies in an animation studio. Our work gets put up in front of everyone and we get feedback from the mentor and our classmates. The critique is also recorded should we need to reference it later in the week. There is A LOT of new things happening with this course and much of the future courses that I will be taking so it should be really exciting to follow along! What I love about AM that is something most traditional schools cannot do is they are able to get feedback from the actual studios and implement major curriculum changes to benefit the students, very FAST! This type of stuff almost never happens in traditional brick and mortor schools and students graduate and are already out-dated on industry standards.

So, lets get to my week 1 work! Weeks 1-3 are a solo exercise for us just to get back into the swing of animating. We have to animate a quick 96 frame shot showcasing good locomotion and body mechanics. I chose to use one of the new character rigs we just got named Stan. I absolutely love his look and these new rigs are AMAZING, so many great features that are all designed to industry standards and feature film quality.

Here is a quick look at Stan!

I also had to shoot video reference and some planning sketches for my assignment as well, take a look at those below!

Planning & Video Reference:

Long post, I know, but there was a lot to cover! Keep checking back for new updates!