Marc Godfrey Animator

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Week 12 of Animation underway!

Gah! I can't believe it's been a month since I blogged last! Sorry!

My mind is bursting with ideas for animations and my showreel. I'm not quite half way through the course with Alex Williams and Animation Apprentice yet, so there's lots of time for more ideas to marinade.

I've been working on weight shifts, jumping, showing weight in animation and overall getting a feeling of reality into my work, by how weight and balance works in an environment. Here's a simple weight shift that I animated (note, everything I'm posting currently is still in rough, and not showreel ready...still lots of work to do).


The rig is by Raveen Rajadorai at Creative Crash. It's remarkable how more observant I am becoming. For instance, when someone switches weight from one foot to another, I never really considered the two steps often used, I thought it was just a case of switching the hips. I look at people walking too, in a new way, I'm thinking "How are they carrying their weight? How much do they bend their knee? Is their chest rotating as they walk? Is their head still or moving with the motion?". Doing this animation course has given me new eyes!

Here's another weight based exercise I have done. The suicidal flour sack! I enjoyed animating this, although I found the rig quite tricky to work with. I love how you can get so much character into a relatively ordinary, plain and every-day object. This rig is by key_framer at Creative Crash.


Friday, 28 September 2012

A Proud Piece of Animation

I am bloody loving animating! I've created quite a few small pieces, but none of them are really showreel yet - still lots of tweaking to do.

Here's something I'm working on - it's still work in progress, so still some work to do - but I'm happy to show it at this stage.

I took a rig of a big "heavy" character, that comes armed with a machine gun - so typically this is the sort of character you would expect to find roaming the darkened streets killing everyone in, I decided to turn the character on its head - and give him an effeminate twist. Let me know what you think :)

Monday, 17 September 2012

An Animator's Life for a Busy One!

Apologies I haven't been on the blog much...the work at Escape and Animation Apprentice is keeping me very busy! If I'm not at work, I've either good my head in a tutorial, or book about animation (...or watching the latest episode of the British Bake-Off...obviously)

I was hoping by now I would have something to show you, that would be show-reel worthy...but alas, I'm not THAT good yet. I have a couple of walks that are proving a success, but still need a bit of tweaking.

I keep seeing trailers for animated films...needless to say, it starts me fantasising about working as an animator in a studio one day. This one in particular caught my eye, Wreck-It Ralph...the latest Disney, and it looks amazing...One day.

Friday, 31 August 2012

3D art? How do I become an animator using THAT?

Someone asked me: how do you become an animator ...which I thought was a very good question...and inspired discussion, that I thought I'd share. 3D art and animation is everywhere, so how do you get to train how to work with it? But firstly, let's get one thing out of the way, can you believe it's the end of August already? This year is zipping by. It also means that I have now been training in animation and learning animation techniques for about 2 months now. I'm at the stage where the software I'm using is getting very familiar and I'm feeling almost to the stage of it becoming second nature. Of course there are more programmes to practice animation techniques than just using Maya, but I'll stick with the one programme for now!

Animator Meme
Click here for Image Credit

I used to ask myself "How Do I Become an Animator?", and end up getting lost on Google with articles telling me "to become an animator write letters to production companies and ask for experience", I think it's a good idea, but I don't know how much that would help in the long run. I wanted a solid training foundation, particularly in 3D art and 3D animation as that sparked more of an interest with me rather than traditional animation. One thing is for sure, I wanted to make sure I would be equipped with the animation techniques that I would need to know before I even attempted to approach a studio or company to take me on. The best piece of advice I was given (and I believe is paying off) is to network, network, network.

I didn't study Animation at uni*, so at the age of 30, I felt at a disadvantage - I didn't have a clue about any of the latest animation techniques or how to work in 3D art other than traditional sculpture. I've known about Escape studios for a while - I had a friend who studied Compositing there, and I had been to a couple of open days - so it automatically popped up in my mind. As I'm sure I've already explained, Escape couldn't help me with my dream to become an animator because they pulled the course, just as I was ready to sign up...but they did introduce me to Alex a course in learning Maya with Escape, and a course learning Animation techniques with Alex followed.

I felt confident with Escape, the 3D art they created blew my away. But not only had I been given a personal recommendation from a friend, but the work their students is excellent - knowing Alex had connections with them, and seeing his showreel, I knew I was in the right company with him too. The animation techniques I'm learning are brilliant and easy to understand and follow (however, mastering them, is another matter). If I hadn't found either, I guess I would be looking for more schools or colleges with good reputations, good work to show for what they do and a good feel for their connections with the industry...THEN I'll approach a studio with my "let me become an animator with you" approach. Escape will help you find work when you finish a course, but I understand that they would charge a finders fee to the studio-potential-employer, which studios don't like, for obvious reasons! So, the networking approach is one I hope to explore to its full potential! It's still early days, but it's always good to be prepared!

*Some great uni courses for animation and working with 3D art, as I understand, are at Bournemouth University and the University of Kent.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Edinburgh Fringe Inspiration

I've been away for a few days at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Absolutely amazing. I've seen some cracking stuff...and also some naff stuff. Most importantly, I've been very inspired. A lot of things I saw made me think "that would make a good piece of animation" or "that was a really comical face expression" or "that walk would make a brilliant animated character".

Got lots of work to catch up on though, but I'm getting there.

Looking through my blog, I haven't told you the good news - at Escape, we've started rotating desks! It's the small things. But, what this means is that I won't be able to see the board for only a 1/3 of my time there (there are 3 rows of desks). This makes such a difference - being able to say really enhances ones learning, when needing to follow what is happening on a board in front of you!

So, yes, I've got lots of work to catch up on, so more from me soon.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Working With Wonderful Wacoms

It's been another busy week. My biggest achievement was to use a Wacom Tablet! To be honest, I was nervous about it, I've always used a mouse. Basically, Wacom tablet lets you use the Maya software (and any software really) using a pen stylus on a tablet. It completely replaces the mouse. It's weird, you just hover the pen over the tablet and it moves the cursor around your screen. It also has little buttons on your pen, to use the respective middle and right clicks. It's going to take some getting used to, but I'm really excited and have already done some Maya modelling with it! I got my Wacom tablet from Amazon, I'm using the Wacom Bamboo Pen Graphics Tablet from and I'm really pleased with it (it only cost me about £50, bargain!). You can also get Wacom tablets on so it's definitely worth shopping around.

Head modelled in Maya
See link for image credit.
I also started modelling heads and modelling furniture this week! Quite a comparison, lol. The head picture on the left is from a design page at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne I'm linking because there are some pretty nifty tutorials on how to model in Maya, so definitely worth taking a peek.

I'm beginning to feel more and more confident about using Maya. It's taken a few weeks, but things are starting to sink in, and some techniques are turning into autopilot in my mind.

As far as travelling to my course goes, I've not had any commutable problems into London, with the Olympics in full swing...which is always a bonus!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

My First Ever Piece of Animation

I've done it! I'm so excited! I've done my first ever piece of animation!

I animated a ball bouncing down some steps. It wasn't all that hard actually. Finding my way around the programme was fine, and the tutorials from Alex were very comprehensive and easy to follow. I came a bit stuck when I needed to add some more key frames to my Y axis (don't you just hate it when that happens), but I managed to work it out. So, now I'm just waiting for feedback.

The most simplest thing, was getting the ball. You can't just animate any polygon shape you create. It has to have certain properties that are defined in a rig - which is basically the framework to tell the animator what bits can be moved and how. So, the ball I animated can squash and stretch from the top of the bottom, without losing it's mass. Very clever.

We used a site called which is free join, and allows you use rigs added to the site from it's members. Brilliant, isn't it?

Monday, 30 July 2012

Olympic Inspiration

It's been a busy few days since I last posted. I've had birthday celebrations to plan, dinner parties with friends, Olympic Opening Ceremonies for London 2012 to watch (obvs)...and do some Animation homework too.

Getting in and out of London for my course has been pretty crazy. On Thursday, I left Oxford at 3:30pm and didn't arrive until 6:30pm (the course starts at 7pm). Usually, the journey takes just over an hour, but because of the Olympics, London has gone into some weird traffic meltdown. Thursday was the eve of the Opening Ceremony, so there was a concert and all sorts of other goings on, making traffic even worse than it normally would when the Olympics is in full swing...grrrrreat!

Animation inspiration - the Olympic cauldron 2012
Image credit:E! online 
So, who saw the opening ceremony? Wasn't it amazing? I mean breath takingly stunning. Danny Boyle did a great job. The lighting of the cauldron was a triumph (although it did feel a bit Harry Potteresque, with the 7 chosen teens, all lighting the goblet of fire together, I mean the bronze-petal-trumpets-cauldron), so creative and symbolic.

The whole event was very inspiring and got me thinking of lots of animation ideas. It's always good to be visually stimulated when working in a creative industry - and the London2012 opening ceremony was one hell of an inspiration. Wish I was there. Amazing.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

An Animator's Life for Me

I started the animation side of the course this week. I'm on week1 and really enjoying it. The tutorials are engaging and interesting - its so cool seeing images from Disney films I grew up watching, then hearing Alex say "this is the shot I animated from the Lion King" blows my mind a little bit!

Dare I say it, but I'm enjoying this side of my training, so much more than at Escape. It goes to show how some people can relate and respond to different presentation and teaching styles. As I'm writing this blog about to go to Escape, I'm thinking "what will I get shown today, that I won't be able to do". Hmmm - I'm not sure if that says more about me or more about the confidence being given to me as I learn - probably the former.

I'm not sure if I've already mentioned in a previous post, but I emailed the training support coordinator (I think that's their title, basically the person who did our mini induction at the studios) about me not being able to see properly - I'm pretty sure no one in the back row can either, to be honest - but I've not heard anything back. Grrrreat! I was talking to friend about it, it's kind of got to the point where it's gone too far to make a point of it in class...kinda awkward. I'm just going to play it by ear and make sure I'm getting value for money - this course ain't cheap!

So, back to the animation, I'm probably about halfway through the first set of tutorials and I've already been set a deadline and have to submit a shot, how cool is that? I can't wait to get on with the rest of the tutorials. I'll see if I can post a few bits as I go.

We've also been set another text to get hold of...needless to say it's straight on my amazon wishlist.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Bloody Textures!

Hmm. That was a tough class. For some reason lots of things not working for me. Very frustrating, the perfectionist in me is struggling. The "don't panic" voice inside me is trying desperately to take over.

I guess I just need to reassure myself that that was only the 7th session and still at the very early stages of getting to grips with Maya.

I've given myself extra homework to try and catch up - its texture mapping that doesn't seem to behave. Grrr.

Bring on the Animation teaching!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Why Animation?

I had a really good time at Escape last night - the modelling is making more and more sense with each session. I also discovered that sitting at the front of class, was a hell of a lot easier to follow what's going on...all this time, and now I can actually tell that there is text on the front screen!

Our tutor explained how this type of work can be demanding and gruelling, and some students start at 9:30 in the morning, and often don't leave until 10pm (this didn't phase me one bit, in my "day job" I hold my first meeting at 7:30am, and often don't leave the office until 8pm, and often work weekends too). He went on to say that this type of job has to be more than "just doing a job" - working in 3D, has to something that you
need to do.

It reminded me of the advice, from a lady called Cecily, who was on the panel of auditioners at a Drama School in London. She would ask the auditionees why they wanted to be actors, but there was only one response that she regarded as "the right one": "I don't want to act, I have to act".

Image credit:
It got me thinking about why I want to animate.

When I was little, at Infant school, I distinctly remember having to draw a picture of the job we want to do when we grow up. I wanted to be a Clown (...don't ask). Then shortly after, when I went to Junior school, I decided I wanted to be an Animator. I was obsessed with cartoons, drawing, painting, anything art related. I became an avid viewer of Rolf's Cartoon Club and shows like Art Attack

Growing up, Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield, was my hero - I would draw pictures of Garfield all day long. I would be given Garfield books as gifts, and I would paw over each page. It was from my love of Garfield and watching my recordings of Garfield and Friends, that I knew that I wanted to make cartoons. I wanted to become an Animator. I was given stacks and stacks of books on Animation. Everyone at school thought I was bonkers and didn't understand why I didn't want a "proper job".

As I got older, I got completely distracted by drama and theatre. I still kept my art up, but all aspirations to animate disappeared. Theatre was my life. At university, I didn't want to give up on art completely, so did a combined degree in Theatre with Art. When leaving uni, I worked on some shows, and sold my art, whilst working in the family business for a day job.

I held my own art shows, and worked on 3 professional theatre productions (2 in the West End)...I am lucky enough to say I achieved 3 of my dreams in one job (long story, for another post, probably). After that, I began to think "...What now?"

I love Disney, but had never been to Disneyland. My partner is also a massive fan and had been to the parks many times. In 2010, I booked us a long weekend, Disneyland Paris, for a birthday treat. It wasn't until we went through the Animation zone (the big blue Mickey Fantasia hat), that all my memories and affections for animation came back. Then we sat at the little Mickey Animation desks (you know the kind, with a big square, backlit section to trace through) and a guy taught us how to draw Winnie the Pooh. Then, at that moment, drawing on the desk, I knew it was what I had to go for my earliest childhood dream.

I don't want to Animate, I have to Animate. 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

It's sinking in...

It's been a busy week. Work (day job) is gearing up for one of its busiest times of the year, and obviously I've cut my hours, to dedicate time to learning how to become an animator. I've got lots of plates spinning, but I'm cool with that...I'm pretty good at keeping everything afloat.

I had a great class at Escape on Tuesday night. We finished off our bottles with texture and colouring, and moved on to the next project. At first (as you could probably tell) I was quite nervous and daunted by what I had let myself in for, I felt like I had put myself well and truly in the deep end, but now I'm feeling more and more like I can start taking the armbands off, and float with more ease.

I've figured and excepted that the course IS going to be tough, but as long as I ask the right questions, or know where to look to find the answers I need, and as long as I keep up with the work, and put effort in, in my own time, I'll get there.

Escape recommended a couple of website to keep an eye on, and join their forums - apparently the people are helpful, and it's a good space to learn things from each other. I need to check out:


So, consider those well and truly on my "to click" list

My Maya tutor is helpful at keeping us all on track, but I don't panic if I missed something, I just make a note, and refer back and find out what I need to know. If you're thinking about doing a course like this, don't forget a notebook and pen - incredibly foolish, I forgot on the first day, but managed to transfer my notes in time for the second class.

Today, I also got a glimpse of the modules I'm going to be taking for my actual animation training, I'm really excited and can't wait to get going!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Finding My Feet

I've had a pretty good week, as far as learning how to become a 3D Animator goes. Actually, no, that doesn't make sense, because technically speaking, I haven't started any animation training, far I'm still learning the fundamentals of Maya...but that's going pretty good, so that's good, right? Yup.

Last Thursday we made a bottle using a NURBS curve, then created a surface with it. It was so much fun. I'm still finding it a little bit tricky to keep up with the pace of the class, but I'll get there.

One thing I like about the course, is at the start of the session, we have a chance to go through any questions that have come up since the last time. So, that's a really good opportunity for me to dig a little deeper with anything I don't understand!

In the past 10 days or so, I've been thinking how grateful I am that this course is twice a week, in other words, part time. Escape Studios do full time intensive courses, that are all day every day for a period of 12-16 weeks. I don't think I would do very well with that one. I'm really enjoying having the time to go home, reflect on what's been taught, and practice and go other bits that I'm not sure on. A bit like driving a car, I found the experience of having a lesson per week, gave me more time to think about what I was doing, than had I done an intensive crash course over a short period.

I don't have an incredibly strong, technical background when it comes to IT and computers, I am slower than most of the others in the class I've noticed. Oh well, we all learn at different paces and ways don't we? When we made the bottles in class, there was one guy who had not only made a bottle, but a cork to sit in it, a table to place the bottle, and a glass to accompany it!

I'm confident in my creative background - having a degree in Art and Theatre. My puppetry and animation manipulation should tap into my theatrical directorial work, and the whole look of the shot should tap into my artist's least that's the theory. That's what I figure.

Hoping to find out more about the Animation side of things this week, to get that underway...I'm tres excitedo indeedio! As soon as I have more news and updates, I'll be sure to update this trusty blog :)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Look, I made a pig!

So, as you know, I've been using Maya for exactly a week now. I've had 6 hours teaching time, and a bit of time to play around on the software in my spare time. I've just been practicing some techniques, ready for my class this I made a pig. Ain't he cute?

Sunday, 1 July 2012

My Maya

I've had a quiet weekend, so found the opportunity to get stuck into a good book, The Animator's Survival Kit, by Richard Williams. It was recommended to me when I first went to the Animation Open Day at Escape Studios. I bought it shortly after, but never really got chance to read it. So far, so good...a real bible of a book.

 I spoke to Alex, my Animation tutor, he reassured me about the course and restored some faith back into what I was doing. We're looking to start the Animation side of things later in July. I can't wait. He also told me about a way to download Maya onto my computer, so I could practice in my own time. Amazing!

Maya Cubes

So, I've had a play around, and have got the hang of pivots in vertex mode - which you can see from the angle of the flappy, thin cube, suspended in the air. It's a very nice feeling knowing that I can practice at home. Thanks Alex!

Friday, 29 June 2012

Well, that knocked the wind out of my sails...

I started my course in Maya Core last Tuesday (26/06/12), and had my second session last night. I'm not going to lie, I'm finding it challenging (but I have only been on the software for a total of 6 hours, so far!) I can work my way round what we've done so far, but the pace of the class is very fast.

The biggest struggle I'm finding, is getting used to the teaching style. We're working our way round introductions to the elements that make up the Maya software...but I find that I need a bit of time to reflect on my notes, to work out how to do something (...such as showing a cube's vertices)...I'm getting there - but feel just as I get to the point of "right, I know where we are, now", the tutor has moved on to something else! Argh!

I'm answering a lot of questions (correctly too, I'm proud to report). Some people say I like the sound of my own voice, so I like answering questions (especially if I'm right, lol). I struggled a bit last night on pivots (stupid pivots, tsk) and snapping a pivot to a vertex (don't you hate it when that happens?). The tutor helped me out, but perhaps he thought I was slow...because that's the only thing I can think of that inspired a comment along the lines of...

"Doing this course, and another course in Animation is a lot of work...if you're struggling with are you going to 3D Animation as well" ...Nothing like a bit of support, right? (...and that's nothing like a bit of support!)

I could be paraphrasing, and I could be being over sensitive, but honestly, I felt devastated. Firstly, because by that time, I had only been on the course for 4 hours of contact time (about 4 minutes of which have been 121, helping me)...and secondly because it's encouragement I'm after, not criticism...yet! By all means criticise the creative work I produce, but not my ability, without some sort of proper assessment first.

Anyway, he seems like a nice guy, so I'm reserving all judgement until we get a few weeks into the course. A little voice in the back of my head did say "You're paying all that money, to be told THIS?"...anywaaaay - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and all that jazz. I'll be catching up with my Animation tutor later today, who will hopefully make me feel a bit better about what I'm doing and reignite some enthusiasm, spirit and confidence in me again.

Starting the Journey into 3D Animation

I've taken the plunge and decided I'm going to train in 3D Animation. For lots of reasons that I'll probably cover at various intervals throughout this blog. Primarily, to fulfil a childhood ambition that went dormant, and reignited 3 years ago at EuroDisney (of course!).

Initially, I was going to enrol on a 12 week intensive course, at Escape Studios. But after they pulled the plug on the course, I endeavoured to find my own route to get trained up. Upon advice from the studios, I am enrolling on Escape Studios 30 week, part time evening course, to train in Maya (the key software that people in VFX and Animation use) as well as a 30 week part time course in 3D Animation itself.

I'm very nervous, as I'm not technical (my background is in Theatre, Art and Marketing). Excited about the unknown...but most importantly, I'm up for it!