Marc Godfrey Animator

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?