Thursday, September 11, 2014

New AnimSchool Character: Marshall

For Immediate Release

Orem, UT  United States - September 11, 2014 -- AnimSchool is proud to present our newest character, Marshall, exclusively for AnimSchool students!

AnimSchool is the leader in appealing, flexible characters. Our students animate with the most refined, advanced characters, using the popular AnimSchool Picker.

Marshall has clothing options: shirt, jacket, pants, shoes, poseable toes, as well as fat controls and UV's for textured rendering.

AnimSchool rigs are built with each part and control being tested to extreme levels, making the strongest poses possible. You can see the range of motion and poseability students can achieve with Marshall.

AnimSchool students are using him to great effect, like this shot below from graduate Ricardo Puertas!

To use Marshall, apply to an AnimSchool program or individual class.

AnimSchool characters and the AnimSchool Picker are used by more than 20,000 users worldwide, and have been used to win numerous animation contests and for commercial needs. AnimSchool is known as the most trusted name for appealing 3D characters.

With over 200 students, AnimSchool was founded in 2010 to bring character-focused 3D animation instruction to students all around the world, through live online sessions with the best film professionals.

Isaac Nordlund
560 South State Street, Suite F3
Orem, UT 84058

801 765-7677


How Do I Choose the Right 3D Animation School?

What Should I Look for in an Animation School?

In order to shoot for the top in your profession, you need to learn from the best. Look for instructors who are currently working at some of the most popular studios in the industry. From Dreamworks and Disney to Pixar and Blue Sky, make sure the level of instructors prepares you for the 3D workforce. Students should have full-time pros available that provide continuous interaction and help with problem-solving.
Are the sessions with the instructors live--not stale, out-dated recordings of past lectures?

Any fair comparison will show: from animation, modeling and rigging to drawing and art classes and additional open review sessions, AnimSchool offers many more hours of live teaching than any competing school, dollar for dollar.

What Aspects of Learning 3D Animation are Important?

There a number of animation courses out there, so look closely at what they offer. Your school should provide students with the highest quality character rigs, the best instructors in live classrooms, then the access to watch recordings of all of those classes, the chance to get multiple review sessions each week, extra classes to develop your art and drawing skills, a place to collaborate with other students, see each others' assignments and leave comments.

A 2009 study, "The Development of Professional Expertise" showed the best way to learn at the highest level is to get expert coaching. Have the student's performance evaluated so the student begins to notice the differences -- the gap between their performance and expert-level performance. The process is repeated so the student's perception matures along with their ability to follow any set of steps. To use this approach it isn't enough to just watch lectures on your own, so look for a school that can provide this steady feedback loop.

Look for an actual registered school, so they have a long-term commitment to your education, helping advise you through the program and advocate for you after graduation. A school can provide that continued support and relationship of trust, more than any loose set of workshops or standalone classes. Learning animation isn't a quick fix -- it's a long process, so you want a school that is there to assist you along the way.

Look for a dedicated support staff. People ready to answer the phone whenever you call with a problem.

The school's curriculum should give students a broad overview of the animation field, while focusing on specific skills that will qualify the students in a competitive field. You may not want a school that teaches too broad a curriculum: by the time you're done, you may be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none-- and unable to find a job.
A school that is too focused one one job only may leave you with limited options to branch out to neighboring skills. A school teaching more than one narrow job title may be a big benefit if you ever want to try a different job in 3D animation.
Or if you may want to make your own 3D animated short someday.

AnimSchool offers the best environment for aspiring students of animation-- we offer our students all of the benefits listed above. But remember that while your school provides you with opportunities and tools for success, it is up to the student to apply the teaching with many hours of focused effort, daily.

Are Drawing Skills Important for Learning 3D Animation?

Can you learn 3D animation skills even if you can't draw well? Even if you are not skilled at drawing now, look for a school that is committed to teaching the art as much as the technical skills involved in learning 3D animation.

You can apply to animation schools with limited drawing ability, but you should plan on becoming a better artist through your schooling -- and beyond! The animation world needs artists with a confident vision of what they want to create, more than technicians looking to others for artistic vision.

You could get by without drawing, since it's true that some animators, modelers, and riggers don't draw well. But developing drawing will develop your artistic ability, which increases your skill and makes you more attractive to employers.

As Pixar and Disney president Ed Catmull says, learning how to DRAW is really about learning how to SEE.

AnimSchool offers our students a free live drawing or art class most terms, and free access to all previous drawing and art class recordings -- hundreds of hours of learning.

Is Location Essential to Learning Animation?

You may look for animation colleges close to your home, or one close to the places you'd like to work someday. But did you know you can also learn right from home on the web?
Some students supplement their studies at a brick-and-mortar college at an online school like AnimSchool. They may attend at the same time as they're attending college, in between terms, or after they've graduated.

Since 3D animation is a competitive field, many find they graduate traditional college only to discover it's very hard to land that first job without the close mentorship of top animation pros.

Some students choose not to go college and go straight for the highly successful learning model available at an online animation school. Far from being disadvantaged, many of those students find they qualify for top animation jobs -- over their brick-and-mortar peers.

AnimSchool is all online--on your computer, over high-speed internet. Using the latest in web conferencing technology, students can learn the craft of 3D computer animation right from home.

Will I be Certified?

Look for a school that offers certification for their instruction. That means they have complied with all state regulations and tax laws for operating a school, follow licensing laws designed to protect students from fly-by-night classes that may be here today and gone tomorrow, and have the proper infrastructure for administering student needs. But remember, the most important qualification is not a piece of paper, but the skills you present in your portfolio!

AnimSchool provides students with a 21-month certificate program, and employers are recognizing the quality of our graduates who've earned those certificates.

Whatever choice you make, AnimSchool is here to help if you want to learn 3D animation at the highest levels.
Click here to apply to one of our programs (or take a single class).

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

AnimSchool Classtime: Storyboard Critique with Moroni Taylor

During the Summer Term, our supplemental general Art Class is Story Class with Moroni Taylor, free for all AnimSchool students! 
Moroni has storyboarded on 14 features including Iron Giant, Ice Age, Horton Hears a Who, Rio and recently Epic. 
In this clip, he goes over a Critique of a Storyboarding Assignment to one of our students, Ayman Moadad. Watch it below: 

Come join all the students learning online at AnimSchool:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

AnimSchool Graduate Spotlight: Animator Mark Tan

We would like to welcome Mark Tan, one of our latest graduates from the 3D Animation Program.

Tell us a little about yourself, what's your background? How did you get into animation?
Mark's drawing at 5 years old.

Like many others, I grew up drawing what I saw.  I didn't just like drawing figures, but telling a story.  My very first creations I made as a kid (around 5 years old) had a scene drawn along with a story written.
Despite these early beginnings, animation never dawned on me as a profession until a counselor at college brought it up.  Once I started, animation totally took over my focus.  We experimented with 2D, paper cut out animation, as well as claymation my freshman year.  In my second year of college, we eventually were taught Maya and all the technical facets of the program.

Along with learning animation, my interest in filmmaking blossomed during college as well.  I watched thousands of films (live action and animated), read screenwriting books, and started to make shorts/music videos.
I chose animation as a profession because I believe at the core of every well told story is a strong believable performance.  Animation gives us the ability to explore the personality of any character without the hinderance of our outward appearance.

What's the best part of online education?

The best part of online education is having access to some of the most skilled in the industry today without having to travel at all.  I told myself before enrolling that if these guys can't help me improve drastically, then I'm not trying hard enough!

What do you like the most when animating?

I really enjoy shooting video reference prior to going on the computer.  There is something special about actually acting out your scene.  The possibilities seem endless.  There are also quirks and small details captured on video that can be helpful as well.  It is much easier to approach a shot when you have the majority of your movements and expressions locked down in a video edit.

What type of animation inspires you?

I can't really say I favor any type of animation, but I can mention a few scenes/shorts that inspire me.

1.  Seeing the work of Min Hong, Alaa Abu Hanish, James Kim, and many others before and during Animschool fueled my motivation to improve.

2. I will always remember the shot in Finding Nemo where Dory tells Marlin that when she looks at him, she's home.  It's amazing how much is achieved with a character that's basically a floating face with fins. 


3. Another scene I always enjoy watching is Presto.  The staccatto movements and upright poses of the magician purely give way to his whole personality in one shot.  There is a lot of fun animation in the whole short, but the held poses are what seem to be the funniest to me. 

4. I was really into the early works of Nick Park, Bill Plympton and Don Hertzfeldt when I started out college years ago.  I found shorts like "Creature Comforts", "How to Kiss" and "Rejected Cartoons" to be very entertaining. 


You've done some great shots along the way at Animschool and some of them have been featured at the Student Showcase. Which one did you like the most? How was your workflow for this shot?

I think my most successful shot came out of class 6 with Melvin Tan.  He was the most picky and pushed me the hardest on my shot from start to finish.  I chose a very challenging audio clip after hours of searching, and that was just the beginning of the journey.

I approached the video reference like I always did, but I remember Melvin had very clear and distinct decisions on what didn't work for him.  The main notes of the first reference was to make the performance more confrontational by breaking less eye contact in the beginning of the scene.  After about 50 total takes, I finally reached something close to begin animating with.

In what ways do you think Animschool has helped you to be a better animator?

Animschool's animation program structure helped me sharpen my skills from the ground up.  

In Animating Characters, two major things I picked up was the idea of lead/follow, as well as how to balance the weight of your character in space.  

In Body Acting, texture was a big focus on how to break up the flow of the dancer in the subway to add more interest.  Also, the opening up of the face for eye direction, avoiding wall eyed positions of the irises, proper spacing/smear frames, and the importance of breaking down video reference better (and enhancing the appeal in your work).

The last three classes involved more complex characters and lip sync.  I learned a lot more about polish and all the little details that really make your shot shine.  The most important thing throughout this back end of the program was that I learned what it takes to finish a good shot.  

Any advice or tip that you remember from an instructor that you've had along the way?

Lead and follow has helped me a lot.  Choosing what to lead the action to another pose always helps to break up the animation and add a more natural feel.  Though I have gone too far sometimes, this concept is always on my mind. 

Are you currently working in the animation industry? Tell us about it.

I am currently trying to get work in feature films.  My last gig was animating Ninja Turtles for promotional and commercial spots for the movie.  Some of it was recently used in a music video for a song from the movie's soundtrack.

How do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Right now I'm hoping to be making a living working in the movie industry.  I don't know what 5 years in the future holds for me, but I'm going to put my effort in one day at a time and see where that takes me.

Any hobbies, sports or other activities that you would like to share with us?

I'm into weightlifting, play basketball regularly, and occasionally play tennis.  When not sitting at a computer, I try to stay as active as possible.

Any quote to get yourself motivated?

Save nothing for the swim back.

What are your plans now that you've graduated from Animschool?

As I stated earlier, I want to gain experience in the animated film industry.  I have worked on video game cinematics, video game animation, and television.  I have recently started the job hunt.  Wish me luck! 

Mark, thank you very much for this interview and all the best for your future outside Animschool!

Watch Mark's demo reel:

Videography reel:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Buster Keaton - Performance analysis

In AnimSchool's Body Acting, Disney Animator Tony Bonilla analyzes work of Buster Keaton, the legend of the Silent movies era.

This is a perfect example how overacting can lead to some great and funny scenes (which are perfect for animation)

According to Wiki: "Overacting is the exaggeration of gestures and speech when acting. It is often required for the role and is commonly used in comical situations or to stress the evil characteristics of a villain."

Come join all the students learning online at AnimSchool:

Friday, August 15, 2014

AnimSchool Instructor Interview: Animator Kevan Shorey

Today we are having a very nice conversation with Kevan Shorey, one of the instructors at our General Reviews. Kevan is an Annie-nominated Feature Film Animator at Dreamworks Animation (PDI).

Chris Bancroft made this caricature for his friend.
Tell us a little about yourself, what's your background? How did you get into animation?
It's not a particularly interesting story, I'm afraid. I grew up in Wales, and my love of movies and drawing led me to Animation. I tailored my school studies and subsequent university degrees towards learning both the craft and visual communication/film-making.

What animation style (cartoony, realistic) do you enjoy the most to create?
I enjoy the the hybrid approach. The opportunity to blend the two styles that allows for moments of sophisticated acting to contrast with the fun and energy of pushed, larger-than-life action.

What is the best experience you've had so far in a production environment?
I've only worked as an Animator as I started my career here. I really love being surrounded by talented people who push the medium forward.

In what project are you working on? What workflow are you using right now at it?
I am currently working on The Penguins movie, out later this year. It is a cartoony show using the style set by the Madagascar films. While I've recorded a few bits of reference here and there, my planning has been almost solely in 2D, using my Cintiq to draw and plan using our new software. I am finding it much quicker to plan directly in to the shot and be able to push poses with stylus strokes rather than trying to exaggerate live action reference.

Do you think that animators need to have a nomad spirit, kind of a ready to move mentality in order to get the best gigs?
Unfortunately it is the nature of the modern Animation industry to make big demands on those who make a living within it. Work/life balance and lots of moving around becomes much more impactful as you age and gain responsibilities such as older or younger dependants. I wish the industry would do a better job of catering to all types of personality, and not just the nomadic portion but this lift is forced on many.

What's been your inspiration throughout your career?
Those around me. 100%.

What is the most enjoyable thing about teaching animation online?
The sense that I am someone in their aim to improve and grow in the craft they wish to pursue. Even if my observations are merely a spring board to a new idea for an individual then it's a worthwhile endeavour.

How do you explain to a new acquaintance (not related to the industry) what is your work about?
I explain it as creating performance for digital characters. I've found it's the simplest shorthand for the layman.

Have you ever had the "I can't believe where I am working/ who I am working with" feeling?
Oh yes. It took me years to not have that feeling everything single day, but it still intimidates me from time to time.

Having worked in so many cool feature films, what goals do you have?

Just to keep doing what I'm doing, growing as an artist in the process. There's always something to be learned, and I have a long way to go, particularly in broad, comic shots and realistic physical ones.

What does it feel like when you go the the movies and see the people laugh or get emotional with one of your shots?
I don't know that I've had that for my shots specifically - more for a sequence that I worked on. It feels pretty satisfying, actually.

You wrote a great post on your blog about your experience relocating in the US coming from the UK. Being Animschool a school with a lot of international students, what's your advice for international students that want to get their foot in the animation industry?
AnimSchool is definitely a good place to start! Getting noticed is all about the reel, and the contacts made with industry professionals to get that reel in the right hands.

What's your perspective about animation made in the US vs made in Europe?
I don't know that I make any such distinction since there is so much migration of talent. There are amazing people to be found everywhere in Feature, Games, TV and lots of other places.

How important do you think it is networking in this industry?
Very much. It's a small industry and with so much movement between studios many people will know each other, or know of each other, at least.

Let's say we are in 20 years time and your kid would like to study animation, what advice would you give her/him?
While I don't know where the craft will be in 20 years, let's assume it is mostly similar to today. I would suggest a course emphasizing traditional skills then moving on to computer-based stuff to give a well rounded perspective of the craft. Oh, and drawing. Lots of drawing.

Thank you very much Kevan for sharing your time with us!
Thank you. Cheers!

Twitter: @kevanshorey

Monday, August 11, 2014

AnimSchool Classtime: Overlap & Follow Through with Thom Roberts

In this clip, Blue Sky Animator and AnimSchool Instructor Thom Roberts explains in a simple way fundamental animation principles like Overlap, Follow Through and Drag. Watch it below:

This is a clip from AnimSchool's class Introduction to 3D Animation, the 1st term of the 3D Animation Program. To find out more, go to and apply now!