Monday, September 28, 2020

Make Your Eye Darts Look Alive


Making a 3D character look alive when the character is passive or is thinking about something without moving his or her body, is a tough thing to sell. Luckily, AnimSchool instructor Scott McWhinnie has some interesting tips to help us animate eye darts in a way that not only keep the character alive but also make the shot organic so to avoid the feeling of the character being a robot. 

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Introduction to Maya Keys II: Breakdowns

In this video from Maya Keys series, professional instructor Justin Barrett explains the second important Maya key in setting an animation setup called, Breakdowns. He explains the role of breakdowns keys in 2D animation setup in the past and what their function is now in a 3D dominating world.

Visit for information regarding our animation program so that you could learn more such tricks and tips from our professional animator instructors.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Introduction to Maya Keys I: Keyframes

Autodesk Maya is a powerful tool to animate in 3D. However, in order to animate, one has to understand how to set up keys in order to make the shot work. Animschool offers one of the best online courses to teach Maya under the tutelage of professional animator Justin Barrett. This following clip is from one of his classes.

In this clip from his "Introduction to Maya" class, Animschool's instructor Justin Barrett explains the history and usage of keyframes in Maya animation setup.

Visit for information regarding our animation program so that you could learn more such tricks and tips from our professional animator instructors.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

How to Animate 3D Eyes- Quick Eye Movement

Eye animation is considered to be the hardest part of facial animation. Considering how people pay most attention to the eyes of the character, it is absolutely necessary to sell the eye movements to the audience so the character could feel like a living and breathing individual.

In this clip from our "Animating Characters" class, the instructor Paul Pammesberger explains how to animate a quick eye movement in animation and so that it looks natural and not an out of place motion to the audience. 

Visit for information regarding our animation program so that you could learn more such tricks and tips from our professional animator instructors.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Student Spotlight: Adrien Liv

AnimSchool prides itself on providing quality 3D animation education for its students. 

It comes as no surprise that today, for many working animators looking to take their skills to the next level, AnimSchool is the school of choice. Former student, Adrien Liv is one such animator.

 Hi Adrien! Could you tell us a little about yourself and why you love animation?

"Hello, my name is Adrien Liv, and I am currently an Animation Director at Cinesite on the project Riverdance. I have been animating for 15 years and have done animation work for Despicable Me 1 and 2, Minions, Angrybirds, Storks, and The Emoji Movie, among others.

I come from a Chinese background and I grew up in Paris, France. As a kid, I loved to watch Japanese anime like Dragon Ball Z and Saint Seiya. These shows sparked my initial interest and love of animation."

Why did you choose to be a 3D animator and how did you learn the craft?

"I spent my early childhood drawing and copying Akira Toriyama, Masami Kurumada, and later other mangas like Akira and Slam Dunk. My dream as a child was to become a mangaka, but I also entertained the idea of becoming an animator because I came to appreciate animation more as I got older.

I decided to become a 2D animator, so I spent two years at EMCA, a traditional animation school based in Angoulême France, the city most famous for hosting The Festival de la Bande Dessinée, learning the ins and outs of 2D animation. These two beautiful years helped me deepen my understanding of animation and many other art forms.
After my graduation, I did an internship in Madrid, Spain, for a company named Fanciful Arts. We worked on a 2D animated feature film, called El Cid the legend. After that, I attended Gobelins where I transitioned into 3D animation and I fell in love with it. I had no idea 3D animation could be so addictive and creatively fulfilling."

Why did you choose Animschool for your online 3D animation education?

"After I graduated from Gobelins, I started working at a small video game company, but in my spare time I worked on personal animation shots.
I applied at Mac Guff and got a job offer to work on Pat and Stan, and later Despicable Me 1 and 2. After 7-8 years of work experience, I was feeling as if I was always repeating myself, and not growing creatively enough. I needed to reinvent myself and have fresh eyes on my work.

I started looking at online learning opportunities and was very impressed by the work AnimSchool students were producing, especially Diego Collell and Camilo Guamán (I would befriend both of them later). I also loved the rigs of Malcolm and Marnie which were super appealing. So, when I saw that Melvin Tan (Animation Supervisor at BlueSky) was teaching facial performance, I jumped at the chance to study at AnimSchool."

How was your experience at AnimSchool?

"It was challenging because I had a job at a studio already and was adjusting to life with a newborn son, so I really had to manage my time and workload efficiently. If you are already working in the industry and considering enrolling in an online school, you have to focus on which area of animation you want to improve. For me, it was acting choices, and that's where having direct access to professional animators at AnimSchool really paid off.

One of the great things about AnimSchool is that any technical issues you may be having, the school provides you with excellent support. This frees you up to really get down to the business of animating, and with the amazing rigs that AnimSchool provides, you improve fast.

The school environment at AnimSchool is very similar to a studio environment. You show your shot every 1 to 2 days, either during your class or in general review. In our class, Melvin was giving a thorough critique of our shots just like a critique session in a real studio. Besides the critique classes, there are weekly classes on different topics like blinks, lipsynch, etc. You also have access to an impressive catalog of art classes that you can watch any time you like.
AnimSchool also helped me improve my understanding of appeal and how to bring out my best work by brainstorming my ideas at the beginning."

Which 3D animated characters are you most proud of working on?

"I think that my proudest achievement is working on the character of Agnes in Despicable Me. It was early in my career and I became a regular animator on the sequences involving her character. She was a dream to work on, and I think we succeeded in making her very lovable.

Another character I very much enjoyed working on is Gene in the Emoji Movie. I really related to him, and when I was shooting reference for the shots, I would try to put my real-life emotions into the performance to make it feel more genuine and sincere."

I also think that my work on Eduardo (the villain in Despicable Me 2) marked a big growth in my career. Eduardo is a bouncy, larger than life character, and I appreciated the fact that my lead trusted me to deliver some key shots.

How do you approach a scene?

"It depends on the shot. If it’s an acting shot I put myself in the state of mind of the character as much as I can, and record myself until it feels right. I’m not necessarily looking for the perfect take, because I can shoot reference later on."

Here’s a side by side of a shot Adrien animated for the Emoji Movie:

Adrien recommends drawing thumbnails when planning a shot. Here are some of his thumbnails of Mighty Eagle and Bomb for the Angrybirds movie:

Thumbnails by Adrien Liv

As a professional animator, what tips and tricks do you wish you had known before joining the business side of animation?

"I think that perseverance and a hard work ethic are essential to succeed, but curiosity in other fields like music, cooking, and photography, will enrich your work as an animator.

I also wish that I knew the basics of how to negotiate a contract because that impacted my work and motivation greatly. Your work is going to speak for itself, but sometimes you need to put the spotlight on your best abilities and ask for a fair wage.

Being an animator is a highly enjoyable endeavor. However, I believe that you need to find a good work-life balance. I learned that animation is not everything. Make sure to spend quality time with your spouse and kids. Enjoy your life."

What are your top 3 dos and don'ts for animation demo reels? Especially for animators with no prior job experience?

"Quality is indeed better than quantity, so make sure to include your best work in your demo reel. Start and finish with your strongest shots. The same rule applies to each individual shot. Start with a strong pose and finish on an entertaining pose.

Show your demo reel to 2-3 animators that you trust.

For the shot specifically, place your character in a specific context, like a nice environment because this will inform your acting choices and add specificity to your performance.
Ideas are more important than execution, but if you can have both, take the time to do so."

Thank you Adrien for the great tips!

Check out Adrien's animation reel here:

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Friday, May 29, 2020

AnimSchool Student Animation 2020 Showcase

The 2020 Animschool Student Animation Showcase is here! We are so proud of the work that our amazing 3D animation students have produced this past year.

Apply to our accredited programs and learn with our online community. 

Only 31 days left to apply for the summer term! Come join the students learning online at AnimSchool - Accredited, ACCSC.
AnimSchool Quality

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Graduate Spotlight: Andrea Ferrara

Andrea Ferrara is a very talented graduate from AnimSchool who with his hard work and dedication not only passed the Animation program with a great shot, but also went on to work in feature films. Here is an interview where we learn about him and his workflow.

Andrea, tell us about yourself

My name is Andrea Ferrara, I am 26 and I am from Italy. In high school, I graduated in fine art and my course of studies was specialised in painting, mosaic and stained glasses.

At the age of 20, I moved to London where after two years working on different jobs, I started working as a barman to pay for my studies at AnimSchool.

What motivated you to become a 3D animator?

I have always wanted to work within the industry. When I was a child, I loved drawing and that led me to the idea of drawing for animation. This passion naturally made me pursue an art education.

I grew up between the ’90s and 2000s, and 3D animation was becoming the predominant way to make animated movies, I guess it turned out to be the obvious way to make animation and to become an animator for me as well.

Why did you decide to learn animation from AnimSchool?

After completing a one year 3D generalist course, I realised I needed to focus solely on animation if I wanted to achieve something in this industry; so I started researching for the best school to do that, and looking at every school’s student showcase, the AnimSchool’s reel was the one that made the best impression on me. It had more quality in my opinion and with the payment plan that they have, was also affordable for me.

Could you describe your work experience with The Secret Life of Pets 2 and how it was working on a project that big?

I had a lot of fun working on The Secret Life of Pets 2. It was my first project, and I really felt like I was improving shot after shot.
When you get the chance to work in a studio this big you really have to put in extra work and a lot of extra time, and you have to be open to improve, learn, and get as much feedback as you can. I really tried to show how much of a hard worker I am, and I was paid off by getting bigger and better shots every time.
I think I have animated just under 30 shots by the end of the production of various frame range. As today I have worked for Illumination Macguff for a little longer than 2 years. However, I animated on Pets 2 for 14 months.

Did your time / experience with AnimSchool help prepare you for a job like this? If so how?  

Thanks to AnimSchool, when I was assigned my very first shot, I felt like I already knew what to do. The transition from school to work was easy enough because the basic concepts of how to make an animation; how to conceive a shot etc. are the same in the workplace. It really made me feel at home.

Tell us about your workflow.

I examine the storyboard and layout with great attention. I play it in a loop to create a good image of the shot in my head. I try to visualise the best possible acting choices and determine the mood of the shot. I try to get into the character’s personality. 
When I feel I have the key poses, I sketch them down, and then I take a long time to pose the character into those key poses in Maya, then I put the in-betweens. 
I work putting every control’s key on the same frame but I keep the curves in spline, it helps me when I am making new in-betweens, and it also helps me keeping everything in order on a mechanical and technical point of view. It gives me a better chance to avoid unwanted gimbal locks. Once my ideas are in for good I start asking for some feedback and sometimes people around me give me such cool ideas or inputs that I have to put them in even if I have to delete a big chunk of my animation. 
Once I am happy with all the ideas, I start polishing the main controls (head, chest, root) then arms and legs at the end. When everything is looking smooth I add the details; more feedback really helps at this point as well.

Storyboard by Eric Favila

What are you up to now?

At the moment I am working on Sing 2, I have been on the project for a year already, and I will be on it until the summer.

What do you think animation students must focus to improve the quality of their works and get noticed and possibly be hired by a studio?

Just put those hours in, animate and animate till you are good. Putting as many hours a week on your animation is the only way to get better.
They should work on the ability to change their shots according to the supervisor’s notes. And trying to do that considering your instructor as your supervisor is the best way to do it in my opinion. 
In the practical sense, I would encourage students to create a LinkedIn profile and apply for as many places as you can starting from the top. Don’t be shy about applying for the biggest studios. That is probably where you might get a bigger chance to get hired as a junior.

Thank you Andrea for giving us this interview. 

If you want to watch Andrea Ferrara's work, check out the video below.

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