Monday, January 19, 2009

News from Week 3 + Week 2 Assignment

Hi everybody!

It's week 3, and I'm having a really good time at AM. This week will be a little more stressful since I'm doing a small animation job at animoto here in Munich, which will not leave too much time for the AM community. What's more, this week we'll have to do our first animation assignment - the famous and never-out-of-fashion bouncing ball!

I hope I'll have the time to shoot some video reference of different balls, unfortunately my 10€ volleyball from the sports-discounter has already lost most of it's air :)

Tonight I also received my first critique from my Mentor Mario, which was really great to see! This is what I've been missing the last 2 years - getting regular valuable feedback on my work and learning from it. So cool...

In case you wonder when I'll ever stop babbling and start posting some nice colorful images again, now is the time! The following pictures is what I uploaded as my first assignment - sketches from public places or my surroundings and a 3D-interpretation of one of those poses.



That's all for now, I promise to post more soon! I still have my work experience in store for you, hopefully with many trailers and images, if I'm allowed to post them.
Moreover I want to tell you about the two Disney Exhibitions that can be seen in Munich at the moment. I went to both of them and they're amazing! More on that later...

Good Night!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Books about drawing and sketching

I thought I'd share some of the books about drawing that I use, or at least have on my shelf...

I just started reading Wayne Gilbert's Book called "Simplified Drawing for Planning Animation", which I have since last year. It's not very thick, but the content is great :) It shows how to construct the human figure from basic shapes, and how to create clear poses that can be used to plan animation. Exactly what the animation student needs! There is also some great information about forces and weight.
The book is out of stock at, but you should be able to get it through the author's website. I hope it's ok to put the link here...

Apart from that I'm studying the "Walt Stanchfield Notes", that I got from Animation Meat before they took them off the site. They did that because the notes will finally be released as books! This is fantastic news, although the rumor has been around for a while. They will be named "Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes", Volume 1 and 2.
Here is a link to the Animation Meat News.
The books can also be pre-ordered at Amazon Germany, they even list a release date: April 23rd 2009. A must buy I guess.

By the way, Animation Meat offers many other cool notes about animation and drawing! Check out the Notes, Model Sheets and Template sections.

During my internship at Studio88 I bought a book by Kimon Nicolaides called "The Natural Way to Draw", but unfortunately I never found enough time to really work with it and do the exercises. You need lots of time for it and you're supposed to draw real people most of the time, so you need to have a model ;) or find other possibilities for sketching. However it's one of the best books about "learning to draw" that I came across, and if you have the time and motivation to pratice with it you should have a look! It's also ridiculously cheap (Amazon Germany).

I will share some of my favourite books about animation soon, if you have some good ones about sketching or gesture drawing, feel free to comment on this post!

First week done

It's week 2 already, and the first week at AM was great! Basically we were introduced to the website and could start to familiarize ourselves with all the content. Moreover we had the first Q+A (video conference), where we met the other students and Mario, our Mentor. It's so interesting that students have such diverse backgrounds and different reasons for coming to Animation Mentor. But then, it's also interesting to find out what we have in common :)
I even know one of the students from my class (not personally though...)!

Usually we will get an assignment each week, which we have to hand in by the end of the week. By having these regular deadlines you're not tempted to postpone your work, which will help me a lot, I'm sure. I can't go "aah whatever, I'll do it tomorrow...".
This week I'll go out to find some places where I can draw people, do quick sketches and learn about body posture. I'm sure my drawing skills have gotten quite rusty...

Have a good week!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'm in!

Yeah! Animation Mentor finally started. Monday was my first day as one of the newbee animation students in Class 1. I'm still exploring the site, as there is a lot to see and discover.
This will be a mindblowing experience for sure, so much is to be learned!

My Mentor for the first term will be Mario Pochat, who has gone through the Animation Mentor program himself and created a fantastic short film there. He animated on feature films such as Tropic Thunder, Garfield 2, Dr. Dolittle 3, Blades of Glory and games such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted. You can check out his website to see his work.

That's it for now, more to come soon... promise.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A little history - education

Before I start posting about animation or Animation Mentor, I wanted to give a quick overview of my animation education and job experience so far, and explain why I chose to start Animation Mentor.

A few facts about me...
I'm 29, at the moment I live in Munich in southern Germany, and I've been working as a computer animator for a little more than 3 years now.

After school I studied "Audiovisual Media" for about 4 years at the university of applied sciences in Stuttgart (HdM, Hochschule der Medien). I specialized in Computer Animation as best as I could, but the education was not as specific or focused as I would have liked. However I got a pretty good overview of film technique and the electronic media in general. Moreover I made a lot of friends and had the chance to work on 3 short films. That's were I learned the most.

The first film was called "Ocean Rush" (original german title: "Meeresrausch"), and was produced in 2003 with the use of Motion Capture. It was my first experience with Maya and of course it had to be a 6 minute short film... we could still keep it simple next time.
The film can be seen on Youtube or on it's website:
Meeresrausch on Youtube
Meeresrausch Website (Download-Link at the top, 640*382 DivX-avi, 68.1 mb)

Of course today my eyes hurt when I watch it but back then we were proud :)

The second film was called "Der Hochstapler" (english title: "The Con Man", 2004), which proved to me that the job of a character animator could be right for me. It's a seven-minute short and completely keyframe-animated by 3 people, including me. I also did the character modeling and setup.
By the way, all the shorts had to be finished within one semester.
I'll add a link to the film later...

The third project was finished in 2005 and was called "realTVty", a 9-minute live action shortfilm with many visual effects. We shot the film in 1080HD, completely built our own set in the studio, and worked about 4 months on the postproduction. I animated all kinds of moving cg-set-pieces that were then composited into the plates. It was my first VFX-experience.

During my university time I had two practical semesters, where I worked as an intern at a traditional animation studio in Baden-Baden, Germany. That year at the "Studio achtundachtzig" was a great learning experience for me, because I had the chance to study and train traditional animation techniques and watch over the shoulder of the animators. Besides doing some 3D and 2D/3D combinations, I mostly drew. This way I realized every day that animation is everything but easy. Thankfully it holds many rewards once your drawings start to move. I did a lot of inbetweening and clean-up work, and in the end I was allowed to animate a few easy scenes for a short film called "Die Allertollsten" ("The Greatest") for a children-TV-show named "Sendung mit der Maus".
The people at the studio were really generous and were always there to help, for which I'm very grateful.

Finally I received my diploma as a "graduate engineer in media technique", after I had written my thesis about "CGI-Integration for traditionally animated films" (original german title: "CGI-Integration im Zeichentrickfilm").

Ok, before this post gets too long, I better put my work experience into the next one...

Welcome to my blog!

First post on my first blog, hello world! As well as thinking about the Animation Mentor program for a couple of years now ( for those unfamiliar with it) i wanted to start an animation blog for quite a while.
Now I finally got around to it. I hope some of the stuff I'll post from now on will be of interest to readers or maybe help other animation students out there.

I sure learned a lot about animation and the industry from the many generous bloggers out there, who spend much time and effort on their sites. Some of them can be found in the links section.

Tomorrow, January 5th 2009, will be my first day of school at Animation Mentor. I had enough time to prepare, and I'm ready and excited to start. On this blog I plan to document my experiences in the program, post some animations, work in progress, sketches, and general impressions about the school. Although of course the students are not allowed to talk about any details, teaching material or other interna, we can post our own work on personal blogs. In doing so, students can share their experience with people outside of the school and get some more opinions and feedback on their work.

So if you like, please comment, critique my work, or just say hi.
I hope I will have the time and discipline to post regularly...

Thanks in advance for reading and participating, and all the best for a healthy and successful year 2009.


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