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...

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