Everyone seems to want to know how to create things in 3D. Engineers, designers, digital artists, hobbyists, and, yes, animators, all need to know how to use 3D software.
For an animator, having these skills is one of the best ways to ensure yourself of a job. Maya and 3DS Max are complex applications, and experts in them are highly valued. This software is important. I have heard it said that asking what movies, TV shows and video games were created using Maya or 3DS Max is similar to asking what has been build with a hammer. That's how ubiquitous they have become.
Adjust your expectations. It will likely take you awhile to create breathtaking characters and environments. But, if you want to make the money, you will need to put in some time.
I have created a series of screencasts for the Maya lessons I will be teaching in class. If you are absent, you will be able to catch up.
The major learning goals for this unit are:
2D animation is likely what comes to mind when most people think about animation. Flash animation is more than just using Adobe Flash to create cartoons. It refers to a style that is likely the most common style of animation in existence, and Flash animators use all sorts of software besides Flash (or Animate, as it is now called) to create it.
Rotoscoping is an animation technique that has been around for 100 years. It's time consuming, but the results can be amazing...far more realistic and interesting than what could be achieved in any other way. Which is why people continue to use it.
The current cool medium for rotoscoping is music videos. Queens of the Stone Age and Incubus are just a couple of the bands that have released recent music videos featuring rotoscope animation.
The other valuable thing about rotoscoping is that the skills are transferrable to other forms of digital media production, like visual effects. Many composited effects need to use rotoscoping techniques to ensure realism when layering multiple media into a single frame.
The learning goals for this unit are:
Stop motion animation has a long history in the entertainment industry. It dates back to the very earliest forms of cinema, and influenced all forms of animation that exist today. And despite the push for 3D and other computer aided animation techniques, old-school stop-motion forms such as claymation and Lego animation continue to thrive. Aardman, Laika, and other studios are doing very well by specializing in this form of animation.
It is also important for learning animation. Because you have to make physical adjustments for every single shot, it forces you to think about the basics of animation, such as anatomy, deformation, force, and motion. It forces you to think about the FUNdamentals.
The results of stop-motion animation are very distinctive. You can have lots of fun playing with this art form.
The Learning Goals for this unit are:
Conceptual (what do you need to learn?)
Classical animation is the basis for all other forms of animation. The world's best animation schools require classical animation as part of their admissions portfolio. Their reasoning is that they can teach anyone how to use software, but it takes far longer to teach someone how to actually animate. In classical animation, the animator must explicitly use each principle of animation in order to make fluid, pleasing products. Using software allows animators to "cheat" since the software looks after such key principles as "in-betweens" and easing. The best way to learn to animate is to go back to the Classical way of doing it. You NEED to have drawing skills to get good at animation.
A FUNdamental skill in animation is creating the famous bouncing ball. This seems so easy, but it is so difficult to do well. In fact, many professional animators practice this same assignment regularly. And almost all of them started their animation careers by doing it. One professional animator in Toronto even told me that any applicant for an animation job at his firm needs to create the bouncing ball during an extended interview. So, this assignment is as important as they get.
To do this well, you need to implement at least 4 of the crucial Principles of Animation: Arcs, Timing/Spacing, Squash and Stretch, and Volume/Solid Drawing.
Be sure to pay attention to these concepts. They are the keys to a successful bouncing ball. Without them, you could probably finish this in a period or two. But in using them, you will likely make good use of an eraser.
Here are the learning goals for the Classical Animation unit:
Conceptual (what do you need to learn?)
If you're serious about animation, you will encounter these principles over and over. I didn't make them up. The rules for great animation were introduced by two famous Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, in their book "The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation". This was the first book published that established clear rules on animation, and it's kind of a "Bible" for all modern animators.
Please reference these principles each time you attempt animation. I will assess your progress with these guiding what I am looking for. Each assignment will allow you to practice one or more of them.
Of all the entertainment industries, animation is likely the one that is growing the fastest. Every year, many of the top grossing movies are animated, and almost all of them have some form of animation or visual effects. Good animators are in high demand.
Some of the world's best animation schools are right here in Southern Ontario. Sheridan College's animation program is widely considered to be among the world's best. Because of that, I have created our classes so that those of you who are interested in pursuing animation at the post-secondary level will have the basis for an admissions portfolio. Virtually all assignments you will do are admissions requirements for great animation schools.
Together, we will look at 4 broad categories of animation: classical, stop-motion, 2D, and 3D. We will use industry-standard software. And we will try to answer the following Essential Question: HOW CAN I USE ANIMATION TECHNIQUES TO MAKE DIGITAL MEDIA PRODUCTS THAT ARE OTHERWISE IMPOSSIBLE?