Given the ever increasing industry demand for fantasy creatures, Animation Mentor launches a new advanced course today: Animals & Creatures Master Class. Devoted to animating quadrupeds, flying animals and fantasy creatures in a realistic style, the 24-week course (divided in two-parts) also covers how to effectively integrate animation with live-action footage, introducing new visual effects skills and bringing a new dimension to Animation Mentor's core curriculum, according to Bobby Beck, CEO and co-founder of the popular online school (www.animationmentor.com/school ).
"We created the course for two reasons," Beck explains: "The industry (ILM, Rhythm & Hues, Weta, Tippett) told us they need this kind of expertise. They said they have to take a big gamble on these people coming out of schools because they know how to animate bipeds and characters acting, but not what they do, which is different. They do dinosaurs eating and tearing people in half and having them match what actors are doing. And then when we asked our alumni and students what they wanted to learn more about. And this was the number one request, so we created the perfect match between what the industry needs and what our students want."
Animals & Creatures has been in the works for the last two years in collaboration with ILM and Tippett Studio, which helped develop the curriculum and have lent animators for instruction. "Each class has a new video lecture, anywhere from an hour to an hour-and-a-half in length, where the animators go over very specific details and discuss their shots," Beck continues. "So, students get the same kind of Animation Mentor instruction with a real world mentor to guide their work. Classes will still be small (10-15 students). They will get critiques of their work each week and assignments. It's a full-on curriculum for the visual effects world to help with that side of character animation."
"How do you animate this type of character, which is based on the real world?" Beck adds. "We study a lot of reference, a lot of wild life and then the Oakland Zoo has been incredible for us. They let us go behind-the-scenes with the animals and let us do interviews with the handlers, who talk about the different types of personalities that these animals have. For instance, the only way you can tell that a giraffe is old and lethargic is by how it moves. They differentiate movement and then we take those behaviors and apply it to animation."
Meanwhile, in the lectures, leading vfx character animators share their experience by creating original animated scenes using the new Animation Mentor characters, discussing animation theory, and breaking down shots from various features and helping students apply these theories and workflow tips to their own work.
"It's really exciting to see that Animation Mentor is starting this whole new curriculum focused on the creature world of animation," adds Peter Kelly, Animals & Creatures lecturer and mentor, who is also a senior animator at Industrial Light & Magic. "Now students can learn both character animation and can now study animals and effects-based animation."
Enrollment for Animals & Creatures: Master Class is now open for alumni of Animation Mentor's character animation program. The program will begin accepting new applications from professional animators and non-alumni on April 11, 2011. Register to view a live webcast where you can get a behind-the-scenes look at this course at www.animationmentor.com .
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.