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More From Simon Taylor and the Animation Mentor Program

May 22nd 2009

Hi all! Time certainly flies when you’re having fun. Class 2 went by in a flash with my mentor Jon Collins and now I’m in Class 3 with freelance animator Dana Boadway.

As before, each assignment builds upon what has been learnt previously so this term I’ve been pushing body mechanics further with a heavy lifting assignment, a push and a back flip (based on Donald O’Connor’s “Make ‘em laugh” routine from Singin’ in The Rain). I can’t wait to get into the acting soon but that’s still a few weeks away!

I’m currently in the blocking stage of my back flip animation but I’d like to share something I learnt from my first assignment this term, a heavy lift. When you’re still learning the basics of animation don’t stray too far from your video reference! Exaggerate of course but don’t go doing something almost completely different. My heavy lifting assignment went a little bit wrong because of this as I couldn’t find footage of something heavy enough for what I wanted. I then thought to myself, no problem, I’ll just make it look heavier when it comes to animating it, good grief I shouldn’t have done that! Anyway, lesson learnt and my next assignment came out a lot better.

After Class 1 the structure of the assignments changed from a new assignment each week to one every three or four, which gives everyone the luxury of polishing their shots to a very high standard. In the industry we certainly wouldn’t get the chance to spend a month animating an eight second shot but it’s certainly a fantastic opportunity at this stage.  As well as the huge amount of time we’re given, the enthusiasm and feedback from the mentors and fellow students help to add that extra level of quality. To see my Animation Mentor work so far you can watch this video here:

Going back a few months now I thought I’d talk about how I got started at Animation Mentor and the enrollment process. If memory serves I think I first heard about them through a website called The 11 Second club (, which is a monthly animation competition with the prize being a critique of your work from a professional animator. Animation Mentor sponsors this competition so when I saw the level of work coming from them I looked for as much information as I could find and a few months later after I’d finished University I enrolled.

There’s no previous experience necessary when you enroll, the main bulk of the enrollment process really was there to test your enthusiasm for animation, it seems forever and a day ago now but I remember having to write a brief essay on why I wanted to be an animator and it’s always interesting to talk to other students about their stories as well. Everyone seems to have a defining moment when they decided that animation was what they wanted to do, for me it was a combination of watching Aardman’s character Morph on Tony Hart’s programme “Hart Beat”, Rolf Harris’s “Rolf’s Cartoon Club” and the Wallace and Gromit shorts.

Right o, I’d best get back to my assignment now. I’ve just started a part-time job so time management is getting more crucial. My upmost respect goes out to all the AM students with full time jobs and families!

Thanks again to Nik and Nancy for letting me invade your blog!

All the best everybody!