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An Online Animation Mentor Program

When Simon Taylor, a young British animator, first told me about the Online Animation Mentor Program I was anxious to learn how it worked first hand. For the last few months I have followed Simon's progress.  As he told me more and more about the program I realized that many of you might not be aware of this on-line opportunity and so I have asked Simon to write about his adventure.  Whenever Simon feels that he has something to say and has the time, more installments of his adventure will appear here.

Simon Taylor

Good morning, afternoon and evening fellow wanderers of the Internet.  My name is Simon Taylor, I'm an animation student and I've been invited by Nancy to share with you my experiences at the online animation school Animation Mentor. Just to give as brief an intro as possible about myself, I've been animating in one shape or form since a very early age. From 2001 to 2006, I was entering films into the Co?Op Young Film?Makers Festivals, which really gave me the enthusiasm to keep pushing myself to get better and is how I came into contact with Nancy.

Animation has always been a hobby of mine, but I only started to think of it as a serious career choice relatively recently as I was doing my degree in Italian and Film Studies at The University of Kent at Canterbury. I did a Masters in Computer Animation at the same University run by former ILM animator David Byers Brown. The course taught a phenomenal amount about Maya and animation and has given me a good foundation to find some animation?related work while I continue my studies through Animation Mentor.

If you're interested in seeing my work from University please see my current site and to see my older and more embarrassing productions please visit !

Right - on with the show!

2nd October 2008

Somewhere in an undisclosed desert, an army of clowns are building a hotel out of legos. As I stand there observing, an alarm sounds out of nowhere and I’m suddenly awake in my room. I turn to my alarm clock and the time slowly comes into focus ? 5.01am ? and I’m actually excited to be up this early!  Today is my first Q&A session at the online animation school Animation Mentor and in just under an hour I’ll be meeting my mentor Josh Book (who works at Wild Brain) and classmates for the first time.

Two slices of toast and a cup of tea later, I’m in front of my webcam introducing myself to the class, talking about what inspired me to get into animation and listening to everyone else’s back stories. There’s an infectious enthusiasm at Animation Mentor and a surprising range of backgrounds  from everybody, ranging from people in their teens who have always wanted to be animators to people who have spent their lives in one career and wanting a new start.

The Q&As are a weekly meeting with your mentor and classmates and are your chance to get some face to face time with everybody, ask questions on the week's lecture, and generally get to know everyone.  Each semester, you're given a new class and mentor, so you quickly build up a collection of current (and hopefully future!) industry contacts.

Class 1 (the first semester) was fantastic - each week was spent on just one exercise which centred around a particular animation principle and made sure we really understood why we were animating something a certain way, which paid off later on. The lectures are a weekly video you watch online and are always very clear. Of course you can always watch them as many times during the week as you like. The assignments each week gently built upon each other so by the end of the twelve weeks, the combination of community feedback and Josh's excellent critiques really ensured that you improved quickly and build confidence.

I've included below a link to a collection of my shots from Class 1. What has really impressed me with the course structure is how logically the characters and the syllabus build upon each other so by the time you finish Class 1 you think of the hips in the same way you originally thought about the bouncing ball and it almost becomes second nature to think about how the weight and overlapping action should be working.


So, fast forward to the present day and I'm now in week 5 of Class 2: “Psychology of Body Mechanics”, with my new class and new mentor Jon Collins, who is an animator at Pixar Animation Studios. I have just started my new assignment, a character struggling to walk against a heavy wind and have some polishing to do on my previous one, which was of a character doing a 180 degree turn. As with Josh, Jon's feedback has been gold and you couldn't help but be excited when he broadcast his Q&A from his office at Pixar a few weeks ago.Anyways that's me and my time so far at A:M in a nutshell. I'll keep you all up to date as I get more assignments done and anything else animation related happens. I'm off now to watch Bolt 3D!Byeee for now