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So Motion Militia asked about so I thought I'd start a new thread to answer instead of hi-jacking one of our most active threads, the "question" posting.

He asked:

...APE! Can you tell us about your experience with Animation Mentor so far? I've been thinking about enrolling in the near future, but as you are aware it is pretty spendy. Granted, the Mentors are all very talented... but how it is working out? Are there any communication barriers when taking these classes online? Any other issues?

Well, as the guinea pig class of 2006 the program has changed quite a bit. There were a few technical glitches in the begining, we crashed the sever when all 300 something students logged on for the first "Global Q and A" session, and a few other glitches here and there. Those have all been fixed. Other than that, the program is amazing!! The best I've ever attended. Yeah, $2000 bucks for 12 weeks per class seems like a lot of money, but how much is an animation class if you took it at places like Cal Arts, Ringling, Goeblins, or other schools? Granted you don't have the brick and mortar feel or a traditional art school, but the school forums pages are very active and there is a great vibe with all the students, mentors and founders. Pluss you don't have to pay moving and housing expensies of moving to a different part of the world. You can take classes from anywhere around the world. I was still taking classes while I was on vacation in Germany for two months. I even was able to do it while taking a two week bus tour around Germany. That is something you just can't do in a traditional school.

Bobby, Carlos and Shawn, the founders, are all very attentive and when things come up they address and fix the problems, or impliment sugestions right away. The classes and instruction from the mentors is amazing! I learned more about animation in the first 12 week intro class than I did in all four years at the Academy of Art College.

Now this isn't an "art" school. They only focus on animation. At least for now. I don't know if they are intending to expand into art classes or not. That would be really cool. They focus on animation. How to achive weight, good timing, good poses, belivablility in acting, sincerity in acting, all the stuff that will make your animation stand out. They also throughly cover the basice as well. Timing, spacing, ease-in, ease-out, squash and stretch, arcs, overlapping action, secondary action. Thats all drilled into our heads durring the first two classes and keeps being brought up through out the other classes as well. These men and women love animation and they want to share it with others, and it comes across. They aren't professional teachers, and it shows :D, but they are passionate about the art and that passion is infectious.

In my oppinion, the best students right for this program are the ones who either know Maya or another 3D program first but never really learned animation. Or people that know animation and want to learn Maya. I'm the latter, although I quickly learned that I don't know anything about animation. :p Thats not to say if you've never animated AND never used Maya, that you won't do well. Everyone gets noticably better each week. I just think it would be alittle to over-whelming to have to learn animation and Maya at the same time. Hell, I had a hard enough time trying to get my damn ball to bounce right! Lol.

Any way, that's my take. I love the place. I actually want to go back and do the program again from the begining since they've changed a bunch of stuff and I know I still more I can learn. I've learned gobs at this school. I take my hat off to Carlos, Shawn and esspecially Bobby, who quit his animation job at PIXAR to head up the school full time. Those three have put forth a Herculiean effort to get things up and running.

End sales pitch ;)

the Ape

Animated Ape's picture

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

Its official for me

I have officially started the application process for Animation Mentor. Thanks to everyone in this thread that gave so much encouragement about the program. Wish me luck! :D

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

You know what?

You deserve a discount! ;)

(I'm jealous 'cuz I can't afford it at this very moment...dangit!)


If there's no objection from you, Ape, I'll offer my own services, being one course behind you and from the perspective of not yet a professional. Plus I love answering questions. I knew a great deal of information about animation, but it simply didn't show up in my work.

The first course in foundations told me all sorts of good things to know, and that got my excited just about the process of learning, but also brought things (80% of what I already knew) together in such a way as to finally make perfect sense and be useful to me as far as how all the different aspects interrelate.

The second course was an incredible transition. The lessons and assignments are tailored in such a way, and at the time are so exhaustive for developing animators, that you are -forced- to revise your organization and time management skills or die trying =) A near-tacit lesson in finding your own workflow that...well, works, best for you. It's also nice to really show yourself that you can apply those foundations you learned in a practical way.

What makes that term amazing is that you go from knowing facts, and hearing great tips, and saying to yourself "Someone more successful and experienced than me said this was a good idea, so I'll do it" to understanding the whole process so well and at such a level that you begin to come to personal conclusions and really OWN the idea of animating. You can do it yourself, and you finally get WHY those tips work because you get where they're coming from, how they were arrived at, almost like a mathematical proof.

Directly addressing MotionMilitia's questions:

1) For the amount of time, it is very expensive, but aside from being cheaper than most alternatives, cost-benefit actually wins out, which is saying something because it's basically rent money each month =)

2) It works out well, even if you fall into interaction with a less-experienced mentor, because they are the eyes and the motivation. You're still doing all the work. Often, when you've got someone high-up (My current one for intro to acting is a Vice President of Production) they're an added benefit in that much of what they say inadvertently inspires you pep-talk style, and have their own personal lessons that they'd like to hand off to you, giving you a taste of each corner of the industry.

3) Especially as it concerns the Question & Answer sessions, for me the experience vs. actual teachers is that I can't smell my mentor and there is glass in front of his face. Long story short, any other issues you'll encounter of any sort of serious crop up by being there and experiencing for themselves. No one else can tell you about them and you'll have your own way of dealing with them. Nothing major, though.

Instead of Ape recruiting us there, we should get some of these pixar animators to post here, haha.

unless we already do.... å.å

*edit* those weird A characters were supposed to be something else that apparently cant be was supposed to convey Shifty Eyes....

"who wouldn't want to make stuff for me? I'm awesome." -Bloo

Instead of Ape recruiting us there, we should get some of these pixar animators to post here, haha.

unless we already do.... Œ.Œ

*edit* those weird A characters were supposed to be something else that apparently cant be was supposed to convey Shifty Eyes....

We have a few Nick animator.

I wish they would put a few animated icons on this forum.

Thanks, guys, for posting info about Animation Mentor here. I was really excited to learn such a school exists! I know I have alot to learn in animation, and I feel this is exactly what I've been looking for. I am saving up to try for the summer course. I am especially excited now that they accept macs :)
I was saving up for a PC, too.

It seems like most of the people I know are Animation Mentors now - super talented people, every single one of them. If I were a student I would jump at the chance to take this course.

Hmpf, if I had the time I would take it myself, right now!


I know on this board the few mentions AM gets are for indirect hiring done via mentors (or through the legwork of the student as it applies to many game jobs), but it should be noted that unlike many other schools, AM has instituted an active placement program for its graduates to help facilitate them into jobs. Rather than provide an office or small building to store reading materials and house phones and having the burden be entirely yours, the plan acts on an official level for the school to evaluate your progress, your proficiency, and use its connections to help find you an appropriate position in the field.

From anything I've been told the "plan" behind AM is to have you genuinely prepared for an entry-level position by the time you get through the full 18 months. That includes emulated production experience with the final two courses.

Goeblins is cheap and very good.


Someone mentioned Goeblins is expensive. While in Paris, I spoke to Eric Revers, the coordinator of Goeblins a couple of months ago ... he said next year, the cost was gong up to 2200.00 - a year! That's a great education for the cost of one class. For the cost of what a normal term (of three classes) cost at most schools- you can complete their entire three year program.

They do accept ONLY top quality talent and develop them from there- the results speak for themselves.


No way! Wow...That's one of the schools whose work almost intimidates me, because it's so teeth-smashingly good. Their 2Ders make me appreciate that medium more each time I see them.

I have to ask though, just from a logic standpoint: If they go in high and leave high, has a difference been made or are they just picking the freshest vegetables and claiming the tastiest soup? Or is it truly leaps and bounds greater than the level the students came in at?

No previous Maya knowledge needed Motion. I took a couple classes in it when it was Maya 1.0 and have forgotten everything I learned in those classes. They will teach you all you need to know. I find animating in Maya is surprizingly similar to how I animate in Flash. Go figure. I still have to work on my Maya animation not feeling so pose to pose though.

Enroll now Motion! You won't regret it. :D

the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

Wow, a year?! That is a great deal. Is that for domestic students or is it different for international students? Either way that is an incredible deal for the quality that comes out of that school.

the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

hey ape, do they teach you Pose to Pose animation in maya?

or to block out the whole general movement then add details?

or both?

"who wouldn't want to make stuff for me? I'm awesome." -Bloo

Ape, Scattered... thanks so much for your insider critique of AM! It really sounds like a great program. I feel like I can make a much more educated decision now that I've talked to some fellow AWN locals! :)

Oh, a couple things I forgot.

One of the great things that has going for it, and in my mind makes it stand out from other schools, is that they don't teach you the program. What I mean by this is that they teach you what you need to know to animate a character, translate, rotate, parenting, setting keyframes and the like. But they don't teach you modeling, lighting, and all that other fancy CGI stuff. They encourage you to learn it on your own, but they don't have classes on it. They recognize that in the Feature Animation and Games studios that the animators just animate, so thats what they teach.

Also it's not just Maya animation. They encourage the students, and students do, animate projects traditionally, or with stop motion, or Flash, or other CG programs. They actually have a couple of classes on traditional animation and stop motion.

Oh, and you can buy the full Maya program at the student price when you enroll. Great bargin!!!

the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

I've actually experimented with stop motion and submitted traditional assignments, so I can vouch for that.

As well, recently they've started making school-standard "shelves" or toolsets of handy mini-applications to help streamline your workflow, like arc trackers, etc. They act as a source for a lot, and are always finding new ways to cater to us or accomodate needs just as Ape mentioned above.

It's one of those "fifty million Elvis fans can't be wrong" things. There are some pretty self-aware people taking that program, including myself, and I've yet to see anyone be a grump or be disappointed. If there is something you don't like, it gets changed anyhow. Even the younger students who think bouncing balls are "beneath them" (you know the attitude) finish the first term ecstatic; hell, I know students who have failed a term...more than once...and if they can't truly say anything against the school, then so far (key words) AM is playing its cards right.

This program sounds great, and its perfect for me in my current situation. Do you have to submit a porfolio?

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

...Even the younger students who think bouncing balls are "beneath them" (you know the attitude) finish the first term ecstatic...

Hell, that was me! I didn't think I'd learn very much about animation in that first class, and figured all I'd learn was how to animate with Maya. Not to be cocky, but I figured I've been animating in TV for 3 years, and animating professionally for 5, I KNEW how to do bouncing balls. Boy was I wrong! They seem to have a knack for explaining things in a way that makes sence. At least for me.

Scattered touched on this as well. I knew a lot of the basics; anticipation, over-shoot, overlapping action and all that, and I'd do them when I animated. But I didn't really understand why I was doing them.

Maybe it's because the classes are tapped and edited together that make them so good. Versus a one hour straight lecture in a class room. So if they forget something they can film it, and edit it into the lecture. They don't just flip a camera on for an hour and just start lectureing, they cut back and forth, and go to different animators elaborating on the topic from their own experiences.

Any way, just a couple more thoughts.

the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

I would just add that having access to these mentors is really a unique experience--there's so much to learn from them.

Motion Militia, if you live in the U.S., you could also look into getting a student loan (at the site, click on Apply Now > Tuition for more info).

- Tom :)

----- Graduate -----
"Learning to animate anywhere in the
world from the world's best animators."
Pixar, ILM, Disney, Dreamworks & more.

It kinda depends on your mentor or how you want to animate Blink. I've had a some mentors that like to animate with the "Layered" technique. First animate the hips for the whole scene, then the chest, then the head, then the arms and so forth. I kinda got lost with that approach. I understood it, but it wasn't working for me. My mentor last semester, Jason Ryan animates more traditionally in a pose to pose fashion. He moves everything all at once on the frame. I like this way much better. He'll pose out all his "Golden Poses" to get the poses and timing right. Then he adds in the key frames fully posed. Then the break downs inbetween those keys, and so on down the line. They all realize everyone animates differently, and so they don't try to change the way you work. They try to present as many different ways to animate as possible so you can try them out and see which one works best for you.

On Sonny, you don't need a portfolio, it's an open admission. They do limit the amount of students they take each semmester though, so it's on a first come first server basis. You do need to take a basic apptitued test, which I obbiously failed in the spelling section :p This is to make sure the students can speak and read basic english and so they can get school accredidation so they can offer student loan stuff.

the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

The closest thing I've seen them mention to actual screening is reviewing essays to make sure you're serious and not taking up a spot as "Hey, I wanna try animation for three months. I think it could be a fun hobby!" The attention is more on converting the aspiring professionals into entry-levels genuinely ready for that level.

Layered can even get as detailed as doing individual elements like directional translations, then layering over each rotational, axis, etc. I'm more like Ape. I got into animation for 2D and it's just the way I think. My new mentor is VP of Production at ReelFX and will be doing a demonstration at a near-future Q&A because so few of us have seen a good layerer but I'd still be fascinated to see how it could be done.

Man, you guys got me all amped! I'm already recommending AM to other's now too lol!

My main concern was that I'm more of a 2D animator (even though I went to AI for 3D back in the day). Ape already addressed that matter though. Good news!
However, since I am somewhat interested in getting back into a little 3D would you guys recommend that I at least learn some Maya basics before I enroll in AM?

I took what was deceptively called 3D Animation at my college, and was in fact a direct lift off of Inside Lightwave 8, with ZERO animation taught -at all-. I took it anyhow because at the time I was headed for Ringling and wanted to get some of the general 'software use' issues out of the way so I could concentrate on the actual animation bits when I got there.

I wound up getting PLE and found it was more intuitive for character animation, and I could click on controls and things like that but my understanding of Maya as a whole was squat.

Now that I have Maya, I have learned everything I know about it and how to use it for these classes thanks to A) those cute little Quicktimes that pop up when you start it the first few times and B) the Maya tutorials at AnimationMentor. Supposedly actual live training is going to take place in the near future, but I've come from nothing and learned enough to not encounter any software struggles.

If you're anything like my experience, it won't hurt you to get familiar beforehand, but you also won't be at a loss.