Thursday, January 03, 2008

Learning Animation In the Age of Web

Everybody thinks of Cal Arts and Sheridan when they think of animation training. But here's another educational route to Toonland:

Animation Mentor, founded in Berkeley by veterans of Pixar Animation Studios and Industrial Light & Magic, teaches students how to create animated characters. The school offers an 18-month Web-based course in drawing characters from the basic to the complex ...

Animation Mentor also differs from nearly all other such schools in another key aspect: Its classes are offered entirely and solely via the Internet...

Some of the most talented animators in the industry help teach the students. Paasche said his training includes instruction from an individual who is a Disney legend and who was mentored by Eric Larson, one of Walt Disney's original "Nine Old Men." ...

...[T]he school ... makes sure its students are trained in the basics of creating compelling characters. Those sorts of skills are essential, even in today's world of digital animation that often emphasizes gee-whiz technologies and touts entire movies created on computers.

The internet isn't just disassembling brick-and-mortar music stores. It's wreaking change in brick-and-mortar education as well.


Anonymous said...

Wow. This was news maybe two years ago when AM started out. Where have you guys been?

Anonymous said...

It's a fine school, but the article writer made a huge error is saying that they teach "drawing" characters. Animation Mentor teaches CG animation with supplied models. They intentionally do not teach character drawing or modeling.

I suspect Bobby Beck explained that to the reporter, but the reporter obviously didn't pay attention.

Anonymous said...

As someone resonsible for hiring animators into the industry I can speak volumes about AM's virtues. Their students are well educated in what it takes to get and maintain a job in the industry (the same cannot be said for CalArts or Sheridan - Sheridan's demise as an animation school has been tragic).

AM's founders share a passion for animation that is inspiring and uplifting.

Anonymous said...

"CalArts and Sheridan"?

Oh,lawdy... Steve you are showing your age - those schools have been surpassed by the likes of Animation Mentor and Ringling College of Art/Design. Like the blogger above stated, Sheridan is a vast frozen wasteland when compared to its glory days in the 90's.

Anonymous said...

Sheridan's Program has been in the toilet for almost 10 years, but the last few have been really bad.

A faculty that can't teach the way they REALLY want to, because the academics have taken over the show!

some people really need to retire or be replaced before that program can get on track again.

Steve Hulett said...

Oh,lawdy... Steve you are showing your age - those schools have been surpassed by the likes of Animation Mentor and Ringling College of Art/Design.

Sure, absolutely right (about the age thing and the rest).

I've known about Animation Mentor for some time (know animators teaching at AM) but this article flew at me across the web so I linked to it. Just because you're in the know doesn't mean everyone else is.

As for Ringling Bros. down in Sarasota Florida sure, it does nice things. But it's done nice things for a long time, and it's nothing new.

Schools ebb and flow.

Anonymous said...

What happened to Sheridan? They were the powerhouse of animation placing as many, if not more, grads as Cal Arts back in the 90's. Now all I am reading is that they are "in the toilet". Did they have staffing changes? Did the whole 3D thing just sweep them aside? Anyone have a clue?

Kevin Koch said...

To the first anonymous, considering that I've been teaching on Animation Mentor for over a year, you can be sure Steve's known about the school for a while. ;)

I have to say that comparing AM to places like CalArts, Sheridan, Ringling, etc. is a little bit of an apples and oranges thing. AM is entirely focused on CG character animation. If you want to be a great story artist, character designer, modeler, rigger, lighter, 2D animator, etc., etc., pick another school.

Also, the nature of AM allows working pros to attend. Many of the most outstanding students I've taught have been people who had already been animating for several years, and wanted to take their work to the next level.

There are also a lot of AM students who have learned the basics at bricks and mortar schools and didn't get enough specific character animation training, so they also come into AM with a leg up.

Bottom line is that I don't think AM will replace the good general animation schools, and it's a fantastic 'place' to learn high-level character animation.

Bobby Beck said...

Yes, I did explain that we do not teach drawing and character design. However, I feel the reporter did a decent write up overall for the audience it was meant for.

Thanks Kevin and everyone else for the support. I would also like to add that at AM we do not intend to replace the other art schools. We just want to do our best to teach character driven animation. We feel we will always be improving what and how we teach but we do not aim to be a generalist school. As Kevin suggested, we are laser focused on teaching Character Animation.

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