An Online Animation Mentor Program
Wednesday February 11th 2009, 9:17 am
Filed under: Educational
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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
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

I Suggest That You Check This Symposium Out
Tuesday February 10th 2009, 12:29 pm
Filed under: Educational
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My friend, Otto Alder, Co Head of the Animation Department at Lucerne International Animation Academy, is organizing a symposium primarily directed at researchers, lecturers and students in the field of media.  He would like to encourage an environment for a theoretical debate about animation as an art form.  He has assembled an impressive roster of support from some of the top names in the field of animation.
Even if the topics of proposed discussion are not in your particular area of interest it is definitely worth checking out.  You can stay abreast of the plans by contacting the email address near the end of the article.

liaa logo
liaa logo

Lucerne International Animation Academy 8-12 of December 2009

The institute Design of Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts will organise the first Lucerne International Animation Academy from the 8–12 of December 2009. The goal of this Symposium is to encourage a theoretical debate about current and historical questions of animation as an independent form of the “Moving Picture Production” in Switzerland.

This event mainly addresses researchers, lecturers and students in the field of media (animation, film, special effects). During this unique platform in Lucerne, highly qualified lecturers from theory and practice will discuss topics about animation.

The questions on the specifics of dramaturgy in animation film will be the main focus. It will be discussed whether it is right to use dramaturgic concepts of real films for animation. The objective is to find out whether or not there are independent rules for the Dramaturgy in animation films. Presentations, keynotes, workshops and film presentations will be held in order to discuss the main subject of this event in an interdisciplinary way. The results will be published and used in practical and theoretical lessons in animation and film schools.

Otto Alder, Co-Head of the Animation Department


If you have any suggestions concerning the content of this symposium, please let us know. If you are interested in following the development of the Lucerne Animation Academy please send us an email and we will keep you informed.

Lucerne International Animation Academy
Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
School of Art and Design
Sentimatt /Dammstrasse 1
CH-6003 Lucerne

Under Patronage of:

Pascal Couchepin
Federal Councilor, Switzerland

Dr. Anton Schwingruber
Member of the Government of the Canton of Lucerne
Minister of Education and Culture

Prof. Gil Alkabetz, Babelsberg | Giannalberto Bendazzi, Milano | Paul Bush, London | John Canemaker, New York | Oxana Cherkasowa, Jekaterinburg | Peter Dougherty, New York | Prof. Paul Driessen, Montreal | Piotr Dumala, Warsaw | Prof. Masahiro Katayama, Tokyo | William Kentridge, Johannesburg | Fjodor Khitruk, Moskau | Sayoko Kinoshita, Tokyo | Duscha Kistler, Baden | Igor Kovalyov, Los Angeles | Yoji Kuri, Tokyo | Chris Landreth, Montreal | Peter Lord, Bristol | Chiara Magri, Turin | Frank and Caroline Mouris, New York | Peter Moyes, Brisbane | Normand Roger, Montreal | Juri Norstein, Moskau | Marcy Page, Montreal | Priit Pärn, Tallinn | Michaela Pavlatova, Prag | Jayne Pilling, London | Quay Brothers, London | Mohammad Reza Karimi Saremi, Teheran | Gerben Schermer, Utrecht | Georges Schwizgebel, Genf | Nelson Shin, Seoul | Georges Sifianos, Paris | Stanislav Sokolov, Moskau | Annick Teninge, Valence | Gianluigi Toccafondo, Rom | Dennis Tupicoff, Melbourne | Richard Williams, Bristol

Thursday February 05th 2009, 1:39 pm
Filed under: Personal, Profiles
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Seems like I have been writing too many obituaries in the last few month and even though losing dear human friends is very painful, sometimes the loss of a treasured company is just as sad.Any of us who lived in the Bay Area during the heyday of the Orphanage has fond memories of the great work they created and the exciting young animators who were given the chance to cut their teeth and expand their wings.

There is no way I can say it better than the press release I received today:

Orphanage logo
Orphanage logo
Today I had the heart-wrenching task of joining my co-founders Scott Stewart and Jonathan Rothbart in announcing that The Orphanage will be suspending operations indefinitely. We started the company ten years ago, tripled in size each year for our first three years, and worked on some of the biggest and best effects movies made. We produced shorts and even features, we spawned a commercial division and an animation company, and we hung out in the halls with Frank Miller, Ethan Hawke, and M.C. Hammer. We did DI before it was called DI, we gave birth to Magic Bullet, and we did really, really good work.

But that’s not what matters the most.

It’s no accident that our company’s name described a place for people, people who may be thrown together, but who ultimately create their own destinies. Scott once described his vision of an orphanage as “a hundred success stories waiting to happen,” and that is exactly what came to pass inside our offices. We have had the privilege of working with many “Orphans” over the years, and watching them grow and take on new responsibilities has been the single greatest part of coming to work every day.

A message to the visual effects industry: You will never find a better employee than a former Orphan.

And to the Orphans: It has been a privilege and an honor to work with you.

Posted by Stu Maschwitz at 8:00 pm on