Freitag, 22. November 2013

Why Animation Mentor is still #1

When i started AM, ther werent even half the online courses out there than there are today. It was an easy choice where to go and im so glad it was that easy. Animation Mentor is in my opinion the best online animation education out there and also tops many brick and mortar schools with ease.
Now weve heard gossip about AM letting things slip, other schools offering better models, AM being arrogant or even the whole online thing being over its peak.


Im writing this to tell people that the exact opposite is the case.
Animation Mentor still has the best and most animation focused curriculum with real in depth lectures that are thought out with a real learning path in mind. Not just from Workshop to workshop, but from week to week. At AM you learn the art and craft of animation in depth. You learn the skills and then youll learn how to turn it into YOUR personal art. From what i can see, no other online school offers that to this extent. Some dont even aim for that but ill get back to this later.
Ive attended a workshop at iAnimate and while it was a absolutely fantastic experience, what i was missing was the guided learning with weekly lectures like at AM. There is a huge library of stuff to look through, but its recordings from classroom talks, that different mentors gave. It felt more random and not as well thought out as at AM.


I looked at the curriculum of Animschool, and while its a nice approach to also offer modelling or rigging classes within the animation track... i think thats something that could easily be left out for further education after graduating. (Think how cool the already amazing work coming off animschool would look if they had 1 animation class more)


There are other courses like Animation collaborative or the just recently opened Animsquad which are fantastic from what i hear, but are probably better for people who want to extend their skills and knowledge instead of learning animation from scratch.
Now, it is true, that AM seemed to become a bit too big and slow, with flaws and technical issues and so on. But i think that is what happens to you if youre pioneering a business. So many other schools just copy the AM model and are successful because they offer cheaper courses or maybe add some stuff AM didnt do. But no one really innovates the business. (One exception to me is probably Kenny Roy's Collabs)


Im writing this to tell you, that AM is doing exactly this. They are aware of any issue in their program people are complaining about, and theyre thinking far beyond what people think is possible with online education. You can see it with their introduced AMP pipeline and the VFX courses. There is a bigger vision behind this and if you look closely youll see it. Instead of being disappointed about not going through the same program as other people did, you should be happy and proud to be part of the new broad vision at AM. Instead of complaining right off the bat, you should maybe take some time to test the system. Or just plain and simple trust in the vision of three of the best in our field.
What also has to be recognized is the fact, that there was also some bad luck involved... the failed collaboration with animationrigs... the unforseeable shakeup in the VFX industry which made AMs VFX programs launch a bigger struggle than it deserved, the delayed release of Morpheus 2.0, to technical issues with AMP which just happens if you develop something like this from scratch that no one else has done before. And last i think they also suffer from students who have forgotten that the one who has to work for their success are they themselves, or people (alumni) gossiping about how bad AM has become and what jerks they are for having to let people from their staff go and so on.
(i admit i was shocked and mad too when i heard who got let go... but its a business after all, and im sure they had their reasons)


Its not easy to be the forerunner...
But what im convinced of, is that AM knows about the problems of the industry. They truly try to be there for their students and alumni and provide sustained support and a community that more feels like a family than a school. And because they changed my life, and helped me to feel happier and more fulfilled than i ever have before, i think its my (and every alumni's) duty to step up and help how ever we can so AM can keep doing what they do best... make animators dreams come true and along the way completely change the industry.
Of course there are some directions that i would wish AM to go and things that i hope theyll change in future.


The mentor roster isnt as strong as it used to be... there is some FANTASTIC mentors... actually the biggest part is awesome. And all of them care about their students, but it seems that a lot of them shy away from giving tough love to the students. In my opinion its ok to tell a student if his work isnt good enough to go to the next class... they should be able to tell the students
I sneer at people who went through the program, profiting from all the amazing content and people, and now gossip and rant about AM...
In our consumer oriented society, people expect to get all the service they ask for without realizing, that there might be reasons why someone does things a certain way.
I for my part trust in Bobby, Shawn and Carlos' vision and will continue to support them with all my heart.

Samstag, 19. Oktober 2013

Beets Reel

Finally i managed to gather some of the shots i worked on while working on "The Beet Party".
So here we are.
Check out the Vimeo description for some additional thoughts :-)

Beets reel from Lukas Niklaus on Vimeo.

Freitag, 27. September 2013

Foot Locker

Ive been practicing Python in the last couple of weeks and i wrote a little tool that i shared with my peers here at Framestore as well.
Were animating run cycles and stuff where the characters main control is used for the movement in space. Which means, that feet have to be counter animated.

Thats what this tool does.
It either bakes the curves, or it keys the first and last frame in the range defined by the user and deletes all keys in between.

I thought it would be nice to share it with the 3 people who subscribed to my blog :-)

so if you right click -> save as  here
you can download the script AND a nice little icon to put on your shelf :-)

cheers and happy weekend

Montag, 23. September 2013

Character

Today i saw this:



Not only is this very well engineered...
What i find the most interesting here is, how he gave the box character...
Its not just the stubborn machine like others weve seen that just turn themselves off...
It has a mind of its own (a programmed one of course... but still) it even gets mixed up with itself at some point.

I find that hilarious, refreshing and inspiring!

I think that we should use this mindset for any animation we do...
Give our character purpose and make them appear like theyre thinking.
Even for the smallest mechanics test... think a bit further... give them purpose. Give them character.


Mittwoch, 21. August 2013

A new chapter




Today im already three months into my Framestore adventure, and i still find it hard to describe what i feel.

As a student or later when i was working in my first two animation jobs, i had this picture in mind on how it would be, to work in a world class studio. And now that im here, i have to realize... it is even better.
The company itself is so professional but still feels like a family.
I am completely overwhelmed by the sense of achievement, humility and joy...

I didn't realize what i had achieved when i actually got the job offer, or at least i didn't feel like i had achieved something.
Probably mostly because i thought, that someone who hires a guy with a reel like mine, cant really be THAT good.
But now im sitting in the midst of some fantastic animators, i am here! I am part of this!
Someday i have to ask our Lead what made him pick me over everyone else, because every time i think of it when i go to sleep i honestly cant make sense of it.

For the first time in my life i feel like im EXACTLY at the right place at the right time.
Were really starting something great and unique here, everyone has so much energy and wants to prove to the guys in London and the rest of the world, that we can do anything they throw at us. It feels like a family, and since most of the people are new to the city (theres only two canadians in our team of 10 animators and only one is from Montreal) we really are a tight knit team, which makes life in and outside of work even cooler.
When they asked me how i like it at Framestore and i had issues finding the right words, many of them just nodded, saying i know what you mean... They all feel the same, because they have been in the same place themselves... but still they kept their wonder and excitement about our craft, and that after 8+ years at Framestore or in this industry overall...
This is so exhilarating...

This is the first time everything comes together for me, and the hard work especially in the last two years starts to pay off.

I wish each and everyone of you out there who strives to become an animator, that you will make this same experience one day...
Realizing that one actually really CAN make all his dreams come true is the best thing ive ever felt...

Freitag, 16. August 2013

How much i love Pixar

Today a coworker sent me these two videos...






everyone knows how crazy i am about Pixar... but well... it got me all weepy and i had to tell someone, so i messaged the videos to another amazing friend here...

i wanted to share that little breakout...


Its hard to find words for how much i love my job already.
And if you think im too fixated on Pixar, i can tell you... i have questioned myself a lot. Trying to find some other place that might be as cool... and i found some amazing places that id like to work at... but then i watch Nemo or Wall-E or the Pixar Story again... and BAM... nothing else gives me these amazing tickling in my guts than Pixar and what it stands for.

These guys really touched me... with amazing stories and characters, but even more with amazing art and craftsmanship...
There is no other place like Pixar.


Donnerstag, 16. Mai 2013

Ive won a Green Card... what now?

So... im one of the selected people of this years Green Card Lottery...
Im still halfway paralized and dont know what to do first and what to think at all...
But i think this is a good opportunity to somehow document the way to obtaining that Green Card so that interested people who are in the same position in future can get some info from it...

So stay tuned for more to come in the following months... For all ive read, its gonna take a while untill this stuff is over. They dont start interviewing people before October. But that also gives me enough time to gather all the materials i need :-)