About time I updated this, to say I was over the moon to have offered a place on the brand new "Certificate in Character Animation" course - a 3 month intensive stop motion animation training course at the amazing Aardman Animation Studios based at their Gasferry Road studio in Bristol - a pilot course set up in conjunction with the prestigious National Film and Television School based in Beaconsfield, UK.
This is the most incredible experience to be trained and receive workshops/masterclasses by some fantastically talented animators and industry professionals. Day to day, I'm being trained by Loyd Price - head of Animation at Aardman, with a long career most of us dream of (credits include Nightmare before Christmas, Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit - The Curse of the WereRabbit, Flushed Away and Pirates.) It makes such a difference to be taught by someone who knows exactly what they're talking about, helping me to see where things are going wrong on a shot and understanding how to improve them.
I'm learning loads, my animation skills have come on leaps and bounds - and I even got to pitch a feature film idea to the legendary Peter Lord (co-founder of Aardman - and a bloody marvellous chap).
Amazing just doesn't quite cover it.
***UPDATE*** Weekly Diary
Week 1 - Bouncing Balls.
Going back to master the basics. Understanding arcs of motion, weight and bounce of different types of ball - tennis, pingpong and cannon ball. A whole week spent bouncing balls might not sound like a great time, but it became incredibly useful in later weeks and as my tutor Loyd frequently stated - in animation "...it all comes back to the bouncing ball".
Week 2 - Sword thrust
Our first week with a professional puppet from Aardman's feature film "Pirates". Learning to use the puppet, understanding its armature and its limitations of movement. Working on balancing weight, body stances, anticipation of movement and single direction thrust.
Week 3 - Baseball bat
Learning about arcs of motion and how different parts of the body will rotate before others, and at differing speeds.
Week 4 - Weightlift
Learning to convey the illusion of weight, how it transfers and its impact on the body.
Week 5 - Walk cycle
One of the hardest things to convey in animation - a convincing walk cycle. As you rarely animate a character simply walking (they are almost always doing other things at the same time) it was useful to learn and understand the basics, which performance can then be laid on top of. I have shown here a straight walk, and one with a little more... swagger.
Week 6 - Character walks
Animating a walk with purpose. Practicing personality and character animation. One shows a relaxed character suddenly realising he is late and hurrying off in a panic. The second is tired and heavy (unfinished).
Week 7 - Run/Jump
Enhancing the skills learnt from practising walk cycles - now progressing to making a character run and jump. Using rigging to support character when he leaves the ground. (This support can be removed in post-production)
Week 8 - Lipsync
Working with replacement mouths from the Aardman "Pirates" feature film, I had to break down a sample of speech from a Creature Comforts clip and work out and test the mouth shapes to ensure a clean read. After several reworks - I had the mouth shapes and timings worked out, and set about tying them to a strong character performance.
Week 9 - Final project
Putting everything together from all the tasks learnt over the course I took a longer Creature Comforts clip, working out the mouths, planning a strong performance, and including a walk cycle, and several cuts.