The Numbers Behind Animation Mentor (data nerd edition)
I love numbers; the stories they tell fascinate and intrigue me. In computer animation, behind every appealing action or movement are a series of coordinates which appear as beautiful curves when displayed in the graph editor (I’ve spent way too many hours staring at that Maya window). While studying animation at Animation Mentor, I experienced the personal attention and passion the school exudes in its teaching philosophy, and many of my strongest friendships come from my time at Animation Mentor. Yet as staff, when I analyze numbers gathered from databases, reports, and surveys I am astounded at how widespread that experience is among the community. Below, you will find a few of my favorite fascinating numbers regarding the Animation Mentor experience:
Over 750,000 comments posted to student workspaces since 2005
Approximately 2,200 of over 5,000 students and alumni signed into the site within the past two weeks to post comments, watch lectures, or complete their class assignments (nearly 4,000 students visited in 2014 alone). On average 31,570 comments are posted to student workspaces each term, and the top posters are a pair of brothers who posted a total of 14,640 comments each over the past 3 years (they take great pains to ensure they each post exactly the same number of comments each term)!
Over 225 lectures produced since 2005
When students pass a class they gain access to a Lecture Archive with active lectures from that class. Currently, 181 lectures from 15 classes are available in the Lecture Archive, and in the past three weeks students viewed a lecture from the archive 2,605 times! The most popular lecture during that time (174 views) is the very first lecture in AN01: “An Introduction to Animation” created by the infectiously excited founders nearly 10 years ago!
Over 225,000 eCritiques created since 2005
Every week, mentors review their students’ assignments and provide direction and demonstrations to improve the animation/VFX elements using a recorded eCritique. These critiques range from 5 to 15 minutes each (the record is 74 minutes) and are viewable by everyone in the Animation Mentor community. Thus, every week over 100 hours of supplemental content is added to the site for all students to view! It would take over 14 hours a day to watch every critique each week! Students watch these critiques to learn from other mentor’s teaching styles and to train their own “animation eye” to look for ways to improve a shot. Finally, since 2010 mentors have recorded 96,112 critiques.
Over 35,000 live Q&As with mentors created since 2005
Mentors host Q&As with students 12 times a term, and students have the option to go to many supplemental Q&As to continue their animation and VFX education. Since 2010, mentors have hosted 18,252 class Q&As with their students. Similarly, supplemental Q&As have been held over 2,200 times with themes such as Q&As with animators from recently released movies, alumni-hosted tutorial Q&As, “hang out while you animate” Q&As, and more.
Over 390,000 files uploaded to the cloud since 2013
The AMP Pipeline allows students to access their assignments from any computer, collaborate with other students on productions, and receive detailed feedback from their mentors who can access their Maya files. Currently, 1,110 students use AMP to access a total of 2,274 assignments which they have checked in 113,507 times! Students have also collaborated on 48 short film productions which average 22 shots each.
To me, the Animation Mentor experience is geeking out with a mentor as they tell our class a funny story behind my favorite movie, or offering comments and critiques on friends assignments as we work on our assignments together at 2 AM, or finally grasping a complicated animation concept when a lecturer explains it by literally and metaphorically cooking paella. So when my analysis shows that since 2005 AM has hosted over 35,000 mentor Q&As, students have left over 750,000 comments, or 226 lectures were created my mind is blown! The most exciting aspect of these numbers is knowing that each student, whether they post 14 comments or 14,000, attend 60 Q&As or 600, or watch 12 lectures or 120, experiences a passionate story at Animation Mentor which leads them to their goal of becoming an animator or VFX artist.