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Animation Tutorial with Lead Reel FX Animator

by | Jan 7, 2020

Animation Tutorial with Jason Martinsen

We were so lucky to host Lead Reel FX Animator and mentor Jason Martinsen for a live animation demo with our Stewart Rig. It was great to see how a professional animator approaches a shot—from reference, to blocking, to splining, and polish—and we learned a ton! The Q&A at the end was incredibly helpful, with extra tips and advice from Jason.

Below is a replay of the webinar, for those who weren’t able to attend live or simply want to re-watch their favorite parts. Don’t forget to take notes!


The first thing I do is film reference, or find reference on the internet, and make it in an achievable timeline.


I haven’t used the graph editor much yet, it’s not that useful for me at this point. I’m just getting the poses in there.


If my center of gravity doesn’t feel right then everything else will feel wrong, so it’s the first thing I spline.

Questions & Answers

    Here are a few of the excellent questions asked by our audience:

  • When blocking, do you first focus on storytelling poses? Or do you block every 2-4 frames?
  • Does constraint set up cause counter animation?
  • What are weighted vs. unweighted tangents?

See Jason’s answers below.

Some final pearls of wisdom:

“I like having pretty, clean curves. When I open other animators’ scenes and there’s keys in every frame and it’s mangled, I’m like, “How do you animate??”

Weighted tangents are not useful for overshoots. They’re more useful for ease-ins and ease-outs, and pulling in or out hang time.

“I learned how to animate efficiently because I wanted to be able to do as much work as I could so I could do more work. I was hungry for animation.”

The only way to get past [the student stage] is to show [your work] to other people, because they can tell you what’s standing out.

Thank you, Jason, for walking us through your process and sharing your wisdom! There are so many good tips to take away.

Ready for more advice? Check out these related articles:
Is Your Demo Reel Ready for a Major Studio? Tips from Shawn Kelly.
How to Become an Animator with Blue Sky Animators
Animation Career Advice with Shawn Kelly and Carlos Baena

Want to be mentored by professional animators?

Start your animation journey today by learning from animators at studios like Pixar, Blue Sky, and ILM! Get more information about Animation Mentor’s Character Animation Program.

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