After countless sleepless nights, a sore butt from sitting for so long and hours of attempting to animate I graduated from Animation Mentor and it was all worth it!
If you are reading this article and trying to decide where to learn character animation I hope I can answer any questions you have about Animation Mentor. If I don’t, feel free to contact me at brock(at)brockoli.com or contact Animation Mentor on their website. They are extremely helpful.
I am reviewing the 18 month Classic Animation Track since that is the one I completed.
Animation Mentor does a great job at introducing the principals of animation and starting you off slowly. You don’t need to have natural talent to learn the principles of animation. A lot of it has to do with educating yourself on how real-life physics work and putting in the animation hours (practice practice practice). Class 1 will start you off with a bouncy ball in order to get the most important principles at the front of your mind for the next 18 months as things progressively become more complicated. And it DOES get more complicated so don’t skip your homework.
Each class builds on itself and I can not recommend enough to take Animation Mentor one step at a time. Don’t get a head of yourself and try to do something too advanced. I am guilty of this and some of my strongest assignments happened when I kept my animation concepts simple. With the easier shots I was able to spend more time polishing and making the shot stand out after I finished animating it.
One of the highlights while attending Animation Mentor was the community. When you submit your assignment each week, everyone in the school can view your work and provide feedback. You can reach out to your classmates and upperclassmen to provide constructive feedback and vice versa. All the feedback at Animation Mentor felt constructive and I was able to sift out the most important notes that improved my shot.
The more you mingle with your fellow Animation Mentor classmates the better your experience and work will be in the end. Character Animation is a process through fellowship and Animation Mentor does a fantastic job at creating the environment that facilitates collaboration.
I love the fact that Animation Mentor provides a way for students to solely focus on animation. The rigs are provided and their 3D asset inventory grows each day. Animation Mentor even offers a Maya Workshop: Animation Basics that you can take prior to Class 1 so you can get your feet wet. You will receive a 3-year student license of Maya once you enroll at Animation Mentor.
Each term you will have the opportunity to choose your mentor and class time. Mentors at Animation Mentor are working professionals in the industry. You will not get a mentor who is not super talented and passionate about animation. I recommend choosing mentors from different studios. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about how each studio operates. Ask LOTS of questions.
Character Animation takes a lot of time to do. I worked full-time freelance and had a newborn baby while attending Animation Mentor. It is a challenge to balance work, school and family but I am here to tell you that it is possible and I had many Animation Mentor friends who did the same.
The staff at Animation Mentor are super supportive and care about your personal life. The Animation Mentor mentors have families and work full-time too. If you are afraid that you cannot attend Animation Mentor because of your life schedule I say you would not be alone at Animation Mentor. Balance is the key and Animation Mentor encourages it.
Have fun while attending Animation Mentor. Put in the hours each day to improve your skills but also step away from the computer and re-energize. I love the way Bobby Beck said it when I first enrolled at Animation Mentor, he said, “how can you animate life if you do not have one?”
Animation Mentor loves enthusiasm and excitement. It brightens up their day too. So when you enroll at Animation Mentor join in the fun and love what you do. It can be infectious and the industry needs a large case of fun!
LEAVE OF ABSENCE
Another neat aspect of attending Animation Mentor is the ability to take a leave of absence and return to Animation Mentor when you are ready. Life happens and a lot of life can happen in 18 months. If something serious occurs, take a LOA and pick Animation Mentor back up when you return. Animation Mentor has a very flexible program that works for you and not against you.
ANIMATION MENTOR STAFF
The staff was super supportive while I attended. They listen to the student body and care about you and your dream of learning character animation. Do not hesitate to ask questions and use their support center.
Animation Mentor stays in touch with the industry.
Bobby Beck and the founders are very active in the industry and they are willing to accept change. They keep their eyes and ears open and Animation Mentor is evolving their animation curriculum all the time. Animation Mentor wants the industry to grow and strive, so I encourage you to trust them and listen to them. This does not mean to be a drone. Instead, have an active conversation with them. All of the young animators are the future of the industry. You have just as much influence on it than the current pros.
It has only been a couple weeks and I miss Animation Mentor’s classes already. As an alumni your biggest challenge begins and that is self-motivation.
Keep on animating, keep on animating, keep on animating…
You are not all alone after you finish Animation Mentor. You still have access to the website, support center and a profile on campus. You can still post your work for all to see and you can still leave feedback for others and vice versa. Animation Mentor has many options for alumni to volunteer and stay actively involved in the online campus. You will have continued access to the character rig library as it grows and there are always other production track options available to you.
I had no prior knowledge or education in character animation before attending Animation Mentor and I barely knew Maya. After 18 months, 6 mentors, countless hours of practice and incredible feedback here is my character animation demo reel.
In short, if you want to learn character animation there are many options out there. However, if you want to learn character animation, stay connected to the ever-changing industry, make lifelong friends and have tons of fun doing it, there is only one choice and that is Animation Mentor.
I cannot recommend Animation Mentor enough. Your question is, “should I do it?” The answer is, YES and NOW. You will not regret it.
For more from Brock, check out his blog