Term 1 Courses

In this course, students will establish the right mental approach to understanding creature animation by analyzing how and why creatures move in the real world. Students will analyze the anatomy of various references from bipeds, quadrupeds, and flying creatures. Study will include a breakdown of the intrinsic differences and commonalities between bipeds, large and small quadrupeds and winged creatures. By the end of this class will have created a reference library of creatures with breakdown notes for animation testing.

In this course, students will create (or animate) rigs based on their anatomy studies. Students will breakdown and examine existing rigs in order to understand the underlying principles of creature rigging and how it relates to creating animated performances. Study will also include the application of real-world solutions to inherent limitations of rigged creatures in CG production. Students will be evaluated on the production of a series of animation cycles.

Cinematography is the art and technique of camera and lighting in the making of a motion picture film. It involves technical concerns related to cameras, lenses and accessories, as well as various lighting instruments in order to tell the story in visual terms. The students begin the course with a series of lectures and workshops enabling them to initially understand and operate real-world cameras as well as work with lighting fixtures and related equipment. The course will then continue to look at CG cameras in Maya and apply real-world cinematography techniques to create convincing CG shots.

The principal focus of this term is on the fundamental mechanics of physical creature animation and the process, tools, and applications. Students will learn how to break down physical actions to their basic fundamentals, enabling them to be able to perform clear actions with complete creatures. Students will work on a series of shots to build their skills in order to achieve believable locomotion-based creature animation. Assignments will be completed in groups.

Term 2 Courses

Building on the learning from Reference & Anatomy 1, this course expands into more complex acting behaviours including facial anatomy. Students will examine the skeletal and muscular anatomy of heads and faces of humans and a variety of animals. Specific study in eyes and mouth and lids will explored. This learning will be applied in facial performances, assignments, and final projects.

This course will focus on the study of underlying animal behaviours that enhance the performance of animated creatures. For example, students will study behaviors related to stretching, hunting, feeding, posturing, preening, taking-off and landing and defensive actions. Students will explore the differences in similar behaviours and how they are displayed between varied species. Learning will be applied in a series of animated technical assignments.

This course will build upon the foundations of cinematography that students learned in the previous term. It will help students understand how to add emotion and style to the final look of a scene through visual storytelling principles. Students will learn how to edit across actions and performances to ensure clarity and shot flow.

Building on Creature Animation 1 students will execute a series of highly complex shots. Students will learn how to break down dynamic physical actions enabling them to be able to perform more sophisticated actions with complete creatures. Students will work on specific sequential shot assignments to build up their skills in order to achieve believable physical and performance-based creature animation. Assignments will be completed in groups.

Term 3 Courses

Discover what it means to achieve your creative goals with the pressure of a real production timeline and with the guidance, support, and scrutiny of industry professionals. You will build self-awareness through constructive feedback and dailies in this studio-based course. You will respond to constructive critique, provide input on the work of your peers, and modify your activities to achieve your project goals. This course provides you with a window into the workings of an industry studio. Your success will be determined by your level of commitment, professionalism, preparedness, and your ability to communicate effectively with your Industry Mentor and peers.

Observation & analysis of real-life lighting will be used to demonstrate the properties of light and the interaction between lighting and material properties. This will include an introduction to the principles of 3 Point Lighting (Key, Back, & Fill) and the application of this lighting approach to 3D software scenes. Students will learn to develop strategies for effective & efficient direct lighting, integrated with optimized rendering quality and time. Students will also assemble prepared assets to create shot layouts. The course will consist of demonstrations combined with discussion, handouts and lessons, in-class and out of class assignments.

The final film project requires students to start the production of a group project. Students will complete a production schedule which will outline how many seconds per week they are required to animate to finish an entire sequence of the film. They will plan their strategies, taking into account shot difficulty and any changes based on critiques. Students will participate in dailies at the start of every lab period, receiving critiques and suggestions of their work while learning to make comments of their own in regards to other animators’ work. This is a process of improving the animator’s ability to gauge what is working or not working in the animated expression of weight, timing, motivation, shot continuity, creative acting choices, contrast, and staging. Professionalism and receiving critiques are key components to a student’s success.

The key topics in this course are intended to equip you with essential skill sets for pursuing employment in your industry and position of choice. You will explore your preferred career paths, professional management and networking, identify workplace roles, produce industry-specific cover letters and resumes, as well as examine strategies for nailing the perfect job interview.