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Saturday, February 16, 2008


I've gotten some email and verbal comments about my stance on not taking AM or Pixar classes while enrolled in my class and sadly the distilled opinion was that I don't like Animation Mentor or the Pixar classes. I guess my wording was poor so I just wanted to clarify a few things.

I have nothing against those two animation classes at all.

If you can enroll in Animation Mentor, then do it. I recommend it over the AAU because AM focuses strictly on animation. So if you're not going for a Bachelor's with a general art education, then AM is for you. No distractions, no other classes that take time away from your animation homework, just a focus on learning animation. I know Shawn and I can see how committed he is to make AM an awesome school, so you're in good hands (and that goes for Carlos Baena and Bobby Beck as well).

But if you're enrolled at the AAU then your primary goal should be to get into the Pixar class. Work as hard as you can in order to get accepted because it's worth it. The assignments of my last Pixar class got me my job as a feature animator. The wealth of knowledge you're exposed to in those classes is enormous, so make it a priority to get in there.


Once you are enrolled at Animation Mentor or the Pixar classes, it's time for HARD work. You need every minute you can get to polish your shots. Which means surrounding classes at the AAU will suffer because of it, which is fine to me. I had an English writing class during my last semester and some other useless (for me) class. I spent about 5mins a week on it, the rest was focused on my animation. If you have any filmmaking classes, don't neglect those of course.


I understand that you want to spend as much time as possible on your AM or Pixar assignments and technically I'm all for that. But for every student that's putting 5% into my class, there's another who would spend 100% (ok, maybe 95%). The problem is that this student didn't get into the class because it was full. And this is where I say, don't enroll into this class if you can't/don't want to put in the required time, because you're taking up a spot of someone that would. It won't help you, it won't help the other student and it won't help me. All in all it's just a waste of time.

That's all.


Graham said...

Hey JD. As someone who's just gotten into Pixar 2, I feel like I'm someone who has experience in balancing the workload of the Pixar classes and school. So i thought I'd put in my 2 cents.

The Pixar classes are amazing. I've learned a whole hell of a a lot in those classes. And I've had to work my butt off. Recently I was forced to decide between quitting my job or focusing on school. Sadly the extra income had to go.

But I've ultimately found time to work on my theses and to work on the Pixar classes, primarily becuase I find that working hard in my OTHER classes allows me to be a better animator in the Pixar class.

Life drawing, illustration as well as filmmaking classes are all important in learning to be a good animator. To not give them your full attention is a waste of you time at the academy.

I think something else that perpetuates misdirection is the fact that a lot of the students spend time setting up huge sets and making complicated rigs when they really should be focused on animating. I try to keep all my models simple and modify them as little as possible so I can focus on the motion.

We are studying to be animators. Rigging comes with the territory, but minimalism should be used on extraneous things like props or sets. At least, that's my opinion...

To recap, I love the Pixar classes. If you're at the academy, learn to draw. And if you're learning to animate, focus on animation and put sets and detailed props in later.

Keep up the good work on the blog JD!

Jean-Denis Haas said...

Hey Graham,

thanks for the post!

I'm not saying that no one can balance multiple classes, it's just rare to see that's why I dont' encourage it.

I agree though about the drawing and filmmaking classes, they are important.

Thanks again!