Animation Mentor is taking a more holistic approach to its venerable online school of animation and VFX with the creation of the AMP studio production pipeline along with the addition of a VFX curriculum and restructured animation program. After consulting with animation and VFX studios, it was decided to better train students in more of a hands-on, battle tested environment to better prepare them for professional careers.
Starting with the Spring 2013 term, Animation Mentor students will train on AMP, a professional-grade distributed asset and shot management tool that allows students to collaborate with other Animation Mentor students around the globe to produce finished films and sequences under the direction of their mentor. The education takes place on the school’s Student Learning Platform — a series of proprietary tools that work together to provide students with the real experience of working on a studio production.
The impetus for AMP was the need to help Animation Mentor co-founder Carlos Baena with a new 11-minute animated short that he is making in conjunction with AM and a host of artists from various studios. In fact, Baena is taking a leave of absence from Pixar.
“Before we went into full production, we wanted to do it fully distributed in a remote fashion,” suggests AM CEO and co-founder Bobby Beck. “But how do we do production online and make this work and be collaborative and also make it efficient? We hired two pipeline engineers: one from Tippett and one from DreamWorks and whittled away at a concept. And the first place we started was with asset management and worked on the idea of creating a digital backlot with reusable assets.
“From there we went into shot management to pass along assets easily from one department to the next, so what we were doing was creating a studio online that we knew we could use to teach animation and ultimately visual effects. And so with Carlos’ film the whole front end is completed. We took the pipeline we’ve developed and are testing it with the short and other beta classes.”
With reduced pricing and shorter classes, students will now enroll in Animation Fundamentals, a series of four classes that introduces them to the basics of production animation. Once completed, students can then continue their education and enroll in two new advanced disciplines — the Character Animation Production Track and the Animal and Creature Animation Production Track.
Meanwhile, VFX Fundamentals — comprised of three classes and developed with major studio partners (Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Weta Digital, and Industrial Light & Magic) to meet industry production needs — are designed to teach production CG, look development, lighting, and compositing basics. The new offerings begin with the Summer 2013 term, with CG- and VFX-specific production tracks available in 2014.
Industry professional lighters and compositors from these major studios and production houses have worked closely with AM on the VFX curriculum. Animation Mentor has also partnered with leading software developers (Autodesk, The Foundry, and Solid Angle), character riggers (CG Monks), and VFX media partners (fxphd).
The school further offers new intermediate characters starting in the Spring 2013 term, a new advanced character in the Fall 2013 term, a simplified grading system, new loan options, and monthly payment plans.