Some heavy hitters in Hollywood animation have built an online-only character animation school that builds on the concept of social networking, interactive teaching and timely feedback.
Called AnimationMentor.com, the school springs from the creative minds of Bobby Beck, Shawn Kelly and Carlos Baena, whose combined credits include Finding Nemo
, The Incredibles
and Star Wars
AnimationMentor.com has invested nearly US$1 million to build a social network where students from 37 countries can study character animation with 54 working artists from Pixar Animation Studios, Disney Feature Animation, Sony, Blue Sky Studios and others, according to Beck, AnimationMentor.com co-founder, whose credits include Cars, which Pixar is scheduled to release this [US] summer.
Beck and co-founders Kelly, an animator at Industrial Light & Magic, and Baena, an animator at Pixar, have set out to bring back character animation artistry.
"We first teach students to observe the world with new eyes," Beck said. "Today's animators struggle to reach the excellence found in character animation created during the golden age, much of it developed by Disney."
At AnimationMentor.com all course work is done online. School instructors are called "mentors", who hold live weekly student question and answer sessions. Students complete the course work. The digital files are upload to one of six 3.0 Gigahertz Dell dual-Xeon Power Edge Servers running Microsoft Windows 2003.