Sep 042014

FX: Any non-character animation.

Traditionally, when you first start learning animation, you start with effects (FX). You learn how to make a ball bounce, to animate a balloon with a string, a swinging vine, various falling/tumbling objects and so on. You need to develop your skills on simple, primitive objects and the underlying physical forces before attempting complex character and creature animation. From the very start, what you are doing is effects animation.

The idea is that these early FX exercises give you the best foundation in animation, whether you decide to become a character animator or an FX animator in 2D, 3D or stop motion. Gradually as you develop these skills and gain more confidence, you can try adding character to these objects. For example, a common animation exercise is to give life to a flour sack, making it behave as if it’s a character, focusing on acting with weight, emotion and appeal.

Many animators have an eye on character work and move quickly beyond the ball bounce and flour sack exercises to develop their character animation skills. Others decide to stick with FX and dedicate themselves to the mastery of the elemental forces like fire, electricity, water, smoke, gravity and light.

Why FX?

FX and Character animation are specialised fields in their own right. The difference is that character animators without much FX experience will readily admit that they find it difficult to master technical, complex FX like water and fire. FX animators, on the other hand, usually find it a little easier to move into character animation; they already have that rock-solid foundation and well-developed sense of timing that character animators take years to develop.

So it’s my opinion (and I know many of my character animation colleagues would back me up here) that FX animation is the best way to learn animation as a whole, even if you ultimately aim for character work. Why not both?

The BCA FX Course

I originally developed the “BiteyCastle Academy Effects” course (BCA FX) because I was constantly hearing from animation students and enthusiasts who had spent hard-earned savings on outrageously expensive animation courses. So many students come away from such courses feeling disappointed, or even ripped off. It feels good every time a course member says that s/he has learned more in 3 months of BCA FX than they did in 3 years of college.

So sure, you can pay $2500 for a weekend workshop hosted by some Disney legend, or complete a 6 week course and get a certificate. You’ll probably even learn a thing or two. But if you’re serious about learning animation, you should know that it’ll be a long-term pursuit. Who knows? It may become a life-long passion.

The BCA FX course  is aimed at teaching you not just FX, but how to set out on the animation path. For beginners, the basics taught throughout the course give you the perfect introduction for learning any kind of animation. For experienced animators, you’ll underpin your existing knowledge with new insight and reinforce good animation habits.

If you’d like to learn more about the course, check out the sign-up page which has all the information you need, and a bunch of member testimonials. Of course, if you have additional questions, feel free to drop me a line, or hit me up in the chat (see chat tab in the lower corner of this page) if you happen to catch me in there.


 Posted by at 6:20 pm  8 Responses »
Oct 092012

Ever get that thing where your finances don’t reflect how busy you are? Like somehow the money doesn’t seem to justify working your eyes to the bone? Yeah me too. Story of the independent professional in the 21st Century huh? It’s a good thing I love what I’m doing, for the most part. Here’s what ►►


 Posted by at 11:51 pm  24 Responses »
Jun 252012

Dashkin was in “development hell” for almost a year. My own excitement and confidence in the game were dissipating. Sean couldn’t even look at it without feeling sick because it had grown larger and messier, far beyond what it was originally designed for, with many new features tacked on. The .fla was unstable, slow and ►►

The Fear

 Posted by at 2:11 pm  16 Responses »
May 012012
The Fear

Just lately, in the few hours between going to bed and actually falling asleep, I’ve been reading a series of books by Charlie Higson, a well-known UK writer and comedian (The Fast Show and others). This particular series starts with the first instalment “The Enemy”, the premise for which is basically that everyone on earth ►►

Feb 122012
The Buzzing of BiteyCastle Activity

Dashkin Progress Last month, Dashkin was put on hold in an effort to continue getting those Kickstarter rewards out. Earlier this week however, we made some more progress on the game itself. I know I’m being too hard on poor old Bitey, but for some time I’ve been concerned that it feels somewhat repetitive. So ►►

Season’s Greetings

 Posted by at 2:42 pm  7 Responses »
Jan 062012
Season's Greetings

oh look, here’s 2012! First I wanna say thank you for the outpouring of support and encouragement since my heart surgery. The past couple of months of recovery has not been difficult. Sure there’s been the pain of a split sternum, but I actually feel like I’ve got off very lightly, as if escaping some kind ►►

Mechanical bits

 Posted by at 3:01 pm  94 Responses »
Nov 202011
Mechanical bits

My heart surgery’s over. It was just 19 days ago that I was on a table with my chest opened up to the eyes and fingers of surgeons but here I am, back at the computer with a mechanical part ticking away inside. I feel surprisingly normal, though it will take a while for my ►►

Effects and Shirts

 Posted by at 4:07 pm  26 Responses »
Oct 042011
Effects and Shirts

The BiteyCastle Academy 2D FX animation course is now open! The place is all warmed up with almost 140 members (update: 300), throwing back tankards of piping hot secret knowledge nectar and churning out their effects assignments. It’s $24/month for a course that animators would elsewhere pay through the nose. In fact, if you’re a passionate animator, you may ►►

Dashkin Credits

 Posted by at 9:59 am  19 Responses »
Sep 192011

Dashkin is coming along. When I return from my little adventure we’ll apply some finishing touches and get the beta out there for testing. In the meantime, here are our Kickstarter backer credits. If you’re one of these people, check to see that we’ve spelled you correctly. If there’s any problem, please drop us a ►►

tick tock hack chop

 Posted by at 8:12 pm  94 Responses »
Sep 012011

edit – thank you everyone for the wishes! I feel like I’m already in a room up to my neck in flowers and cards. Short version - I was told today that I need to have open-heart surgery as a matter of priority, which means in the next couple of weeks. Yeah I know, it sounds ►►

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