Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Maya Says You Can't Save Due to "Unknown Nodes" - What Should You Do?

Autodesk Maya is a big and complex piece of software, full of traps and pitfalls for the unwary. The "Unknown Nodes" error sometimes occurs when you are trying to save your work, but Maya won’t let you save. This can be frustrating, and the solution is not obvious. What is an unknown node anyway? And what should you do when this happens?

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

What is the Euler Filter in Maya? And When Should You Use It?

Dr Leonhard Euler by Jakob Emanuel Handmann.  Image: Wikipedia
Look under the Curves menu in the Graph Editor in Maya and you will see a button marked Euler Filter. Not knowing what it does (or even how to pronounce it), you have probably never used it - why would you? But don't be deceived by the odd name.

The Euler Filter is a very useful tool in Maya, one which can solve - almost magically - some of the most common problems we get in the rotations of curves, problems which can seriously mess up your character animation. If the rotations on your character's arms are going wild, and no amount of keyframing seems to help - you probably need a little help from Dr Euler.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Why Has Mental Ray Disappeared from Maya?

Mental Ray by Nvidia
Mental Ray is a renderer that comes free with Maya - but sometimes it goes missing. One of the most common questions new users have about Maya is this: "Where has Mental Ray gone?!"  Every Maya user faces this problem at least once, and the solution is not always obvious. You look in the Render Settings menu and - Mental Ray is gone. So, what to do to bring it back? And why does Mental Ray disappear so often?

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Where Does Creativity Come From? John Cleese Explains

John Cleese knows a thing or two about creativity, which is presumably why he was invited to give this talk in the video above. Trouble is, identifying where creativity comes from is like trying to analyse what makes a great poem. We all know it when we see it - but how to define it? And what does the great man conclude? I'll leave you to watch the (short) video to find out the answer.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Where can student animators find free sets and props for animation?

Where can student animators find free sets and props for animation? You don't always want to spend time modeling the things you need for your animation shot - sometimes you just need some free stuff in a hurry. The best places to begin are and Both sites have plenty of free resources for animators to use; you can import sets, props, all sorts of useful items that will help bring your animation to life. Of course, you should always give credit to the creators - professional artists always give credit where it's due.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas from the Float Folks!

The Float Folks
Merry Christmas from the Float Folks! And, of course, from all of us in the animation department at Bucks New University.  To see more about the Float Folks, and their watery world of bobbers, dragon flies and dogfish, created by our students and recent graduates at Bucks, follow this link.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Student Showcase - Abstract Animation Set to Music by our First Year Animators

Abstract animation set to music - by Sham Salim
Our new Animation and VFX course at Bucks is growing steadily, and our freshmen students are more dynamic and creative than ever, having made a stunning start on their first assessed animation exercise – an abstract animation piece set to music. We are proud to showcase here some of our students' best work. Part of the assessment involved collaborating with the sound design students at Bucks, helping our animators to take advantage of the stunning grange of facilities and talent available here at our High Wycombe campus. Film-making is rarely a solo venture, and working with other students who are specialists in their own field invariably helps our animators raise their game.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Lyuboslav Angelov Learns to Animate Like a Jedi

How would a Jedi walk? Animating a person walking may seem like a simple exercise, but it's a tricky thing to get right. How people move has a lot to say about their character and personality, and it's no surprise that one of the first things an animator at a studio like Disney or DreamWorks will do with a new character rig - is to create a walk cycle. How someone walks is a window into who that character is, and how they might behave.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Aspect Ratios Explained

Standard aspect ratios: SD, HD and super HD
Aspect ratios are one of the more technical aspects of our business - confusing when you don't understand it, and on the face of it a bunch of random numbers.  It can all be pretty hard to fathom, with lots of geeky acronyms and odd terminology.  That said, a basic understanding of aspect ratios is necessary for all digital artists - it's how we configure our work for the screen. When you render your shot, and when you edit your work in Premiere or Final Cut, you will have to make choices as to what aspect ratio to select.  So, to take the pain away, here's a link to an excellent blog post - aimed at digital editors - to explain all these confusing terms and what they mean.  And below is a brief summary of how it all works.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Ruben Aquino, Thumbnail Sketches - and the Secret of Great Animation

The secret of great animation is in the planning. Open up a copy of Maya, the leading 3D software, and you just get a blank screen. With CG animation (or indeed any animation) you get nothing for free. So how do you fill this blank space with creative, entertaining animation? The secret of good work is to thumbnail - that is to say, to plan out your work with sketches and scribbles which create a kind of road map of where you want to go.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Animation & VFX at Bucks - Is It Too Late to Apply?

Gateway - our modern media hub
Thinking of applying to Bucks to study Animation & Visual Effects? It's not too late! The first UCAS deadline was 15 October, but we're still welcoming applications for our fast-growing new course, which is already producing excellent results. Below are some good reasons why we believe we are building one of the best courses in the country, plus some useful information on who we are, what we do, and how to apply.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Win £750! - Competition Launched for a Video on Life at Bucks New Uni

Bucks New Uni Film Competition
Calling all Bucks Animators! The Bucks Students’ Union is running a competition for university students and alumni to produce a short video about what it’s like to study here at Bucks. There is £750 up for grabs with a £500 prize for the most-viewed video at YouTube (ie a popularity contest) and a second prize of £250 for the best video as judged by a university panel.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Quadruped Locomotion Explained - and Some Fun With Rusty...

Rusty explains Quadruped Locomotion
How do quadrupeds walk? On four legs? Or on two? We decided to seek a little assistance from Rusty, the official mascot of Bucks New University,  to help us figure it all out. Animation course leader Alex Williams got Rusty to demonstrate how real deer walk, trot and run. Sort of.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Calling all Bucks Animation Graduates - Blue Zoo are Hiring Junior Animators!

Blue Zoo Animation
Calling all Animation Apprentice Graduates! London's leading TV animation house Blue Zoo are hiring fresh talent. Getting that first job is always tough, and it's relatively unusual for studios to be looking actively for juniors. So, time to polish that demo reel, make sure your best work is online and free of mistakes, update your CV, and send it all in with a nice covering letter.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Free Laptops are Here!

Lenovo ThinkPad - coming soon
Free laptops have arrived at last for our first year Animation & VFX students.  Everyone gets a brand new Lenovo ThinkPad T540P, with a 2.5Ghz i7 processor,  4Gb of Memory, and a 500Gb hard drive. It also has a full HD screen and a dedicated games card - very useful for high poly applications like Mudbox and ZBrush. These laptops should be well able to cope with pretty much anything our students throw at them for the next three years. It means our animators will be able to work from home, on the train, in the library - anywhere they find themselves wanting to get on with their studies.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

MA Art and Design Exhibition at Bucks - Now Showing!

MA Art & Design Exhibit at Bucks
The free MA Art and Design Show is currently showing in the halls at Bucks, a reminder that animation is very far from being the only creative art form going on at our university.  This year’s MA Art and Design Show began with a private view last week and is open to the public until Thursday 11 December.  Take a walk around the Gateway Building and admire the excellent work that goes on here at Bucks, and celebrate the creativity of our designers and artists.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Calling Bucks Animation Graduates - Brown Bag Films in Dublin are Hiring Animators!

Brown Bag Films - in search of animators
Fancy moving for Dublin for a spell? It's not a silly question. Dublin is one of Europe's most vibrant capital cities, and regularly appears high on the list of places you might actually want to live in. Brown Bag Films are looking for a broad range of animation talent to join their thriving studio in Dublin's Fair City. If you would like to join the team behind shows like DocMcStuffins, Octonauts, Henry Hugglemonster and Peter Rabbit, then send an email attaching your CV, a well-drafted covering letter - and (of course) a link to your demo reel.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

New Government Loans for Students Hoping to Do an MA in 2016

Government Piggy Bank - now available for post-graduate study. Photo: Wikipedia
A new student loan system for postgraduate master's degrees starting in 2016 has been announced in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement. George Osborne said the new loans would "revolutionise" access to postgraduate university courses - this is very good news indeed for any of our students who would like to go on to do an MA in animation or related fields in digital media.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Our Latest Commercial Project - Meet The Float Folks!

The Float Folks - Coming Soon!
Bucks animators have recently finished work on our newest commercial project - The Float Folks - a teaser for a new TV Series which is the brainchild of creator Ian Foyle. The Float Folks invites the viewer into a world of fishing floats; a small town by the reed beds where everyone gets along (mostly) and the only way to travel is by dragonfly or dogfish. The project was designed by Bucks Animation graduate Monika Dzikowicz, and animated by a number of our recent graduates and current animation students. We're excited to see this project come to life, and thrilled to have been a part of making it happen.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Mathilda - a new Free Rig for Maya Animators!

Mathilda, courtesy of SCAD
Mathilda is coming! This new free rig, now available for use by Maya animators, has just been released by SCAD - The Savannah College of Art and Design. We haven't road-tested it yet, but it looks cool - with a really nice range of facial expressions.  Mathilda looks very attractive, well designed, and we're excited to see what our students can do with this latest addition to the now very wide range of freeware available to those learning to animate in Maya.