Learn to be an Animator. Part 1. "Good habits"

Hands-on guide to building solid Animation skills, using exercises with increasing complexity.
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  • Lectures 13
  • Length 2 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 5/2013 English

Course Description

  During this course, by repeating exercises, explained in the Videos, Students will learn Animation Work Flow by using:
  • Projects.
  • Incremental save.
  • Graph Editor as their main Animation tool, working with splines and tangents.
  • Time Slider and Copy/Past/Delete functions.
  • Drag and Drop Tool
  • Extremes and Breakdowns
  When Students will be required to download Animation models (rigs), they will be provided with direct links to those models.
  It should take from 1 to 2 weeks to complete the course.
"Learn to be an Animator" is 100%video, easy to follow, step by step instructions of gradually increasing complexity. students are required to repeat the manipulations while they watch the video, and then practice on their own several times before taking another video.
It consists of two sections.
  •  Preparatory procedures: making projects, learning to Save, undo, delete/copy/paste etc.
  • Animation Exercises with pendulums of increasing complexity.
This Course is a no-nonsense approach to Animation technique, taught at deliberately slow pace. All the tools are introduced one by one, giving Students plenty of opportunity to practice them.

What are the requirements?

  • To take this Course Students need Maya Student version, available from Autodesk free of charge. You'll need to fill out student application and download the software.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • By the end of this Course Students will have good understanding of Animation process, they will work in stages: "Layout", "Blocking", "Rough Animation", "Polish". They will Animate simple Pendulum, 2-section Pendulum and a chain link. After completing this course Students will be strong enough to take my Next course: "Human Locomotion: walk, run, sneak"

Who is the target audience?

  • This Course is designed for both, complete beginners and those, who did some Animation in Maya, but get stuck in "Polish" stages. Those who want to learn Human and Animal motion, will benefit the most from it. No special knowledge is requirred at this stage.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Maya navigation skills, getting ready to animate
Overview of the presented course, projected outcome, reason for taking explained.
In this section students will learn (and reinforce their knowledge of) how to open Maya, create geometric object, navigate, use W, E, R keyboard buttons with options, animate by using "S" key and autoKey ON/OFF. Prior knowledge of
Maya is not essential.
Learn to create project in Maya, use Incremental Save option, learn to use Playblast with options of saving or not saving the video to file.
Using Simple Pendulum, students will learn about Channel Box, Time Slider, frame range, learn to use copy/paste, delete functions. For this lecture students must download Pendulum from the supplied link.
Students will learn using of Graph Editor, learn about working with tangents to influence animation, selecting the nods, fixing the splines using AutoTangent button.
Section 2: Animating exercises

Using Simple Pendulum, students will learn about Extremes and Breakdowns (Passing Positions) - the key elements of character animation.

Using Combined Pendulum, students will learn  to create "Drag" or "Overlap" by shifting splines in Graph Editor. Introduction of "Drag-and-Drop" tool, one of the most essential and useful tools for Animators in Maya.
Students must download Combined Pendulum from the link supplied.
In this lecture students will learn to create overlap (or Drag) by creating Breakdowns and In-betweens. They will learn to keep Time slider clean and easy to understand.
Students are introduced to Animation Work flow: Layout, blocking, animation, polish.
Non cycle shot. Introduction to one of the most important elements of Animation: "Hold".
Work flow process continued. Students are introduced to "Moving Hold" principle.
Students will learn to use Quick Select Sets for selecting controls, create and use shelf buttons.
Student must download Chain Pendulum from the link supplied.
students will continue playing with Chain Pendulum and will be introduced with increased complexity of animation even for such simple object, as swinging pendulum.

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Instructor Biography

Michael Berenstein, Animator, Animation Instructor


  I was born in Minsk, former USSR, where, after receiving degree in Architecture,  was hired by Belorussian Film Studio as Camera Assistant, but found myself helping with props for Stop Motion Shorts. Learned in-betweening, clean-up and worked on Cell Animated shorts. After graduating from Moscow Courses for Animators worked on various Shorts as Stop Motion and Cut-out Character Animator.

  Perestroika freed more opportunities and in 1990 I made my first Animated short "The end of cone rider", which was accepted to be shown at Moscow International Animation Festival.

Unfortunate events in former USSR made me decide to move to the USA in 1991.

I've been employed at Will Vinton Claymation, Colossal, Danger Production, Pixar, Tippett, PDI, ILM.

  Throughout of my Animation Career I used various Animation techniques:

Cell Animaiton, Cut-outs, Stop-Motion, Clay on Glass, Back-lit Sand on Glass, Anime Studio, Maya.

 In my teaching at De Anza Community College and Academy of Art University I try to engage students during class by giving them short exercises, that prepare them for homework. For example,  prior to lip-sync assignment I demonstrate and have them do short one word lip-sync  shot.

I'm finding myself helping students in areas away from my expertise: rigging, storyboarding, sound, lighting. To prepare myself for these tasks, I took rigging, lighting and modeling classes at Academy of Art.

My Demo Reel, shorts, rigging and modeling can be seen on my Blog, please follow the link:


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