Class 1 - Week 1 - AM 101

  • Check out all the stuff on Animation Mentor
    AM is filled to the brim with amazing videos and articles that will help
    answer most of the questions you might have early on. Make sure you
    go through all the items in the library and check back each week to
    see if anything new has been added.
  • Clear your browser cache weekly
    While not always necessary, I have found that at times new items won't
    show up on the AM site until I have cleared the cache. Now I make a
    habit of doing it weekly so that I don't miss the new rigs or videos.
    Here's a link on how to clear the cache for most of the current browsers.
    Wikihow - Clearing your Browser Cache
  • Get to know your fellow students
    Animation Mentor is not just a place to learn about animation. It's also a
    great community of people who all love the same thing; animating.
    So take this opportunity to get to know your fellow students. Most
    will be a wealth of knowledge and make your time in AM even more
    spectacular. It's also a great idea to try to comment on people's
    work as much as possible. Not only will it help them out and give
    them a reason to comment back on your work, it will also help you
    train your own skills by analyzing other people's work.
  • Visit and subscribe to the AM Community Center
    This forum is a great place to get news and tips for all sorts of things related to animation. It's also where you can find out where and when extra hangouts & Q&As are going on. These extra hangouts are an invaluable part of the AM experience where you can get to know people, have your work reviewed, and learn all sort of cool tips and tricks. To make it easier to keep up to date with  whatever hangouts are going on, go to the "Community Hangout and Gatherings" page of the Community Center and hit the "Follow" button at the top right. That will allow you to get email notifications whenever a new hangout is posted.
  • Ask your mentor what they want to see in the assignments
    Each mentor is different and will want to see different things in the your
    assignments. For example, my Class 2 mentor wanted to see a little
    personality in the characters we were animating, whereas Cameron's
    mentor only wanted to see the principles of the assignment, with no
    personality added. Asking what the mentor wanted to see beforehand
    kept us from going overboard with the assignments and also gave the
    mentor more time to critique our work where it needed it since we were
    already on the right track.
  • Take notes
    Don't just take a few notes in classes. Take a ton of notes! In class,
    while reading a book, even while going out. (but preferably not when
    driving. Notes are extremely helpful ways of remembering information.
    Just the simple fact of writing something down seems to make it easier
    to remember things. They are also a great way to keep track of what
    you have to do next in an assignment.

    Instead of keeping all the things you have to do in your head, I find
    that writing them down then figuring out which ones I need to do first
    and numbering them keeps me from bouncing between ideas and
    helps to increase my productivity.
  • Try to get something uploaded early
    Probably the hardest tip to follow. (I still have trouble with it)
    Getting things up early will of immense help. Not only will it allow more
    time for people to comment on your work, it will also help keep the
    stress down to a minimum when the deadline comes rolling along.

    And don't worry if the work isn't perfect or not quite finished. The whole
    point of getting critiques is to get other people's opinions and hope
    they'll see something you missed. Waiting until the last minute before
    uploading while trying to make the scene perfect will only make it harder
    if someone notices something that needs to be changed.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help
    AM is a wonderful community filled will people who want to help out. If
    ever something is giving you problems or things just don't seem to
    work, don't be afraid to ask someone for help, from your mentor, a
    fellow student, writing in the forums, or by sending in a support
    ticket. And don't worry if you feel your question is too simple or
    basic. Almost every student has asked those same questions at one
    point or another, and will gladly share the knowledge that was shared
    with them.
  • Keep it simple
    This is probably the most important tip. And also one of the hardest to
    follow. Almost everybody wants to flex their creative talents and try to
    do something original, but that only hinders your learning . You'll have
    plenty of time to get creative in the later classes.

    For now it's better to focus on learning the principles of animation and
    doing each assignment as best as you can. If the assignment asks for
    a ball bounce, instead of having a ball bounce into the scene, then
    hit a line of dominoes, activating a Rube Goldberg machine that
    writes out "AM Rocks!", just focus on making the ball bounce as
    convincingly as possible. If the assignment asks for the ball to be
    a basket ball, use the extra time you save by keeping it simple to
    study and research just how exactly a basket ball bounces. How much
    energy does it lose in each bounce? How long does it dribble? How far
    does it roll? These things will help make your work shine.

    This also applies for rendering. You don't need to make the ball
    photo realistic. In many cases, that actually makes it harder for
    people to focus on the animation and give useful feedback.

    You could also use the extra time you save to do the assignment over
    again. It's amazing how much you can learn just by repeating the same
    assignment over and trying different techniques.
I hope that this has been helpful and that you have a fantastic term,
learn lots of cool things, and make tons of new friends. It's going to be
an amazing adventure!


  1. Hey the Pratt-s!

    Thanks for the tips. This is super useful !
    Have fun you too guys in your class at AM.

  2. Thanks for the awesome tips guys! Your site is full of incredible information. Best of luck to both of you on your next term and keep up the excellent work! See you guys around the AM Campus.

  3. Great reminder, even for an alumni.

  4. So thankful I stumbled upon your site!! I'm getting started this term (Spring 2013) in Class 1 with Anthony Wong. Thanks for sharing an insider's perspective on how to get the most out of each class :)

  5. Keep it simple is the key, thanks for the tips!