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Note from Shawn Kelly, cofounder of Animation Mentor and senior animator at ILM


Just wanted to send a big hello to all you Blender Nation folks! I had the opportunity to meet Ton Roosendaal last year at Siggraph. While we were talking, I remember mentioning that with the power of open-source communities like yours, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the world was stunned by a true blockbuster film someday, created by people collaborating in their garages all over the world.

Well, I saw Big Buck Bunny the other day, and I have to say that there is some really impressive work in there, and it truly shows the potential of communities like yours! So I guess I just wanted to thank Tim Formica for sending me the link, and give a big congratulations to everyone who worked on it. Keep up the great work, and all of us at Animation Mentor will be looking forward to seeing what comes next!

shawn :)


  1. Met him yesterday at Lucasfilm Singapore, what a great guy :)

    If you dont know about , please go and
    take a look, a great place to learn from the Pro's .

    Welcome to the community and keep the great work Jedi Master :P

  2. Infact AFAIK it's an online school so it isn't software specific at all. You can do your lessons using any software.

  3. Hey, thanks a lot Shawn! We all have dreams here, probably, and I appreciate your not bashing open source because it's not commercial and pro. God bless! We all have dreams...

  4. Hell yeah, AnimationMentor and Kelly rocks!

    I'm just waiting for the first comment to ask: will you use Blender now? *gnaarh*

  5. What would be really great is that people from Animation-Mentor would give input for Blender, making sure It has the tools animators use.
    Then hopefully in the future Animation-Mentor will also provide training for Blender..

    They seem to have a community that's all based on sharing knowledge, this is the same with Blender. Working together, helping each other would mean both community's could improve.
    It would result in Blender getting it's tool-set improved, and Animation-Mentor getting new tools that will make their jobs easier.

  6. When I first started with Blender, I looked down on it as "free" software. I didn't think that, in general, professional animators would be familiar with, or have respect for, Blender. By small degrees, I have seen the impact that Blender has made.

    Thank you, Shawn, for supporting Blender and the Open Source community.

  7. hi Shawn great to hear you liked BBB :) , it would indeed be greaat to make a blockbuster but not yet, maybe plumi ;), anyway great to hear from a guy like you, besure if you do any tests with blender to show us the results :) and if there is anything you want don't be afraid to ask :)

    "I wouldn't be at all surprised if the world was stunned by a true blockbuster film someday, created by people collaborating in their garages all over the world." Great saying :)

  8. Soooo,
    Mr. Kelly, when are you going to dip your toes in the blender pool?

    Just in case no one has checked out the ILM website for a job, they recommended first learning blender if you didn't know any animation software, then creating a showreel, and submitting. That's how I learned about blender.

  9. Well, at least 3 years ago they had a mention on their employment website. Now going through it, I cannot find it.
    Should have checked before foolishly posting (sheepish grin).

  10. Hey Shawn! Welcome to our club! i love your blog, and watched your video. Your passion and expertise are evident, and thank you for noticing us and working with us to grow our skills as animators. I'm working on building Motion Capture libraries in Blender, and then integrating them into hand-drawn animation, so it is an exciting time for CG animation.

  11. I would just like to extend a reflective, cautionary note, what with the recent developments with regard/related to ACTA and DMCA (and other similar in other countries) and mention that ILM is a private company that works with those in the industry (i.e., Hollywood and Spielberg) and elsewhere that might attempt, or have attempted, in various ways to restrict people's freedoms to copy and share information-- essentially to communicate and create.

    It is important to bear in mind that the internet has changed and will change the dynamics of how media-- books, music, movies, etc.-- are and will be created and shared (despite draconian legislation); and great and arguably better movies have been made on shoestring budgets and with limited technology. The technology's already here, as are the channels of distribution, but it's people's will and imagination that count.

    Animation Mentor (AM) is apparently a private, for-profit education company, and its own software recommendations so far seem to avoid suggesting any kind of open source/libre software such as Blender or GIMP, which could easily be modified and taken beyond the features of Maya and Photoshop:

  12. OniOid,

    AM is about to teaching so that their student's have the best skills to get a job in the industry. They have a superior record of doing so in their very short life. Maya has generally been in the top tier slot of all animation suites and therefore it is an industry standard. While Blender has come a long way, it is not an industry standard, though I feel that will change over time.

    If you really want to use Blender with an AM class, you can, but if your mentor is not comfortable using Blender, then it will impeded your learning process. While the underlying fundamentals are the same regardless of what software suite you use, it's each programs idiosyncrasies that define how well the communication transfers between teacher and student. So for now, Maya is the recommended program. Also keep in mind that there are now AM Alumni, who have switched to Blender.

  13. Hi Tim,
    thanks for your input, and points taken.
    That said, the industry seems to be changing as we speak, as are its standards-- both in software-usage and how the industry operates, vis-a-vis its consumers/producers/distributors/etc. and their interrelations. (I'd be curious to know how the number of Maya users compare with the number of Blender users on a global scale.)
    As we well know, games and movies produced using Maya are being up/down-loaded and shared for free, freely. The industry as we understand it today may exist differently tomorrow. Schools (and industry) may find it prudent to consider that fact (possibly rather than fighting it).

  14. hey Shawn

    i am sanket pujari from india , and i am studing animation now

    by reading your entire tips &tricks article,one thing i wanted to say that, you re only the greatest teacher in my life. and your book is enough for me to become atleast a good animator

    take care
    your loving studant

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