If there are any differences between the information listed here and other places like the Orientation or Syllabus, please follow the information on this page as it is the most current.
Your first step before starting a course at Animation Mentor should be to make sure you go over the Required Software/Hardware knowledge base article. This covers all of Animation Mentor’s software and hardware requirements for the course.
Please make sure you are prepared for the course and have everything you need from the above list.
Note: Apple has recently removed all support and selling of Quicktime Pro. Any possible references throughout the school to needing Quicktime can be ignored. Instead make sure you have VideoPad Home Edition or other equivalent software installed.
Below we have a list and overview of some of the key software you will need:
Maya 2015 - Required
Maya is the program you will need to animate and follow the course materials. We do not support Blender, 3DS Max, or other 3D animation software. Maya 2016 & 2017 are not currently supported but are in the process of being made available.
Once Maya is installed, ensure you have the latest Maya 2015 service pack for all the latest updates and bug fixes.
Keyframe MP - Required
Keyframe MP is a video player you can use to scrub and playback your animation after playblasting it from Maya.
You will need either the free or paid version. The paid version includes audio scrubbing and more features which may be very useful for later acting and dialogue classes.
VideoPad - Required
VideoPad is video editing software you will use to encode your assignment videos to match the video requirements for Animation Mentor. It will also allow you to combine videos for progress reels, demo reels, and other uses.
Note: You will need the Paid Home Edition of VideoPad (or another similar program able to encode to the VSP settings).
GIMP - Required
GIMP is a free image editing program you will use to resize, edit, and work with images. If you have other image editing software such as Photoshop, Clip Studio, or similar, you may use those as well.
The AM Menu/Tools - Required (Classes 01-06 & Creatures Workshops Only)
The AM Menu is a set of tools such as the GUI Picker, Pose Master, and others. It also includes the rig licenser, which means that any of the advanced rigs will not open and will come in flattened if you do not have the AM Menu properly installed.
Download Page - AnimationRigs.com
If you are having issues with the AM Menu, please check the AM Menu Knowledge Base for answers to many common problems.
NOTE: If you are not in the Character Animation Classes or the Creatures Workshops, you do not need the AM Menu and it will not be available to you.
The AM Pipeline (AMP) - Required (Classes 01-06 & Creatures Workshops Only)
The AM Pipeline, or AMP, is a cloud-based file storage which provides a safe, secure place to work on your assignments. It also allows for mentors or support staff to easily look at and help you with your files.
Please make sure to read through and follow all of the tutorials provided in the AMP Orientation to have a better understanding of how to use AMP
If you are having issues with the AM Menu, please check the AMP Knowledge Base for answers to many common problems.
NOTE: If you are not in the Character Animation Classes or the Creatures Workshops, you do not need AMP and it will not be available to you.
Preparing for Classes
A few minutes before your class time your Mentor will send you an email with the class link.Please follow the steps below in order to be prepared for this.
Set your timezones
Knowing when your class begins is important. To set up your timezone, go to the AM Student site, click on your name in the top right corner, and hit Settings in the drop down menu. Set your timezone settings and finally hit Update Settings.
Parts of the site that use your set Local Time: The Calendar page, Home page calendar, Q&A Schedule page, Submit Work page, News Item posted times, and Public Review posted times.
Parts of the site that use AM’s Server Time (PST): The Server Time clock at the top right of the site, Class time on Classroom page, and Class times in student/mentor Workspaces.
Become Familiar with Zoom
Learn to use the Zoom tool, set up your webcam and mic, and become familiar with the tool so that you do not struggle installing or setting it up during your class.
Read Animation Mentor’s Class Guidelines for information on setting up and using Zoom for your class.
When submitting assignments for your course, always make sure to follow these important steps:
Read the Assignment Guidelines
Read through the Syllabus and/or the Assignment Page first to verify what you must submit for that week. Also know that your mentor may give you additional assignments or notes for you to address on top of what is listed in the syllabus.
Playblasting from Maya
When you are ready to playblast your animation assignment from Maya, ensure that you are following the required Playblast Settings in Maya. Playblasting creates a video file from your Maya animation.
Encoding your Playblast
Once you have playblasted your assignment, always encode the video file to follow the Video Standardization Procedure (VSP) guidelines. This ensures that the video plays properly on the AM Student site.
Know what types of files to Submit
AM uses specific file types for video and image submissions. Be aware of what those are and always make sure your submissions follow the correct File Type Guidelines.
- DEADLINES for your weekly assignments are on Sunday at 12pm PST.
- DO NOT submit to a previous week’s assignment to update your animation. Any revisions would be included in the current assignment
- ALWAYS give yourself at least 30 minutes BEFORE the deadline to submit your assignment. It is up to you as a responsible student to ensure that you submit on time. If you submit too close to the deadline and end up missing the deadline you will be given an automatic late grade penalty. (If you opened the submit page BEFORE the deadline, but waited until AFTER the deadline to submit, there will be no warning message as the page was loaded before the deadline.
- ALWAYS check your Workspace after submitting assignments and BEFORE the deadline. Just because a file shows that it has been submitted on the Submit page DOES NOT mean that it will play properly on your Workspace. If you submit your work and find out AFTER the deadline that it does not play properly, you will need to resubmit it and incur a late grade penalty. Assignments that do not play or open properly will be graded as an F by your mentor.
- IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY as a student to submit your work on time, to verify that it plays properly, and to accept the penalties of submitting too close to the deadline or not verifying your submissions.
Submitting A Late Assignment
Deadlines for your weekly assignments are on Sunday at 12pm PST. If you pass this deadline and must submit your assignment late, you will receive a late grade penalty, which is a full letter grade drop. So if your mentor were to grade your work as a B the penalty would drop it to a C. Here are some important things to know about submitting a late assignment:
You Only Receive One Late Penalty Per Week
If you submit a late assignment multiple times for one week, it will not give you multiple late penalties. So if you submit more than once after the deadline, you will still only have the one late penalty.
Always Submit Your Assignment Regardless
If you've passed the deadline and have not submitted your assignment, or found that you have to resubmit your assignment after the deadline, Always Submit Your Assignment Regardless. It's better to receive a Late Penalty than to receive and F that week for not submitting your assignment or for having files that do not work properly and cannot be critiqued. You can always contact support via a support ticket to inform them of any issue that may have caused you to be late.
eCritique and Grading Cutoffs for Late Assignments
- If you submit a late assignment passed Sunday, 12pm PST, you will receive a late penalty.
- If you do not submit a late assignment by Tuesday, 12pm PST, you will receive a late penalty and your mentor will not give you an eCritique, however your work will still be graded.
- If you do not submit a late assignment by Wednesday, 12pm PST, you will receive no eCritique or grade, and that assignment will be graded as an F.
Always be respectful of your mentor's time and make sure to submit a late assignment as early as possible
Mentors are people. They work in the animation industry and they have families. Be respectful of their time and submit any late work as early as possible.
Always check your assignment on your Workspace after submitting
It is important to always give yourself enough time to submit your work then check your workspace afterwards to make sure all of your files are submitted properly.
We strongly recommend giving yourself at least 30 minutes to do this so that you can resubmit any work that did not submit properly or fix any issues you may see with your assignment. This will help to make sure you don't run into problems and end up submitting passed the deadline.
Late Penalties Are Your Responsibility
As a student, it is your responsibility to ensure you follow the correct upload procedures which have been given to you, that you do your work on time, and that you give yourself enough time to submit your work and make sure it is submitted properly.
Again, it is your responsibility as a student to turn your work in on time, correctly, and to verify that it does work. This is the same as would be expected of you from any university or college.
Animation Mentor has a large collection of helpful resources at your disposal. Please make sure to look through these regularly, especially if you feel you are struggling.
If despite having looked through these resources, you are still struggling with this course, have problems understanding the material, or have technical issues, we recommend speaking to your Mentor Assistant. They are in your class specifically to help you with AMP, the AM Menu, and any other issues you may experience
If you still can't find the information you need, send in a support ticket to our Support Center and we will do our best to assist you.