FX is any non-character animation.
Traditionally, when you first start learning animation, you start with effects. You learn how to make a ball bounce, to animate a balloon with a string, a swinging vine, various falling/tumbling objects and so on. You need to develop your skills on simple, primitive objects and the underlying physical forces before attempting complex character and creature animation. From the very start, what you are doing is effects animation.
The idea is that these early FX exercises give you the best foundation in animation, whether you decide to become a character animator or an FX animator in 2D, 3D or even stop motion. Gradually as you develop these skills and gain more confidence, you can try adding character to these objects. For example, a common animation exercise is to give life to a flour sack, making it behave as if it’s a character, focusing on acting with weight, emotion and appeal.
Many animators have an eye on character work and move quickly beyond the ball bounce and flour sack exercises to develop their character animation skills. Others decide to stick with FX and dedicate themselves to the mastery of the elemental forces like fire, electricity, water, smoke, gravity and light.
FX and Character animation are specialised fields in their own right. The difference is that character animators without much FX experience will readily admit that they find it difficult to master technical, complex FX like water and fire. FX animators, on the other hand, usually find it a little easier to move into character animation; they already have that rock-solid foundation and well-developed sense of timing that character animators take years to develop.
So it’s my opinion (and I know many of my character animation colleagues would back me up here) that FX animation is the best way to learn animation as a whole, even if you ultimately aim for character work. Why not both?
The BCA FX Course
I originally developed the “BiteyCastle Academy Effects” course (BCA FX) because I was constantly hearing from animation students and enthusiasts who had spent hard-earned savings on outrageously expensive animation courses. So many students come away from such courses feeling disappointed, or even ripped off. It feels good every time a course member says that they’ve learned more in 3 months of BCA FX than they did in 3 years of college.
So, sure you can pay $2500 for a weekend workshop hosted by some Disney legend, or pay $500 for a pack of videos recorded by someone who may or may not care about your progress. You may even get a certificate at the end! But if you’re serious about learning animation, you should know that it’ll be a long-term pursuit. Who knows? It may become a life-long passion.
The BCA FX course currently has just over a year of content and is aimed at teaching you not just FX, but how to set out on the animation path. For beginners, the basics taught throughout the course give you the perfect introduction for learning any kind of animation. For experienced animators, you’ll underpin your existing knowledge with new insight and reinforce good animation habits.
If you’d like to learn more about the course, check out the sign-up page which has all the information you need, and a bunch of member testimonials. Of course, if you have additional questions, feel free to drop me a line, or hit me up in my Twitch stream where you can find me doing animation every weekend.