Launched in 1995, Animation World Network (AWN) claims to be the "largest animation-related publishing group on the Internet." With an international animation newswire, professional publications, online directories, career resources, and places for animators to get together online, they make a good case.
Of most interest to librarians is the AIDB: Animation Industry Database, which lists more than 5,000 animation and visual effects companies, distributors, schools, advertising agencies, and supply companies over 80 categories in all. AIDB consists of several worldwide databases including an animation business directory, directories of computer and production companies, and a school directory, which lists "more than 550 schools that offer courses and programs in animation and related fields in 42 countries."
AWN provides a daily animation newswire plus a searchable archive of news stories covering the industry, people, publications, releases, events, and more. A calendar of events can be searched by name, date, entry date, and location. A list of upcoming theatrical releases can be viewed by release date, distribution, production, special effects company, and country of origin.
AWN's flagship publications are Animation World Magazine and VFX World. Both are weekly online magazines "dedicated to the art, craft and industry of the international animation community," with VFX World emphasizing visual effects and computer animation. Over 1,400 articles are now available online. AWN also provides several free weekly online newsletters. In addition, AWN hosts 14 discussion forums where animation students, teachers, and enthusiasts can share ideas and artwork.
For aspiring animators, there are education and career sections. "Student Corner" gathers education information together into one page. Animator Larry Lauria put together "Larry's Toon Institute" in 1999 to teach the basics of classical sketching and animation. "Career Connection" includes a selection of resumes that can be searched by name, location, and skills and a section on job postings that can be searched by name, company, location, and date.
AWN is free to users and companies that want to include only basic information in the directories. Companies may pay for enhanced entries in the directories and have the option to pay for advertising banners or smaller "barkers" on the web pages and ads in the magazines and newsletters. In addition AWN has an online store and newsstand.
At first glance, the main page can be confusing, as there is simply too much information on the screen. AWN is organized portal-style featuring an advertising banner across the top, a navigation bar to the left, categories in the center, and a mix of more advertising and more categories to the right. The key to moving around the page is getting to know what is available and then using the navigation bar to change sections and the body of the page to see the latest articles from the magazines, news, events, releases, and shortcuts to most used pages.
With over 150,000 artists, educators, students, and fans visiting each month, AWN is not only the largest, but also the most useful starting Web site for animation and visual effects.
University of New Mexico