Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rob 'Class of 2007' Shears Speaks...

Rob Shears graduated from CGAA in the summer of 2007; as undergraduates become graduates and 1st and 2nd years look to the future, I invited Rob to share his post-grad experience - essential reading!

"I joined Double Negative in the summer of 2007, I went from my major project hand in on a Friday to a job on the Monday. I didn't see the point in sitting around! I was 26 at the time and had already travelled around the world for a couple of years and had my fare share of jobs in the design industry, therefore I thought it would be best to kick start my new career ASAP. Even though I was 26 at the time I thought it would be best to start at the bottom in a large and up and coming company and to work my way to the top. I've pretty much stuck to my plan. The biggest change of all is that I followed my heart and went into a production role. I haven't picked up Maya/After Effects since. This was a big decision to make at the time as I knew it would determine the rest of my career. Looking back now I made the right decision. In short these are the steps that I have gone through:

• Runner - emptying bins etc.

• Receptionist - being able to communicate in the work place is extremely valuable.

• Visual Effects Editor - creating show reels (Final Cut) and running client screening session with the work that had been produced.

• Production Coordinator - Was part of the production team on a film. A coordinator is the backbone of the production team - you should know everything that's going on!

• Line Producer - this is my current position. I now have the responsibility of getting the job pushed through.

However, I do miss not using the software and running through the creative process. Me being me, I have found that a production role can be a little bit creative in terms of scripting and problem solving. Working as line producer is quite demanding, I have to schedule all the work with as little people as possible, but make sure we have enough people to do the job! It also involves the day to day running of the show - which is more than you could ever believe. I've been working on the same job for nearly a year and a half, in this time there's been approximately 200 people on and off the show! Having the knowledge of 2D and 3D work has helped me through my production career; you need to understand the visual effects process if you're ever going to schedule/run a show. My next step would be working as a Producer, this is a few years away yet. One good thing about production is that you get to know LOADS of people with different expertise/skills/personalities. I never realised that some people are employed for water sims only! On that note...

My advice for any one graduating would be to find a job in a small company where it's hands on (this may not be easy), this way you get to broaden your skills before specialising in a specific area (animation, lighting, FX etc.). If you would like to work in the VFX film industry at a company like Double Negative (Dneg), MPC, Framestore or Cinesite it would probably be best to learn the art of matchmoving or rotoscoping (you could do this on the job as a runner? or if you have a good showreel they will employ you knowing that you will pickup the role):

Matchmoving: if you would like to pursue a career in 3D (Maya, Houdini etc.).

Rotoscoping: if you would like to pursue a career in 2D (Shake, Nuke etc.)

The above are level entry positions. Most people work as one of the above for at least a year or two before being promoted. It really depends on how good you are!

TIP: If you enjoy FX work (water, fire, smoke etc.) teach yourself Houdini and focus all your attention on it. The industry is crying out for great FX artists.

Before being sucked up into a large post production company think carefully about what you want to do. There's a lot of post production houses, some of which do some really cool and creative work - don't be shy in applying or calling them up! Call to ask for the HR managers name, put the phone down once you've been given it, travel to the company, ask for the HR manager; saying you have an appointment, he/she will be to busy to remember if they had booked you in or not, it's to late your there anyway - BINGO, you've got your foot in the door! Bit cheeky, no harm in trying. Make sure you have a copy of your showreel and CV.

If you have any questions or would like me to forward your showreel on pop me an email with the URL -

Here's my IMDB page:

Apologies for the grammar/punctuation. Working long hours takes it toll on you. Yes, you will be working long hours.


Friday, May 28, 2010

New Gnomon DVDs: Alex Alvarez Masterclass

I seriously suggest you all take a look at this DVD set. Play the demo movie at the bottom of the page to see a typical CG pipeline. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Phone left in the baseroom

Hi guys,

to inform I forgot my phone in the baseroom, its place by the backdoor in a place where actually has network, so if any of you still see it tomorrow could you give to Phil or Alan, please.

thank you

I guess too much in my head lately.... :)

Good luck for the Final Push!

To all those 1st, 2nd & 3rd years who are spending tonight rendering, editing, polishing & publishing - may the force be with you! This is it - the final push - best of luck, go easy on the caffeine tablets & the energy drinks - and be amazing!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I have lost my mouse...

I must have left my MX Revolution at University today in the CG Base room, when I ran back to get it the caretaker said the Uni was shut for good until 8:30 tomorrow morning. If anyone gets there before me tomorrow could you please make sure it's safe, and maybe leave a reply to this post saying that you've found it.

This is the mouse in question, and I was sitting in the far corner of the room, so it must be there somewhere. I can't do any work until I have it back, as its only possible to use Maya with a 3 button mouse, not a laptop trackpad.

Update: I have found, crisis averted.

need help: My photoshop eraser is using colour instead of rubbing things out

is made one of my pictures turn black and white using the gray scale mode then switch it to RGB but for some reason when i erase something it uses the colours from the foreground/background colours instead of being an eraser. how can i turn my eraser back into an eraser.

CG Curse.. HELP!

ah last week and things beging to turn their back on me...

ok so i have this basidia object that has 10 lights connected to it only, 2 points (one inside the mesh other directly above) and 8 negative spots, it has 2 shapes connected as blend shapes and that is it. I am tryin to duplicate it and create a new blend shape but i get this problem....

So this is a duplicate. The texture is as follows...
I also get some crazy ass MEL error when the scene is first opened (before duplicate)...

// File read in 6 seconds.
// Warning: insertKnotSurface32 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface34 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface36 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface84 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface86 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface100 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface122 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface124 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface126 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface132 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface134 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface8 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface16 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface18 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface58 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface64 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface66 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface76 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface138 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface140 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface143 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface145 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface151 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface153 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface161 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface30 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface102 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface104 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //
// Warning: insertKnotSurface2 (Insert Knot Surface Node): failed to compute the result. //

Any ideas or suggestions? ty

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Pacific

Just wanted to make a quick post to suggest people watch this show. It's made by the same people that made 'Band of Brothers'. I recently was recommended it and decided to start watching some episodes and I'm really loving it. It details the story of the war with Japan in World War 2. Give it a watch.

Alpha Problem

I have rendered out geometry on an Alpha (from the render settings), but for some reason After Effects isn't reading it. I'm not getting a box that is registring the Alpha, so I can't import it as an Alpha. I have tried changing the settings in the Composition Settings, but that isn't having any effect either. Am I missing something? Is there something I have to do first in Maya or After Effects?

Hope someone can help.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

FAO All CGAA Students - It's Recall Time

Please can students return all course resources (DVDs, graphics tablets, books etc.) to the CGAA Baseroom by Friday 28th May.

Question: Extrude a NURBS that actaully is not hollow

For my animation i'm using extruded NURBS, as they are easier to animate, though when I extrude it doesnt have a face at the end, in this case a surface, is that any tool to add( just like in polygons) or is any other better way to do it.. I just want something in which I can animate but also dont be see hollow.

I just want a cylinder shape :)

Thanks Ruben

FAO CGAA First Years: Simon Holland is in the building...

Just to remind the first year that Simon Holland - CGAA graduate and helpful 'voice' in the bloggosphere will be available to work with you at UCA for the final week of production of 'Commission'... He will be in everyday and based in the baseroom. Simon will also be attending the final crit, alongside Alan, Pete Wallace, Peter Klappa and myself...

Physical sun and sky help

Can someone please tell me what the best file format to render in is which includes the physical sky that can also be opened in Premiere.

Friday, May 21, 2010

CGAA 2nd Year - E-Stings Crit & Work Placement Presentations

FAO CGAA Year 2 - Your 'Models & Metaphors' & 'Work Placement' Presentations will begin at 10am in Lecture Theatre 2 on Thursday 27th May.

Bad News: my external hard drive

Yesterday when I was making the textures for my log my computer turned off. soon when it was able to turn on I inserted my external hard drive into my computer. when I accessed it to see if my files are okay, but it was not responding. suddenly my external hard drive is not working and I am very worried because all of my files are in there and I did not save them anywhere else.
If anyone knows a lot about computers please can you help me to try and reactivate my external hard drive or tell me where is the nearest computer repair shop.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Maya Viewport Problem

Does anyone know what is going on with my viewing? My objects take on this strange wireframe appearance. The wireframes take on a triangular appearance. However this only happens when I view all four view ports at once, if I go full screen with one then the problem disappears and everything is normal.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Need Help - 3D Batch Renders

Help would be great from any of you out there. For my final animation it will feature 3d scenes and 3d text coming out of the screen. I have animated the text in maya and have set up the stereocam, i just need to batch render it and take it into aftereffects. But i cant seem to do a batch render, it just renders the one frame and when i go to select the start frame and end frame, it wont allow me to do so. HELP!?!?!?

Question: How to create a time-lapse mushroom growth with lattice deformers?

I was wondering, how can you twist the mushroom while it grows ( similar to a time-lapse video) with a lattice deformer.

I have tried, but it all looks a bit dull, shall i rotate the whole mesh or the lattice points?

thank you Ruben

Problem with myUCA 'Commission' content now sorted!

First years have recently been experiencing a content 'no-show' for Unit 6 'Commission' on myUCA: the problem has been sorted now, so all tutorials etc. are now available.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Friday 28th May - A 'Year's End' Beer

An invite from Phil & Alan to all CGAA students:

Following the first year 'Commission' Crit and third year Major Project Hand-in on Friday, May 28th, we'd like to see you in the Britannia Bar Cafe for a 'year's end' drink and wind down. Yes, you'll be half-dead from sleep deprivation and sick of the sight and sound of us, but we'll be there from 5.30pm onwards... Hope to see you for a lime & soda :-)

Message for everyone!!!

This website has helped me throughout the projects to find voice over's. It's simple, find a voice and email the artist your script. Most are will to do what they can to help out students.

Good Luck to all.

CG Arts have a forum!

I have recently purchased a WebHost & Domain and decided I would try to see if the CG Arts (UCA) Community could all come together and make a really comforting place to 'hang-out', show off work, and to get help on anything and everything.

Are you ready for the link? Here it is:

There's the link! Sign up now and post away.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Mental Ray and Maya 2011

Hello Bloggers.
Hopefully a simple question.
Does Maya 2011 have Mental Ray? I'm trying to test out rendering options for Maya but Mental Ray is no longer an option. I didn't get Maya through 'proper' sources but I can't see that being an issue. Have they moved it, or is something wrong?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First Years: Commission Unit Content?

 I've tried to access the content for the current unit and it's not listed on MyUCA. Is this happening for anyone else? If not, any ideas why it's not listed on mine?


Matchmove issue

I have followed alan's tutorial up to exporting into maya using the default settings with the motion tracking. When opening in maya the locators were meant to look like this:

But instead they ended up like this:

does anyone know what went wrong?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First Year Students experience Unit 6 Fungi Fever!

The first year students who participated in this week's 'Pitch' events hardly need me to impress upon them further Dr Peter Klappa's absolute joy and delight at their presentations. He was genuinely enthralled - and wowed - by the array of ideas and alternate interpretations and made no secret of his excitement. Sitting beside him as your animatics and pre-viz played out, I watched him smiling with pleasure in the darkness. He thinks you lot are pretty talented - I suggest you prove him right (and then some). He has great expectations for crit day - May 28th. Do whatever it takes and make it a remarkable finale...

Good luck - all of you.

Be amazing!

Mark Davis to judge '1 becomes 2' Competition Brief!

Attention all CGAA First Years: Mark Davis - the Nexus guy - has agreed to judge your animated films submitted for the '1 becomes 2' competition brief! This is your chance to impress...

Animating the movement of Bacterium (Adams Maya Book)

To any first years out there who was interested in knowing how to create the bacterium like movement that Adam created and wanted to get hold of the book. Heres the pages which tell you how to do so...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Need help on animating with maya

I was wondering if there is another way of animating our scenes in maya. It's just when doing batch render it takes a lot of images and then we have to edit them into one film. This feels quite annoying so I was wondering if there is away to tell maya what video format to render our animation in without telling it to render every single frame?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

To the third years...

... who hoard tutorials from previous years.

I have the tutorial: Rigging 4: Part 1a Positive/Negative Blend Shape.

I was hoping some one might have the 1b part, or the part which tells me how to connect them to the geometry and rig. I'm guessing its a slight different process.

Please see if you have it, scan it and send it for me to

Thanx :D

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Maya Help Please!!

I'm trying to make, in Maya, a nucleus divide into two separate nuclei. Alan showed us how to do this by merging two spheres somehow, so that as they got further apart from each other, the middle seemed to stretch them both. This method didn't involve actually messing with the vertices or anything on the spheres themselves, but it actually added another piece of geometry in the middle of them.

Do any of the pros out there know what the tool or option is called to make this? Image related; it's the splitting of nuclei that I'm trying to make. You can see where the middle of the two blobs stretches until it breaks.

Thanks! ! ! ! ^.^

Monday, May 03, 2010

Sebastian 'Class of 2009' Schauman at Housemarque Games

Some of you may have received comments from 'BaZe' on your blogs. 'BaZe' is none other than alumus Sebastian Schauman, who graduated from CGAA as part of the class of 2009. 

Many of you will be familiar with the work he produced during his time with us, including My Twin and that firm favourite with all open day visitors, Flying High. Since graduating, Sebastian has been working at Housemarque Games in Finland, accomplishing that rare thing of going straight from his degree studies into a job in the CG industry. 

One year on - give or take - here's Sebastian with a few words from the inside track... 

"At work I'm now closing in on my one year mark of working for Housemarque. I still feel really lucky about landing the position I did as most of my classmates are still struggling to land their full-time job in the industry. It is all about contacts and I urge students to start getting in contact with possible employers as soon as possible. Send a few mails even while still doing your degree. I went on my first job-interview in-between my minor and major project and even if I didn't get the job then, it's what got me my job a few months later.

I was first hired as a "modeler" responsible for modeling low-poly enemies. But as I'm working on a secondary project in an otherwise small studio, my responsibilities have gone quite rapidly from modeling and texturing enemies to modeling, texturing, rigging, skinning, animating all enemies as well as modelling on all main characters, doing all particle-effects, working on the UI and creating other 3d and dynamic objects as well. This is, I guess, the single, biggest difference between small and large studios. You get to do a lot of different things compared to concentrating on one specific task ...for better or worse...

It is a lot of work and I have little to no time left for any personal projects - and at this point, doing something personal is becoming an ever-growing urge that I plan on getting to sooner or later. So even if your projects are feeling overwhelming currently, be sure to enjoy them as it's what I really miss about uni - and perhaps why I'm stalking students on their blogs ;)

Anyways, at work we're currently hard at work trying to deliver our current game-project on time. As it's still unannounced it's very shys-shys and I can't say a lot about it let alone show anything I've done for it. All I can say is that this "should" be finished this year and that HouseMarque makes downloadable games for PSN and XBLA..."

You can follow Sebastian's blog here. Don't be shy - go introduce yourselves: he knows what you need, and his blog features a number of interesting links to useful cg resources and industry insights.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Maya, why so Ugly? *help*

Hopefully a simple thing. BTW this has nothing to do with work or how maya operates but what it looks like:

I'm sure some of you don't see any problem. I can't stand the dark UI on maya 2011. I find its hard to see what buttons I've got pressed and I find that it slighty strains my eyes.
Is there a way to get it back to the old gray look?