Someone once said, "A week is a long time in politics". The same is true of CG Arts & Animation, where within the space of seven short days, whole new worlds spring into being, new life-forms are born, evolve and grow, and new stories go from improbable musings and jotted plots to entertaining animatics and dynamic pre-visualisations.
One short week ago, CGAA Year 1 had their Unit 4 Storytelling crit, and I was particularly impressed by the ambition and professionalism of much of the work submitted. With stories ranging from Steve Payne's ingeniously monikered Frankenstylist to Nick Baker's superhero parody, The Crimson Corn, there was much to enjoy and it was a positive day. Sammy Butler's & Son was particularly effective, and I'm kicking off this week's PWTM with Sammy's Making of and animatic. & Son is the best resolution of the 'turn-3-randomly-picked-story-components-into-an-idea-for-an-animated-short' challenge I've seen so far on the course. & Son manages to be both very funny and very moving, and is as neat-as-a-pin in terms of its structure. It is further distinguished by a cast of appealing character designs. For me, this has the potential to become a fully-realised animated short and, who knows? Maybe Sammy will return to her story at some point in her CGAA experience to give & Son the all-singing, all-dancing CG treatment.
Sam Butler - & Son
& Son - Animatic
But now is no time for the CGAA first years to rest on their laurels. With just nine weeks remaining of their year one curricula - incredible, but true - they have entered the most demanding, most creative phase of the course so far. As any 2nd and 3rd year will say, Unit 5 Animation is not for the faint-hearted. It is a 'knock-em-down, drag-em-out, balls-to-the-wall' bonanza of drawing, drawing, drawing wherein the only way out is through... Their eyes will boggle from the glare of their light boxes. Their wrists will throb from working - and re-working - their walk-cycles. They will curse and sweat and rage at what is slow and sluggish about their bouncing balls, and they will never ever look at hand-drawn animation in the same way again. But the pain and labour will be worth it, I guarantee - for when they see their own handiwork spring suddenly to life and walk, waltz, and wobble across their flimsy sheets of pre-punched animation paper, they'll be returned in an instant to their childhoods, and to the essential magic of animation - the thing that brought them to the course in the first place. It's early days, but see below for some of year one's provisional character sheets and animation tests.
Nat Urwin - The Ebullient Toadstool
Freddie Rolph - The Lascivious Pepper Mill
Steve Payne - The Conceited Fountain Pen
CGAA Year 2 are deep into Transcription territory now, with pre-production giving over to production and drawings giving over to modeling. The sorts of projects students are working on are ambitious and varied; we have a rogues' gallery of gods and monsters, an end-of-days survivor, an excitable little girl called Megan and a French workaholic called René. We have a mechanised killing machine and a dinosaur back from the dead plus Parisian environments inspired by 1970s wallpaper, Arabian-inspired texture tests coming soon to a cgi tower of Babylon, Alex Pinnock's ongoing experiments in synesthetic imagery and Molly's continuing quest for the most apposite abode for her villainous sea witch - and much more besides.
Our third years are a little quiet of late - because their heads are down as they concentrate on powering through into production and bringing life to their major projects. You can always spot a third year CGAA student in the baseroom; they are the ones who are silent and just a little more serious, their fingers moving deftly between mouse and keyboard. They are difficult to distract and dedicated to detail. Sometimes, first thing in the morning or last thing at night, I'll hear the click-click-click of a lone mouse echoing along the lower 4th corridor and I'll know it's a third year who is part vexed, part mesmerised by their quest for perfect topology... A selection of updates from a selection of their projects follow:
Ruben - Le Patissier storyboard/concept art
Sam - The Time Machine concept art
Jordan - Minor Key concept art/character design
Leo - Isle of Cirrus concept art & pre-viz
Ethan C - 'Witch's HQ' concept paintings
Alex N - 'Famine's Tower' concept drawings
Ethan S - The Place Where Lost Things Go
So - another week begins - wk 7 of 15. Work hard and wow us!
The Last Word
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.”
Frank A, Clark