With swathes of daffodils nodding optimistically in the still chilly breeze, supermarket shelves creaking under the weight of over-priced chocolate eggs, and the south-east but days away from its first hose-pipe ban, it can mean only one thing - Spring has sprung.
As Tolstoy once wrote, “Spring is the time of plans and projects" and right now on CG Arts, plans and projects are gathering a-pace as the semester accelerates and the weeks fly by with alarming celerity. Einstein was right enough - time is relative. What is it about this half of the academic year? It is the March hare to the autumn term's tortoise - and it's off and running across the grass, heart-thumping, bobtail-bouncing, crying, 'I'm late, I'm late!' and looking always at its watch... Hard to believe in just a few weeks the semester ends, and in its wake comes thoughts of caps and gowns and cathedrals, of London shows and private views, and of the world 'out there', in all its big, wide and unpredictable glory.
But we're not there yet - much to the relief of our year 3 students, I suspect, who still have much to accomplish in the time remaining. As per, this week's PWTM is a digested read of the what, the why, the how-far and the soon-to-be from the length and breadth of the CG Arts community @ UCA Rochester.
We begin with Year 3, wherein we have flying islands and time machines, regal pixies and a tv repairman of ambiguous intent; a Bond-style lair, a peckish bird, a noble savage, a nimble pastry chef, a sky pirate's plane and African-inspired concept art for an animated transcription of the life-cycle of a butterfly...
Leo Tsang - Isle of Cirrus
Sam Hayes - The Time Machine
Jolanta - The Baltic Pixie
Jordan - Minor Key
Rich V-C - The Toilet Terror
Ethan C - 'The Witch's HQ'
Matt H - Sky Rig Rebellion: Pirate Dawn
Godwin - Silfen Character Design
Ruben - Le Patissier
Matt Haines - Butterfly Life-cycle (concept art)
Technically speaking, there's just one week remaining of the CGAA Year 2 Transcription project, which should signal heightened levels of stress and an outbreak of black bags under red-rimmed eyes... If our second years appear more relaxed than is warranted by the prospect of a looming deadline, it's due in part to the Easter break, which bumps the project's ten week duration to twelve - buying them time and further opportunities to polish and finesse their work.
It's no secret that the artistry and technical ambition of the Year 2 projects is impressive. We're witnessing a year group find their stride and reach a point where creativity, professionalism and technical know-how are combining to transformative effect. I'm really looking forward to the Transcription crit and this showcase of sneak peaks into but a small selection of the current year 2 work flow enkindles real excitement...
Dayle - Lady Meng
Sasha - The French Confection
Justin - Orkney Trow
Jono - The Dead Flag Blues
Katy - Tylosaurus
Lyn-Dae - Rene
Dan - 'Killing Device'
"The long, black, curved shape that served as a head swivelled back and forth on the dull metal body without exposing a neck. The eyes were set deep in the metal, if those dark pits were eyes. The limbs seemed formed of large metal-coated bones - giant's bones? - and fine metal chains and rods that acted like muscles. Pulleys served as joints. There were three joints in each limb between the splays of knife-tipped digits on its feet and hands and the limb's connection to the body. That gave the thing two extra elbows and two extra knees. Its slender tail coiled and whipped, snakelike; it was tipped with a ball of spikes. The whole construction was nearly seven feet tall." Squire: Protector of the Small 3, Tamora Pierce
Kayleigh - Molishka
Molly - Sea Witch's Cave
Sam - Wilbur Whateley
Dom - Grendel
Andi - Megan's Alien
The true creative challenge of producing a one-minute hand-drawn animation is just this week dawning on our CGAA first years. Not only have they been challenged to develop an original story idea, they must also generate every frame by hand, in so doing, bring their respective characters to expressive life. The ability to deconstruct complex movements, walk-cycles and animated camera moves into a series of individual drawings is as difficult a task as has been asked of them yet, but they're getting stuck in with admirable gusto...
Stitch (reference for gestural drawing)
And in other news...
Nat's self-portrait - on which she's been working away behind the scenes and in between her CGAA stuff - is now finished, and was packaged up and sent off as a submission to the National Gallery's Portrait Award 2012. No golden gongs for Nat this year, but she's a pretty determined sort and it's great to see someone committing to creative work that lies outside the course curricula.
... and Richard Vosper-Carey and Sam Hayes feature in this month's issue of 3D Artist in an article profiling their year 3 minor project Green Octopus collaboration, which saw them originate an ambitious cg environment fusing the Wild West with the mysterious East...
On April 12th and 13th, Dr Peter Klappa, Associate Dean Michael Poraj-Wilczynski and I will be presenting at the Higher Education Authority's STEM Conference 2012. Entitled Creative Arts meet Biology - a Collaborative Project between Arts and Biosciences, we'll be talking about the recent Spectacular Science collaboration between UCA and University of Kent, the forthcoming year one Commission unit, and CGAA graduate Tom Beg's much lauded Lifecycle Of A Mushroom, which will be shown to conference delegates and no doubt charm them too with its exuberance and vintage charms...
And finally, as some of you may recall, CG Arts & Animation has been the subject of an ongoing research project by in-house learning technologist, Tony Reeves, who has been investigating blog use and 'communities of practice'. You've been contributing to Tony's research via your comments on his blog, and the resulting research paper - Blogging all over the world: can blogs enhance student engagement by creating a community of practice around a course? - is due to be published in a suitably scholarly anthology entitled Cutting-edge Technologies in Higher Education - Vol 1. Many thanks to all those in the CGAA community who contributed their views. Excitingly, the book is due out December 2012. Not sure there will be a champagne-fuelled launch party or that JK Rowling need worry, but watch this space for a concluding 'hurrah!'
The Final Word...