Sunday, April 29, 2012

Post With The Most 29/04/2012

With just four weeks to go before the end of the academic year, CG Arts & Animation @ UCA Rochester is powering up for its busiest period.  Soon, little slips of white paper will appear on keyboards everywhere scrawled with the words, 'Don't touch - Rendering!' and the course team will go about the campus shouting into the pale faces of sleep-deprived students, imploring them to 'Back-up your files' and then, 'Back-up your files again!'.  The air will take on the sickly-sweet chemical tang of energy drinks, a heat haze will rise from long-suffering harddrives, and at least one student will burst into tears for no clear or discernible reason.  It's an exciting time, a fraught time and a transformative time, as cg assets born of ambitious production pipelines seek to become greater than the sum of their parts.

Right now, those 'ambitious production pipelines' are pumping out exciting appetisers and this month's PWTM begins with a look at  what our third years are in the midst of. 

But first, I'd like to take a moment to welcome our new audience of specially invited blog-watchers - our Post-With-The-Mosters, who join us from the world of professional animation and cgi associated industries and who have agreed to follow our students' progress and offer feedback, advice and insider knowledge if and when inspired to do so.  Your numbers are growing all the time, and I speak for everyone on CGAA when I say thanks very much for taking the time to look this way every once in a while.

And so to business! Our current third year projects constitute a satisfying mix of environment and character design projects, and original animated shorts.  In the mix we've got a reboot of a classic fairytale, as the wicked witch from Hansel and Gretel goes all Ivana Trump-meets-James Bond and gets a supervillain's HQ.   We've got pastry chefs, imperious pixies, pianists, peckish birds and patron saints all in varying stages of completion as they're prepped for performance.  We've got burnished time machines in cluttered Victorian workshops, an air-born isle at sail in an ocean of cloud, marine animal-inspired aeroplanes designed for a game concept in which an evil corporation is up for an old-fashioned kicking, and Famine's tower - a castle fit for one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse...

Happy browsing!

Ethan Clements - The Witch's HQ (Laser room)

Ethan Shilling - The Place Where Lost Things Go

Saint Anthony turnaround

Rigging demonstration


Jolanta Jasiulionyte - The Baltic Pixie




The Baltic Pixie - control test animation

Ruben Martins - Le Patissier (Olivier)

Jordan Buckner - Minor Key (TV Repairman)

The Repairman turnaround

Shahbir Hameed - Bird Food Blues

Sam Hayes - The Time Machine

Leo Tsang - Isle of Cirrus

Matthew Hyland -  Sky Rig Rebellion

Alex Newman - Famine's Tower

On Thursday 19th April, CGAA Year 2 had their Transcription crit - a summation of their 12 weeks work adapting and transcribing existing sources into new CG content.  With projects encompassing the grim imaginings of H. P. Lovecraft, archetypes of folklore, and the architectural feats of ancient civilizations it was a fascinating submission and yet more evidence that our soon-to-be Year 3s are a creative force with which to be reckoned.  A selection of their Transcription-derived work follows.

Sam Tremain - Wilbur Whateley

Wilbur Whateley turnaround

Katy Negus - Tylosaurus

Daniel Rolph - 'Killing Device'

Justin Easton - The Orkney Trow

The Orkney Trow turnaround

Domantas Lukosius - Grendel

Molly Bolder - The Sea Witch Lair



Kayleigh Dean - Molishka

Dayle Sanders - Meng Po - The Broth of Oblivion

The Broth Of Oblivion (play-blasts + render tests etc.)

Sasha Hart - The French Confection

Ryan Leitao - Tower of Babel

Andriana Laskari - Megan's Alien

They did it!  They bloody well did it!  In an infamous CGAA rite of passage, our first years were challenged to devise, execute and post-produce an original one-minute hand-drawn animation - and all in the space of 5 weeks.  At the outset of the unit they were apportioned randomly an ordinarily inanimate object and a specific demeanour to attribute it. If you've ever wondered how a fastidious blimp, pugnacious teapotdying candlestick, flamboyant cuckoo-clock, hyperactive chaise-longuewounded bubblegum dispenser or giddy pot plant might behave if given sixty seconds of limelight, you now have your answer!  Professional animator, Meg Bisineer, who worked with our first years for the duration of the unit, particularly enjoyed the following anthropomorphic frolics...

Nat Urwin - The Ebullient Toadstool

David 'Stitch' Vandepeer - The Oafish Standard Lamp

Steven Payne - The Conceited Fountain Pen

Urvashi Lele - The Ecstatic Spinning Top

After the hours and hours bent over a lightbox, you might be forgiven for thinking that the CGAA first years are now relaxing their weary fingers - but no. Their sixth and final project, Commission, is already a week underway, and it's nothing less than the grand finale of their year one experience in which they're expected to bring together everything they've learned so far for one last cg hurrah.  Dr Peter Klappa - bioscientist at the University of Kent, friend to CGAA and Spectacular Science collaborator - has once again commissioned our year one students to bring a selection of topical bioscientific scenarios to vivid cg life.  It's early days, with students kick-starting their research and development with provisional thumbnails, early concept art and speculative renders - a selection of which follows. 

Anita Gill

In other news....

A number of our Year 2 students are now out on work placement.  Orkney Trow creator, Justin Easton, has just completed his first week of five at Nexus Productions, which has seen him getting to grips with 3D Studio Max.  You can follow Justin's progress at Nexus by going here and using the 'newer post' option to view his latest entries.  Meanwhile, Butch Auntie, the live event visuals and projection company, has taken a baker's dozen of CG students under its wing, with Dayle, Molly, Jono, Andriana, Kayleigh, Daniel, Katy, Paul, Sam, Sasha, Ryan, Lyn-Dae and Domantas all developing original work for a top-secret project for a hush-hush client...  In a few days, Alex Pinnock interns with CinemaNX - the production company behind the 2010 animated feature, Chico & Rita.  Best of luck to all of our intrepid interns - be amazing! - and many thanks to this year's participating companies.

The last word.

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” Leonardo Da Vinci


  1. Hi Everyone,

    I'm Kristian and I'm a Senior 3d artist at Recom Farmhouse. Here we specify to photoreal CGI rendering and high end post production prodominently for the print industry.

    I graduated from the CGAA course (formerly Digital 3d Design) in 2007 and quickly joined an architectural visualisation company. I went through a few different companies before developing a liking for texturing and rendering. This is now my main skill set and I'd be happy to give my views on your efforts from this perspective.

    I know for all of you these are early stages in production but that said I'd like to throw in some comments anyway.

    Ethan C: nice start, I'd like to see your light setup. Pretty heavy on the occlusion and the orange liquid in the tube could do with some refraction. look into particle instancer to create some bubbles in there too.

    Ethan S: I liked your mop rig, I'll give you some more feedback once you develope the rendered look of your film.

    Jolanta: your pixies face looks great disney/ghibli.

    Ruben: I like what you have done with the creases on the coat. Could put some similar details into the face and hair.

    Jordan: Your character looks great, the texture and modelling style mesh very well. The mood of your interior is good but maybe the floor and wall textures could do with and little work to stop them from tiling.

    Shahbir: are you planning on putting some sort of feathers on you bird, or will it stay stylised like this?

    Sam: seems to be coming together really well. looking forward to seeing all of the elements together.

    Leo: Good work, nice to see someone using fluids, keep in mind you can make a good pass for them with your floating island cutting them out to speed up rendering.

    Matthew: spitfire shark, what more could you want. Might be worth studying contemporary aviation camoflage for texture references.

    Alex: I like the Geiger influenced bone tenticles, keep an eye on your raytrace shadow depth.

    Sam: your prawn man scares the shit out of me.

    Katy: great piece of modelling and texturing. Watch your artificial caustic image doesn't tile too much and look into the particle instancing for bubbles too. You could do some really cool atmospheric stuff on this.

    Daniel: impressive piece of modelling and research influenced design.

    Justin: your character is great. I would look into getting your fur to shadow realistically using detail shadow maps.

    Domantas: undeniable matte painting skills. Is that what you want to be?

    I've got to get on with some other work now but I'll be back to give the rest of you a couple of words.

    Thanks Phil for giving me a heads up on these guys, there is some real talent here.


    1. thank you for the advice on the texture of the character,

      I will tweak the hair detail on Olivier. Regarding the face I have added a few details though I will add more contrast on them to appear more visible.

      thanks once again,


    2. Hi there, my name is Robin Konieczny, I am a senior Artist at DNEG,an environments build lead, Modeller texturer,concept and matte painter all rolled into one large ball of aincient fluff, currently working on Total recal,I used to work in TV for Passion pictures a long time ago, doing the early Goriillazzzzzz stuffand other nonsense, and before that was an Illustrator, but enough about me, lets talk about you , theres some realy good work here.....and quite a bit of it sooooo in no particular order, allthough I am starting at the top so those near the bottom are in bad luck tonight,as like your good selves we are nearing the end of a project ........soooooooooo, some random thoughts and mumberlings
      Ethan: Nice environments
      Mr Shilling: good Rigging and story.
      Jolenta: I like the Queen of the Baltic Pixies, nice strong poses and design, allthough I think her breasts are a bit saggy.......maybe.
      Ruben, looking good, although your UVs' need anouther pass, as your UV squares should be the same size all over your model, nice even quads pleaseno Ngons or Tri's equals Render heaven.
      Jordan: nice model and texture, feel his belly needs more gravity applied to it ,it seems a little taught.
      Sam: this is lovely stuff keep it coming, and keep polishing even after you think it looks great, go back and make it look greater, and then again......and then again......and again.....
      Leo: also realy nice stuff, great character sheets, the final pose is a bit wooden and needs some life breathes into it.
      Damantus: nice Celtic squggles and concept work,your 2D work is better than your 3D need to work on your sculpting a bit more and the intro to the making of Grendel is wayyyyyyyyyyyy toooooooooo looooong, keep it snappy, save that stuff for the directors cut.
      Sorry that's it for now, got to go to bed.... I shall deal with the rest of you LATER, all the best Robin

    3. Thankyou so much for the feedback, it means a lot to get advice from professionals like yourseleves!

    4. My bird is going to stay stylish, thought that would suit my style.

    5. Thank you very much for your commentary Kristian and Robin. I am focusing on preproduction part much more and that is what I want to do in my life. I will get better in sculpting and editing, I promise! :D

    6. thank you for the feedback Robin, I will revise the Uv spacing.

      Thank you!


    7. Thanks Robin, really helpful feedback. I'll be adjusting the character and hopefully posting an animated turnaround soon.

    8. Thank you so much, I am definitely going to take a look at the fighter texture, as I feel it is a bit too dark, and have struggled in trying to brighten it up. This particular texture is influenced by tropical fish, but the aircraft itself is meant to be very worn and distressed, resembling years of battle hardened use.

    9. Thanks Kristian, I will look into shadow maps the next time I'm making hair. Thanks for the feedback :)

  2. Hi Kristian, thank you for the feedback. It's amazing to get feedback from the professionals and it's a huge confidence boost. Thank you.

  3. Hey Kristian :)

    Wow :) Much appreciated!!!

  4. Kristian - Nice to hear from you again and thanks for posting.

    Robin - Thanks for commenting. Stop by again soon.

  5. Hi Kristian and Robin, thanks for stopping by and giving us a wealth of feedback. Its heartening to see and most inspiring!

  6. Adnriana.......Hello,(sorry this is a bit random I will comment on all your work...promise) Soooooo, great little animation, nice character,well thought out and produced on all levels, I would like the girls hat to be far to big and keep falling over her eyes for comedic effect,I dont know where you are at with this piece, howevr anouther pass or two on the animation would be cool,Also I feel the Drawings could be a bit bigger and interact with her at times, and when her thought process moves on it could pop and then be redrawn.
    All the best Robin

  7. Thanks Robin - very generous of you all round - wonderful stuff :)

  8. Sam's "Time Machine",realy like all the design work on this Sam,and your environments are looking nice, I think you can refine your textures a bit more, and I take it that the Time machine renders are WIP's as your concepts have more pipes and gubbins on them, which is a good much more gubbins would look cool( how vague is that) also I think the 2 legs look like it could fall over, maybe go to 4? or just much chunkier. Not sure if your going for Photoreal, but your textures look a little hand painted.
    All the best Robin

  9. Thank you for your feedback Robin. Much appreciated :)

  10. Hey guys-- Mark Davies here, CG Supervisor from Nexus Productions. I remember some of you from my visit a couple of years ago, and of course Leo who did a work placement here last summer. We've currently got Justin here at the moment who's been doing some good work and picking up 3DS Max pretty efficiently.

    It's good to see a high standard of work both from the final year students and especially from the first year tests, which I thought were really well done. I pretty much agree with most of the comments people have left above, so I'll just single out a couple of the things that caught my eye (let's call it The Post With The Most With the Most). Jordan: I really like how you've texture the face of your repairman... very artful. I'd love to see this pushed throughout your film, and (as someone else mentioned above) to bring some of this into the environment as well. With some nice lighting this could look sweet. And for some reason Nat Urwin's Ebullient Toadstool has stuck in my head. It's like a lost sequence from Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' that was just a little too out there to make the final cut. Nice work!

  11. Shahbir Hameed ,Its a looks to be rigged,I like its design...thats about all I can say with the 2 images presented....................nice bird.

  12. Justin Easton ,very nice on all levels Justin,nice Design.nice modelling your Topology looks good,I think you could push the model a bit more in Zbrush, nice textureing although I think the SSS is a bit strong, really like your life drawing work to, great stuff.

    1. Hey Robin, thanks for commenting, it's great to get some industry feedback, much appreciated :)

  13. Alex Newman,looking good Alex I like a bit of Gigeresque environment gubbins myself, I think where the tower meets the main structure(to the left, is a bit abrubpt and not in keeping with the organic nature of the rest of the piece,On a texturing side of things I am noticing some seems also mabe save out a cavity map from ZBrush and introduce that into your RGB needs to be a little more variation with your textures even though you are working with a limited pallette, the chains could do with some rust ,and it all needs a decent Spec map,this will realy sell the realism,look forward to the finished piece.Robin

  14. Thank you for your feedback and time. However, can you tell me where are the most visible seems?

  15. Alex, thats what you get for quickly looking over stuff,its the image with the close up of the chains,(on your blog and its the texture not a seem,sorry about that my mistake. So all good,whilst back again I feel the scale of your kind of base rock, is to large, I would keep it but bring in finer detail here and there.Robin

    1. Thank you, Robin. Have already started working on textures.

  16. Leo Tsang, yet again realy good work, as far as your Island goes have a look at Gorillaz "FeelGood Inc" vid, maybe make your clouds a bit more dramatic,you can achieve a lot with Matte paintings and projections,All the modelling looks great, maybe a little more on the House( roof tiles) I did notice where the characters neck joins his skull is a bit low and it bothers me, but its a minor Quibble, looking forward to seeing the finished articles.

  17. Matthew Hyland,I had a look at your previz,coming along nicely, you could do with some pilots...hehe.
    I feel that the Stripey markings on the planes causes some problems,it makes the shapes very hard to read and it all becomes a bit of a mess(mind you this is what camo is supposed to do soooo its worked in that regard) so keep the colour scheme that you have but maybe less yellow bars, make them broader as well,I like the manta Rayish design of your bomber,all the best Robin

  18. Hey Guys,

    sorry it's been a little while but I've been pretty swamped. I will try and continue where I left off. I think all your projects have pushed forward a lot since my last post so I'm catching up by checking your personal blogs.

    Molly: It's cool to see you moving into some interesting areas of dynamics, ncloth in conjunction with particle emition is very powerful. I'm quite interested to see how this is then implemented in your work and also how you plan on rendering the particles.

    Kayliegh: Nice realisation of your original design. There is a big opportunity to showcase some advanced subsurface shading. It would also be nice to see some more crustatian qualities in her dress.

    Dayle: Your animatic is really nice, I like the more subtle facial animation towards the end. I'm quite looking forward to seeing the final piece.

    Sacha: I've just seen your 'making of' and you have taken on your reference material very well and used it to produce a very convincing final image. Would you like to develope it into an animation? even just a camera fly through? Would be interesting to see your interpretation of how the illustrated effects would work in motion.

    Ryan: I'm not sure where you are with this project, is it still in developement? Are you doing an arch-viz style construction animation?

    Andriana: Megan's personality, rocking in the seat with over zealous hand gestures, made this work for me. The animation could have done with a little subtlety but the ideas are all there. I totally agree with Robin's comments and ideas too.

    I'd like to say good luck to all of the first year's, you have a long journey ahead of you and I look forward to seeing your progress.


  19. Hey Kristian - many thanks for circling back around - much appreciated by all and again, very generous of you :)

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