Friday, June 29, 2012

Volunteering at Canterbury Anifest 2012

Just making anyone who's interested aware that Canterbury Anifest is looking for volunteers! You can find the page here:

From the site:

"Canterbury Anifest 2012 is approaching again, and this year jam packed with talks you don’t want to miss.
We need people excited about being part of the South East’s only annual animation festival, and committed to making it a great day for all.
You don’t need to be an animation student, or a film enthusiast to apply, you just need to be someone who ‘gets’ the magic that is animation, and can help provide a superb experience for festival attendees."
This years headliners include talks from a Double Negative Senior animator, a DreamWorks animator, and Pixar CG generalist; as well as some more to be revealed.

It should be a fantastic opportunity!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Source Filmmaker announced

WHAT SORCERY IS THIS?! Animating films inside a video game engine, in real time. I swear there's some sort of magician working over at Valve. Check this video!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blue Sky Studios' "Epic" Trailer.

I just watched it and thought that I HAD to share it:

There's not much information on it other than it being based on a book called "The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs" by William Joyce.

Very exciting, and it just looks so lovely! :D

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pixar's Brave: Creating Merida's Hair

"For Brave, the team at Pixar had to deal with a hero or rather heroine, who is on screen for almost every shot, but who needed wild, yet beautiful hair. The simulation department needed to develop a technique and approach not only viable on a hand crafted trailer shot, but something that could be used almost ‘out of box’ on most shots, or the film was simply never going to make its deadline..."

CGAA One-a-Day: The Act.

I just noticed this game pop up on both Flooby Nooby and Spungella and after watching the trailer I can see why!

Here's a few snapshots to get you interested:

The style is like Don Bluth's early work and the animation isn't far off either. Watch the trailer below and see what you think:

The Act is the most intriguing iPhone game I've seen in a very long time, and the fact they've chosen to go for a really traditional 2D style is really refreshing.

Valve TF2 Gun Tutorial

It seems Valve are sharing a lot of tutorials at the moment. Here's another one.

New Designers - Export Settings

Hey Third Years,

Firstly, congratulations to everyone on receiving your final mark yesterday. Job well done. I've been asked to put a quick post up about Premiere Pro export settings so that all will play well on the media server. The screenshot below shows the settings I used to export my Major project which apparently played well without any glitching. I just tried to keep things simple, make your sequences from your footage, that allows for the sequence to match all the settings of your renders or pre-comps. When I export, I pretty much let Premiere Pro do all the work unless you are exporting at a non-standard resolution.

For this export I used H.264 video format and used the preset "HDTV 720p 25 High Quality." This always seems to work well and keeps everything pretty standard. It will export your video out as an .mp4 and if you are playing it at home I normally stick with QuickTime player or similar. VLC and Media Player Classic are great at watching videos but they seem to be bad on quality and colour. 

After Effects Note - If you are exporting anything from After Effects you will find that the file types and presets vary vastly. I try to use QuickTime with Photo JPEG Compression, this keeps the file size reasonable and always works well in the pipeline when working with Premiere Pro.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

CGAA One-A-Day: Slimtime

You may have seen this already, but it was new to me, and I loved Slimtime - fabulous design, great colour control and a hearty garnishing of Stepford Wives menace.  I enjoyed too the rather languid, unhurried pace, which just heightens the strange, dreamlike mood of tranquilised consumerism and conformity.  Enjoy! 

Advice For Animation Graduates

The following advice for just-graduated animation students comes from animator Elliot Cowan's blog.  It's great, down-to-earth and unflinchingly honest and echoes much of what we've been banging on about for months now, and happily, Elliot swears almost as much as I do.  

I've pretty much lifted Elliot's 14 points from his original post; some of them are more Stateside-centric, but the points are universal, and everyone on CG Arts & Animation would do as well to take a moment to give this stuff the once-over and reflect on the principle message - which seems to be 'be amazing, don't be an idiot, blog/promote your work always, keep going, be ambitious, be realistic, keep going, don't be an idiot, be amazing!'

Amen to that.

Elliot is kind enough to suggest that, if you have any more questions for him, you should leave a comment at the original post and he'll do his best to offer up a reply.

1) Do not expect to walk out of college and into a job. Although this does certainly happen, it is uncommon. Be prepared to wait some tables, walk some dogs, whatever. 

2) Do not make the mistake of thinking your classmates are your competition for jobs. Or the students at the school nearest to you. Not only are there schools producing very high quality students, but there are animators (like myself) who are applying for the same jobs. Many of us have been doing this for a long time and we are much better than you.

3) There may be a superstar in your class. He/she draws better than all of you. Paints. Sings. Does everything. And it comes naturally to them. It's possible this person, if they have the confidence, will indeed walk out of university and into a gig. This can be very hard to take. Get over it as soon as possible. It'll kill you eventually.

4) To work in animation you need to be really, really, really fucking good. Or, at the very least be pretty fucking good and have a bunch of other desirable stuff under your belt (like me).

5) Being really, really, really fucking good is not enough. The confidence, networking and the ability to sell yourself without acting like a prick are equally as important. If you are shy and retiring and introverted, work something out.

6) If you live in Ohio and would like to work on Adventure Time (which is produced in California) then it would be useful to be in California when you apply.

7) Students often ask me "Should I move to California to get into animation?". The basic answer is "Yes", My other answer is "You should move to California to wait tables, meet people, sleep with hot chicks/guys, network and get a whole bunch of other life experience under your belt".

8) If you are not working in animation then you should still be animating. Start with 2 second films. Then 5, then work upwards. Then post them online. Always post anything good you've done online.

9) It's a myth that festivals don't want your film if you've posted it on Youtube. A bunch of shit really. I've had more festival invites from programmers having seen my film online than anywhere else. You are doing yourself a massive disservice by hiding it away. It's also totally pretentious and self important. Put the thing online. There's the potential for more people to see it than if it played at every festival in the world for a year and a half.

10) If you have studied in New York or would like to work in New York then there is work here to be found but you MUST be constantly on the hustle.

11) There is very little full time work in animation. Regardless of where you're working, remain vigilant and keep hustling. Your show, movie, studio, whatever can close or wrap up in the blink of an eye and this is not the country you want to be stranded in without health insurance.

12) Learn Flash, After Effects, Photoshop or you will not work. Nobody will thank you for working traditionally on paper in exactly the same way that you'll not be thanked for riding a horse to work instead of driving. Learn some 3D too, please. You'll be infinitely more employable.

13) If you've just graduated, keep your reel short and only put good stuff on it. If you follow my advice and continue to make short, short films, you'll eventually start improving and you can swap some of the reel stuff out for the newer better stuff.

14) Don't be a fucking idiot. Nobody wants to hire a fucking idiot. In our industry, the successful people are generally those who people want to work with (because they're not fucking idiots). Be interested. Be eager. Be humble.

15) It is really, really, really hard to get into the big studios. If you really want in, then keep applying and keep doing better work and keep working on your reel.

16) If you don't care for the films of say, Pixar, then don't apply for a job there. If you get in you will be a cog in a vast machine and they'll expect you to fulfill your role with a minimal of squeaking. Toy Story 4 is not the playground of subversives and dissidents.

17) If you want feedback and advice, find a few folks whose opinions you admire and ask them. Posting something on Facebook and asking for commentary is a waste of time. The feeback will mostly be from your classmates who know only as much, or less, than yourself.

18) Learn to use social media. Personally, I've found Facebook to be a very, very useful place to make contacts and meeting interesting and creative people. If you are going to use something like Facebook then I cannot stress enough that #14 is something you should pay very close attention to.

19) Although students loans do not necessarily afford you this, try and chill out for a bit. Take a break between graduation and applying for gigs. Apart from the fact that EVERYONE is applying at the same studios that you are and everyone is flooded, it's good to take a breath before leaping in.

20) Apply to as many jobs as you like but you'll have more success meeting people and networking. Referrals are a major part of this industry. Being a good classmate puts you in good stead for being recommended by one of your other classmates! 
In short: Be really, really fucking good. Learn to network. Be good to work with. If you're not working, don't stop animating. 

Character Design Guidelines from Valve

Courtesy of Spungella - a PDF Character Design Guide published by Valve here.

CGAA One-a-Day: Opening Sequence of 'Mirror Mirror'.

I haven't seen this film yet but I stumbled across the opening animation when I was browsing a blog called Animation Tidbits.

It is a truly elegant and fluid way of portraying a narrative, and you can tell by its visual style that it's by Ben Hibon, director of 'The Tale of Three Brothers' from the penultimate Harry Potter film. 

It's just so fluid and aesthetically lovely that I thought I had to share it, and hopefully you'll all enjoy it too!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Monsters University Trailer

I couldn't resist not to share this with you. It's finally official and I am looking forward to it. :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tangled: Animation Progression Reel

From Disney's Tangled (2010) courtesy of Jamaal Bradley and as featured on the great Spungella blog - a really educative and insightful breakdown of an animated shot.  Watch, learn, do!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

FAO CGAA Year 1: Commission 2011/12 - Your Marks - An Apology!

Hey guys - look, big apologies for the delay in getting your Unit 6 marks out to you.  We're an administrator down and there's a bit of a bottleneck across all years.  Rest assured your work is marked and I'm just waiting for the greenlight to email out your proformas once your percentages are on the system.  If you need to re-submit any aspect of your submission, an email would have been sent to your ucreative accounts last week and you'll also be receiving notification via the post.  Please be proactive around your resubmissions; the academic year is nearly up and I want everything done and dusted.

Once again - if you haven't done so already, please send me your email addresses so I can send you your proformas.  Can you use your various social networks to send my apologies down the line and direct students to this post.  All going well, I'll be emailing out your marks on Monday morning!

Apologies - and thanks for your patience :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

CGAA One-A-Day: Magnetic Movie

Magnetic Movie from Semiconductor  is part documentary, part fantasia.  Marvel as the invisible forces at work around us are rendered visible via cgi to beautiful effect.  This is really exciting, speculative work, and there's lots more inspirational stuff on their website.  Go there to be inspired to think differently, not just about what animation and cgi can be, but about the world around you.

CGAA One-a-Day: The Kraken Rum Illustrated Animations


Chanced upon these and thought they were bloody brilliant. The Kraken Rum Illustrated Animations.

"The Design firm, Dead As We Know It, along with illustrator, Steven Noble, and animator, Adam Gault Studio, combined their individual expertise to create these unique animations. All the illustrations were individually hand drawn in the old engraving woodcut style and supplied digitally to the animators. For example, the Kraken octopus was illustrated over a supplied wire frame with different Photoshop layers applied for the shadows."

Friday, June 08, 2012

@ Alan - Rapid Prototyping Questions

Hi Alan, I was going to e-mail but I think students from the first and second years might benefit from more information about the 3D printing service that the University provides as well -

Basically, I'm interested in the requirements that the 3D model has to have before it can be converted and successfully printed, for example, when multiple components are intersected like the first image below, will the conversion process only take into account the shape that the two cubes create and ignore that there is data underneath? Or will there be some sort of error, and it is necessary to create the shape similar to the second image in order for it to work?

I'm asking this mainly because I'm currently modelling some things which I plan to get printed, but I don't know how much effort I'm wasting on making sure that every component is connected as one single mesh, rather than a base mesh with separate objects extruding from slightly under the surface of the main body of the object to give the illusion that they are physically connected, as the latter method would be a million times easier.

Secondly, what file format do the models need to be converted to, and is such a converter available to students if they want to get models printed elsewhere at a 3D printing company rather than having it done internally at the UCA?

If there's any other information that could help me or others about this, I'd appreciate it. I think in the CG Arts department there is an unfortunate lack of enthusiasm from the students about the fact that their 3D models can be printed, and I think part of the reason for this is that information about the process is quite hard to come by.


Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Post With The Most 07/06/2012

Incredibly, that's it.  We're done, dusted.  The fat lady has sung.  After thirty weeks of briefings, lectures, interim crits, final crits, personal tutorials, seminars, film screenings, life-drawing, digital painting classes, character workshops, animation workshops, presentations, pitches, Maya tutorials, After Effects sessions, work placements, and group projects, the CGAA year is over.  

A veritable confetti of 'Don't touch - Rendering!' notices now litter the carpets of the computer rooms and silence has settled eerily about the place as the whine of oven-hot hardware powers down.  The ambient temperature of the CGAA baseroom has dropped from 'sauna' to normal, and the colour is at last returning to the faces of our students and soon-to-be graduates who have slept at last, their systems purged of the twin toxins of taurine and Pot Noodle...

The end is nigh - but not quite yet.  For some of our graduates, it's New Designers 2012 in a short matter of weeks, the UK's premiere graduate showcase of fresh new design talent.  The next edition of the Post With The Most will be a New Designers special - so watch this space. 

Until then, it's time to showcase some of the highlights from this year's final projects, but before we get to the eye-candy, a bit of context.  The third year projects featured here were all created in a period of fifteen weeks.  That's fifteen weeks from the very first thumbnail sketch to the very last render.    Students will now return to their work in order to improve and polish it for demo reels and online portfolios etc., as they explore opportunities for internships and employment.  Constructive feedback from our network of blog-watching professionals is always appreciated!

On the subject of industry feedback, the CGAA community would like to thank Mark Davis @ Nexus ProductionsRobin Konieczny @ Double Negative and Kristian Turner @ Recom Farmhouse who took time out from their busy schedules to stop by  the previous PWTM and offer their insight and advice.  Ta very much! :)

And so - onto the work!  If you like what you see, you can find out more about each project and its pipeline by going to the student's individual blog - links to which you'll find by clicking their name.  


Ethan Clements - The Witch's HQ (Environment)

Leo Tsang - Isle Of Cirrus

Charlotte Buchan - De Chirico: Realm of Dreams 

Sam Hayes - The Time Machine (Environment)

Jordan Buckner - The Minor Key (Animated Short)


Ethan Shilling - The Place Where Lost Things Go

Jolanta Jasiulionyte - The Baltic Pixie*




For the duration of their five week work placement, our Year 2 students have been operating rather covertly, with mysterious abbreviations appearing on their blogs - and not much else.  Justin Easton, who has just completed 5 weeks at Nexus has only been able to allude in the sketchiest terms to what he's been working on for the company, and the baker's dozen of CGAA students working for another company have been sworn similarly to secrecy in terms of what they can say and show in regard to their five week experience.  In simple terms this means I'm unable to accurately convey just how busy they've all been or even showcase much of what they've produced - at least for now.  What follows then is but the tip of a creative iceberg, but what I can say is that the content that follows was created for an exclusive party with a flamboyant theme...

Dan Rolph

On Friday 25th May, our CGAA year one students submitted their debut CG animations.   In the space of just five weeks, they pre-produced, produced and post-produced short animations commissioned by Dr Peter Klappa, bioscientist at the University of Kent and Spectacular Science collaborator.  Dr Klappa's brief was simple; take a given bioscientific scenario and present it engagingly for new audiences.  The resulting animations represent a summation of CGAA year one and its emphasis on design-led cgi.  It's worth pointing out that very few of our first years arrive with any prior experience of 3D modelling software or After Effects (or even Photoshop in some instances), which makes their achievements even more striking.  The overall standard of work was impressive, and Dr Klappa particularly enjoyed the student films showcased below:

Steven Payne - Innerspace Adventures Through The Human Body!

Nat Urwin - The Cell Cycle (App demo)


Emma Foster - The Cell Cycle


Samantha Butler - Leukaemia: A Journey Into The Body


Tom Farrington - The Human Machine

Alice Druzga - Cell Cycle

Our first years deserve a bit of a rest after the rigors of their commission unit, but I predict it won't be long until they're bored of all the down time and want to get back in the saddle.  Fortunately, their summer project has already been briefed, which saw them allocated a randomised musical excerpt from which they're challenged to evolve an original cg response. The PWTM will be following their activity over the course of the summer and we're looking forward to seeing some brand new work on their course blogs soon.

In other news...

Nanomation is the new animation studio comprising eight of our soon-to-be-third years, who have chosen to work together over the summer break to create an original animated short.  It's early days, but Justin, Andriana, Alex, Sam, Dayle, Domantas, Kayleigh, & Ryan are all revved up and keen to make a start.  The PWTM will be profiling their progress as the project develops, and you can follow their studio blog here.  

Congratulations to third year Jolanta, who is off to Hollywood after seeing off hundreds of other applicants to win her place as a volunteer at Siggraph 2012.  I think we can look forward to some behind-the-scenes insights as JJ mingles with the great and the good from the world of animation and visual effects technologies.  Watch this space!

Congratulations too to third year student, Simon Watts, who recently undertook an internship at Recom Farmhouse.

Meanwhile, CGAA alumnus and Spectacular Science participant Tom Beg has passed successfully the interim stage of his Masters degree in Design for Performance and Events, marked by a recent exhibition and private view featuring an anthology of his works produced so far.  Well done, Tom - and many thanks for all your support over the last year as our loyal GTA - much appreciated. 

And finally, between the 4th and the 7th July, graduates from CG Arts & Animation will be exhibiting their work at New Designers 2012.  There's loads to do between then and now, but it's always an exciting time and the hard work is always worth it.  Onwards!

The Final Word...

“Goals are dreams with deadlines.” Diana Scharf Hunt

Trailer: Wreck It Ralph

Wreck It Ralph is the new up coming film by Disney. The story is about a badguy game character who does not want to be villain anymore and decide to jump into different game so he can change how everyone sees him.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

LinkedIn hacked! Change your passwords!

Hey all,

The big news today is that the encrypted information of 6 million LinkedIn accounts have been posted on a Russian hacker forum, worryingly it seems the hackers have compromised the encryption and are posting passwords online! The suggestion is that you change your passwords immediately and also for any other website account which uses the same password.

@Tutors: External Examiner

I've just been told that we have to be in at 11 tomorrow to see the examiner. Is that just people who have gotten email (via myuca) or everyone; as it seems I have not received an email.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

CGAA Misc: The Green Lantern Turns Pink

Green Lantern

Yes, after much speculation that Batman was about to disclose his real feelings for Robin, or that it was more than just her Jetplane Wonder Woman was keeping invisible, it's DC's Alan Scott who is putting the green colour into the rainbow flag of the LGBT community.  Yes - the Green Lantern has turned pink, but he's not  unique in terms of gay superheroes.  In the Marvel universe, X-man Northstar just married his boyfriend in a superhero gay-wedding, and way back in 2006, Batwoman aka Katherine Kane came out as a lesbian.

Lesbian Batwoman: Lesbian Batwoman is DC Comics' first gay superhero
Inevitably, not everyone is happy at this queering of the superhumans' patch.  The Christian mothers group One Million Moms responded, "Why do adult gay men need comic superheroes as role models?  They want to indoctrinate impressionable young minds by placing these gay characters on pedestals in a positive light."  


While Alan Scott's outing and Northstar's same sex nuptials represent a new visibility in terms of gay identity and growing confidence in terms of its representation, the superhero genre has always been especially able to represent male gay experience - to speak of it - and to it - in subtextual ways. 

At their heart, superhero narratives have always dealt with experiences of outsidership or duality or secret identities or private burdens, while also objectifying the male physique and exaggerated athleticism as blatantly as any Tom of Finland image.  These stories are always shot through with a yearning to live more 'normal' lives, to be integrated, with the constant fear too of exposure and being 'outed', and so often too, the thing that makes these character's different or somehow 'special', also makes them threatening to society and the status quo.   

The most explicit dovetailing of superheroism with queer angst comes in Bryan Singer's X2 (2003), when Bobby 'comes out' as a mutant to his family.   It's a funny, touching scene, and note the implication in the father's question about the 'kind of teacher' Logan (aka Wolverine) might be to his son, which mirrors the anxiety of One Million Moms regarding 'adult gay men' and their 'indoctrination of youth'.  Notice too the use of the mother's word 'problem' and Logan's instant rebuttal of the normative bias so implied.  Indeed, while Brett Ratner's inferior X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) disappointed pretty much everyone, its premise regarding a 'cure' for mutantism made for provocative viewing for LGBT audiences.  As X-Men: First Class screenwriter Zack Stentz states:

"I ... can tell you the gay rights/post-Holocaust Jewish identity/civil rights allegory stuff was all put in there on purpose. Joss Whedon designed the whole ‘Cure’ storyline in the comic books specifically as a gay allegory, and Bryan Singer wove his own feelings of outsiderdom as a gay man into the movie series. The whole ‘have you ever tried NOT being a mutant’ coming out scene in X2 isn’t even particularly subtle, while it is effective."

In terms of espousing diversity and de-clawing homophobia, the Green Lantern is a welcome addition to the amassing ranks of queer role-models who negate facile categorisation.  As the artist said when she was given the brief to draw the new Alan Scott: "He needed to be a big, strapping, handsome man that everyone would instinctively follow and love... Alan strikes me as an incredibly open, honest and warm man, a natural leader and absolutely the right choice to be Guardian of the Earth. His sexuality is incidental."