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


  1. Hiyo, thought I'd post a few comments on the third years majors since I was in the area so to speak. And I must say, the quality of work coming out of this class is getting exponentially better each year. So, good job all around!

    Ethan - "Eye Candy" really sums up your animation. Lovely use of colors that really define your art-direction Really in the mood for a gum-ball now. Crispy, clean renders! Only minor annoyance is that the video on the monitors are not looping seamlessly.. and thats just me being anal I guess. Really sweet piece! (pun intended)

    Leo - Well, what can I say. Really great work, both concept and 3D. The attention to detail is really stunning. I have to say, though, that I would have loved to seen a bit of a story take piece in the animation rather then just a fly-though. Also, most of the really detailed garden fly past a bit too quickly and far off to notice just how good it looks. (Slide 21 in the dossier is great shot you never get to see in the animation, which is a shame)

    You don't see paintings re-composed in 3D too often. Wish this was done more often - for this is lovely! You really manage to capture Chirico's palette and atmosphere really well. Top notch job!

    Sam - Wow... This is some impressive stuff. And even more so that you manage to get all this done in 15 weeks. The details, textures and lighting are really stunning. Can't really complain about a thing. And who doesn't love light-fog and particles! The grand finale of the time-machine warping out could have been a tad more epic with all the buildup. Go out with a bigger band so to speak. Other then that.. one would believe this came out of a production studio and not from a student.

    Jordan - Well I think most of it was said by the gurus in last pwtm. Really great stuff. There's really something unique and awesome about the repair-mans facial texture. Wouldn't have mind seeing it incorporated even more on a larger scale. Also, the worn-down look and lighting of the environment is really fitting. Good stuff.

    Ethan - Great seeing a bit of comedy. It's a difficult genre to tackle, but you managed to do quite well. The camera work is really strong and adds a lot to this piece. Also, the intro is in it self really cute and impressive.The background could in my opinion have used a bit of more detail in it. Even if its on another plane so to speak, I'd have liked if it wasn't just a straight horizon. But really just an minor thing that came to mind, among the really polished objects.

    Jolanta - Looks interesting, looking forward to seeing the whole thing. Her sharp features are quite reminiscent of Disney's evil stepmothers/witches. But I'm not passing judgment until I see the animation, I guess she can be a kind pixie lady once you get to know her :>


    1. Hey Sebastian, thank you for the kind words. I can definitely understand the idea of expanding the style of the repairman. It was something that I had discussed at the start of the project but never managed to implement. I'll be showing an updated and improved version in a few weeks and would love to hear what you think.

  2. Hi Sebastian

    Thank yo for the kind comment :D

  3. Hey sebastian

    Thanks for the comments, originally I had a whole story/narrative in mind to go with the piece (which you can find at, but decided early on to focus on the core concept of my idea to better dedicate my time in strengthening the design and animation as a whole within the 15 weeks.

    Otherwise, I'm thinking of getting some nice stills of different areas of the island with Volan interacting with the environment.

  4. Hey guys-- Mark Davies here from Nexus Productions, picking out some of my highlights from this quality edition of PWTM. Jordan-- I really enjoyed the mood you created in The Minor Key. I think this was a combination of your cinematography, texturing, lighting and soundtrack, so congrats on your successes here. That being said, I had some frustrations with the story, which is so rich with potential (what happens when we meet a fallen hero from our childhood?). Why can't John Deckard introduce himself to the woman in the first scene? Why did he feel the need to go so far as to break into her flat? What is the cause of his fall from greatness? (Perhaps 14 years in prison for serial breaking and entering is the answer to all of these questions?). I think some open minded brainstorming with your colleagues at the storyboard stage might have turned something good into something great here. This isn't meaning to be overly critical-- this is the film I keep returning to in my head, so you've certainly done something right. Leo's project worked out well-- perhaps this is what Up would have looked like if it was done by Studio Ghibli? I was intrigued by the character and definitely want to see more of the story here, but I respect that you decided to get a fragment of your idea just right rather overstretch yourself in the time you were given. Jolanta's characters are perhaps most intriguing-- really well designed and textured. I look forward to seeing your film. Good luck out there at the festivals!

    The first year class shows lots of potential again-- quality across the board. Standout for me is Emma Foster's 'Cell Cycle', which is a successful homage to the UPA / Saul Bass style.

    I really liked Tom Beg's Master's work-- the interactive arts is a very new and exploding area to be getting involved in, and is something for anyone studying now to do some research into. The only thing I'll say Tom is that there's a ton of text to fast forward through on this video-- on all reels it's important to be as concise as possible. If you want this much information in a reel perhaps have a shorter edit and link that for anyone wanting to find out more.

    Beyond this, it's great to see so much quality in everyone's work. Thanks again to Justin who made a great contribution during a busy time at Nexus, and we look forward to perhaps seeing him from time to time over the summer to give us a hand.


    1. Thank you Mark, I really appreciate such detailed feedback and will be trying to improve the work as much as possible for New Designers in July. I'm really glad the animation has stayed with you, certainly a positive and confidence boosting thought and I can understand some of the frustrations you have described. I've been listening to a lot of different criticisms about the project and it feels as though it is very much a story that could be extended to a 30 minute short. With such a tight project deadline I knew it was going to be difficult to explore a narrative with such a depth of back story, in many ways this has become its biggest weakness. But I will be making every attempt to improving this in the next few weeks. Thank you.

  5. Thanks Mark, good to hear from you. I take it as a compliment that it reminds you a little of Studio Ghilbi! Also really interesting to hear your thoughts on Jordan's project too. Hope everythings good at Nexus!

  6. Thanks Mark! Glad to hear I managed to accomplish what I set out to! :)

  7. Hi Jordan,

    Thought I'd give my two cents of the story. I don't think the actions of James Deckard need explaining. I'm sure he isn't the first TV repairman to sneak back into a lone womans house, after a days work. Joking aside, his actions are believable because in moments of great inward emotion people do very illogical things without thinking of the consequences or the emotional impact such an action may have on another person. It's human nature. So that part is fine, and it's something I haven't questioned when watching it. For me the story doesn't work because the backstory of James Deckard and the actions of the pianist don't quite make sense in reality. (ok - this is animation, but you're trying to create a realist film within the medium of animation.)

    Firstly - I don't understand why a great pianist has resorted to becoming a TV repairman. Without a lengthy backstory (a Piano teacher character in Haruki Murakami's 'Norwegian Wood' had a similar fall from grace, believe it or not) I think to explain his downfall in a 2-3 minute animation can't work without it seemingly seriously forced somehow. Secondly - I don't understand why the pianist doesn't recognise him. Has he changed that much? As people get older, they tend not change appearence a great deal, particuarly in the face. Though she appears young in the photo, she probably looks at the picture every time she plays the piano, yet she still doesn't recongise him at any point in the first encounter? That's the hardest sell of this story.

    I think the suggestion of James Deckard being a famous piano player is the flaw in the story, and one that I think can be fixed quite easily with an adjustment to final shot. The story to me, is about memory and about how people retain a fondness of certain memories of events that other people may not. In the animation, James Deckard clearly remembers his encounter with the pianist much more than she does, but the shot of the photo resting on the piano doesn't support this idea. So rather than the image of James Deckard resting on the piano, why can't the picture be of some other famous pianist(s). However as the camera pans across the photo and towards the wall, it's slowly revealed that amongst the sea of other photos/memories, one them is of James Deckard - just another pianist.

    That's how I see it.

  8. ..and apologies for the numerous spelling mistakes.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Its wierd as I thought I left a comment here last week.....but its not here, I also would like to congratulate all invoved including the lecturers, there is some realy good, solid work here, and I wish all the graduates the best in there career's, what and where ever they may be. Just a quick piece of advice on Showreels, don't get disheartend if you here nothing back straight away or even after quite some time, the whole process of viewing and replying to reels can take a while, also keep persisting as often its more about timing than talent, they may have your reel think its good but have no available places for you that month,so hang on in there. All the best, Robin