Ah, Autumn! Season of mellow fruitfulness and all that, the hedgerows bejewelled with rosehips and embroidered with spiders' silk. Autumn is also the season of acorns - of humble beginnings from which towering accomplishments will surely grow. It's week 4 of the new academic year here on Ba Hons CG Arts & Animation at UCA Rochester and our newest acorns are putting down roots and sending out shoots. It can be an intimidating time for new undergraduates - so much change, so much adaptation! - and a panoply of new creative challenges ahead. Impressively, our newest recruits are eschewing anxiety for 'getting stuck in' - and this month's PWTM begins with a glimpse into their output so far.
CGAA Year One have been challenged to devise and execute original concept paintings in response to a series of classic literary texts, encompassing the baroque grotesquery of H. P. Lovecraft and feverish morbidities of Edgar Allan Poe, to the sugar-dusted whimsy of Frank L. Baum and dystopian dreams of Aldous Huxley. For many of these students, this is their first experience of working with pen and graphics tablet. For most, it is their first experience of developing an idea, blogging about it and receiving feedback - lots to get used to, but getting used to it they are. In common with every PWTM, student names will link to their respective blogs. If you like what you see and have constructive criticism to pass along, leave a comment here, or visit their individual course blog and offer up some pearls of wisdom.
Samantha Niemczyk - The First Men In The Moon, H.G. Wells
Emily Clarkson - At The Mountains Of Madness, H. P. Lovecraft
Lucy Yelding - She, Henry Rider Haggard
Vikki Hercules - King Solomon's Mines, Henry Rider Haggard
Jake Bryant - Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
George Hind - The Haunting Of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
Meanwhile, CGAA Year Two have begun their 'Narrative & Character' studio collaboration, which challenges them to work together in small groups to originate and execute a short animated film. Things are very much at the mutable stage, with story ideas in flux and visual concepts under discussion. Pre-production will begin in earnest soon, so for now, let the PWTM assist in launching CGAA's eight brand new animation studios...
If you're a tutor, there are certain habits that signal the onset of old age. Principle among these is expressing one's incredulity upon discovering that students who 'just yesterday' where fresh-faced first years, are now - somehow - third years commencing their final projects. It is with a slight sense of unreality then, that I now profile a selection of work from our year 3 students. Again, it's very early days in terms of project building, so these examples of preproduction are acorns too, but with projects ranging from creature and character design to animated shorts to speculative audio-visual 'happenings', it's going to be another varied and eclectic crop...
Miri is the inquisitive, cookie-hungry protagonist in Lyn-Dae Stewart's animated short...
...while Sam Tremain is developing character designs for a proposed cgi adaptation of H. G. Wells' classic The Island of Dr Moreau.
Alex Zepherin is pre-producing an animation based on Aesop's fable of the The Peacock & The Crane, with an emphasis on a strong graphical art-style and bold solid colour.
Justin Easton is designing Hziulquoigmnzhah aka 'Harry' for sake of convenience, one of H.P. Lovecraft's more bizarre imaginings. Justin's challenge is to turn Lovecraft's improbable written description into a lifeform with real-world credibility.
Domantas Lukosuis' minor project is exploring relationships between sound and shape, between resonance and distortion, between the ear and the eye, working towards an outcome that will ultimately marry abstract cgi 'sound shapes' with live-action footage. Below is the first of Dom's experiments - many more to follow.
Just like the characters in Lewis Carroll's epic nonsense poem, Kay Dean is similarly 'hunting the Snark'. Carroll's Snark is a mysterious chimera defined only by the utter subjectivity of its appearance. In an effort to use this principle characteristic in her character design process, Kay has put together a 'make-your-own-Snark-kit' and is challenging the CGAA community to construct Carroll's elusive creature out of their own imaginings - some of the results of which are showcased below.
More fantastic, fabled creatures now, as Katy Negus gets to grips with the Sea Orm, afeared denizen of the Carta Marina - one of the serpents of 'Here be Dragons' fame - the monsters imagined as lurking in the regions of our world beyond the then knowledge of the early cartographers.
Mango Mercury is the studio name for the current collaboration between Andriana Laskari and Dayle Sanders, and they are busily pre-producing their animated short Kinnaree, which takes Thai-culture as its inspiration for a story of a dancing deity and her irrepressible companion.
Molly Bolder's animated short about an individual battling to keep his anxiety in proportion has been conceived of as content for a Samaritans campaign - check out Molly's thumbnails here. Molly's quest to determine her rather crestfallen protagonist begins with this first character sheet of sweetly simplified designs.
Exploiting CGI's unique ability to take audiences into otherwise unavailable times, places and spaces, Aidan Codd is in the business of bringing painter Edward Wadsworth's Bronze Ballet to three-dimensional life. In this concept sketch below, Aidan is using the geometric forms of Wadsworth's vorticist paintings to signal the onset of conflict.
In other news... Triple congratulations to CGAA Graduate, Tom Beg. Following his successful projection mapping installation at the LV21 Lightship and ensuing Masters Show at UCA Canterbury, Tom has been awarded a Distinction for his Masters of Arts in Design for Performance & Live Events. In addition to this huge achievement, Tom's much lauded animation The Lifecycle of a Mushroom - created for the UCA + UoK Spectacular Science Collaboration - has been officially selected for screening at the 5th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival in New York!
Our third Tom Beg-based 'hurrah' is in celebration of his new position as 'Artist in Residence' for CG Arts & Animation, which sees Tom continuing and enriching his role as a valued member of the CGAA teaching and blogging staff and also developing new personal work within the speculative discipline of CGI.
And while we're on the subject of new additions to the creative warp and weft of our community of CG artists, let's hear it for Jordan Buckner, creator of The Minor Key and founding member of Atom Pancakes, who joins us this year as our Graduate Teaching Assistant.
Established by Jordan, Ethan Shilling and Ruben Martins during their final year of CGAA, Atom Pancakes is the start-up animation studio responsible for the animated short, The Final Chapter. Since then, the ranks at Atom Pancakes have expanded to include fellow CGAA graduates, Leo Tsang and Sam Hayes, and their latest creative project is already underway. I asked Leo for a few words of exposition for this month's PWTM:
"We are currently working on a collaborative project with illustrator Amy McCartney and her childen's book The Little Robot. We first met Amy at the New Designers exhibition with whom we agreed on the potential of adapting her book into a short animation. Our initial goal is to create 3 promotional images as a pitch for the project, capturing some key scenes of the story with the proposed art direction and style. We then hope to proceed with creating the animation."
See below: a selection of production drawings from Amy McCartney and Atom Pancakes' The Little Robot:
The last word...