Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Must Read: Hints and Hacks For Doing Conceptual Art


Written by Paul Richards (aka Autodestruct), the following two articles are an absolute must-read! 
P. Richards introduces truly useful distinctions to use for conceptual game/film design . You will find new  points to consider about a design task after his thorough yet clear walk-throughs of both, the professional field  and visualising techniques .


He also suggests to play a fun design game, which is close to what  a real game/film designer is experiencing (particularly the 'canned reactions' :D ):

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Supplement: Naoto Hattori

Just discovered this artist. Very amazing stuff and you can see from his gallery, very prolific. 

Reminder - Dropbox Invitations

Hi All,

Just a reminder that the Dropbox invitations for the Speed Painting project were sent out on Monday for those who put their names down on the sign up sheets. As of writing there are still plenty of people in all years who haven't joined their respective folders yet. Be sure to accept in time for Monday's painting challenge. It's not a disaster if you don't contribute from day one, but give yourself the option in case you do feel inspired!

If you signed up but didn't get the invitation it could be there's been a mistake somewhere down the line with emails. If so, be sure to mention it in the comments below, speak to myself, Jordan or Phil and we'll re-send the invite. It could also be that the emails ended up in your Junk or Spam folder so be sure to check there as well!

If there are any problems, let us know.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Applicant Day + The Red Room = 'Pretty Please'

It's applicant day tomorrow and I'm office-less once more, so I was hoping to use the Red Room for interviews in the morning.  There's not many, so I should be out of there by 11am (I start at 10am).  Your patience would be much appreciated and there should be plenty of room elsewhere for the duration.  I'll be sure to let everyone know when I'm done and dusted.  Thanks in advance  :)

You're All Stars In New UCA Youtube Film!

Not sure if you've seen this yet - but look! UCA have just released a new Animation @ UCA Youtube video starring lots of CG work, loads of you, some beardy guy in an orange v-neck and even Alan's infamous eyebrow makes the final cut!  

Reminder - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - 28th February 5:00pm - Lecture Theatre One

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 
directed by  Tobe Hooper (1974)
28th February 5:00pm till 7:00pm

FAO CGAA Year 1: Story & Commission Project 2 'Fantastic Voyage' - Previous Student Films, Creative Partners & Pitch Groups

Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, this is it - the big one.  The 'Fantastic Voyage' Commission project is your opportunity to pull out all the stops and accomplish something extraordinary - your first cg animation. Wow.  

This project is a culmination of all you've learned since week one of term one and you need to think creatively, ambitiously and you need to be determined from the very outset to make the best work of which you're capable.  You are not simply being asked to satisfy a year one project brief; you are being challenged to make others take your creative potential seriously, to put your money where your mouth is - to shine.  This is about you and them - the audience.   You need to get them on side.  You need to make them love your vision.  You need to win the prize, seal the deal, steal the show.  This isn't about grades or what the tutor might think, or what your classmates might think, this is about your personal potential.  This is about you.  You should be excited.  I am - and you already know how much Dr Peter Klappa is looking forward to seeing what you produce over the course of these challenging final weeks of term.

In a change to your published timetable, you will be meeting Dr Klappa on Tuesday 5th March @ 10am in the CGAA baseroom.  Dr Klappa will be discussing the project topic in detail and will be able to trouble-shoot your research and answer your question.

By way of inspiration, I want you to spend some time really looking at these examples of last year's projects.  The students' names link to their respective 'Commission' blog archives, which I encourage you to browse.  As you look at their work and note the high level of finish and professionalism and ambition and style, I want you to remember that, for them this was a 5 week project.  Under the new course framework, you have considerably longer than 5 weeks, which is my polite way of saying 'do not disappoint.'  The CGAA community has very high expectations of you.  This work is very good indeed.  Your work needs to be better.

Your groups for the 'Fantastic Voyage' Commission Pitch are as follows:

Group A Monday 18th March @ 10am Lecture Theatre 1

Vicky H
George H
Meg H

Group B Tuesday 19th March @ 1.30pm Lecture Theatre 2

Vikki K
Meg L
George N

Your creative partnerships for this project are particularly significant.  Remember, I'm looking carefully now in regard to the way you're meeting the challenges of giving and receiving feedback and engaging with each other proactively; next year, you'll be working collaboratively on joint projects and I'll be looking for evidence of professionalism, maturity and supportive relationships between peers when making my decisions in regard to who is working with whom. 

Find dynamic and visual ways of archiving your partnerships - video diaries, anyone? Audio recordings of brainstorming sessions? Your creative partnerships should feel active and exciting - you're not just ticking boxes on a brief, you're learning how to collaborate and build professional working relationships - some of which may last you a lifetime and/or prove of transformative importance in terms of shaping your careers.  Your creative partners for the duration of this, your final year one project are:

Meg H
George H

Vikki K
Meg L


Vicky H
George N

And finally...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rhythm and Hues - Life of Pi

Whilst Life of Pi wins the best VFX Oscar, the studio that created it becomes bankcrupt. Without said studio, the film of course would not have been created. Making billions in sales, and winning awards. How can the people behind the success of it be so out of pocket? More disgustingly so, whilst accepting the award, the guys started talking about the financial difficulties that the studio are having by saying that the film interestingly questions reality and non-reality whilst ironically the film is mostly CG, and thus.. not real. Whilst bringing this subject up, the powers that be at the Oscars cut them off. This is disgusting, even more so that they are quickly removing any Youtube videos that upload the footage.

How long can this industry continue to treat its employees as disposable? The people that worked so hard to create the film, out of pocket. Taken advantage of with regard to not only money, but serious overtime. Whilst the money people continue to profit without really adding anything of worth other than their wallets.  (I guess other countries and lower minimum wages really doesn't help with this, either)

On another note, the producer (I believe) of Paperman was ejected from the Oscar's for throwing a few paper planes from the mezzanine after they picked up the best short film award.

Something has to change in the creative industries to put the power into the creatives, the ones with the know how to put these big blockbusters together; and take the power from the suits with the wallets whom know nothing. This is coincidentally why crowd funding and indie development is so popular right now. (I also think the creatives should take the suits from them too. Suits are cool, they just ruin the image for the rest of us)

Bit of a rant post. But I wanted to get other peoples perspective on this. I need to go and read more on this, just spotted it on a news post.

App Design - Year Walk

In the last couple of years apps for phones and tablets have developed beyond simple games and software. An emergence of artistically directed apps that straddle the game / book / interaction line have formed to create some spectacular events.

Experience the ancient Swedish phenomena of year walking through a different kind of first person adventure that blurs the line between two and three dimensions as well as reality and the supernatural.
Venture out into the dark woods where strange creatures roam, on a vision quest set in 19th century Sweden. Solve cryptic puzzles, touch and listen in your search to foresee the future and finally discover if your loved one will love you back.
Mysteries and clues await everywhere in Year Walk, but to fully understand the events that took place on that cold New Year's Eve, you will have to delve deeper than the adventure and lose yourself between fact and fiction.

What becomes apparent from this emergence of games is that the limits of time, budget and technology available for dev teams, serves as a real way of creating work that is far more interesting. This app in particular looks to be an intense journey that demonstrates a new way of experiencing content. The mix of literature, design, animation and interaction is unlike other forms of art or entertainment.

Unfortunately the game is only available for iPad and iPhone. If anyone gets the opportunity to check it out please share your experience.

Housemate Wanted!

Hello! We are looking for a 4th person to move in with us next year, as one of our current housemates is moving out!! There is a single bedroom available at a price of £70pw (10months contract, water bills inc). We have also looked at another 4 double bedroom house which is a bit further away from uni but as long as we get someone else we dont mind moving! The double bed is also £70pw (10 months contract, no bills inc). Anyone interested please leave a comment below and we will come back to you! If you have any questions or would like any more information regarding the house then please ask either me or Alice. :)
Me and Alice are obviously CG students, but the third girl (Sammie) is a lovely Fashion Promotion student. (She's a great cook ;) !!!)

Emma & Alice

ACT/CGAA Live Project Brief: A Synesthetic Speed Paint Challenge!

Wassily Kandinsky, Black and Violet, 1923

On Friday, July 12th at Grays Civic Hall, Essex, the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne will be performing a programme of music on a theme of 'rhythm'.  The programme of music will explore ideas of rhythm in classical music and in the celebrated jazz of the late Dave Bruebeck.  The director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne, Marc Feldman, has challenged the CGAA community to work collaboratively to create an original work of animation designed to accompany his orchestra's performance of one particular example of early twentieth century music that blends classical and jazz rhythms to exciting effect.  The animation will be rear projected onto a large screen measuring 8.5m wide by  6.2m high, in front of which the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne will perform live.

Marc Feldman, Director of Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne

Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne

Grays Civic Hall - auditorium

Grays Civic Hall - stage & projection screen

Synesthesia is the neurological condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color.  Synesthetic art is the attempt by artists to evoke synesthesia-like effects and so explore the interrelationship of our senses.  A famous animated example of music transcribed into image is found in Disney's Fantasia (1940)

Animation, of course, is particularly well-suited to the exploration, creation, and communication of synesthetic visualisations of sound and music - some further examples of which now follow: 

Norman McLaren - Begone Dull Care (1949)

Norman Mclaren - Boogie Doodle (1940)

Harry Everett Smith -  Early Abstractions Part 1 (1946 - 57)

Harry Everett Smith -  Early Abstractions Part 3 (1946 - 57)

John Whitney - Catalog (1961)

Walther Ruttmann - Opus 3 (1924)

Walther Ruttmann - Opus 4 (1925)

Michel Gagne - Sensology (2010)

And now it's your turn - indeed everyone's turn - to respond visually to music; your live project brief is as follows:

Over a period of ten consecutive week days (Monday to Friday x 2), you will be challenged to produce abstract digital paintings in synesthetic response to segments of music featured on the CGAA group blog.  These ten tasks will take the form of 'Speed Paint Challenges' - familiar to most of you following last year's Christmas-themed digital paintings.  In essence, it's all pretty straightforward: look for the 'Speed Paint Challenge' icon on your blogger dashboard, listen to the musical extract accompanying it - and then respond to it visually through the creation of an original digital painting.  

You can listen to the extract as many times as you like, and there are no rules in regard to the way in which you choose to visualise what you hear and the way you feel about it - except maybe this one: this is an exercise in abstraction, not creature, character or environment design. We want you to respond instinctively, quickly and fearlessly.  We want abstraction, colour, form, shape, texture, mark-making, space, depth, tone, line - and everything in between! Take a few minutes to look at the animations above for ideas, inspiration and permission to get good and arty!

Tom Beg and Jordan Buckner - creative directors for  the  project - will use your digital paintings and from them seek to derive, devise and create the sixteen minute animation that will accompany the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne's performance at the Civic Hall on the 12th July. 

While you're encouraged to be as avant-garde, experimental and subjective as possible, there are some important bits of Photoshop housekeeping we need all of you to follow to ensure consistency in regard to initial set-up and work-flow.

Using layers is an integral characteristic of Photoshop work-flow, but we want you to use layers in a very conscious, 'automated' way - i.e. as you create your synesthetic paintings, we want you to create new layers frequently, so the 'build up' of your final digital painting is 'recorded' and can be 'unpacked' into multiple images or frames.  Tom & Jordan are interested in using the  individual layers comprising your paintings as one possible means of transforming your speed paints into animated loops and dynamic sequences.  

When creating your digital paintings, consider using Photoshop hotkeys for the creation of new layers to keep things fluid and your work flow as uninterrupted as possible:

New Layer (without Dialogue Box) – “Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N”
New Layer (with Dialogue Box) – “Ctrl + Shift + N”

(For Apple users, replace “Ctrl” with “Command”) 

All paintings are to be created according to the following set-up:

4800 x 2700 pixels  

300 ppi

Your paintings are to be saved as PSD files, containing all of the layers created during the challenge.  Your paintings should NOT be flattened.  

Your file name should include your full name and challenge number:


If you want to produce more than one painting in response to a particular daily challenge (and multiple submissions from a single participant are welcome), please number your PSD files accordingly: 



When you've completed your digital painting(s), you need to do 2 more things:  

1) upload your unflattened PSD files to your allocated Dropbox folder, which you will have been invited to share via the email address you've provided.

2) upload your completed digital paintings to your individual blog entitled 'CGAA - ACT Speed Paint Challenge' and include the number of the challenge; i.e. 'CGAA - ACT Speed Paint Challenge 1'.

I will be creating ongoing showcases of your digital paintings on the group blog as the challenge progresses, and further promoting the project through the Post With The Most, the UCA Facebook page, Linkedin and the new ACT - CG Arts & Animation project blog:

You can follow the progress of the ACT/CGAA project at - add it to your blogger reading list; your feedback, support and discussion is, as always, invaluable.

The first ACT/CGAA Speed Paint Challenge will launch on Monday 4th March @ 9am and will conclude on Friday 15th March. 

Good luck, have fun, be amazing!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

CGAA One-A-Day: What if wild animals ate fast food

With my resent research into obesity and Ryan's recent 'One-A-Day' - Fat (featuring unexplained bloating of animals) here's another video to continue the theme, answering the age old question... What if wild animals ate fast food? Apparently they'd all be even more adorable :D !

Course Rep: UCA Student Experience Conference 2013

Lost headphones?

CGAA year one student, Matt Coward has misplaced his headphones and thinks he may have left them in the CGAA computer room last week.  If you see them, could you please pop them into the CGAA office for Matt to collect.  Many thanks.

FAO CGAA Year 2: Critical Perspectives Timetable Error

Thanks to Stevie P for bringing this to our attention; your new timetables for the remaining weeks of term suggest that your Critical Perspectives lecture slots are on a Wednesday - but this is an error (and we'll get it changed asap).  In the meantime, simply consult the specific Critical Perspectives timetable on myUCA within the Critical Perspectives unit - which was published at the beginning of the term and is correct in terms of day, times and venue.  Critical Perspectives is on a Monday @ 11am in L2 - and your 'Live Project Briefing' will follow your lecture - so stay where you are!  Apologies for any confusion caused.

Post With The Most 24/02/2013

This month's edition of the Ba Hons CG Arts & Animation Post With The Most has me licking my lips like a kid before the Pick 'n' Mix.  It's wall-to-wall eye candy in here!  I love my job sometimes; in what other occupation would it be considered normal to discuss with total seriousness how many eyes/mouths/tentacles is 'too many' when designing a monster or the technical challenge of making a penguin appear just 'a little more gay' or the cultural legacy of the vagina dentata and how it might relate to the design of the harpies from Dante's Inferno?  Honestly, February's PWTM quite closely resembles a family pack of Haribo, what with all the rainbow-coloured faux-naif critters (though its not without some welcome sour notes as injected by the likes of nightmarish insectoid typewriters and those scabrous bird girls!).  We've rubber chickens, wide-eyed eskimos, bespectacled 'dream-cleaners', a garrulous old lady whose false teeth have a life of their own, grumpy chefs, disapproving penguins,  Lithuanian trees, a freckle-faced heroine in over-sized boots armed with a frying pan... It's quite a list - and hardly exhaustive!

CGAA year one have, as of last Friday, completed their From Script to Screen project - a hugely challenging and multi-layered unit requiring them to first write their first original script for a one minute animated short, and then pre-produce it via storyboarding, character and environment design, sound design, animatics and Maya pre-visualisations.  I'll be sharing highlights from their From Script to Screen submission in the next edition of the PWTM - so until then, here's a sneak peek at year one's production drawings, storyboards and character designs.

Lucy Yelding - Gie

Megan Howett - Shelf Life

Sam Niemczyk - The Two Chefs Of Tonga Island

Shan Mason - Caspidia

Emily Clarkson - Roped In

Jake Bryant - The Interstellar Complex

George Hind - Dreaming Stars

Nadia Yadallee - Mini Cookie Cupcakes

CGAA Year 2 are knee-deep in their Adaptation unit - which sees them challenged to derive imaginative CGI responses from existing texts, materials or ideas.  Adaptation always marks a change of emphasis in the CGAA calendar, as students become more autonomous, more specialised, and work becomes more personal.  Risks are encouraged, as are creative, blended methodologies, as students seek to develop innovative approaches to the making of memorable cg assets, sets and experiences.  This year, the breadth and depth of student projects is exciting, encompassing everything from classic literature and Native American mythology to children's drawings and first person testimonials.  As per normal, all you need do is click on a student's name to visit their respective blogs for more information about their projects.  In the meantime, feast your eyes on this miscellany of works-in-progress...

Ernesta Baniulyte - Metamorphoses 

Adrián Alemany - The Other Gods

Nat Urwin - 'Winnie'

Tom Farrington - Phil O'Grimm, Vernon McCobble & Lenny Nightingale

Sammy Butler - 'Winter' from 'How Glooskap Caught The Summer' 

Chrissie Peters - 'Plop' from The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark

Joey Ku - Donug, Beeba, Afay, Offie & De-Dak (& friends!)

The Final 5

Steven Payne - Making Plans For Nigel

Gabriel Burokas - Egle, The Queen Of Serpents

Urvashi Lele - How Krishna Got The Moon

Anita Gill - Calypso's Island (thumbnails)

Alice Druzga - 'Tiffany' from The Wee Free Men

Lydia Caplan - Twenty To Nine

In CGAA year 3, it's major project time.  Yes, the dissertation is done and dusted and now all effort and attention is being paid to the final push.  These are the projects the fat lady sings about, our third years' last hurrah before breaking orbit.  With projects ranging from child-friendly nocturnal moppets, hellish harpies and full-blown saga-centric fantasy to abstract worlds and projection mapping hocus-pocus it's another exciting crop of works-in-progress.

Sam Tremain & Domantas@ Bestia Designs - The Harpies (creature design)

Max Rogers - Eskimo Boy (character design)

Molly Bolder - The Dream Cleaners (Character design)

Andriana Laskari & Dayle Sanders @ Mango Mecury - Kinnaree

Hemmy's walk-cycle (wip)

Alex Zepherin - Anima character design & concept art

Lyn-Dae Stewart - Rhea Monroe (character design)

Ryan Leitao - Projection Mapping tests

Aidan Codd -  Inventions imagined by Jean-Marc Côté - Pre-viz

Jonathan Pearmain - The Old Kingdom (storyboard wip)

The New Designers people have released their 'Best of 2012' Showreel in which CGAA's exhibition stand makes a number of appearances - just watch those zoetropes spin!  This short film does capture the excitement of the event and it's continuing importance in terms of providing an established and highly-regarded platform for new design talent.

The Final Word...

"You are capable of more than you know.  Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high.  Behave honorably.  Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure.  Persist!  The world needs all you can give." E. O. Wilson