Saturday, May 31, 2014

'Not' Sight Seeing In Alaska

Dear all,

Having arrived safely in Alaska after about fourteen hours in the air breathing farts and recycled air*, I popped out this morning for a spot of sight-seeing. Unfortunately, the whole of Anchorage was experiencing a power outage, which meant I ate my buffet-style breakfast (complete with reindeer sausages), in the dark; the weather is a bit on the miserable side, you see, with high winds and driving rain and low visibility, which accounts for the photograph above.   The diorama on the helpful sign was identifying all the impressive stuff I couldn't actually see.  I'm assured by others that Mount Susitna does indeed exist, despite my photographic evidence to the contrary!

*I watched a whole bunch of movies on the plane - pretty much back-to-back:

Saving Mr Banks - loved it!  Great screenplay!
August: Osage County - loved it! Meryl Streep is amazing!
Dallas Buyers Club - loved it! Give everyone an Oscar!
The Lego Movie - loved it! Metafictional joy!

It's 2pm as I type this, and I'm just off to the conference's opening key note shindig!   I'll be in touch with more images of invisible tourist attractions soon!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

CGAA Cinema: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 VFX

Below you can find a series of production videos released by Imageworks which reveal the impressive pipelines behind the intricate VFX seen within 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'. These range from the build up of each shot, through to animating the characters and compositing each pass.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Post With The Most 27/05/2014

Usually, the PWTM begins with some alliterative preamble that seeks to characterise the ongoing endeavours of the student, staff and alumni of BA (Hons) CG Arts & Animation - soon to be known as Computer Animation Arts.  My preface this month is shorter and sweeter - short because all I need do is invite you to sit back and enjoy this selection of final works from years one, two and three, and sweet because it gives me great pleasure to do so.  You're looking at an awful lot of hard work here, at goals met and personal bests.  As always, I encourage our loyal readers to go beyond the PWTM by accessing the individual student blogs, because what you see here are but the tips of some truly impressive icebergs.  Enjoy. 

Tom Farrington - Experiment IX  (For Tom's Art Of  go here)

Lydia Caplan - Eglington Road (For Lydia's Art Of go here)

Joey Ku - The Carnival Of The Animals (For Joey's Art Of go here)

Sammy Butler, Chrissie Peters & David Vandepeer as Polydoodle Pictures - & Son (For Polydoodle PicturesArt Of go here)

Alice Druzga - Whodunit High (For Alice's Art Of go here)

Ilmi Omar - Block A 50 (For Ilmi's Art Of go here)

Anita Gill - Yatara Nu (For Anita's Art Of go here)

Emma Foster - The Futurists' Garden (For Emma's Art Of here)

Urvashi Lele - An Interview With The Owl And The Pussycat (For Urvashi's Art Of go here)

Nat Urwin - Mothers' Days (For Nat's Art Of go here)

Mike Smallwood - Little Things (For Mike's Art Of go here)

Year 2 - Adaptation

Emily Clarkson - A Light In The Attic (For Emily's Art Of go here)

Samantha Niemczyk - The Shadow Of Liminal (For Sam's Art Of go here

Alex Edmonds - The Point Blanc Academy Library (For Alex's Art Of go here)                                            

Jake Bryant - Logen Ninefingers from The Blade Itself (For Jake's Art Of go here)

Akinbiyi Babarinde - Robert Neville from I Am Legend (For Akinbiyi's Art Of go here)

Megan Howett - Arrietty from The Borrowers (For Megan's Art Of go here)

Shan Mason - Operation Market Garden - Game assets (For Shan's Art Of go here)

Year 1 - 'Fantastic Voyage'

Ant Faulkner - Fern Lifecycle

Adam Stone - The Slimestronauts

Candice Hiu Fu Leung - Fern Lifecycle

Tom Boothby - Operation: Emerald Leaf

Rosalyn Fenton - Fern Lifecycle

Scott Turner - Fern Lifecycle

Ruby Newland - What's Under The Leaf?

Ayunie Adiana - Ferntastic Journey

Meanwhile, even as the academic year winds down, the ongoing ACT project is picking up speed.  As regular readers of this blog will know, we're using Kinect-derived data as the basis for sculptural forms originating from the seven movements of Verdi's Requiem.  Using the Kinect-derived curves as a starting point - which themselves originated from the movements of a conductor as he guided three hundred musicians through Verdi's mighty composition - students were asked to model their own impressions of the Requiem, attaching their subjective impressions to the original data-shapes.   Seven of the resulting forms have since been selected to go forward to the next phase of the project, which will see them readied for fabrication via a laser-cutter.  The chosen seven forms follow:

1: Requiem - Anita Gill

2: Dies Irae - Joey Ku

3: Offertorio - Sasha Hart

4: Sanctus - Tom Beg

5: Agnus Dei - Tom Beg

6: Lux Aterna - Sasha Hart

7: Libera Me - Mike Smallwood

When not using Maya to embody his impressions of a choral classic, CGAA graduate Tom Beg continues to make fascinating work in the development of his music video for Collectress.  In a project that has so far encompassed marker pens and infrared photography, Tom is currently creating CG models derived from his original lo-fi thumbnails.  The resulting forms are skeletal and ossified, yet filled somehow too with organic vitality.  They're remind this viewer of coral - forms both alive and dead.

Original thumbnail

Next month's edition of the PWTM will be a New Designers 2014 special: we're already working hard behind the scenes to ensure another memorable show, so watch this space for updates, and why not come and see us at the event. We'll be exhibiting in week two from the 2nd to the 5th July. We'd love to see you there.

The Last Word...
"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often." Winston Churchill

Monday, May 26, 2014

Reminder: Your New Designers Line Art

This is a reminder to exhibiting students at New Designers 2014 who have not yet sent me your line art: can you please send me your drawings to my gmail account tonight/first thing tomorrow morning, as I need to prepare them in readiness for screen-printing.  Many thanks!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Competition: The Geek Boutique Needs A Logo!

As some of you will be already aware, we're taking steps to establish a graduate talent agency to sit within the Computer Animation Arts community.  You'll know then that Jake Bryant has furnished our fledgling agency with a great name - Geek Boutique.  

The next stage is to brand Geek Boutique - to consolidate all its charms and promise into an iconic logo - which is where you come in!

There's a £50 Amazon voucher up for grabs and the closing date for entries is Monday 9th June.   Email me your logo designs for Geek Boutique as a jpeg to  All submitted designs will then be showcased here on the group blog and then we'll let the course community decide on the winning design via a vote.

The competition is open to students, staff and alumni, so get the word out.

Good luck!

Friday, May 23, 2014

FAO CGAA Year 1: Your Contextual Studies Proformas Available @ Your Ucreative Email

Your proformas are now available at your Ucreative accounts: any probs, drop me a line at

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Wednesday Crowd Pleaser: Donnie Darko (2001)

Donnie Darko @ 2pm Lecture Theatre 1
(by special request of Adam Stone)

FAO YEAR 3: Major Project Assessment Forms & Feedback

All Third Years

Please be aware that your Major Project assessment forms (feedback) have been emailed to your ucreative email addresses.


Monday, May 19, 2014

The Supplement: The Goon #2.

"We are MILLIMETERS away from a completed, cleaned up first pass."

A few months ago I blogged a post sharing David Fincher's Kickstarter pledge to fund a CG adaptation of Eric Powell's comic series 'The Goon'. The project was funded successfully not long after its initial opening, and has since been slowly progressing along the pipeline with the support of Blur Studios and Dark Horse Entertainment. Collectively, they decided to take the long road by finding an alternate answer to the typical Hollywood depiction of animation, and have been working hard to find a new vision that portrays an adult take on animated film. 

Recently, Eric Powell released a statement on his blog letting fans know that everyone at Blur has had their attention focused on the story reel which is currently being composed into its first edited pass. With this information Powell attached a series of storyboard panels from this pass which can be found below. I hope to be posting up-to-date information about this project as it happens, as I can't wait for this production to be in full swing.

And for those who missed it, The original proof-of-concept Trailer featuring Clancy Brown and Paul Giamatti as the voices of The Goon and Franky respectively.

ACT 2: Project Requiem - Reminder

Hello CGAA... or is it CAA?

Hope you all were inspired by the music and the curves! I know that some of you may still be rendering bits and pieces so in case you've forgotten how or where to upload your files, here is the link to WeTransfer.

This is the box you're looking for (an ad may pop up first, and also a box to accept terms and conditions):

WeTransfer has a 2Gig file size limit, however you can send as many files as you like, so either compress or send the files individually if needed.

To clarify (for each sculpture) we need:

-one folder for the Maya renders (zip it up)
-one folder for the After Effects renders (zip it up)
-a copy of the final turnaround as a h264 codec .mp4
-an obj export of the sculpture
-the Maya file
-the After effects file

So I can clearly work out what everything is, please make sure you clearly label the files, and prefix them with your name. eg -

Remember also that there is a spelling mistake in the fourth After Effects Comp, which you need to correct before rendering. Where it currently reads 'Sanctusi', it should instead be 'Sanctus'.

Any further questions, just send me an email.

Ethan Shilling

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tutorphil Working From Home (Monday)

Just letting you know that I'll be working from home tomorrow (Monday) - any issues, email me at

FAO Year 3: External Examiner Visit - Thursday, May 22nd

Tim Webb, our external examiner, is coming to look at your work on May 22nd (Thursday) and we'd like you all to be available from 2pm in the CGAA base room. 

Tim will make a selection of individual students he'd like to see on the day - from 2pm onwards - but a group discussion with all year 3 students follows at 3.30pm.

We'd like to see all of you there. If you're unable to attend, do please drop me an email and I'll ensure Tim knows not to expect you.

Many thanks

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Computer Animation Arts 'Geek Boutique'

Right then - 'Geek Boutique' it is!  Love it.  Thank you, Jake Bryant!  Just spoke with my colleague who will be helping me set up our Graduate Creative Agency and Geek Boutique was a big 'yes'!

So - I have another request to make of you - and it's a creative one.  Any ideas out there for an iconic logo/ident/brand identity that might put our Geek Boutique firmly on the map? I feel a logo competition coming on... any takers?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

CAA: One-A-Day: Mighty Antlers

There's something really creepy and disturbing about this animation. The design and animation of the antler character is amazing though.

More from The Animation Worshops can be found HERE

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The 'Computer Animation Arts Graduate Creative Agency' - Ideas Please!

It's been a mission of mine for sometime to set up a 'Computer Animation Arts' graduate agency - a dream-team of graduate talent originating from our course, whose start-up, start-out freelance careers can be incubated and supported within UCA.  It's early days, but the good news is that the signs are good and I'm pretty confident we'll be able to launch a graduate agency sooner rather than later.

It might seem premature then, to be thinking about a name for the agency, but I've been asked to get the ball rolling asap, and I thought I'd pick your collective brains.

We need something catchy, memorable, and client-friendly; for example, one of the University's existing agency-type initiatives is called 'Fab Lab' - and it relates to 3D printing and laser-cutting services (Fab as in fabrication).  Another relates to casting and glasswork and is called 'The Bronze Pot'... 

Once we've got the name, we can get think about branding etc. so the name should be visual and give us something engaging to work with.  Over to you then - what's the perfect name for a creative pool of CGI talent?  I await your suggestions with interest!

FAO CGAA Year 1: Fantastic Voyage & Toolkit Proformas @ Your Ucreative Accounts

Your Fantastic Voyage and Toolkit proformas are available at your Ucreative accounts now.  Your overall grade for your Toolkit unit is derived by averaging the 3 grades - and is shown on the fourth and final page of the Toolkit PDF.

If your proforma hasn't arrived, email me and I'll investigate.  In terms of resits and retakes etc. the exam board meets on May 29th to ratify the results.  You'll be notified after that date and a tutorial will follow.

Competition: It's Nice That: The Graduates 2014

"We’re looking for 15 of the best creative students in universities across the UK whose work displays clever thinking, passion and excellent craftsmanship. In the past few years the It’s Nice That Graduates have gone on to fulfil their wildest dreams (within reason) and we want the same for you.

The chosen 15 graduates will have their work featured on the site and will be invited to a fun networking event to hob-nob with some creative people who may or may not help you get a job and start earning the big bucks."

Go here for submission details!

FAO: Alumni and Years 1, 2 & 3: Animation Competition!!

Adobe Students have shared this on Facebook... This company are running a competition where the prize is shadowing at FOX Animation Domination High-Def Studios and $5,000. They have 4 categories (Animation, Special Effects, Character Illustration and Musical Composition). Well worth entering for the chance!

Go here for more details and to enter!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

H.R. Giger RIP

H.R. Giger - hugely influential artist known for his concept art and creature designs for Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) has died aged 74.  Read more here.  

The Wednesday Crowd Pleaser: Aliens (1986)

Lecture Theatre 1 @ 2pm

"This Time It's War"

Monday, May 12, 2014

FAO CAA Year 2/Year 3: Project Requiem Briefing Presentation

See below - briefing presentation for ACT 2: Project Requiem:

The short version is this:  late last year, we converted a conductor's movements into seven Maya curves.  The curves express the conductor's physical movements as he was conducting a performance of Verdi's Requiem.  We're asking you to use the seven curves as the basis for the creation of seven sculptural forms in Maya, that capture and reflect your own responses after listening to the Requiem.  Ultimately, we will be turning a selection of the forms into physical metal sculptures!

A 'one-stop-shop' folder will be shared with you via Dropbox, containing the seven curves, the seven sections of music, templates for rendering and exporting, and instructions for manipulating the original curves.  You are to listen to the 7 sections of music and then seek to express your visual impression of what you hear via the choice of manipulations outlined in the presentation (extrude, loft, planar and revolve).

7 curves, 7 sections of music, 7 Maya objects, 7 metal sculptures.

This is a one-week challenge; closing date is Friday 16th May.

Good luck - and have fun!  We can't wait to see what you create.

If you don't receive your DropBox access, email me and I'll sort it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

CAA One-A-Day: Helium Harvey

A lovely animated short from Daniel Savage... enjoy!

FAO CGAA Year 2/3: ACT 2: Project Requiem Briefing Monday 12th May @ 11am/Lecture Theatre 1

This is a reminder for our year 2 and year 3 students: we're briefing 'Project Requiem' - the second ACT project at 11am in Lecture Theatre 1 on Monday 12th (tomorrow).  We're hoping as many of you will participate as possible.  We know year 2 are already busy with Pete Wallace and their work placements, and year 3 are knackered after Friday's hand-in, but this is a quick, creative, one-week 'speedpaint-style' participation, not a long-term commitment!

If you can't attend tomorrow's briefing, you will still be able to participate, as the briefing presentation and instructions will be published on the group blog.

See you tomorrow at 11am, Lecture Theatre 1!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

FAO CGAA Year 3: Best Of Luck For Tomorrow's Hand-in!

This is a message for all our third years on the night before final hand-in: "Yes You Can!" Just keep going, you're so nearly there, and all these final tweaks, touches and tidying-ups will be worth it!

There's a perfect poem for times like these - If, by Rudyard Kipling.  Forgive the gender bias, but these are wise words indeed.


If you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, 
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too; 
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; 
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; 
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same; 
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone, 
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, 
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, 
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, 
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

...and if poetry fails, there's always Irene Cara...

Sorry I won't be around tomorrow to see you cross the finish line, but I'll be thinking of you with my fingers crossed.  Best of luck - and enjoy the weekend! See you Monday for the ACT 2: Project Requiem briefing - I'll publish more info on here on Sunday.  

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

FAO Year 3: Major Project Submission

The Submission Blog is Now Open!

Submission Location & Deadline: 

Friday 9th May @ 5pm 
CG Arts Baseroom & Online

Submission Requirements:

1) Your final piece of work: Your final film / animation submitted as a file and on your blog.

2)  Making of Document: A comprehensive guide to your project submitted as a PDF and on your blog.

3) Technical Document: A 1 - 2 page description of a significant techincal aspect of your work. E.g Is there something technical which required exploring that now defines your work? A shader, a rigging process, or lighting model for example.

4) Demo Reel: A short 30 second - 1 minute showcase of your work

5) An up to date blog & .PDF: Please make sure your blog is up to date before 5pm and it is transfered to PDF as part of your submission. No posts after 5pm please.

Please Submit Via:

1) The Submission Blog
2) Copied on to the baseroom computer
3) On DVD

Good Luck Everyone!

Year 2 Work Placement Meeting - 2pm

Hello there,
         Just a quick reminder that myself and Simon R will be seeing you at 2pm in the Base Room for a chat about your animation / 3D work with us over the next month or two.

See you then!


Monday, May 05, 2014

FAO CAA Year 2: Butch Auntie Meeting Tomorrow @ 2pm

Just a reminder for Year 2 students: Butch Auntie's Pete Wallace is looking forward to meeting you all at 2pm in the Baseroom tomorrow (Tuesday) for a pre-work placement briefing and catch-up.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The CAA Wednesday Crowd Pleaser: Frozen (2013)

For your viewing pleasure...

Lecture Theatre 1 : Wednesday @ 2pm

The highest-grossing animated feature of all time...

SIGGRAPH 2014 - Congratulations Are Due!

Congratulations to CGAA Year 3 students Natalie Urwin and Ernesta Baniulyte who have both been accepted onto the highly-sought after Student Volunteer Programme at this year's SIGGRAPH conference in Vancouver! Not only is this the third consecutive year that students from CGAA have been picked to participate at SIGGRAPH, this is a double-whammy!  I know that a number of our current students applied to participate in the SIGGRAPH SVP, but if you were unlucky this year, then be sure to apply again for 2015; that this will be Nat's second SIGGRAPH adventure should tell you that re-applying is worth it!

So, well done Nat & Ernesta - we all look forward to reading about your SIGGRAPH experience on your blogs over the Summer.