Sunday, August 31, 2014

Post With The Most 31/08/2014

August is a tricky month, what with everyone clinging onto the holiday mood, but with one eye on their calendars because they know.  They know busy times are looming.  They know the wheels are  moments from turning.  People are poised to power-up again, and no more so on Computer Animation Arts, as September sees the kick-off of the new academic year... But we're not there yet.  

This edition of the PWTM is more of an amuse-bouche than a main course, reflecting as it does the more relaxed pace of the Summer holidays, but reflecting too that none of us truly disappear into a box over the holiday period.

Our all new first years are yet to enrol, but many of them are already getting stuck into their inaugural Summer Challenge.  They're already sending me their blogs - the first batch are available here - and below is a sneak peak at some of their creations; so from left to right, we have thumbnails from Charlie Serafini (44,48), Kayliegh Anderson (6) and Thanawat Phrommet (42, 43, 44).  

And enjoy this selection from Julien van Wallendael.

There are loads more on our newbies' blogs - and loads more to come. I have little doubt that the design work of our newest recruits will be enlivening future editions of the PWTM.

Last month's PWTM caught up with a number of our recent graduates, who shared with us their successes, post-degree experiences and insights.  Chrissie 'Class of 2014' Peters continues our catch-up with the great and the good of our graduate community.  Chrissie was one third of Polydoodle Pictures, the year three collaboration behind the animated short & Son.  Chrissie worked with Sammy Butler and David Vandepeer, and was largely responsible for the animation's overall production design and 2D components. 

Character sketches for & Son by Chrissie Peters 2014

Character sketches for & Son by Chrissie Peters 2014

At New Designers 2014, Chrissie was approached by a publisher, who was suitably charmed by her illustrative style and strengths as a character designer.  In light of her success, I asked Chrissie to share her recent experience and offer some advice for our incoming first years:

"After Graduation, some of the class of 2014 took our final year projects to the New Designers 2014 Exhibition in London, one of the key shows for design graduates. Our stand generated lots of interest, and both the awards for animation were won by my classmates, which I think shows the high standards of our course. 

New Designers has been a success for me, both because guests enjoyed & Son, and because it has generated some potential illustration work for me. I was approached by a publisher and asked to provide sample work for a series of children’s books that will be used in schools. 

Chrissie Peters 2014

My advice for Newbies: don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make use of your course mates – they will all have different skills. Some will be quicker at Maya, some will be able to spot things that aren’t quite right in your work. Use the blog for this – all those of us who graduated with high grades were constantly active on our blogs and spent a large proportion of our time in Uni. This feedback is so important that I am still posting my freelance work online for my course-mates to critique. It’s easy to become blind to your own work, especially when you are working at home alone. Other people’s opinions are invaluable. 

I've made some good friends; we've laughed and cried’s been amazing. Aspects of the theory lectures and my dissertation research have made me much more aware and critical of what's around me, and that has been a life-changing experience. "

Three members of our course community were selected for the Student Volunteer Programme at this year's SIGGRAPH conference:  Ernesta Baniulyte, Nat Urwin and Kym Mumford all jetted out to Vancouver to facilitate the conference.  I'm yet to spot them in this official photograph, but I know from reading their recent blog entries that they've been making the very most of this great opportunity.  With more blog updates following soon, we look forward to hearing more about Nat, Ernesta and Kym's adventures in Canada.

For some time now, the course team have been discussing ways in which we might seek to support further our community of talented graduates.   Soon, we will be launching Geek Boutique - our very own creative agency.  We have current CAA student, Jake Bryant, to thank for the agency's name, and over the course of the Summer, we've been working on getting everything else sorted, including the branding, which we're showcasing here for the first time.

Meanwhile, Tom Beg continues his work on his music video Owl for Collectress.  Regular followers of the PWTM will know Tom's development for this project has been utterly fascinating.  Using lo-fi, traditional mark-making to give rise to abstract sculptural forms realised in Maya, Tom is now combining his CGI forms with the spectral landscapes resulting from his forays into infra-red photography.  Tom's heightened sensitivity for lighting and the poeticism of black and white imagery was first showcased in his much-lauded adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray.  These most recent developmental stills offer a tantalising glimpse of Tom's work for Collectress.

There's a house in France where I holiday.  It's all rather rustic.  I always try and respond to the site in some creative way; nothing too complex, preferring the stimulus of limitation to more elaborate responses.  Previous years have seen me enjoying the complete lack of light pollution and privacy required to explore the other-worldly effects of long exposure-photography.  This year, things became more basic still, as, for the first week, I dispensed with a physical camera completely and explored cyanotypes as a medium.  In very simple terms, you use the sun to fix the image of something onto specially treated paper.  You put the physical artefact onto the paper and then you expose the set-up to sunlight.  It was straight-forward and strangely addictive (I did loads), and I was seduced totally by the delicacy of the gradations, the transparencies and the ghostly qualities of many of the images.   What appears as shading or tonal range actually derives from shadowing and the different translucencies of the artefact itself.

My 'dark room' for the preparation of the cyanotypes


Daucus carota

The second week, it was back to the old Praktica and some solar-powered light-sources, and while I'm not ready to show the results of these late-night jaunts into the long grass, I can show you the kit as proof-positive that this was art on a budget!

The other job on my Summer to-do list was to finish readying my trilogy of children's novels for the publisher's approval.  The good news is I got the greenlight and contracts are being signed.  I won't have an official book-launch date until the paperwork is done, so for those of you who read Chapter One of Chimera and wondered what Kyp Finnegan did next, you can read Chapter Two here.

The Final Word...

“And suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” Meister Eckhart

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