Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Guest Blogger - Chrissie Peters - Using Thumbnails to generate ideas

"Thumbnails are a cool tool.....

As artists we tend to start with a single idea, sketch it, refine it, and polish it You invest your time and feelings into one concept and become attached to it, and it becomes harder to engage with other ideas. For most of us the first sketch will be generic and heavily influenced. Even if we make several initial sketches we have often already decided in our minds that the first is the best, and the others are just fill-ins to make up the numbers. 

The more variation in sketching, the more critical comparisons you can make. 

You don’t need to spend much time on this! Often you only need an hour or so to generate a variety of basic ideas.

This advice from Designshack is spot-on, you may recognise yourselves here!

Cool It on the Details, Picasso

Some of you out there are sketch artists. You’re never happier than when you have a pencil in your hands. Others are truly horrid with a pencil and can’t produce a decent sketch to save your life.

For the first time ever, the latter of these two groups might actually have an easier time! If you can’t draw, great, you’re perfect for creating thumbnail sketches. Talented artists tend to have trouble with the idea of going fast and not really fleshing concepts out. It’s often the case that artists spend more time generating fewer thumbnails simply because they can’t help but make sure every line is straight, every circle is perfect, etc.

Just remember the key at this step is quantity over quality….just make sure that you remember that your goal is to get all of those ideas out of your head and onto paper. For example, if you can draw a box and later remember that it represents your headline, then skip the laborious lettering.

Keep Moving Forward

Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid spending lots of time tweaking an idea to get it just right. If you start sketching one of your ideas and realize that you hate it, resist the urge to erase it and start over. Simply trudge through it and move onto your next idea. Maybe in a few hours you’ll look back on that sketch and see a solid idea in there.

Don’t Draw the Same Thing 50 Times

When faced with the task of producing so many thumbnails, your first instinct will be to start several tiny variations of the same idea. This is often a worthless practice when compared to the value of focusing on truly unique concepts. Try your best and push your brain to produce concepts that are as different from each other as you can manage. Remember that this is the brainstorming stage so there aren’t any bad ideas. Go crazy, think outside of the box; be weird! 

From here, you simply let the ideas flow. This is not a practice for honing your drawing skills, instead your focus should be on idea generation. Thumbnail sketching is quick and perhaps even somewhat sloppy. Use basic shapes and don’t spend too long on a single image, as soon as you can get a feel for what that basic layout idea might look like, move along.

http://designshack.net/articles/inspiration/close-photoshop-and-grab-a-pencil-the-lost-art-of-thumbnail-sketches/ for the rest of the article."

1) http://drawsketch.about.com/library/bl-thumbnail-sketching.htm
2) http://www.elsafari.cl/2011/10/24/el-arte-de-pixar-en-un-libro/
3) http://illoo.deviantart.com/art/Thumbnail-Sketches-1-374678014

Monday, September 29, 2014

FAO CAA Year 2: Revised Timetable Available - Delete The Old Version!

The new re-jigged version of your term 1 timetable is now available on myUCA in your unit folder - and I've also uploaded it here for easy reference.  Once again, apologies for making changes to your published timetables - hope no inconvenience has been caused.

Guest Blogger -Chrissie Peters - It's Monday!

I thought I'd follow on from my presentation to year 1, and show some stuff that reinforces the point on being open to influence.

Animator Lotte Reiniger (1899-1991) has had a huge influence on my work as an artist and an animator.  Her technique is interesting in itself - she was one of the pioneers of stop-motion animation, and she almost exclusively worked alone to create an entire film.

Sadly her achievements are overlooked: "Lotte Reiniger, when mentioned at all, is most often brushed off in a single sentence noting that she apparently made a feature-length silhouette film in 1926, The Adventures of Prince Achmed; but since that was in Germany, and silhouettes aren't cartoons, Disney still invented the feature-length animated film with Snow White. Anyone who has seen Prince Achmed wouldn't be convinced by this reasoning, but, alas, only a tiny fraction of the people who see Snow White ever get to see any Reiniger film at all. Few of her nearly 70 films are readily available--and almost none of them in excellent prints; when Reiniger fled Germany to England in the 1930s, she was not able to bring her original negatives with her, so most modern prints are copies of copies, which have lost much of the fine detail, especially in backgrounds." http://www.awn.com/mag/issue1.3/articles/moritz1.3.html

This is a short clip from Prince Achmed.  There are plenty more on you-tube, and although the quality of the film is not great I hope you will be able to see through that to the quality of the work itself.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

First Year Blogs: Bingo! Full House!

At last!  We have our first year full house of up-and-running blogs!  Thirty-four bright young things in need of your support, guidance, feedback and experience.  Everyone 'add' everyone and let's get this show on the road!

4 Becky Patterson @ http://rebeccalpatterson.blogspot.com
6 Julien Van Wallendael @ http://julienvanwhat.blogspot.co.uk
7 Ella Pinnington @ http://pinbuns.blogspot.co.uk
12 Sankavy Balasingam @ http://kavybala.blogspot.co.uk

FAO CAA Year 2: Warning! Timetable Changes Ahead!

This is a heads-up, ladies and gents.  Due to circumstances outside of the course team's influence, we're going to be making some changes to your published year 2 timetables.  The changes will effect your Wednesday Critical Perspectives unit and your Friday Lectures/film screenings with Alan.  There will be two weeks when your Wednesday lectures begin at 11am instead of 10am - in week 4 and week 6. Note: the 2pm screenings in L1 are not effected.

It is our intention to move Alan's lectures and film screenings to Thursday mornings in the base room, with your Maya workshops following in DM5 as timetabled - beginning this Thursday (2nd October) @ 10am.  We hate making changes to published timetables - and we know you hate it too - so we're sorry for the switch-a-about but we're helping out some other course teams in terms of availability of lecture theatres for some bigger class sizes.  This means your Fridays become self-directed.

I will be updating your timetables to reflect these changes and will replace old versions on myUCA.  When I notify you the revised timetables are available, please ensure you delete the old version to avoid confusion.

Again, apologies for making changes.  Watch this space for final confirmation.

If you could ensure all your classmates are aware of the changes ahead via your other social networks, that would be appreciated.  Many thanks.

FAO CAA Year 3: Tuesday's Dissertation Workshop Cancelled

This isn't Adele...

Apologies - your second timetabled Dissertation Workshop with librarian Adele has been cancelled this Tuesday (30th September), on account of staff illness.  It is our intention to re-schedule your session for Tuesday 7th October.  I'll confirm via a notification on here as soon as we've got everything sorted.  Watch this space.   If you could spread the word and ensure your fellow classmates are aware, I'd be grateful.  Many thanks - and apologies again.

FAO CAA Year 1: Invisible Cities Online Greenlight Review 08/10/2014

Wednesday, 8th October is your Invisible Cities Online Greenlight Review (OGR)

Your OGR is to be presented as a single Scribd presentation on your blog, beginning with your name, date, and project title. If you are still yet to get to grips with Scribd go here for some easy-to-follow instructions. Save your documents as PDFs before uploading to Scribd, as this should mitigate against formating glitches. When pasting Scribd embed code into your blog, you must first select the HTML mode tab, then switch back to 'Compose' to view the embedded presentation.

Your OGR presentations should be uploaded to your blogs by 8pm on Wednesday 8th October. Written feedback will follow as a comments on your OGR post and will take between 1 and 3 days.

Invisible Cities OGR: What do you need to present?

1) Your 100 thumbnails exploring all cities (minimum).

2) Your chosen city, its key descriptions and associated thumbnails. (Please include the original text in your presentations, with key descriptive passages highlighted or extracted.) 

3) A mission statement identifying and justifying your 'visual concept' in relation to your chosen city (i.e. what are the underlying principles driving your design ideas and from what and where are they derived - and why? This might include your ideas in regard to colour palette, architectural elements, exaggeration, expressionism, symbolism, lighting, point-of-view, time period, stylisation, narrative, intended audience...  I want you to be able to identify and articulate your visual strategies for the design and staging of your three concept paintings.  Remember - you are not just painting pictures digitally, but rather 'designing worlds' for an animated film. There's a big difference.  I want to understand your internal logic, your influences and your creative decision-making.

3) A single 'Visual Concept' influence map that illustrates and unifies your production design ideas in terms of the exterior concept paintings.

4) A single 'Visual Concept' influence map that illustrates and unifies your production design ideas in terms of the interior concept paintings.

5) Key Thumbnails (those thumbnails on which you think you'll be basing your final three paintings or have most inspired them or invite further development).

6) Your creative partnership archived (so far).

7) In addition, your OGR should evidence that you are up-to-date with your film reviews and ongoing CG Artist's Toolkit project work (Maya tutorials etc). Your OGR might include links to the corresponding posts and/or images. 

Historically, students who use their OGR to manage their weekly tasks in this way manage their workloads successfully.

Please note: your OGR should be professionally presented, spell-checked, with consideration given to graphic design, layout and project branding. For some useful examples of previous OGRs, go here and here

Please use your network of creative partners to ensure everyone takes a look at the OGR requirements.  Many thanks.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

CAA The Tune: The Piano Guys (Various)

The Piano Guys (actually one pianist and a cellist) are a 500 million + views Youtube success, whose pared down melanges of beloved film themes have inspired an enthusiastic following.  They've just released their latest mash-up of Batman themes, featuring a fanboy's fantasia of batmobiles in their video.  For me, their Lord Of The Rings cover provokes outbreaks of goose-bumps, and attests to the extraordinary achievement of Howard Shore's score for Jackson's impressive trilogy.

Friday, September 26, 2014

FAO: All Students

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. In case you didn't know the university is holding an open day tomorrow (or today if you have just woken up).

What does this mean for you guys?

Well Phil and I will be around and about on lower fourth, Phil will be in the base room and I will be based in DM5 doing a digital painting tutorial. This means you can have access to these rooms should need to catch up, do some work or hang out.

Opening times are 10:00 to 16:00.



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Guest Author: The Supplement - Awesome Artists

Jason Porath

Ex FX animator for Dreamworks now blogger and author. He's not an artist by trade but the concept behind his work is interesting and making these women's stories more accessible to audiences. His blog is rejectedprincesses.com to see the full set.

La Jaguarina, Queen of the Sword

"In April 1896, hardened military veteran US Sergeant Charles Walsh, in front of a crowd of 4,000 onlookers, turned tail and ran. Mere minutes earlier, during a round of equestrian fencing, he’d been hit so hard he’d been nearly knocked off his horse – so hard that his opponent’s sword was permanently bent backwards in a U shape. In response, Walsh did the honorable thing: jumped from his horse, claimed that the judge was cheating, and fled the scene, to the jeers of the massive crowd.

His opponent? A woman known as La Jaguarina, Queen of the Sword – an undefeated sword master who later retired only because she ran out of people to fight. Had she born 25 years later, according to the US Fencing Fall of Fame, she might be recognized as “the world’s first great woman fencer.” This week we tell the tale of this largely-forgotten heroine."

Dylan Izaak

A street artist turned professional. His work is more stunning in person and he has pieces in a lot of galleries (including Bluewater where I found him). I just like how much movement he's created in a still image... His website here .

Salvador Dali 

As in Dali Dali. The spanish guy. I also get draw in by his work and want to know more if only I could climb in and find the answer as to what is going on.

Kaori Onishi

Nice lady I met at Comic-con who is also alumni from our sister course at Farnham. Her website is here.

Misty Road Studio - Add It To Your Blogger Reading Lists

Misty Road Studio is the studio blog of year 3 students Sam Niemczyk & Peta-Gaye Brown.  Sam & P-G are working on a CGI adaptation of the chilling poem The Erl-King by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and you should add their blog to your reading lists and follow their progress.  This is a year long project, so for all year 1 and 2 students it will provide invaluable insights into a creative process you'll be experiencing yourselves soon enough.  Follow their blog, say hi, and wish them luck - and take a look at their first draft animatic... it's pretty darn creepy already!

FAO CAA Year 1: Invisible Cities - Influence Maps

As you continue to explore your Invisible Cities through all those expressive sheets of thumbnails, it's time to start thinking too about gathering visual reference and inspiration to enrich and fine-tune your imaginings.

At Tuesday's briefing, I talked about the Influence Maps - digitally produced 'mood boards' that we use as a means of collating and curating image research.   A single project idea might generate multiple influence maps - and should do - as early impressions give way to more definitive directions.

You'll find the Influence Map template on myUCA in your Invisible Cities folder.  Below is an example of an influence map at work.  Here, the size of the image in the grid relates to the hierarchy of importance; in simple terms, the bigger the image, the bigger the influence.   A properly useful influence map isn't decorative or image-rich for the sake of it, but rather an exercise in distillation, reflection and clarification.  They are also a very economic way of ensuring that your blogs do not clog up with the works of others, thus avoiding the scenario when 'your' blog devolves into a Pinterest page.  Image research on your blogs should feel purposeful and integrated.

As you explore Calvino's cities, you should be building visual libraries too - not only painting what your imagination shows you, but bringing together influence maps of associated imagery.

Remember too your summer challenge: fantastical elements and extraordinary things derive, not from goggling, fan-boy-like, at the sci-fi cities of established concept artists, but rather by discovering and uncovering what is fantastical and extraordinary in the world around you.

Guest Blog: One-a-Day

Not a lot of babble today... just a couple of short animations that demonstrate the wide scope of achievement available in animation. These animations range from complex stories to simple concepts.

Tex Avery Cartoons

Especially his MGM works where he was working more personal with his '____ of Tomorrow' series. Unfortunately Warner Bros. (who now own these animations) have taken most of them down from Youtube :/ (because otherwise you might not buy one of their many Tex Avery dvds?)

Pixar Shorts!!

Always so interesting and clever!

A YouTube Variety!

This has been shared a few times on here but for the benefit of the new First Years... the animated answer to the question 'What if animals where fat?'

I came across this animation when looking for inspiration for a cute young boy character.

And just a funny animation that brings classic Looney Toons style animation into a 3D setting.

I just love the variety of animations available on YouTube and Vimeo etc. It's really in the spirit of a modern world where films made by one person are as assessable and enjoyable as Hollywood blockbusters. We have the power the have our story heard now so go out and tell it :-)

Tomorrow... Artists me thinks!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

FAO Year 3: Friday Tutorial Times

All Third Years

To confirm: 
The tutorial times for this Friday (26th Sept) are shown above. 

However, after this week the tutorial times change to Group A and B (Monday & Friday - listed on MyUCA).

Guest Author: Misc: CG and Theatre

Day two and I want to share some more about where inspiration for story and characters can be drawn from by looking at theatre. Maybe when looking for an adaptation piece or a method for story-telling or clear examples of story/character arcs, theatre has a lot to offer. PLUS with the increasing amount of intractability being offered through devices used for watching films and videos it may be some of that traditional theatrical interaction isn't far from being available.

These plays I'll share with you are mostly film adaptations or trailers because it's difficult to find a good recorded version of the live plays (and the effect is lost because you're not watching live)... but I hope they'll give you an idea for perhaps less mainstream forms of entertainment/ performance and offer a wider platform for research.

Power of Performance

Punk Rock by Simon Stephens

He writes plays for young adult performers. This play is really shocking... it's about bullying and its effects, among other troubles of young adulthood. Basically everyone dies except 2 people in a school shooting... so pretty heavy but interesting read.

Power of Humour

Oh! What a Lovely War! by Joan Littlewood (and the Theatre Workshop)

Just watch it... It's amazing! They use humour and satire to create an amazingly impactful piece of theatre... the film is great too... just look at the use of facial expressions and editing in this song to carry the message.

Power of Words

Twelfth Night (or what you will) by Shakespeare

Or any Shakespeare... Ok so its hard to understand sometimes... but story-wise... characters... they are stunning pieces of work. Shakespeare basically uses the old Commedia dell arte format for his characters (stock characters) but places them in complex scenarios. Twelfth Night has so many layers of story its insane but all the story-lines are resolved in one big scene at the end like a very clever panto. This scene (from 1:50) is heartbreaking as Viola indirectly has to tell the Duke how painful it is that she can't tell him she loves him.

Tomorrow will possibly be weird side of the internet animations...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

FAO CAA Year 1: Space & Environment - Audio Available On myUCA + Your "Do's & Don'ts" & Creative Partnerships!

I hope you're all suitably revved up and ready to wow the CAA community with your first explorations of those Invisible Cities!  Just letting you know that the audio recording of today's briefing presentation is now available on myUCA/Space&Environment/Invisible Cities/Brief&Presentation.

See below - your creative partnerships for the duration of Project 1: Invisible Cities:

Becky Patterson @ http://rebeccalpatterson.blogspot.com

Dan Harrington @ http://dan-harrington.blogspot.co.uk

Abdulhagh Majeh Makwar @ http://majeh-makwar.blogspot.co.uk

(Josh & Ridge... still awaiting your urls...)

Remember, isolationism is counter-productive on CAA (and 'out there' too). You need to get comfortable working collaboratively and receiving feedback routinely, for it is a principle characteristic of professionalism and the expectation from industry of graduates.

I want you to use your creative partners as sounding boards, constructive critics, proof readers, quality controllers, mentors and creative allies. Work with one other to come up with ideas for your respective creative projects. Follow each other's progress and get each other up-to-speed with course info. Meet up, draw, discuss the movies you watch, reflect on each other's development, support each other technically, trade expertise and scaffold your weaknesses. Use each other for life-drawing practice! Take part in mini-crits, in which you present your work to one another and reflect critically on its strengths and weaknesses. Why not use these 'mini-crits' as smaller, weekly deadlines, as ways of structuring your workload?

Chances are some of you are still playing catch-up, still unsure of where to find course resources or how to blog confidently or what the brief is asking of you, so pool your knowledge, share ideas and save yourselves valuable time.

Remember: the brief asks you to archive your creative partnerships as part of your ultimate assessment; so, if you get together for a 'sketch jam' or brainstorming session, identify creative, visual and dynamic ways to capture it for your blog. People love to see how 'stuff gets done' and how ideas develop so engage your audience effectively. Again - let me be clear: effective collaboration and creative partnership associates with your assessment criteria.  You need to work at these collaborations and find effective ways of communicating.

Obviously, you've got the whole CAA community to work with, but consider your creative partners as your 'inner circle of influence'. I very much look forward to seeing how these collaborative relationships develop over the next 5 weeks. Have fun and "Be Amazing!"

Jackie Hagan very kindly left these pearls of wisdom on the group blog today in readiness for your debut reviews.  Jackie cites a 'do's and don'ts' guide available on myUCA, written by me after years of correcting undergraduate written assignments and reviews.  For your convenience, I've uploaded the document here too for more immediate access.  It really is worth reading through this advice before embarking on your first reviews; lots of advice re. developing your academic style and avoiding some typical school-boy errors.

I know not everyone will be used to following the group blog, so those of you who are, please ensure your classmates are aware of this content.  Spread the word!

FAO 1st Years - Film reviews

Hello 1st Years!

I just thought I'd drop by and give you a couple of pointers for when you embark on your first film review...

1) Get it written asap - before you know it, it'll be Tuesday again, and you'll have another one to write!

2) It doesn't have to be a novel! Focus on the reason you are watching the film (the cinematography, the soundscape etc)

3) Use at least 3 images to back up your review; make sure you label them 'Figure 1' etc, and refer to them within your text.

4) Write in the 3rd person; this may seem really strange at first, but it is a good habit to develop early on, as your essays and dissertation will need to be approached in this way.  For Phil's excellent guide to using the 3rd person, go to your Invisible Cities unit, scroll down to below the Thumbnails template, to 'Essays & Articles'.

5) And finally...... The Harvard Method!  You must make sure that any of your written work - film reviews, essays etc - is referenced correctly, otherwise it will be flagged up as plagiarised when it goes through the plagiarism detector, called Turnitin.  There is a complete guide to referencing on myUCA, in the library section - the link is here

That's all for now! Enjoy the films - some of them will be 'challenging' - and I look forward to reading your reviews soon!

Monday, September 22, 2014

First Year Blogs - We're Nearly There!

Another one-post anthology of new first year blogs to be added to your reading lists...

4 Becky Patterson @ http://rebeccalpatterson.blogspot.com
6 Julien Van Wallendael @ http://julienvanwhat.blogspot.co.uk
7 Ella Pinnington @ http://pinbuns.blogspot.co.uk
12 Sankavy Balasingam @ http://kavybala.blogspot.co.uk
28 Dan Harrington @ http://dan-harrington.blogspot.co.uk

Blogs not yet received:

29 Abdulhagh Makwar 
30 Josh Audsley-Smith
31 Catriona Barber
32 Ridge Yeboah- Mensah
33 Sean Mcnarama

Could these students please email me their urls so we can complete the list.  Until I have a complete list, I'm unable to apportion mentors, and creative partners for Project 1.   Many thanks.