Saturday, October 04, 2014

Post With The Most 04/10/2014

The new term is upon us, and like some colossus finding its stride after a season of hibernation, BA (Hons) Computer Animation Arts is up and running.

The first thing to note is our re-brand is complete, with a swanky new website, Twitter feed, and a group-blog make-over. We've wanted a course-specific website for sometime, a one-stop shop for our favourite student films from the course's short, but vibrant history, and proper showcase for all the great drawing and design work our students generate as part of their pre-production.  We're celebrating too our graduates' achievements at New Designers and the successes of our alumni, and all our innovative work on the continuing ACT collaborations.

Our all-new first years are already ears-deep in their first project, which takes Italo Calvino's magic-real travelogue, Invisible Cities, as its creative muse.  The students have been challenged to explore Calvino's often improbable metropolises through quick, expressive thumbnails, as they seek to identify which of his fantastical conurbations to develop into three final concept paintings.   In project terms, it's early days, but enjoy this selection of Calvino-inspired imaginings from our newest recruits.  As per previous PWTMs, if you like what you see and want to go exploring, the names of any featured students are linked to their respective course blog.

It's very early days for our year 2 and year 3 students, all of whom are busily establishing the creative remits of their new projects. Our year 2 students are embarking on their collaborative studio projects, which will see them working together to create an animated short. Year 3 are setting down the foundations of ambitious projects, which, for many of them, will run all year. The next edition of the PWTM will no doubt bulge at the seams, full to bursting with developmental sketches and concept art. Until then, here's a juicy morsel - the first character sketches of the Erl-King, the titular character from Sam Niemczyk and Peta-Gaye Brown's adaptation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's poem.

Erl-King developmental sketches by Sam Niemczyk

You can follow Sam and Peta-Gaye's creative development for their adaptation of The Erl-King on their studio blog.  They're currently auditioning voice-artists for their animation, and created this draft animatic to help them in their quest to communicate their intentions to their other collaborators.

The Erl-King - animatic v1

The Erl-King isn't the only unsettling visitation to be haunting the rural landscape this month; CAA Graduate and former artist-in-residence, Tom Beg is moving towards completion of his music video for the Collectress track, Owl, from their debut album Mondegreen.

Tom's been updating his blog with elliptical, unnerving glimpses into the black and white world of his animation, vignettes reminiscent of the uncanny-in-nature vibe of Gregory Crewdson's Natural Wonder series.

Still from Owl by Tom Beg, 2014
Still from Owl by Tom Beg, 2014
This selection of short developmental sequences from Tom's animation showcase his preoccupation with sinister murmurations of non-specific forms and other-wordly phenomena observed by skulking voyeurs.  There is something happening in these out-of-the-way places - something strange and rather too alive for comfort.

In August, I finally handed the finished manuscripts of my three-part children's adventure to the publishers at Matador for conversion into ebooks. This marked the end of a prolonged creative project (I finished the first drafts of Chimera all they way back in 2008!) and the beginning of something exciting and/or rather nerve-wracking.

As of now, Chimera is available to download here prior to its availability on the Matador site, where it launches on October 15th. It's a curious feeling, the knowledge that people are encountering the books' hero, Kyp Finnegan, for the first time. I've already had downloads in America, in Germany and in France; what are they thinking, I wonder?  Are they liking it, or are they thinking 'meh'? Who knows, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, which might be said to be the motto of BA (Hons) Computer Animation Arts. I talk a lot on the course to students about the importance of developing the skills to 'survive criticism', so I'm preparing myself mentally for that first 'no-star' review so I can lead by example!

Chimera cover art by Phill Hosking, 2014

Chimera's cover art was created by Phill Hosking, long time personal friend, and friend to the course.  (Phill has worked sessionally on the the course in the past and will be returning soon as a guest speaker, so watch this space).  Phill and I have been imagining the worlds and characters described in Chimera for as many years as I've been tinkering with the novel.   For your curiosity and delight, I'm sharing here a few snippets of some of Phill's earliest imaginings:

Chimera concept paintings, Phill Hosking, 2008
Chimera concept paintings, Phill Hosking, 2008
Chimera concept paintings, Phill Hosking, 2008
Chimera concept paintings, Phill Hosking, 2008
Chimera concept paintings, Phill Hosking, 2008
Now that the novels are 'out there', we're looking to create an entire series of specially-commissioned Chimera artworks that will accompany the books' progress in cyberspace, in which Phill will envision this world of mine and its complete cast of fantastical characters, everyone from Atticus Weft, the sock-snake, to more of Madame Chartreuse, stealer of children and Kyp Finnegan's nemesis.

To this end, Phill has just completed this first set of quick thumbnail sketches: I'm already very excited.  What a special thing, to have someone else make images from your words.  I'm sure if Italo Calvino knew 30+ students were right now doing the same for his writing, he'd be pretty excited too.

Chimera developmental thumbnails, Phill Hosking, 2014

The Final Word...

“A ship is always safe at the shore - but that is NOT what it is built for.” Albert Einstein

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