Sunday, February 01, 2015

Post With The Most 01/02/2015

Thank goodness!  January is over.  What a thankless trudge of a month, haunted as it is by the come-down from Christmas and all that regurgitative, lazy journalism that bangs on so predictably about curly kale smoothies and other soon-to-be abandoned new year resolutions.  Yes, January is gone, and I'm inspired to share with you this paean to late-Winter positivism by Vita Sackville-West:

"The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer. Minute by minute they lengthen out. It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change. It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour."

But it's never an easy thing, kicking off the new term, heavy-bellied with that one-mince-pie-too-many and embattled by the sense that time is ticking ever onwards.  Fortunately, our students are a famously plucky demographic, some plunging with gusto into all-new projects, and others finding the resolve and reserves to meet all-important deadlines.

Let's begin this latest edition of the Computer Animation Arts Post With The Most with a showcase of Year 3 projects.  Our third years are all working on year long projects, so their January submissions represent halfway houses.  They spent their first term pre-producing their respective animations; developing story ideas and polishing scripts, designing casts of characters and translating them into 3D models.  We have rubber chickens, demonic daughters, and strange little boys in bloodied gloves.  We've got comedy cleaners, militarised crabs and a nefarious fairy-folk monarch.  In short, we've got a cast of vivid characters just waiting to be brought to life over the coming weeks and months.  Enjoy meeting some of them here.

Steven Payne - Frankenstylist (Art Of here)

Franklin - watch character turnarounds here 

Megan Howett - Shelf-Life

Rubber Chicken & Susie Turnarounds (Art Of here)

Jake Bryant - C.R.P

Jonathan Alberstine & Lucille Turnarounds (Art Of here)

Sam Niemczyk character turnarounds

Peta-Gaye Brown - Character Turnarounds

Shan Mason - The Aqua Marines (Art Of here)

Akinbiyi Babarinde - B&S

Emily Clarkson - Morrigan

As of writing, our year 2 students are but one week way from completing their 'smash and grab' infographic project - a challenge which saw them briefed on day one, pitching their ideas on day two, and going into production on day three!  This project, which is the equivalent of a post-Christmas creative bootcamp, is an exercise in concision and artful communication, and with subjects ranging from The Science Of Snowmen to the Anatomy Of A Woman's Handbag, the crit promises to be  particularly entertaining...

Ant Faulkner - The Science Of Snowmen

The Science Of Snowmen storyboard panels

Ashley Nwachukwu - The Curse Of Superman

Christoper Reeve's Superman

Marlon Brando's Jor-El

Margot Kidder's Lois Lane

Richard Pryor's Gus

Heidi Grover - How The Potato Changed The World

Scarecrow design development

Hannah Milliner - The Lifecycle of Fandom

Scott Turner -  10 Interesting Facts About Spacesuits

Tom Boothby - The World Of The Tooth-Fairy

Tooth-Fairy character development

Tooth-Fairy interior concept art 

Our year one students are four weeks into their most ambitious project yet. Entitled From Script To Screen, they have been challenged to preproduce a one minute animated short from three randomly selected story components - character, location and prop. This is no small thing, turning a page of script into an engaging visual experience, and after a few weeks of bashing the word processor (and, I suspect, their heads against walls!), the first years are ready to swing with some enthusiasm into the design phase. I'm including here a selection of their earliest preproduction drawings.

Life-drawing classes happen every Wednesday during terms 1 and 2 of the course and are available to all students. Every week, I look forward with real excitement to the moment when students upload their drawings to their blogs and I get to see all the expressiveness and dynamism of their sessions with our drawing tutor, Vicky Fountas. Enjoy this selection below - a reminder of the vital importance of drawing to the course culture, and to the development and enrichment of our students' creativity and personal style as artists-for-animation.

Peta-Gaye Brown

Chelsea Butler

Julien Van Wallendael

Julien Van Wallendael

Julien Van Wallendael

Vlad Yankov

Vlad Yankov

Sam Niemczyk

Sam Niemczyk

Sam Niemczyk

Emma Morley

Dan Reason

Thanawat Phrommet

As regular followers of the Computer Animation Arts blog and PWTM readers will know, the students, staff and alumni have been involved in a series of exciting 'extra-curricular' projects, challenging us to think about the contexts for CGI in new and speculative ways. 

By way of a fitting finale to these European-funded ACT collaborations, the course worked alongside a multiplicity of different collaborators in the staging and performance of Benjamin Britten's mini opera, Noye's Fludde - an opera intended for largely amateur performers. Think of it as being a little like a school nativity play - a performance not characterised by high polish or showy stagecraft, but rather by lo-fi charm and ad-hoc energy.

Ethan Shilling's original visualisations

With this in mind, we approached our brief (the design and execution of a flat-pack, fold-up ark, rainbow, and various celestial bodies), with the same emphasis on keeping things very simple. We wanted the various objects to look as if children might have created them at school in an arts and crafts lesson, so we looked at simple folding mechanisms and paper boats. CAA alumnus, Ethan Shilling, created a series of visualisations that were sent to kite-maker, Karl Longbottom, whose job it was to turn our CGI proof-of-concepts into performance-ready physical props.

Our course biog in the Noye's Fludde programme, as read by hundreds of French concert-goers!

On Wednesday 14th January, CAA alumnus, Tom Beg accompanied me to the Cirque Jules Verne in Amiens, France, to document the dress rehearsals for Noye's Fludde. (You can enjoy all of Tom's medium format photographs here and here), which was the first time all the component parts of what has been a complex collaboration came together. Needless to say, it was an exciting moment, and as these photographs show, the net result was rather splendid.

Our fold-up/fold-out Noah's ark, as fabricated by kite-maker, Karl Longbottom

The ark as it appeared in performance at Cirque Jules Verne, Amiens - photograph by Tom Beg 2015

Our fold-out rainbow being demonstrated by Karl Longbottom

The rainbow as it appeared in the performance, surrounded by the 'animals' - photograph by Tom Beg 2015

Our sun, moon & stars, as fabricated by Karl Longbottom

The sun born aloft during the final parade - photograph by Tom Beg 2015

The finale of Noye's Fludde, Amiens, January 2015
Hot on the heals of our journey to France, comes our European study-trip 2015. This time last year, we decamped to Prague for an electic mix of architecture, absinthe and some rather tawdry museums.  This year, the students, staff and even some of our alumni will be jetting off to Spain on February 10th for five days of cultural enrichment (and tapas!).  Not only will we be feasting our eyes on the must-see-sights of Barcelona, we'll also be visiting The Pixar Art Exhibition: 25 Years Of Animation at the CaixaForum.  Everyone is very excited!

Expect holiday snaps on the group blog soon after our return!

Phil Gomm, August 2012

Although the long Summer months seem an eternity away (and this despite Sackville-West's assurances to the contrary), I'm already looking forward to returning to the old farmhouse in the south of rural France, where previous holidays have seen me braving the dark with my old 35mm camera in the hope of capturing phantasmagoria on film.  I'll be exhibiting a series of photographs originating from these Summer jaunts in the company of two other artists, Phil Cooper and Phill Hosking.  Entitled PH + PG + PC, you could say we're three Philips in search of a theme, though 'happy accidents' and responding instinctively to location might be sufficient. The private view is Saturday, February 21st @ 3pm at the Horsebridge, Whitstable.  I've included our artist statements below for your curiosity.  We hope to see some of you there.

The Last Word...

“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou

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