Wednesday, September 30, 2015

FAO Everyone! UCA Photoshoot Needs You @ 3pm Tomorrow!

Dear all, the UCA Marketing Dept. are coming to the CAA Baseroom @ 3pm tomorrow (Thursday) to capture the busy hive of creative activity that is Computer Animation Arts! I know Year 1 and Year 2 are busy with timetabled stuff, but I'm hoping there might be windows of opportunity for some of you to be around.  It would be great too if the third years could base themselves in the baseroom for the afternoon - or at least be prepared to move rooms as the photographers see fit.  In short, what they want is to capture a course at work, as opposed to an empty red sofa!  Can I also ask you all to keep the baseroom and other computer suites nice and tidy in readiness for the photoshoot. So, don't be shy, be available, and help me ensure the world at large understands how hard you work on the lwr 4th!

If you could get the message out re. your social networks, I'd appreciate it - the more the merrier!

Post With The Most 30/09/2015

It's here. The new term of the new academic year is go, as we welcome thirty-eight fresh-faced recruits into the CAA computer suites, and welcome back our second and third years for the next turn of their pedagogic wheel.  Between them, our students are already kicking out enough nervous energy to light-up a small continent, not least our newbies, who are eyeing the way ahead with a mixture of excitement and apprehension.  

The course has two simple mottos by which to assuage fear and inspire greatness; the first - "Onwards!" - is born of creative pragmatism: the ability to put both triumph and disaster quickly behind you in the pursuit of continual progress.  The second is simply, "Be Amazing!", which at first glance seems to demand everyone makes perfected, impeccable work at all times, when in fact it means, 'Do Your Very Best'.

This edition of the PWTM is short and sweet; it's early days; projects are newly briefed and everywhere ideas are incubating.  Future editions of the PWTM will bulge at the seams with production art, character designs and graduate adventures.  Today, we're sharing some of the earliest work students create on Computer Animation Arts, and stories too of an exciting work placement adventure, graduate successes and globe-trotting volunteers!  First years, graduates... everyone is at the beginning of something and embracing change.  To coin a phrase, 'Onwards!'

There is always a beginning to the beginning for our incoming first years - and that is the Computer Animation Arts Summer Challenge, which asks our fledgling cg artists to create 101 concept thumbnails from a sheet of objects, familiar and less so.  It's our way of getting their synapses firing even before their course begins.  It's our way of demonstrating that extraordinary visions can spring from the most commonplace of observations.  Enjoy this small selection of the resulting work - and, in common with all previous editions of the PWTM, you can explore any featured student's individual course blog by clicking their name.  Happy browsing.

The next creative challenge set before the first years asks them to take on the role of concept artist and production designer, as they ready one of the fantastical conurbations described by Italo Calvino in his novel, Invisible Cities, for the big screen.  Their first task is to explore each of Calvino's cities, drawing quickly and expressively what their imagination shows them.  Enjoy this selection of our first year's provisional visions...

May 2016 seems a very long way off as I type this, but allow me to fast forward you to the halcyon days of late Spring next year.  Following their final hand-ins, our year two students will have the opportunity to participate in work experience.  We send out their course blogs to interested parties, and if the shoe fits and the stars align, we set things up, and the internships commence. 

This year, Josh Aldis, went to Nexus Productions.  I asked Josh to share his experiences at Nexus for the PWTM:

Josh / On May 7th of this year I began a four week internship at Nexus Productions; a London-based collective of international artists and animators who strive to achieve a superior level of quality 3D-rendering and visual storytelling. I was thrilled to be chosen to work alongside the creative forces behind such projects as The Outsider – a trailer made for Channel 4 to promote coverage of the Grand National, and the award-winning In the Air is Christopher Gray, directed by Felix Massie, whose vision I attempted to bring to life during my time there.

Nexus’ base of operations was located an accessible few minutes from Shoreditch High Street, which I now know to be an inexplicably eccentric district of London with affordable street food.

Upon arrival, I was introduced to Mark Davies (Supervisor of all things CG) who showed me around the building. I was immediately struck by the familiarity of the work ethic at Nexus. Computers rendering at all angles, with artworks of projects-past encompassing the walls. All of which adorns a behemoth base-room with very ideal kitchen facilities, making the back-and-forth of communication an unbroken link at all stages of the pipeline. At this point, I was no longer a stranger to desk-grazing at lunch after a morning of polygonal frustration, and both felt comfortable and challenged by my role in the project.

I quickly found myself engaged in a stringent routine of trial-and-error modelling based on the orthographic studies of lead artist Robin. Fortunately I had arrived at a time when the team at Nexus were still getting to grips with Maya 2015, giving me the chance to test my two years’ worth of software experience and share what I had to offer.  A contractual obligation stood between my blog and my work so I was unable to discuss the details of the project since it was in early production. 

As my time at Nexus drew to a close, we attended a company picnic in Hyde Park via “Boris-Bikes” where the team had set up food and prepared wine-fuelled egg-and-spoon type games. After four weeks of deliberation and fine-tuning to the best of my abilities, the internship was over. The experience gave me a great insight into the industry in action, only encouraging me further to pursue that same work lifestyle. I now feel more confident to apply for other internship placements and work alongside artists I’d previously been unfamiliar with. I now just wait with bated breath for the project’s release, as the final proposal for its creation was recently greenlit. Updates on the project upon release will be posted at

George 'Class of 2015' Nwosisi

George Nwosisi graduated from Computer Animation Arts in June 2015. George screened his moving animated short The Silent Story at New Designers 2015 alongside the rest of our award-winning graduates.  

The Silent Story / George Nwosisi / June 2015

It's only been a short time since George flew the nest, but he's been keeping very busy.  We asked George to tell us about life after CAA.  This is what he had to say...

The Silent Story / George Nwosisi / 2015

CAA / Hey George, where are you working at the moment?

George / I'm currently working as a 3D animator intern at DigitalShoguns, based in Edgware, North London. It's an amazing studio, filled with fun.  I'm surrounded by highly-motivated people who are helping me improve my skills as an animator.

CAA / Describe a 'day in the life' of George Nwosisi

George / I start work at 9am, which means leaving my house at 7, as the studios are about 90 minutes away from my home in Kent.  Attendance and punctuality are both important, so I strive to get to work as early as possible.

DigitalShoguns is a freelancing studio. We get work from clients, everything from initial concepts and storyboards to animation and rigging.   My manager can suddenly ask, "George, an animation just came in, its not looking good. Are you able to make it look better?" - even as you're already working on a project.  No is not an answer.  It's my job to fix, animate and be creative.

Work finishes at 6pm. A long day at work.  By the time I get home it might be 9pm, due to train delays and disruption.  Then it's eat, sleep and same thing the next day . 

CAA / Describe the highs and lows of your first few months outside of Uni.

George / After graduating it was weird - really weird. You're out in the world. I was so used to working - project after project - that when Uni was all over I was stuck thinking, 'What project next?'.  It was quite scary because what was actually next was finding a job, which can get frustrating - spending all your time searching and applying for jobs rather than building a better portfolio. 

I applied for many animation roles, but I got declined because I didn't have 'experience'. Experience is KEY in this industry, but finding experience can be easy - internships, regardless if they're paid or not. Luckily, Computer Animation Arts offers a chance to have work experience, which I did. My internship with Butch Auntie went on my CV, which got me this internship, and now I'm gaining more industry experience for the future.  It's been four months since I graduated, and I'm already on an internship.  So far, things are going smoothly.

CAA / What projects have you worked on recently?

George / It's my second month working at DigitalShoguns. During my time here, I've worked on quite a few animations, each taking a week or two to finalize.  I worked on a project called Xeno, which is toy.  The toy company came to us and asked if we could create a short animation introducing the characters.  While I was working on the Xeno project, I was given this animation to work on too:  my job was to make it look better.  Here, you can see the 'before' and how it looked after I fixed it.



CAA / Any advice for our newbies who arrived in September?

George / It doesn't matter how good or bad you are at drawing or animating when you arrive here, the course will work on your skills. All that is needed is to be open minded and creative. Accept feedback and work on what has been said. Communicate with your course mates, comment on blogs and do your research before any given project. One thing that effected me was I didn't 'ask'. If you don't know how to do a certain thing or your stuck on a project - ask. You have great mentors; your tutors are always there to help.

In first year I was surrounded by amazing concept artists, who'd used Photoshop their whole life! But because I asked for help, spoke with the third years, got feedback, my own digital painting skills soon improved.

George's very first digital painting on the course (He hadn't used Photoshop before!)

CAA / Any favourite memories of your time on the course?

George /  I had loads of fun times during my time in the course. Getting to know your class mates also adds to the experience.  The course organises trips every year - take the opportunity.  You get to bond with your course mates and your tutors.  I had an amazing time in Prague and Barcelona (Take me back PLLEEAAASSEEE!). 

CAA / What's the big dream, George?

George / To work on a big project that ends up in movie theatres or working on an AAA game title.

CAA / If you had to give our students 'one golden rule', what would it be?

George / Always ask for feedback and don't forget to have fun!

Kym 'Class of 2015' Mumford is no stranger to SIGGRAPH, the International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques.  Kym's most recent Los Angeles-based stint as a participant in SIGGRAPH's student volunteer programme was her third turn of the wheel - and this time Kym was Team Leader!  Previous conferences saw Kym helping out the SIGGRAPH team in Vancouver and in Shenzen.  Competition for places on the Student Volunteer Programme is high, so to be selected three times is a testament to Kym's people skills, confidence and charisma.

SIGGRAPH 2015 / Festival Trailer

You can read all about Kym's latest Los Angeles adventure on her blog here.

Kym Mumford at SIGGRAPH 2015, Los Angeles (Kym is the one wearing the big orange sunglasses, middle-left!)

The Final Word...

"Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

FAO Year 2: Group Tutorial Times

Narrative Project Group Tutorial Times

Please be aware of the following group tutorial times listed below. 

However, please note that these are just rough 'guide' times meaning that on occasion tutorials may start earlier or later depending upon group discussions and any technical help needed. Please be available in the studio.

Tuesday Morning

Group 1: 10.00am
Group 2: 10.20am
Group 3: 10.40am
Group 7: 11.00am

Thursday Afternoon

Group 4: 2.00pm
Group 5: 2.20am
Group 6: 2.40am

Andi is off to Malawi!

Hello to the whole CG community,

For anyone who doesn't know me, I am 2013 graduate of Computer Generated Arts and Animation (that's what it was called at the time!) currently working for an animation studio in London.

So in January 2016 I'll be flying to Malawi as a volunteer with Lattitude Global Volunteering  for a 12 week programme as part of International Citizen Service.  I'll be staying with a traditional Malawian family and working on empowering the community to tackle any problems they face.

To get there, I need to fundraise £800 for Lattitude. This will allow them to continue to bring about positive change in developing communities. It will be huuuugely appreciated if anyone would like to make any donations towards this.

My Just Giving page:

And here is a cheesy video on Malawi:

Thanks a lot CG lot! :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

FAO CAA Yr 1: Sterling Hundley Ideation

After a few computer hiccups in Monday's Photoshop class, I wanted to keep you all updated with some of the more important points. And so, here is the video from artist / illustrator Sterling Hundley in which he talks about his process for idea and concept exploration. 

Plus another video of his process for fun.

Sterling Hundley Demo from The Art Department on Vimeo.

Whether ideation works well for you or not, trying to find new ways of generating ideas is really important to keeping your work interesting. If you'd like to see more of Sterling Hundley's work, check out his site here.

Guest Author : Facial Animation - Laika's "ParaNorman"

In Laika's Stop-Motion Feature "ParaNorman" thousands of 3D printed faces were use in the process known as replacement animation. In order for this to work, they animate all of the speech in Autodesk Maya first using 3D characters to the exact specifications as their real puppets, then print the faces out and swap them around on the puppet for each frame. I mention this because the computer segment is one of the many things you'll learn on the course.

CAA One-A-Day: Witch Doctor

A wonderfully creepy, hypnotic and menacing music video for De Staat's Witch Doctor track - and a handy 'making of' too!

Making Of

Monday, September 28, 2015

FAO Everyone: Rome Trip / Pay Your £350 @ The UCA Online Store Today!

Ladies and gentlemen - it's time to make your way to the UCA Online Store and pay your £350 for our February 2016 trip to the ancient city of Rome!  Deadline for payment is 20th October, but the sooner we've got the budget together, the sooner we can close the deal with the travel agency.  When you make your payment, I'll get an email notification of the purchase, so no need to confirm when you've done it.

Spread the word: Rome is go and the Shop is open for business!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Guest Author : Character Design - Aardman's "The Pirates! In an adventure with Scientists"

I'll be uploading some posts over the next week, about how what you're learning / have learnt on this course can be useful for not just computer animated films, but even stop-motion films such as Laika's Paranorman, Boxtrolls and Aardman's "The Pirates! In an adventure with Scientists" to name a few.

To start off, I'll show examples of why the character design process you're learning is so important.

When you come to make your own films, more often than not there will be characters involved. These characters need to be worked into over and over again to know them inside out, to know what they will need to do, what their facial expressions or body emotions will look like, to make sure that they fit the story and style you're aiming for, and that they'll be able to perform how you need them to. This goes for characters in CG not just stop motion. If the character has a flaw in the design because you need it to do something after you've spent weeks making the thing but you didn't factor that in beforehand, you'll either have to hope Alan knows the answer, or you'll be starting again, and there's not usually enough time to start again. So to make sure you reduce the chance of not being able to move the characters head side to side because there's a massive chin in the way that would hit the character's large shoulder (just an example off the top of my head), it's important you think ahead at the character's design stage.

When you have a collection of designs, they also look really great laid out in a book or on posters for you to admire and show off to potential employers :)

CAA One-A-Day : Aardman Nathan Love

Ok, so…. IT'S HERE!

A couple of weeks ago I posted up a strange little trailer that had my full attention without knowing what it was for… now the full animated short is out, but this epic production is actually an ident for the new partnership between Aardman studios and a New York based studio called Nathan Love, now by the name of Aardman Nathan Love. Check it out.

CAA Cinema: The Angry Birds Movie - Official Teaser Trailer

If you had asked me before watching this trailer whether an Angry Birds film would be likely to work, or even be a good film for that matter, my answer would of have been "No". However after seeing this trailer, I must confess it looks like it will be a fun, well animated and perfectly voiced movie.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

FAO Everyone: Rome is Go!

Well folks, it does indeed look as if we've got enough interested parties to get 'Rome 2016' off the ground! The travel agent have given us the deadline of Tuesday October 20th to get all the money gathered in from students, so keep your eye on the group blog; a link to the UCA Online Store (the method by which you can pay for the trip via your debit card) will be published soon, at which point you need to part promptly with your £350.  Spread the word, and I predict there maybe some additional places available.  In total there are only 60 places between the two courses (CAA and Creative Arts For Theatre & Film) and it will be strictly on a first come, first served basis - so don't be backward in coming forward!  Watch this space - the Online Store will open soon.

FAO CAA Yr 1: Jordan Buckner's Photoshop Class Presentation #1 & Brushes Available @ myUCA

Jordan's presentation, brushes-to-download, thumbnail templates and apple/pear exercises are now available @ myUCA/Space and Environment/Invisible Cities.

FAO Everyone: UCA Open This Saturday: 9:30am - 3pm

Dear all - just letting you know the Computer Animation Arts computer suites will be open this Saturday (26th), as it's an UCA Open Day.  I'll be doing course talks to prospective students and their respective parents, but you're more than welcome to take your places at the CAA computers and crack on with your project work!  Indeed, personally, I prefer it if there's a bit of a working atmosphere in the computer suites, so pop in and make some creative headway.  The campus will be open from 9:30am to 3pm.  Spread the word!

CAA Cinema: Top 12 Best Long Takes Ever Filmed

There's no greater statement of a director's prowess than a long shot in a single take.
And these are 12 of the most masterful.

FYI Year 2: No cuts involved in these long shots (well allegedly).

Monday, September 21, 2015

FAO Everyone: All* First Year Blogs!

For your convenience: all new first year blogs, all in one place! (except one* - which I'll add to this definitive list just as soon as I have the url).  Make sure you've got them all!

  1. Deanna @
  2. Hannah @
  3. Tom Smith @
  4. Manisha  @
  5. Lewis  @
  6. Sky @
  7. Ian @
  8. Douy @
  9. Danni @
  10. Mike @
  11. Ben @
  12. Tom Ward @
  13. Sarah @
  14. Becky S @
  15. Zoe @
  16. Eleanor @
  17. Ty @
  18. Lilly @
  19. Kristina @
  20. Danielle @
  21. Sam Avery @
  22. Robin @
  23. Beckie R @
  24. Sam Johnson @
  25. Marion @
  26. Joe @
  27. Mark @
  28. Tom M @
  29. Kyle @
  30. Brad @
  31. Dinesh @
  32. Almu @
  33. Katie @
  34. Luke @
  35. Jack @
  36. Pip @
  37. Abdulagh @
  38. Aureo @

FAO CAA Yr 1: Invisible Cities 2015 / Academic Do's & Don'ts & Exemplar Film Reviews

In preparation for the kick-off your Space Oddities film programme, I'm featuring here the 'Do's & Don'ts' of academic writing for your reference.  Ideally, you will have already taken the opportunity to take a look at the advice on offer here.  If not, be sure to familiarise yourself with this style guide before attempting your first film review of the year.

Your brief asks you to use the Harvard Method in terms of referencing your published sources. Please note - this is a mandatory aspect of the presentation of your film reviews, so I suggest you take some time to investigate the 'How To' resources available on myUCA.   We don't want to waste valuable time (yours/ours) correcting these more technical elements of your writing.  Using the Harvard Method and proper bibliographies and illustration lists are something you just need to adopt from the outset as part of the new terrain of your undergraduate life.   To begin with, you'll feel as if all this academic housekeeping is just slowing you down... but like every other new skillset on the course, it will soon feel like second nature.

For your reference, I've collected a number of film reviews posted by previous students as a means to further clarify what we're looking for from these weekly exercises in analysis, research, critique and evaluation.  Don't get hung up on the word count; focus on the content (i.e. what's being said and how it's being said), and reflect on the way the published sources (quotes) and illustrations are being used to enrich and further justify the students' observations.  You'll soon note that the reviews are not concerned with re-telling the story (unnecessary) or communicating personal 'likes or dislikes' about the film (i.e. I loved it! / I hated it!), but concern themselves instead with the various ways in which the films' themes are communicated by their production design.  

Happy browsing!

FAO Everyone: 'One Is More' Briefing - Friday

This Friday, all years on Computer Animation Arts will be attending briefings in regard to the 'ONE Is More' project - a three-year long adventure in animation and classical music!

'ONE' is like a sequel to 'ACT';  our year 2 and 3 students will already be aware of our involvement in a previous three-year project, which saw our creative community collaborate with UK-based and European orchestras to produce some richly diverse outcomes.  For a re-cap of the ACT project, visit the ACT pages on the Computer Animation Arts' website.

La création du monde

Verdi's Requiem / Sculpture

Noye's Fludde - Cirque Jules Verne

In short, ONE (An Orchestra Network For Europe) represents further opportunities for the students, alumni and staff of Computer Animation Arts to participate in a series of highly creative and speculative projects, in which animation and the visualisation of music combine and cross-pollinate.  

On Friday, you'll meet Rose Bardonnet Lowry, executive director of ONE, who'll outline the creative territories of the new project and the ways in which the course community might get involved.

Year One @ 10am / CAA Baseroom
Year Two/Three @ 11:30am / CAA Baseroom.

Please be prompt - we're on a tight schedule.  Many thanks!