Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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

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