Thursday, June 30, 2016

CAA @ New Designers #7 : "The Lollipops Are Boxed & Sealed!"

Another day, another day spent painting, wrapping, consuming coffee... and gradually the big pile of stuff in the middle of the CAA baseroom is becoming a series of smaller bubble-wrapped piles. From chaos emerges order - or rather the incipient challenge of fitting everything into the back of the UCA van first thing on Monday morning, which will no doubt prove a test of patience, skill and stamina.  Apparently, it's considered unhealthy to subsist on a diet of Starbucks, cheese on toast and red lollies nicked from our New Designers stash... so I sealed up the lollipops in their cardboard box today in an impressive display of self-restraint!  By the end of tomorrow, everything must be finished and ready for travel - wish us luck!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

CAA @ New Designers #6 : 'Bubble Wrap!'

After a few days spent painting (& painting & painting!), bubble-wrapping our New Designers 2016 show stand was today's principle activity.  It was like gift-wrapping a succession of very awkward Christmas presents.  Who knew that such a simple activity could take so long and incite such a plethora of anglo-saxon expletives!

Review: (Render Farm)

GarageFarm is a render farm first recommended to us by Phil, one that has proven extremely worth it for all those of us who have used it. The staff are helpful and approachable, as well as easy to access when you need help, all it takes is a single click of the speech bubble icon; there are staff on hand 24/7, so you don't need to fear if you need to render quickly in the middle of the night --which is pretty much an animator's rite of passage!-- and don't know what to do. 

Even if a real person wasn't on hand, they have various video tutorials and a forum to help you find answers. Like any new software, figuring out how to set things up can be confusing at first, but once you know how to do it, it becomes really straightforward. In order to send off your renders you have to first create an account & download their Render Beamer, which is available for Mac and PC - once downloaded you can access this via Maya's new renderBeamer shelf. 

Unfortunately we are currently unable to download the Render Beamer on the University computers because of limited download permissions, but once the render has been sent off via a home computer you can keep track of its progress on the website. The Web Manager is well designed and shows you the progress of your render, while also listing its cost in dollars. GarageFarm has a price calculator that lets you figure out how much your renders are going to cost, before you even have to jump in at the deep end.

Using GarageFarm is extremely worth it because the render turnaround time is quick, their pricing is transparent and it gives you a lot of extra time to spend on other aspects of your project. You even have the option of rendering your scenes with different levels of priority, depending how desperately quickly you want to receive your finished renders.

Two small nuggets of advice, before sending off a file to the farm make sure you tick Apply Output Transform to Renderer under Color Management in the Common tab of your Render Settings, otherwise your images wont render with colour management applied. Finally if the renderBeamer icon randomly vanishes from your shelf, you can bring it up with this bit of Python script...

from mayaBeamer import main

Just paste it into your Script Editor under the Python tab, highlight the text, press the play icon and you're golden :) Good luck and may getting your work rendered never be stressful again!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

CAA One-A-Day: Shell

Another disturbing animation for you tonight, ladies and gents (I guess my post-Brexit mood is yet to improve!).  This one is pretty dark and contains 'scenes of a sexual nature'.  For an fascinating insight into the making of the film, go here.

CAA @ New Designers #5 : 'Yet More Paint!'

Okay, okay, so it's getting increasingly difficult to make the topic of white emulsion into an exciting blogpost... but yes, today, there was even more painting to be done (and it's not even finished yet!). I can report the floor is complete and will be bubble-wrapped in readiness tomorrow morning, and the screen wall is finished too.  It's hard to believe that this building-site is also the CAA baseroom! Onwards!

Monday, June 27, 2016

CAA @ New Designers #4 : 'More Paint + Posters!'

Okay, so the country might be cast adrift and going to the dogs, but meanwhile, work on the CAA stand for New Designers 2016 continues unchecked by the total car-crash that was the EU referendum. There's something soothing about getting on with something practical and achievable at a time like this, and lots did indeed get done: another coat of brilliant white to the screen booth and all 120 posters safely in their flippable frames - and thanks to Alan's long-suffering thumbs, the frames are now completely ready for assembly on-site!  The metal brackets for the flip-display units also needed a coat of white paint, so it was off to the campus spray booth this afternoon to do just that.  Lots more to do before Monday next week, but we're certainly getting there!

Oh yes, there will be lollipops!

The Master Plan!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

FAO Everyone: EU Referendum Petition - If You Agree, Please Sign & Share

The EU Referendum campaigns have been nasty and divisive - and the result even more so. Historically, I try and keep personal politics off this blog because it represents an entire community, and not the preoccupations of its course leader, but in this instance I feel compelled to share.  The short version is there is a petition asking the Government to look again at the constitution of the referendum and I'm encouraging you and others to sign it.  At time of writing, the petition has amassed 2.6 million signatories in a short matter of hours - which is unprecedented.

Many people (well, about half of the country who could be bothered to vote), feel acutely uncomfortable with such a momentous decision being taken on the strength of too few percentage points, and many people who voted to leave the EU are experiencing some form of 'Regrexit' in light of all that has happened since.  For a course leader completely comfortable with working with multicultural communities and European partners, with immigrants and 'outcasts', a course leader who feels privileged to work within diverse, inclusive communities, I am repulsed by much of the pro-exit argument and all its tacit, drip-drip-drip xenophobia.  I am likewise furious that a Westminster-centric power-struggle in the Conservative party has been aggrandised in this way with such obliterative consequence, and disgusted by the way Farage, Johnson and Gove (self-serving opportunists, all of them) have been permitted to co-opt legitimate electorate frustrations with austerity and disaffection with party politics, and re-enscribe them as anti-European invective.

I very much doubt this petition can effect any change; after all, the referendum represents 'democracy in action' (though maybe not if you suspect people weren't given a real choice, if 'choice' means the ability to choose between facts, as opposed to between competing ideologies), but I can't just seethe and sigh as this country self-harms so spectacularly and represents itself - and me - to the rest of world as so proudly insular, so happily solipsistic and so fucking backward.

For those of you who have already completed your studies in postmodernism, you'll recall Baudrillard's conception of the 'simulacrum' - which is a simulated 'hyperreality' so ubiquitous, and so encompassing culturally, that it has 'replaced the real'.  It is a fake image so often repeated, so often enshrined and so often inhabited, that it is 'more real than real' - an existent construct most often solidified from the vagaries of nostalgia, juvenilia, and nationalistic folklore.  My view is that the fears that gave us Brexit are fears of modernity itself - real, strongly felt and not to be dismissed for sure - but no different (and no more calamitous) than the alienations and terrors experienced by society during its many other previous periods of accelerated change.  The country that Brexit wants to give us is a simulacrum, nothing more - so seductive for some in its golden ageism and comfort of  'simpler times' - but it's the UK as an ossified theme park of pubs and cricket, of spitfires and bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, and mostly white people watching the Great British Bake Off (though obviously without the "political correctness-gone-mad" that saw a brown-faced muslim woman win the contest last year...).

You can sign the petition here if you want to - it will only take a moment of your time.  If you didn't vote - and now you're wishing that you did - sign the petition.  If you voted 'Out' on Thursday, but you woke up today with a sick-feeling in your belly, sign the petition and feel a bit better.  If you're proud to be member of a community that is inclusive, diverse and tolerant, sign the petition.  If you believe in the responsibility of the arts to unite people, to innovate and to make positive change, sign the petition.  

University derives from the original Latin word universitas, meaning  'a number of persons associated into one body, a society, company, community'.  I mean, for fuck's sake, if you're a university student sign the petition.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

CAA One-A-Day: Bobby Yeah

And you thought the EU referendum result was nightmarish....

FAO ND Exibitors: Your Arts Thread Portfolios & Alan's Video File 'Health Check'

This is a reminder for you to ensure you complete your Arts Thread portfolio pages - which is another New Designers-affiliated platform by which to foster more chances for influential people to view your work.  Some of you have made a start, and some of you have completed your pages already - for example, Rosie and Ant - take a look.  I want all ND2016 exhibitors to have representation through Arts Thread - and don't wait until the show is on to get this done; get it done today.

Some of you are posting your completed films and ND2016 turnarounds: can you please send your ND video files to Alan asap, so he can 'health-check' your export settings and gauge how well your film files will player via the media-players we'll be using at the show.  This is really important: we don't want any broken-hearted graduates whose films are stuttering or glitching.  As published previously, your deadline for completing your films is Friday 1st July, but before that date, we want to be able to have previewed your animations on the media-players.  Send Alan what you've already completed on Monday, and get everything else to him to check within the final week.  Many thanks!

Friday, June 24, 2016

CAA @ New Designers #3 : 'Build!'

So today, Alan and I test-built our New Designers stand... and we're pleased to report that, a few tweaks excepted, everything came together rather beautifully.  We also received the 120 posters from the printers, and work began cutting and cropping them, and inserting them into their flippable display things!  Things are shaping up nicely - more updates next week.