Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Post With The Most 01/02/2017




I consider myself lucky to be working in an environment as tolerant, inclusive and down-with-diversity as the creative community of Computer Animation Arts.  It makes what's happening out there in the wider world seem so terribly strange and difficult to compute.  First Brexit, then Trump, and now a Muslim Ban. It's like the braying bully boys from the dark days of my comprehensive school are running all the institutions; those white parochial alphas who joked and farted through English class, through art, foreign languages and history, and then brutalised everyone else for getting their heads down and dreaming of better things and a wider world.

I take great comfort from this month's Post With The Most, featuring work from young people from a multitude of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.  CAA has a reputation for being a safe place for the neuro-diverse, for all shades of LGBTQ, and for all manner of 'diamonds in the rough' whose potential might be overlooked or underdeveloped in less enlightened institutions.  As the world appears to shuffle stupidly towards a more decisive paradigm, where difference is recalibrated as something to be feared, look instead to the magnetism of creativity - they way it unifies and coheres, the way it can speak to all of us, regardless of who or where we are - or indeed from where we came. 

Hand on heart I can say this about CAA - we don't give a flying fig about where you've come from, who you pray to or sleep with, or with which gender you'd rather identify or what colour you are. No, what we care about is where you're going next - and how we can best get you there.

This latest edition of the PWTM begins with some late entries into our year one What If Metropolis project.  Sometimes events conspire to prevent students from completing work for the calendar deadline.  In these situations, we always seek to ensure our students are supported and are given sufficient time to realise their original ambitions for a project.  Ellie Row and Maddi Iden spent their respective Christmases putting the finishing touches to their digital set projects - an exercise in synthesising design, art and technology into a speculative, never-before-seen vista - cityscapes inspired by the art and ideas of other celebrated creatives...

Ellie Row / The City Of Manon (after Jean Arp)

Manon / Concept painting / Ellie Row

Manon / 3D model / Ellie Row

Manon / UV-ed model / Ellie Row

Manon / Final render  / Ellie Row

Maddi Iden / The City Of Alak (after Lazlo Moholy-Nagy)

Alak / Concept painting / Maddi Iden

Alak / Art Of / Maddi Iden

Alak / Final render  / Maddi Iden


A smattering of highlights from our Year 2 character design project now, in which students had to originate characters from audio titbits taken from a bunch of old movies or other sources lost to the mists of time...


Pirates / Character Bible / Mark Bridgand


Manisha Dusila

Teddy Bear turnarounds / Manisha Dusila


Tom Smith


Character bible / Tom Smith

Becky Stapley

Pansy The Poodle / Becky Stapley

Lewis Punton

Hector / Lewis Punton

Hector expression sheet / Lewis Punton


Our third year students have just submitted their dissertations, so are no doubt giddy from its sudden absence from their lives.  They are to be congratulated - it's no small thing to develop and write an 8000 word evidence-based argument alongside the ongoing production of their final year films. The PWTM is not the place to showcase all their weighty Word documents, but I can share these updates from our year three students' productions.


Sankavy Balasingam

The Secret Of The Mosquito Queen / Vadrasteia turnaround / Sankavy Balasingam


Mark Stamp

Four / Four test render #1 / Mark Stamp

Four / Four test render #2 / Mark Stamp

Four / Four test render #3 / Mark Stamp

Four / Four turnaround / Mark Stamp


Eva Pinnington


Soma / Mada technical brochure / Eva Pinnington


Soma / Mada turnaround / Eva Pinnington


Ryan Brand


Hem / Arne turnaround / Ryan Brand


Jamie Wathen

Trimia / Mech front wip  / Jamie Wathen

Trimia / Mech back wip  / Jamie Wathen


Trimia / PC Tank turnaround  / Jamie Wathen


Cat Barber & Julien Van Wallandael @ Tsygan Production

Stellar! / Developmental storyboard panels #1 / Tsygan Productions

Stellar! / Developmental storyboard panels #2 / Tsygan Productions


Stellar! / Norma Green / Stellar turnarounds / Tsygan Production

Stellar! / Stellar animatic (no sound) / Tsygan Production



Bedtime Story / The Boy turnaround / Charlie Serafini


Bedtime Story / The Boy animation test  / Charlie Serafini


Bedtime Story / Monster Bed modelling / Charlie Serafini

Bedtime Story / Monster Bed texture test  / Charlie Serafini

Bedtime Story / Monster Bed animation test  / Charlie Serafini


Alongside all the normal creative push-and-shove of the course, work continues on CAA's ambitious adaptation of Benjam Britten's The Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra. It's always a bit of a joy when I see a new post from CAA alumni Emily Clarkson on YPGTTO's dedicated blog.  Most recently, Emily has been envisioning the sparkling delights of The Harp District:

"Red now turns and looks at the view, the Harp District laid out before him in all its celestial glitter and lightness-of-touch. It’s all rather heavenly... It’s late afternoon in the Kingdom of Sound; the Harp District is golden in this magic hour! A close-up shows Red give a contented sigh – how peaceful it is in the Harp District! He could stay here forever – and he just might! A final wide shot concludes this episode, with Red in the foreground looking out across the vista. The sun is just starting to leave the sky, and we get the impression of shadows lengthening and colours intensifying."


YPGTTO / The Harp District buildings concept drawings #1 / Emily Clarkson

YPGTTO / The Harp District buildings concept drawings #2 / Emily Clarkson

YPGTTO / Red & The Harp District concept painting  / Emily Clarkson

Elsewhere, CAA alumni, Sam Niemczyk is busy turning 2D production art into 3D models in readiness for the 'big build' - when we start to translate the YPGTTO animatic into a Maya previsualistion.  There is an epic amount to do, but how satisfying it is to see our Kingdoms of Sound taking shape.

YPGTTO / The Bassoon District buildings models #1 / Samantha Niemczyk (designed by Jordan Buckner)

YPGTTO / The Bassoon District buildings models #2 / Samantha Niemczyk (designed by Jordan Buckner)

YPGTTO / The Bassoon District buildings models #3 / Samantha Niemczyk (designed by Jordan Buckner)

YPGTTO / The Bassoon District buildings models #4 / Samantha Niemczyk (designed by Jordan Buckner)

YPGTTO / The Horn District buildings models #1 / Samantha Niemczyk (designed by Emily Clarkson)

YPGTTO / The Horn District buildings models #2 / Samantha Niemczyk (designed by Emily Clarkson)

YPGTTO / The Horn District buildings models #3 / Samantha Niemczyk (designed by Emily Clarkson) 
YPGTTO / The Horn District buildings models #4 / Samantha Niemczyk (designed by Emily Clarkson) 

It's not just a plethora of fantastical buildings populating our Kingdoms of Sound.  The script calls for a gang of supporting characters, including the royal family, residents of The Trombone and Tuba District.  CAA Year 3 student, Julian Van Wallandael has kindly found the project some time, despite his own busy Stellar! schedule, envision these iterations of our rather snooty queen.


YPGTTO / The Queen character concepts / Julien Van Wallandael

'Red' is the protagonist of our YPGTTO adaptation - another design contributed by Julien Van Wallandael - and since translated into a 3D animation-ready asset by CAA alumni and Maya-magician, Ethan Shilling.  It wouldn't be melodramatic to suggest that readying Red for his debut adventure in our Kingdoms Of Sound has been a bit of a bloody nightmare!  When Ethan begins his demo video (below) for Red's character rig and says he's been working on it for 'months', he isn't exaggerating!  Any of you people fascinated by the intricacies of rigging, pin your ears back...


YPGTTO / Red turnaround / Ethan Shilling / Julian Van Wallandael


YPGTTO / Red rigging demo / Ethan Shilling

On Friday, January 27th, CAA's celebrated visualisation of Darius Milhaud's ballet, La création du monde was screened in Katowice, Poland, with live accompaniment by the musicians of the Filharmonia Śląska.  Milosz Kula was their conductor, and in the grand surroundings of their concert hall, our sixteen minutes-or-so cascade of shape, colour and form illuminated the fascinated faces of a full house. 


Preparing for the first rehearsal

This is the sixth screening for our animation, which began life as a multi-participant speed paint challenge, in which the students, alumni and staff of Computer Animation Arts were invited to visualise Milhaud's jazz-inspired ballet as a series of abstract digital paintings. CAA alumni Tom Beg and Jordan Buckner then worked with the resulting paintings, translating them into moving image. In common with previous screenings, the experience of watching the animation accompanied by the full bombast and beauty of a live orchestra was magical and transformative. Many thanks to Keith Burden of Clever Projections, who ensures our screenings run smoothly.


Still from La création du monde / Tom Beg & Jordan Buckner

Still from La création du monde / Tom Beg & Jordan Buckner

Still from La création du monde / Tom Beg & Jordan Buckner

La création du monde was screened in Katowice as part of the ONE is more programme: An Orchestra Network for Europe – ONE - is a distinctive network of classical symphony orchestras initiated by Orchestre de Picardie in 2003. Since 2005, it has received support from the European Union under the Culture Programme for 4 cultural projects. Its successive periods of activity have been called ONE, ONE - a new dimension, ONE step further and from June 2011 to 2015 ONE goes places. In 2010, under the title ONE is more, it prepared an application under the Creative Europe programme of the EU. For this bid, the University for the Creative Arts joined the partnership.

Milosz Kula conducts at the second rehearsal #1

Milosz Kula conducts at the second rehearsal #2

Milosz Kula conducts at the second rehearsal #3

Milosz Kula conducts at the second rehearsal #4

La création du monde / Tom Beg & Jordan Buckner

The Last Word...

“Aeschylus and Plato are remembered today long after the triumphs of Imperial Athens are gone. Dante outlived the ambitions of thirteenth century Florence. Goethe stands serenely above the politics of Germany, and I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over cities, we too will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.” John F. Kennedy

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