Wednesday, May 24, 2017

FAO Years 1 & 2: New Designers 2017 / Limited Private View Tickets Available

We like to see as many year one and year two students at the New Designers Private View; it's a great opportunity to get a sense of what lies ahead, but also to meet and greet and mingle.  The date of the private view is July 5th at 6.30pm and the venue is the Business Design Centre, Islington, London.  I have a limited number of free tickets available for the private view, so if you're interested in coming along to the CAA grads' big opening night, then email me with your postal address and I'll organise them for you.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

CAA Alumni: Anass 'Class of 2015' Moudakir

Hello, I am Anass Moudakir, a Computer Animation Arts graduate from 2012-2015.  I am currently working as a Junior Artist at PixelSky Studio in sunny Casablanca, Morocco. I am happy to tell you a little bit about what I have been up to since then.

After completion of the course at UCA, I have kept busy with online classes to strengthen my skills. I have also attended weekly life drawing classes for animation in London where I met talented artists from the industry. Let me tell you it has paid off.  I am glad I made the effort, so do make the most of your life-drawing sessions in uni!

I have also worked on commissioned projects including an info graphic for a friend’s project at the University of Leeds. The explainer is about single travel holidays for coffee lovers. It was made in just 48hours 'from script to screen'.


Upon my return home to Morocco, I joined an art workshop where I continued to develop my 2D skills (traditional animation and life drawing), while actively searching for an internship/job - and then the opportunity to join three talented artists at Pixelsky Studio came up.

Pixelsky Studio

I had the chance to work on the different aspects of the animation pipeline from pre-production to post production (an advantage of being in a small studio), which was really interesting. It shows how spontaneous you have to be in making decisions in tight deadlines and the importance of research and finalizing the concept before moving to production.

Few weeks later I focused on different parts of the production from low poly modeling techniques to xgen Maya for various projects. (You guessed it - I can’t talk about yet).

It is such a great work environment and it feels good being around experienced artists, your confidence and skills improve quickly!

Besides that, I am also devoting time to getting involved in art workshops/debates, which is a great way to develop your personality and has definitely helped me make great contacts. I've recently been selected along with 15 other artists to take part in an initiative called TA7RIR, which means Liberation. It stresses the importance of observation in life-drawing, as well as keeping an intimate yet respectful relationship with the models and breaking any labels society may impose on us!

Anass at work at TA7RIR

An exhibition took place on March 5th, 2017 showcasing all artwork created during the event.

I believe the most important thing I have learnt so far is to not be naïve, to get out there join art communities and meet people, you will certainly learn something and it will eventually lead to something that can only be good.

See no Evil is a great bi-monthly meeting in London where artists/animators/directors give a talk about their work and how they got started in the industry and socialize! 

Also if you haven’t heard of ItsonCraft, go check it out, it is such a great website where you can access ‘making of’ animations and games from script writing to compositing and project management. You can also purchase animation project files and PSDs! It is so pleasing to look at and great to learn from.  Most importantly, enjoy the process! Best of luck!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

FAO CAA Yr 3: Monday 22nd / Monday 23rd / Branding Workshops

This is you standing out from the crowd...

This is a reminder we've scheduled a 2 day workshop for you in regards to thinking about yourselves as creatives - and getting other people to think about you in the say way! Some official blurb:

"Understanding Branding theory will allow you to more clearly gain an insight into how Creative Professionals can clearly and successfully define who they are. You will then be able to apply this theory with regard to who you are and how you communicate this to the wider world.

The use of Branding is common in today’s world and marketplace. Branding is more than designing the correct logo or website with the right design and colours. It can have, at its core, a far more psychological basis. One could argue that much of today’s commercial world uses branding to one degree or another. If you don’t therefore have an understanding of branding, it can be hard to know where and how to pitch yourself. 

This two-part workshop will give you an overview of the ideas and theories around successful branding. It will then help you to explore your core and authentic values, skills and interests as a person and as a creative. By combining your core values, skills and interests as a person with an understanding of branding theory you will then have a powerful, insight into how to ‘brand yourself' as a creative professional. Following this, using the brand pyramid methodology, you will then learn strategies for promoting yourself, gaining customers and keeping them coming back for more!

As part of this workshop you will also gain an understanding of how the UCA Creative Enterprise team can assist you to gain entrepreneurial skills along with helping you if you are interested in becoming self-employed, freelancing or if you wish to start a business."

  • Day 1 - ‘Who are you?’ and ‘Why should potential clients be interested in you?'
  • Day 2 - ‘Who needs to know about you?’ and 'How will potential clients find out about you?'

The sessions begin at 10.30am in the CAA baseroom, and will finish at 4pm. You're expected to attend, not least because you should now all be thinking about sprucing up your online presence and thinking about yourself in terms of the message you'll be conveying to others as to who you are, what you do, and where you see yourself working.

Important: at 4pm on the Tuesday, I have to talk with you all about another survey (don't groan!) you're required to participate in six months from now.  It's an employment destination survey and it's my job to ensure that you're a) expecting it and b) confident in terms of giving accurate data.

If you could make sure you're classmates have seen this information, that would be great. Share widely.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

FAO CAA Year 2: Maya & Film Review Submission Reminder

Year 2: Submission Reminder for Friday 19th May by 5pm

"Please make sure that you create one blog post containing links to all your completed Maya tutorials and film reviews."

Reminder of the Maya Tutorials

Pipeline 1: Skinning, Rigging, Facial Rigging 1-3, Texturing, & Turnarounds


Lighting & Rendering 2 or Games Modelling, Baking Maps, Diffuse Maps, & ShaderFX

If anyone has any further questions please email me.

Good Luck Everyone.

FAO CAA Year 3: Major Project Submission Confirmation and Reminder

Attention all third year students - A reminder...

The Major Project submission deadline is Monday 16th by 6pm and is both 'IN PERSON' and 'ON YOUR BLOGS'. This is the same as the requirements as your Minor Project, submitting both your finished film /work and making of document. 

A computer in the 'Blue Room' will be made available to copy your work to.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

CAA One-A-Day: Daily Animations From April2017

I don't know what all of these are, but here the mundane and the uncanny combine to unnerving effect...  

FAO CAA Yr 3: "Best Of Luck For Final Hand-In! You Can Do It!"

This is a message for our hard-working, really-rather-stressed-right-now final year students: wishing you all the very best of luck for final hand-in and fingers-crossed everything goes swimmingly over the next few hours.  If in doubt, play this motivational classic on repeat...

Friday, May 12, 2017

FAO CAA Year 2 and 3: Alan in not in the Uni today 12/05/17

FAO Year 2 and 3: Friday 12/05/17

I won't be in the University today. However, if anyone has an questions please email me and I will get back to you ASAP.

Good Luck First Years!

Thanks, Alan

Thursday, May 11, 2017

FAO CAA Yr 1: Best Of Luck For Tomorrow! "Be Amazing!"

I know you're tired.  I know you're flagging, so ladies and gentlemen, this is for you...

Best of luck - see you all tomorrow - & don't be late!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

FAO CAA Yr 2: Best Of Luck For Tomorrow's Crit

This is you!

Just wishing you the very best of luck for tomorrow's Adaptation crit - find your inner 'He-Man' (or indeed He-Woman, or gender-neutral non-binary heroic archetype) and push for perfection, professionalism and poise!  Looking forward to it...

Monday, May 08, 2017

FAO CGAA Year 1: Fantastic Voyage - Final Crit & Submission Checklist & Final Crit Requirements 12/05/2017

What follows are instructions for your crit presentations and reminders of what you need to present and submit. Please ensure that everyone has seen this information and understood it. Any queries, please leave a comment and I'll clarify where necessary.

In response to one of the scenarios presented to you at time of briefing, you are required to produce a complete 3D animation that demonstrates creatively your ability to interpret, transcribe and represent complex ideas in engaging and dynamic ways. Your final animation should demonstrate clearly your creative methodology as established by your Year 1 curriculum, i.e. pre-production (production design and art direction via concept art and the structuring of time-based narratives via storyboarding and pre-visualisations), production (modelling, UV layout, texturing & lighting, and animation), and post-production (compositing, digital editing, sound design, publication and promotion).

Format Requirements

• PAL 25fps
• 16:9 ratio
• Mpeg or Avi

Please note: only royalty-free music is to be used and voice-overs must be professionally produced The use of inappropriate formats and codecs may result in viewing problems. 

You are required to produce a deluxe ‘Making Of’ publication showcasing your creative methodology. Your ‘making of’ should provide a complete record of your project work and should include your research and development, supporting concept art, storyboards, a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at your models and animation - from wire-frame through to finished renders – and your sound-design and post-production. Your ‘Making Of’ should be designed graphically, engagingly and presented professionally. 

You are asked to produce a comprehensive blog archiving and annotating your creative development during the duration of the unit. You should use the blog to reflect critically upon your own creative practice and the wider cultural and thematic context of the unit.

Important! Your blog must include:

1) Your final animation
2) Your ‘Making Of’ publication (as Scribd Presentation)
3) Your Pitch presentation (as Scribd Presentation)
4) CG Pre-vis
5) Animatic
6) Final storyboard
7) Final script
8) Concept art (16:9)

9) Final Production art (16:9)
10) Matte paintings (if applicable)
11) Final textures (and development).
12) Your sound design archive: (Original SFX/Processed SFX)
13) Your cg pipeline;

Wireframe Models, Untextured Models, UV Maps, Texture Maps, Textured Models, Lighting Tests, Rendering Passes (Beauty, Ambient, Occlusion, and Effects),

14) All supporting artwork (thumbnails, preparatory drawings etc.)
15) Supporting research/Influence maps
16) Market/audience research
17) Your Cutting Edge film reviews

18) Your final submission must include a short reflective statement. A reflective statement is a statement in which the student considers their experience of a project. Reflective statements are used to understand past events, learn lessons and identify best practice.

On crit day, you will present your final animation onlyOn this day, it’s all about the animation.

Important: please note, your Fantastic Voyage crit starts at 10am sharp in Lecture Theatre 1. The order in which you'll be presenting your work will be randomised, which means any one of you may be presenting first!

If circumstances beyond your control* prevent you from attending on time, you must contact Gayle Baldwin before 10am.  Lecture Theatre 1 will be open at 9am. Students should seek to arrive in advance of the start time to ensure they are prepared. Your project management and professionalism counts. Please prepare for your crit as you would for an interview or pitch. For some 'Rough Guide' style advice re. the stuff of engaging crit presentations, please go here.

And finally...


And a note to any 2nd/3rd years - your input on crit day, as always, is welcome.

*But not issues in regard to last-minute technical problems that reflect poor project management. No student should be rendering etc. on the morning of crit day. Thursday is your deadline, not Friday.

FAO Yr 3: 7 Days Until Major Project Submission

Major Project Hand-in / Monday 15th May @ 6pm

FAO CAA YEAR 2: Rendering for Submission & Demo Reels Now Available

The final video in the Pipeline 1 series has been uploaded to the tutorial website. This tutorial takes you through how to create a turnaround render sequence for a demo reel or project submission. In light of your submission on Thursday this video has the answers to how to present your work to an audience. The tutorial can be found here

Example Turnaround Render

Sunday, May 07, 2017

CAA One-A-Day: Wonderful

"This video is a story of unrequited love between an enchanting, sweet, ball of pubic hair and the woman who, unknowingly jilts him at the plughole for another (human) man with beautiful hair - causing our hero to spiral into a jealous rage that leads to his untimely and tragic demise."

Yes - really!

CAA Misc: The Infinite Now

"Over the past months I've been working with Australian photographer Ray Collins to bring his amazing oceanscapes to life in the form of cinemagraphs, a blend between photography and video. Each cinemagraph is created from one of Ray's stills, and sets it in infinite motion, making a unique moment in time last forever.

These cinemagraphs inspired André Heuvelman from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra to get together with pianist Jeroen van Vliet to record a very moving custom soundtrack, which I combined with a selection of the cinemagraphs."

You can see the original cinemagraphs at

Ray's images can be found at

Siggraph 2017 Technical Papers Preview

The worlds longest running computer conference 'Siggraph' is taking place in Los Angeles this year. Part of the conference is the 'Technical Papers' section where artists, computer scientists, and studios (among others) submit their latest research and developments. As you can imagine this is a delicate blend of computer science and art, and the speculative and practical. The video above is a preview of the latest submissions for 2017. In particular take a look at... 

- 1.14s: Text editing narration
- 1.50s: Face mapping to stylised drawing
- 2.00s: Sketch to 3D model

Saturday, May 06, 2017

FAO CAA Yr 3: Attention! Some Welcome News You'll Want To Hear!

Attention, ladies and gentlemen - some news just in...

Your Major Project deadline is now Monday 15th @ 6pm - yes, that's right - you've a couple of extra days to get your submissions in order.  We know you're all working super-hard, so keep on trucking and make the very best use of this wriggle room.  You need to ensure all your classmates have seen this announcement, so please share widely.  Many thanks - and best of luck for the final push.

Major Project Deadline - Monday 15th @ 6pm

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

FAO Everyone: You're On Your Own Tomorrow - Behave!

It just so happens you'll be on your own tomorrow, as both Alan and myself are away doing *other important stuff*.  Try not to burn the place down in our absence or bring the entire course into disrepute following an ill-advised game of 'wheelie-chair go-karts'...

FAO CAA Yr 1: Your Contextual Studies Assessment Proformas Available Now @ Ucreative Email Accounts

Your Contextual Studies summative assessment proformas are available now at your Ucreative email accounts.  If your feedback isn't there, let me know via an email and I'll investigate.  

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Post With The Most 02/05/2017

It's hard to believe next time the Computer Animation Arts PWTM goes live on here, the academic year will be as good as over and our students will be twiddling their thumbs post-submission. (It looks like I've hit that time of life when I'm astounded over-and-over by the swift passing of time and feel it necessary to comment thus!).  Still, we're not there yet - the end is indeed nigh, but with a little under two weeks before final submission, our students have loads to achieve in the remaining time.

For our first years, their Fantastic Voyage animations find them operating at the upper-limit of their knowledge and experience.  While this final project represents a culmination of all they've learned since they arrived at UCA back in September 2016, it also demands they 'learn on the job'.  No single curricula can teach a group of cg-newbies how to model a cartoon car, Dr-Seuss-inspired chromosome or Lucienne Day-esque chemotherapy particle, and yet here they are, making it happen anyway.  They're to be applauded for their ambition, determination and pluck!

Enjoy this selection of year one 'works-in-progress' and look forward to next month's edition, which will showcase the best of their final year films.  Remember too, should you want to explore any of the projects profiled here, you need only click on the students' names by which to arrive at their respective course-specific blogs.

Cell-cycle / Cell racing car 3D model test render / Graeme Daly

Cell-cycle / Cell racing car 3D model rigged / Graeme Daly

Cancer / Chemotherapy orthographs / Michaela Cernejová

Cancer / Chemotherapy 3D model  / Michaela Cernejová
Cancer / Chemotherapy 3D model textured  / Michaela Cernejová

Cell-cycle / Cyril the cell character development / Alex Park

Cell-cycle / Cyril the cell character model / Alex Park

Paris Lucke

Mitosis / Pre-viz / Paris Lucke

Year 2 on CAA is a famously challenging learning phase for students, characterised as it is by the rigours of collaboration and the prospect of specialisation, and by the looming reality-check otherwise known as 'year three'.  Another challenge is presented by their 'acting for animation' classes with guest lecturer, Dan Snelgrove.  At risk of making sweeping generalisations, it might be said students of cgi are not hugely extroverted, and for many of them the idea of acting and improvisation is daunting. That said, the truly lovely thing about the acting classes is how much our students come to enjoy them.  Take a look at this selection of photos taken by various students during their classes - and note the lack of captions; the what, when and how of the scenarios so implied is up to you, dear reader, to decide!

When not playing 'ninja' in the baseroom or improvising characters of oppositional status, the second years are also finishing up with their Adaptation project. The exciting thing about these projects is the range and scope of their respective methodologies, with students using Maya in speculative ways.  For example, while the likes of Eleanor Spence and Mark Bridgland are using the powerful 3D software traditionally as the means by which to translate their 2D production art into ambitious 3D assets, Deanna Crisbacher is deploying Maya as the mediator between audio and image, physicalising sound as disturbing deformations to the female form.

Dysmorphia / Text render #1 / Deanna Crisbacher

Dysmorphia / Text render #2 / Deanna Crisbacher

Dysmorphia / Text render #3 / Deanna Crisbacher

Dysmorphia / Text render #4 / Deanna Crisbacher

Dysmorphia / Text render #5 / Deanna Crisbacher

Dysmorphia / Text render #6 / Deanna Crisbacher

My Pretty Rose Tree / Rose character development / Eleanor Spence

Ah! Sun-flower / Sun-flower character development / Eleanor Spence

The Lilly / Lilly character development / Eleanor Spence

My Pretty Rose Tree / Modelling Rose #1 / Eleanor Spence

My Pretty Rose Tree / Modelling Rose #2 / Eleanor Spence

Devil's Elixir / 'Redrum' orthographs / Mark Bridgland

Devil's Elixir / 'Redrum' modelling progress #1 / Mark Bridgland

Devil's Elixir / 'Redrum' modelling progress #2 / Mark Bridgland

Devil's Elixir / 'Redrum' modelling progress #3 / Mark Bridgland

Our third years are surely beginning to feel it now - the pressure of their looming hand-in.  They need to stare their fears down and push on, ticking items of their crowed to-do lists one-by-one and hold their nerve.  Join me in wishing them all the very best of luck - fingers-crossed for a gremlin-free final leg of their three year adventure on Computer Animation Arts...

Bloom / Character concept painting / Eva Pinnington

Bloom / Character modelling #1 / Eva Pinnington

Bloom / Character modelling #1 / Eva Pinnington

Bloom / Gun design & model / Eva Pinnington

Bloom / Holster model #1 / Eva Pinnington

Bloom / Holster model #2 / Eva Pinnington

Cat Barber & Julien Van Wallandael @ Tsygan Productions

Stellar! / Compositing test #1 / Tsygan Productions

Stellar! / Compositing test #2 / Tsygan Productions

Stellar! / Compositing test #3 / Tsygan Productions

Stellar! / Matte test #1 / Tsygan Productions

Stellar! / Matte test #2 / Tsygan Productions

Hem / Test render #1 / Ryan Brand

Hem / Test render #2 / Ryan Brand

Hem / Test render #3 / Ryan Brand

Hem / Test render #4 / Ryan Brand

Hem / Test render #5 / Ryan Brand

Bedtime Story / Animation progress #3 / Charlie Serafini

Bedtime Story / Test render / Charlie Serafini

Bedtime Story / Test render #2 / Charlie Serafini

Bedtime Story / Test render #3 / Charlie Serafini

Bedtime Story / Test render #4 / Charlie Serafini

Bedtime Story / Test render #5 / Charlie Serafini

Jack White

The Sound Collector / Kitchen texturing progress / Jack White

The Sound Collector / Living Room texturing progress / Jack White

The Sound Collector / Render test #1  / Jack White

The Sound Collector / Render test #2  / Jack White

The Sound Collector / Render test #3  / Jack White

The Sound Collector / Render test #4  / Jack White

Mark Stamp

Four / Pre-viz / Mark Stamp

Work on CAA's adaptation of Britten's The Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra continues apace as we move ever closer to the moment when we start to actually 'make' the film.  As any one of our students will tell you, working with CGI is a prolonged exercise in delayed gratification - everything takes a long time - and there's always one more thing to be designed or 'just one more tweak' before the cameras roll.  For the YPGTTO production team, that day is surely getting closer, but until then, here's a selection of everything we've been up to this month:

YPGTTO / The King & Queen orthographs / Julien Van Wallandael

YPGTTO / The King & Queen 3D models (works in progress)  / Ethan Shilling

YPGTTO / The Violin Train #1 / Emily Clarkson

YPGTTO / The Violin Train #2 / Emily Clarkson

YPGTTO / The Overture staircase 3D model / Samantha Niemczyk (design by Emily Clarkson)

YPGTTO / The Overture staircase 3D model #2 / Samantha Niemczyk (design by Emily Clarkson)

YPGTTO / The Bassoon District buildings  / Jordan Buckner

YPGTTO / The Bassoon District buildings 3D model texture development  / Alan Postings

YPGTTO / Yellow rigging demonstration / Ethan Shilling

YPGTTO / Red run-cycle #1 / Natalie Urwin

YPGTTO / Red run-cycle #2 / Natalie Urwin

As regular readers of the PWTM will know, it's around about this time of year this course leader's online shopping habits begin to favour all things glow-y, as I prepare to continue my intermittent project exploring the other-worldly dimensions of long-exposure photography.  At long last, I've gone as far as establishing a website archiving all previous excursions.  It's a simple affair - and not finished yet - but it's interesting to see it all in one place, not least because it reveals an obvious preoccupation with uncanny effects and filmic tableaux.

Arrival II / Phil Gomm / 2015

Arrival II / Phil Gomm / 2015

Room I / Phil Gomm / 2015

Meadow / Phil Gomm / 2014

351 / Phil Gomm / 2016

What all of the images have in common I suppose is my excitement at seeing the camera catch something that 'wasn't there' - this is the crux of my obsession, and it goes right back to a childhood characterised by the desire to encounter the unexplained - UFOs, fairies, ghosts...  Later in the Summer, I'll be returning to No 351 to enact new rituals of light, time and activity in that old dark house, but before that, I'll be seeking to capture phenomena a little closer to home.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was famously duped by the fairy photographs taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths in 1920 and I'm on the hunt for some similarly ethereal beings at the bottom of my own garden. Not content with the sepia fabulations of Wright and Griffiths, I'm going to be channelling the light-fantastic of Fantasia's Nutcracker sequence...  watch this space!

Still from The Nutcracker Suite / Fantasia / 1948

The Cottingley Fairies / Elsie Wright & Frances Griffiths / 1920

As our final year students contemplate their lives after UCA, it's both inspiring and soothing to share stories from our extended family of alumni, who have journeyed far and wide in the pursuit of their creative ambitions.  Dayle 'Class of 2013' Sanders dropped by the CAA group blog a few days back to precis his adventures-in-animation:

Dayle 'Class of 2013' Sanders

"Hi there, my name is Dayle. I graduated from Computer Animation Arts in 2013.  I currently work as a Junior Animator/ Animation Fixer at Jellyfish Pictures in London. It's great to be able to share with you today what I have been up to and offer my industry perspective too, as a former classmate and fellow Rochester alumni... At the start of the year, I became a Junior Animator/ Animation Fixer on Jellyfish's new production, Dennis the Menace; actioning intersections, asset replacing, and animation alterations. I work on a few shots myself from time-to-time, too! From character, prop and environment layout in Maya, to polished animation approval..." 

Read more about Dayle's post-UCA adventures here.

Dennis The Menace / Jellyfish Pictures

The Last Word...

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Albert Einstein