Wednesday, January 31, 2018

CAA Careers: Coming Soon!

Coming soon... 

Phil has given me a 'new hat' to wear; I am calling it my 'Industry Outreach' hat!  

I am in the process of contacting animation and film companies the length and breadth of the country, and am putting together some useful advice from those in the know.  So coming soon...

  • Showreel advice
  • 'A day in the life of...'
  • Technical advice
  •  What it is really like to work as a freelancer

      ...and more!

Hopefully these contacts will also open some doors for us, in the way of work experience placements! 

To make this a really useful resource, it would be good to be able to put some of your questions to the various companies if there is anything you have always wanted to know about working in the 'real world', drop me a line as a comment on here (or send me an email on and I'll try and find answers for you! 

Watch this space!

CAA: The Supplement: Anime and the Rise of Otaku Culture by Fredrik Knudsen

These film essays by Fredrik Knudsen explore the entangled history of anime and Otaku (Geek) culture in Japan. They explore the growth in societal problems such as the 'Hikikomori' (social withdrawal) and how creators of anime have used direct marketing to fulfill the resulting growth in (postmodern) niche tastes.

For year 2, these are an extension of the some of the things I mentioned before the screening of Paprika (2009).

Monday, January 29, 2018

FAO CAA Yr 1: From Script To Screen OGR 2 / Wednesday 6th February

Wednesday 7th February is your 'From Script To Screen' Online Greenlight Review 2 (OGR)

Your OGR is to be presented as a single Scribd presentation on your blog, beginning with your name, date, and project title. Save your documents as PDFs before uploading to Scribd, as this should mitigate against formating glitches. Your OGR presentations should be uploaded to your blogs by 9pm on Wednesday 7th February. Written feedback will follow as a comment on your OGR post and will take between 2 - 3 days.

From Script To Screen OGR 2: What do you need to present?
  • Final script (as written using Adobe Story).
  • Completed storyboards (with illustrated camera moves etc. in accordance with storyboarding conventions.  I want to see a variety of shots and no stick men please!).  I want to see evidence you're using the resources on myUCA and applying your understanding of film language to your own 'directing with a pencil'.
  • Your definitive 'Production Design' influence map (the art direction underpinning your story world).
  • Developmental thumbnails & concept art for Character(s) / Environment(s) / Prop(s).

In addition, your OGR should evidence that you are up-to-date with your film reviews and ongoing Toolkit project work (life-drawing/Maya tutorials/Nat's animation exercises/Justin's character exercises etc). Your OGR might include links to the corresponding posts and/or images. Historically, students who use their OGR to manage their weekly tasks in this way manage their workloads more successfully. Please note: your OGR should be a professionally presented, spell-checked, with an emphasis on graphic design, layout and project branding.

It's true - you have a lot to do in a short period of time.  This means you need to work efficiently.

Please use your social networks to ensure everyone has seen this message.  Many thanks!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

FAO CAA Yr 3: Monday's Major Project Tutorials - A Change Of Plan

This is a message for those Year 3 students who might be expecting to pop in with me tomorrow morning (Monday 29th January). There's a change of plan in so much as I'm not going to be there, so I'm going to suggest we shift your slots to Friday morning.  I'll probably be based up on the reception floor somewhere and I'll confirm nearer the time.  Watch this space!

Friday, January 26, 2018

FAO CAA Yr 1: Film reviews and GIFs

Hello 1st Years!

As you know, I spend some time reading your film reviews, and it has come to my attention that many of you are relying on using GIFs in your reviews, rather than still images.  

Apart from the fact that it is REALLY distracting when trying to read your writing, it also could mean that you are perhaps not putting as much thought into the selection of images as you should be.  The images that you use should support your argument or discussion, and all too often it feels as though a GIF is used as quick shortcut.  Don't forget that you can't use video in your essays or thesis, so it will be good practice to start using well-chosen still images now...

So, here's the thing -

From now on, GIFs are banned!! 


CAA One-A-Day: Richard Williams / Animating Movement

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

CAA One-A-Day: The Present.

Suggested by Polly in Year 2

“The Present” is a thesis short from the Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany.-"

FAO CAA Yr 2: Perspectives / Proof Of Concept Presentations

As promised, a reminder as to what you need to prepare for your Thesis Proposal proof of concept presentations and an example presentation for your guidance.  Any questions, just drop me a line.

Monday, January 22, 2018

FAO CAA Yr 1: Timetable Amendment - Your Mondays

Apologies for the mix-up today for some of you in terms of your Group A/B allocations.  As suggested, it makes more sense to bring all of you back together for your respective Maya/Life-Drawing sessions, so I've amended your timetable accordingly.  As of next Monday, you're with Simon in the morning and Vicky in the afternoon - but note the change in weeks 13, 14 & 15.  I've replaced the pdf versions of your timetables on myUCA, so please delete your current version and update.  Many thanks.

Aladdin Trip - Final Call / Online Store Closes At 6pm Tonight!

This is your final reminder for the Aladdin trip on March 1st - tickets @ £34 are available only until 6pm tonight.  Go here now to get yours.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

FAO CAA Yr 3: Thesis/Extended Thesis Hand-In / Friday 26th January 4-5pm

This is a timely reminder to all our hard-working third years who I know are heads-down and banging away at their 8000 - or 16000 - word theses.  You need to submit 2 printed copies to Campus Registry on Friday 26th January between 4pm and 5pm, including an Assessment Cover Sheet per copy.  You likewise need to upload a digital copy to Turnitin and include the ID number on your two cover sheets.  Your hard-copy theses need to be bound - which means you need to print your documents with sufficient time to prepare them for submission.  Please be aware Campus Registry cannot - and will not - accept submissions even a few seconds after 5pm, so don't take any risks!  Aim for 4pm - not 5pm.  I know you're deep in the trenches at the moment and maybe feeling a little like this about your writing...

... but keep on trucking.  You're doing a big difficult and impressive thing!  
Best of luck for the final push!  We're thinking of you.

CAA Misc: Sony Pictures Animation Portfolio Tips

Recently I have been using LinkedIn to try and reach out to recruiters from different animation studios for some advice about applying for jobs and what their specific studio looks for in applicants and their portfolios.

I didn't get many responses, but an individual from recruiting at Sony Pictures Animation replied to me and sent me a link to a YouTube video covering a few tips in regards to Visual Development portfolios. I hope that some others may find this useful as well!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

FAO Everyone: Reminder - Get Your Aladdin Tickets Now! *Deadline Friday 19th January*

Reminder - Aladdin The Musical - Deadline Friday 19th January

Tickets at £34 - you can 'plus 1'. It's Thursday 1st March @ 2.30pm. We'll sort the transport issue a bit later! There are only 40 places and we need to have everything paid up by Friday next week (19th January). Go here to the Online Store and purchase your ticket(s).

Monday, January 15, 2018

FAO CAA Year 2: Tuesday's Class

Premise Lab - Tuesday 16th January / Baseroom

What you need to prepare and bring with you: 

For this ‘Premise Lab’ you will need to bring a series of ‘premise proposals’ to present to the group for discussion. This is to help you to explore your own ideas and gain insight into other types of approaches. 

The goal of the lab is to help you initially test, shape, combine, or reject ideas so that you can begin the project positively. It may be that you feel a little unsure of your ideas at this point, however that is a natural part of the process and you should bring your ideas regardless. Please make sure you bring several ideas and not just one. For more details on projects, please refer to the examples included in the briefing document (link here). 

Group 1 (9.30am – 10.45am)

Group 2 (11.00am – 12.15pm)

Group 3 (1.00pm - 2.15pm)

Group 4 (2.30pm – 3.45pm)

Group 5 (4.00pm – 5.30pm)

Please share this post with anyone you may feel won't see it. You don't need to be in class for the rest of the day, just your time slot.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Phil & The Kingdom Of Sound / Katowice Performances - Poland

Just a reminder to all students that I'm flying out to Katowice, Poland on Wednesday afternoon to oversee the next set of live screenings of Red & The Kingdom Of Sound, our animated adaptation of Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra.  There will be 4 performances of the work over Thursday and Friday to audiences of children and their teachers - 1000 or so people! I'll be meeting up with CAA graduates, Charlie 'Bedtime Story' Serafini and Samantha 'The Erl King' Niemczyk, both of whom reside in Poland and both of whom worked on Red & The Kingdom Of Sound alongside the rest of the YPGTTO team.  I'm really looking forward to seeing them again and sharing their excitement at seeing our animation play live to new audiences in another European city.

What this does mean is I might be slower to respond to your blogs and my marking of third year minor projects will be impacted for a short time.  Thank you for patience in advance - and wish us luck! 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

FAO CAA Yr 2: Perspectives / Example 'Courtroom Drama' Presentation

For your reference - a presentation from one of last year's legal teams who were given the job of defending violent entertainment.  There is no strict template here - except for the guidelines already given here - but your job is to use reputable evidence to build a persuasive argument by which you can make your case to the jury; establishing the most effective way to do that is the goal of this exercise.  Think of your presentation as a logically sequenced progression that enables you to argue your case effectively.  As said at the briefing, you don't all need to present if it would be better for your argument if you don't.  That said, you're all responsible for building your case, so no free-loaders - establish your strategy, undertake your research and knock 'em dead!

FAO Everyone: Aladdin is Go!

Okay - so Aladdin is go!  Tickets at £34 - you can 'plus 1'.  It's Thursday 1st March @ 2.30pm.  We'll sort the transport issue a bit later!  There are only 40 places and we need to have everything paid up by Friday next week (19th January).  Go here to the Online Store and purchase your ticket(s).

FAO CAA Year 1: Story / From Script To Screen - Your Online Greenlight Review / Wednesday 24th January

Wednesday 24th January is your 'From Script To Screen' Online Greenlight Review Part 1 

Your OGR is to be presented as a single Scribd presentation on your blog, beginning with your name, date, and project title. Save your documents as PDFs before uploading to Scribd, as this should mitigate against formating glitches. Your OGR presentations should be uploaded to your blogs by 9pm on Wednesday 24th January. Written feedback will follow as a 'comment' on your OGR post and will take between 2 - 3 days.

From Script To Screen OGR: What do you need to present?

  • The premise of your story
  • The logline of your story
  • The step outline of your story 
  • Your 'like-for-like' storyboard segment (complete)

The emphasis of this first OGR is not you giving me full-blown scripts, but rather these condensed summaries of your stories and structures. You might have written more in-depth versions as part of your own process, but all I want to see on OGR day is your ability to express your stories in their most essentialised way.

The Premise 

This is one line that sums up the writer’s starting off point, the rationale for the existence of the story.  It can be vague along the lines of a theme like:

  • The triumph of love and community over violence and selfishness. 

Or philosophical like:

  • An examination of duality: Love/Hate, Past/Present, Action/Passivity, Innocent/ Experience. 

Or simply sum up the starting off point for the story something like:

  • A young country boy witnesses a murder and a city policeman must go into hiding with him in his country community when the killers get on his trail...

The Logline 

This is a summary of the story made in one or two sentences that attempts to answer the questions: Who is the lead character/s? What is their problem? How will they deal with it? 

It can be useful to write because it forces the writer to distill what happens in the story down to the briefest possible summary. This in turn makes it necessary to make choices that can reveal what the most important part of the story is.

The Step Outline 

This maps the entire plot scene by scene in a limited way. The action is summed up in paragraphs consisting of a line or two for each scene.

In addition, your OGR should evidence that you are up-to-date with your film reviews and ongoing CG Artist's Toolkit project work (life-drawing/Maya tutorials/Nat's animation exercises/Justin's character exercises, Kat's Audition classes etc). Your OGR might include links to the corresponding posts and/or images. Historically, students who use their OGR to manage their weekly tasks in this way manage their workloads more successfully.

Remember, you're gunning for a 'green light' - you want to take your script into the pre-production stage as soon as possible, so ensure that your story idea is developed sufficiently and communicates effectively. Please note: your OGR should be a professionally presented, spell-checked, with an emphasis on graphic design, layout and project branding. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

FAO CAA YEAR 3: Tomorrows 'Online and Physical Submission'

As part of your submission you will be required to submit digital copies of your work to a computer in the Base Room (specified on the day). The items you are asked to copy are the same as those used in your submission blog post; Your final work (film, images etc), your making of document, and any other supporting work. You don't need to copy any Maya files unless specifically asked to do so. 

The 'physical submission' is in support of your online submission and is intended as a backup. Please make sure you upload to your blog and submit in person by the deadline, not after in either case. Finally, after you have submitted your work write and post your 'reflective statement' on your blog. Please do this as promptly as possible.

Good luck everyone.

FAO CAA Yr 3: Best Of Luck For Tomorrow's Submission!

Best of luck for tomorrow, you lot - remember all the basic stuff about backing up your work, spell-checking your documentation, getting on an earlier bus or train and taking no chances, ensuring you've previewed your blog submission before you publish it, structure your Art Ofs for strangers (don't assume prior knowledge of your concept or context, ensure it's a self-contained reading experience), ensure your 3D assets are presented in accordance with industry expectations - in short, make your submissions purposeful, authoritative and confident - and whatever else you do, get them in on time! 

Good luck - do great!

FAO CAA Year 1: WIM Proformas Now @ Your UCA Email Accounts

Your WIM proformas have been sent out to your UCA email accounts.  Please read your feedback carefully and then read it again.  My focus - and your focus - is on taking lessons learned into the 'live tissue' of your Story projects, so if you've been asked to switch-up your approach to something, or confront a problem, or change a habit or just do all of the work you're asked to do, then suck it up and make the necessary adjustments. This terms ends with 3 summative assessments - 90 credits worth! - and our goal together now is to ensure you're ready and able to get the results of which you're truly capable.  

If you've failed this summative unit, you'll be offered the chance of a resit in June.  There is nothing you can do about this failed unit until then, so learn from this experience and cash in your new-found wisdom in terms 2 and 3. 

Term 1 is toast, ladies and gentlemen - move on and do something amazing!  

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

FAO CAA Year 3: Change to the Briefing

Attention Year 3

The briefing for the Major project has been brought forward from 2pm on Friday 12th to 1pm. This is to help with room usage. The briefing will take place in the Base Room. Please share this information with anyone who you think may not see this post.

Good luck with your Minor project submissions everyone.

FAO CAA Yr 1: Story & Commission / Project 2 / From Script To Screen 2018 / Examples Of Previous Student Work

As you start thinking about your story ideas and planning your project timetables, take a look at these examples of previous student work in response to the From Script to Screen project brief - all of which began with those same 3 random slips of paper!

Mark Bridgland - Laoshu

Laoshu - Art Of

Charlie Serafini - A Tern For The Better

A Tern For The Better - Art Of


Lucy Yelding - Gie (Animatic)

Gie 'Art Of'


 Samantha NiemczykThe Chefs Of Tonga Island (animatic)

The Chefs Of Tonga Island 'Art Of'

Jono Pearmain - A Hero's Hat (Maya Pre-viz)

A Hero's Hat - 'Art Of'

This brief is much more than an exercise in satisfying the year one CAA curriculum. This is your first experience of getting an original story idea from 'script to screen' - and what you accomplish in the next few weeks might be just the beginning of a much more ambitious creative experience.

Back in early 2010, lecturer Jordan Buckner undertook the very same challenge of synthesising 3 random components into an original story idea for an animated short.  Jordan's resulting work, Piano can be seen here as both an animatic and pre-viz.  In early 2012, Jordan returned to this story as the basis for his final major project, and so it was that Piano became The Minor Key.

Jordan Buckner - Piano (Animatic March 2010)

Piano - CG Pre-viz (March 2010)

Piano - Repairman original sketches (March 2010)

Piano - Original storyboard panel (March 2010)

The Minor Key (July 2012)

The Minor Key - Repairman character development (July 2012)

The Minor Key - Rendered still (July 2012)

Back in March 2012, graduate, Sammy Butler picked her 3 random components from the mysterious blue box, and from them originated And Son - a story idea Sammy returned to with her fellow classmates Chrissie Peters and David Vandepeer, as the basis for a year long collaboration.   You can watch Sammy's original animatic below and  accompanying 'Art Of' too.

Sammy Butler - & Son (Animatic - March 2010)

& Son 'Art Of' (March 2010)

& Son - Polydoodle Pictures (July 2014)

& Son - Art Of (July 2014)

Another example of a final year film first conceived in response to the year one FSTS brief is Franklin, by 2015 graduate Steve Payne.   Again, I'm including here the original year one outcomes followed by Steve's year three iteration.  In common with the previous examples, let these likewise attest to the huge creative and technical leaps you'll be making as students on Computer Animation Arts and to the powerful satisfaction that comes with creating your own content.

Frankenstylist - 2012

Frankenstylist - Art Of

Franklin 2015

Franklin - Making Of

This project is hugely important to your creative and professional development as CG artists. This is about the craft and graft of the storyteller and it's not for the faint-hearted. You will need to fight for your stories. You will need to fight to make them work and to connect satisfyingly with audiences. Don't underestimate the challenge - meet it head on with professionalism and with gusto and you might just create a story idea that's good enough to go a whole lot further. 

Good writing is a collaborative process and your discussions with classmates and staff will be of especial importance for this project.  Use each other proactively; test your story ideas, be honest; if it doesn't work as a script, it won't work on screen.  If you don't think your partners' stories are successful or satisfying - if it leaves you cold, befuddled and unmoved, you have a responsibility to say so!  You simply don't have time to hold on to mediocre ideas or make a secret of any difficulties you're experiencing. In most instances, your first ideas will probably be crap, so have more than one, and don't be precious.  Onwards!

FAO CAA Year 1: Story / Project 1 / Soundscapes 2018 / Examples Of Previous Student Work

With its emphasis on 'sound', presenting your 'soundscape' project visually can represent a challenge.  How, for example, to express a 'sonic concept'?  How to create engaging experiences of your sonic creations and likewise their creative development?  Take a look at these examples for guidance and inspiration!

Sonic Concepts expressed as 'Word Clouds'

The three final soundscapes; note how sensitive graphic design and the addition of subtle animation enrich the listening experience.

The brief requires you to archive and present the creative development of your soundscapes - to include all original recordings and then the resulting vocabulary of post-produced SFX originating from them.  You'll need to think about how you can present your workflow engagingly and clearly.

You're also asked to profile a sound designer (for film, television or game etc) - check out this profile of Yuu Miyake - complete with embedded links to cited soundtracks!

Sound Designer - Profile

Your Soundscape project is submitted to your blog only; there is no presentation or crit, so you're not there to fill any blanks or offer further insight into your work.  For this reason, you need to think very carefully in terms of designing your submission to be a 'one-stop shop' and ensuring that it is self-explanatory and organised meticulously in line with the stipulations of the project brief.

FAO CAA Yr 1: Your Contexts Proformas @ Your UCA Email

Your formative Contexts assessment proformas are now at your UCA email accounts.  You will need to print off your assessment sheets and bring them with you to your Thursday lecture with Kath. Kath will be discussing your feedback with you in readiness for the new term and your written assignment summative submissions.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

FAO CAA Yr 3: No Life Drawing Classes On Monday 8th January

It's come to my attention there's an error on your year three timetable regarding the optional life-drawing class on Monday (8th).  There is no life-drawing class in fact (the classes start again in week 2).  The other year groups' timetables have been updated in light of this, but not yours - so apologies!

Friday, January 05, 2018

FAO CAA Yr 2: Your Postmodernism Proformas Are @ myUCA

Your Postmodernism assessment proformas have just been uploaded to your Unit Feedback tab on myUCA.  See you all on Monday @ 2pm in the CAA Baseroom for Perspectives Part 2 - The Thesis Proposal!

FAO CAA Yr 1: Group A / B Re-jig

Group A
Georgia, Francis, Ciaran, Dante, Juan, Emily, Chloe, Alfie, Adri, Nelly

Group B
Filipe, Annie, Meg, Sandra*, Tom, Frankie, Ollie, Divine, Tia

*Sandra Sandal is our new exchange student for Terms 2 & 3.  Sandra's blog is Sandra will be arriving with us on Monday. Please make Sandra feel welcome.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

CAA Cinema: Cinema 2017: The Dance

A snazzily edited celebration of a year's worth of cinematic hoofing! 

FAO CAA Year 1: Soundscape & From Script To Screen Project Briefs Available Now on myUCA

Your new project briefs - Soundscapes / From Script To Screen - are available now on myUCA under 'RCAA4007 Story'. You will also find an abundance of supporting material and learning resources in support of your learning - character design hints and tips, storyboarding conventions, camera angle advice, and so on. You'll likewise be able to explore the cinematic delights of the Term 2 film programme and I suggest you begin your wider-reading now.  Please familiarise yourself with your briefs and the learning materials; doing so will make you far more primed and receptive for the creative challenges of Term 2.

Just a note: maintenance work is being carried out on myUCA until January 4th, which may mean your access is intermittent. Do not worry - it should all be plain-sailing by Friday.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

FAO Everyone: CAA Trip to see Aladdin?

I'm planning a trip to see Aladdin - The Musical for all of us in Reading Week; we've got a quote for the tickets for Thursday 1st March - with tickets @ £33.50 each. We'd be in the stalls - so the front part of the theatre, so good seats.  We'd need to factor in a coach too, so we'd probably be looking at paying around £50 per person.  The quote is against all of us going - so 70+ people - and they need payment by January 26th!  We'd organise it via the UCA Online Store and we'd need to move pretty fast so they keep the seats.  I'm happy to hear expressions of interest from graduates too - the important thing is we get the numbers.  It's not quite Florence, I know, but it would be something for us to look forward to!   Please leave a comment on this post if you want this to happen (in the knowledge the money would have to come pretty fast!).  Spread the word too - get this out there asap! I look forward to hearing from you.