Sunday, March 03, 2019

Post With The Most 03/03/2019


Even as you're reading this, I'm probably in a concert hall in Amiens, France (or maybe it's the one in Soissons), preparing for a live screening of our animated visualisations originating from Hector Berlioz's Romeo & Juliet - the last of our big projects for the Orchestra Network for Europe, and the culmination of a six year cycle of creative collaborations with classical orchestras across Europe. Just last week I was in Katowice, Poland, but more about that a little later.

In truth, the Computer Animation Arts course team is a little bleary-eyed as it's been a hectic few weeks getting everything prepared, but our creative community of hardworking students have been no less prolific, so enjoy this all-new edition of our Post With The Most, beginning with the expressive joys of our weekly life-drawing classes...


Meg Robson

Meg Robson

Meg Robson

Meg Robson

Meg Robson

Adri Lopian

Adri Lopian

Katie Lima
Thomas Sherwood

The year one From Script To Screen project is a bit of a whopper, with our students taking an original story idea from the words on a page to pre-visualisations in the space of short seven weeks.  What is especially satisfying about this project is watching students awaken fully to their own creative powers as they experience the excitement of bringing an original story idea to life. While never completely perfect, the outcomes of this 'quick and dirty' project never fail to impress and its influence shouldn't be underestimated; in years past, some of the stories carved out for the FSTS project have gone on to become the 'materia poetica' of graduate films...  


Cutting Loose Ends / Art Of / Karris Palmer


Cutting Loose Ends / Animatic / Karris Palmer

Wunderkind / Art Of / Olivia Richer

Wunderkind / Animatic  / Olivia Richer

Ideal / Vincent Lange drawing Aurora

Ideal / Art Of / Vincent Lange


Ideal / Animatic / Vincent Lange

Shannon Fisher


Constant / Animatic / Shannon Fisher


Constant / Art Of / Shannon Fisher

Louis Belden

Tiki Turmoil / Ed. Venture character design / Louis Belden

Tiki Turmoil / Malama character design / Louis Belden

With just a little over two months remaining before their final-hand-in, our third year students are hard at work on their final films.  3D animation production is infamously long-winded, with a multitude of tasks standing between the student and the final realisation of their stories.  There are no easy-wins by which to deliver an engaging animation - just another slew of processes bringing their visions to life - but here they are, always pushing forward towards their ultimate goal - a completed film!

Ellie Row


None Of This / Mouth rig demo / Ellie Row


None Of This / Facial rig demo / Ellie Row



The Cherry Red Shed / Ruth model UV-ed / Ruth Cann

The Cherry Red Shed / Ruth model texturing wip / Ruth Cann

The Cherry Red Shed / Ruth model textured / Ruth Cann

The Cherry Red Shed / Hand rig demo / Ruth Cann



Mr Leopard / Final 'Mum' model #1 / Laura Boots


Mr Leopard / Final 'Mum' model #2 / Laura Boots


Separated By Time / Man II turnaround / Anastasija Strelcova


A Time Apart / Rosa Rig Demo / Paris Lucke

A Time Apart / Rosa Rig Demo / Paris Lucke



Lost Boy / Mrs Pratt test render #1 / Graeme Daly

Lost Boy / Mrs Pratt test render #2 / Graeme Daly

Lost Boy / Young Graeme test render  / Graeme Daly

Lost Boy / Present Graeme test render  / Graeme Daly

On Wednesday, February 27th, a group of our enterprising final year students organised for themselves a studio visit at Blue Zoo, where they were given an insight into the nuts and bolts of the company's workflow.  What I love about this story is a) that a group of young people took the initiative and got themselves out there and b) that Blue Zoo is always so supportive and welcoming of new talent!

CAA's final year students at Blue Zoo

On February 28th at around 7pm, a twelve foot screen descended from the ceiling of the concert hall, in Katowice, and the lights dimmed.  Moments later, conductor Arie Van Beek, raised his baton and the first flurries of Berlioz's Romeo & Juliet rippled out from the assembled musicians of the Orchestra de Picardie and the Filharmonia Slaska.  On the screen above their heads, murmurations of black, glabrous cubes began to flock in time with the music, and for the next forty-or-so minutes, audiences watched as Berlioz's music gave shape, form, colour and movement to a quartet of CGI visualisations.

Arie van Beek conducting the musicians of the Orchestra de Picardie and Filharmonia Śląska during rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet, Katowice, Poland #1

Arie van Beek conducting the musicians of the Orchestra de Picardie and Filharmonia Śląska during rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet, Katowice, Poland #2

Loyal readers of the PWTM will now know that Kingdom Of Sound luminaries, Ethan Shilling and Deanna Crisbacher having been working with CAA's course leader to produce these animations. Ethan and Dee were unable to attend the concert, but like me, I suspect their familiarity with the project would have been chased away by the spectacle of seeing the work in-situ - and likewise the stresses and strains of getting the work completed on time.   In particular, the 'Love Scene' visualisation, which takes the Vanitas tradition as its inspiration with its imagery of fragile blossoms, held the audience spellbound - a genuine moment of magic.


Romeo and Juliet 'Intro' / Deanna Crisbacher, Ethan Shilling, Phil Gomm

Romeo and Juliet 'Queen Mab' #1 / Deanna Crisbacher, Ethan Shilling, Phil Gomm

Romeo and Juliet 'Queen Mab' #2 / Deanna Crisbacher, Ethan Shilling, Phil Gomm

Romeo and Juliet 'Love Scene' #1 / Deanna Crisbacher, Ethan Shilling, Phil Gomm

Romeo and Juliet 'Love Scene' #2 / Deanna Crisbacher, Ethan Shilling, Phil Gomm

Romeo and Juliet 'Grand Party' #1 / Deanna Crisbacher, Ethan Shilling, Phil Gomm

Romeo and Juliet 'Grand Party' #2 / Deanna Crisbacher, Ethan Shilling, Phil Gomm

The ONE project is predicated upon collaboration - creative partnerships between different types of creative communities.  Marcus & The Mystery Of The Pudding Pans - the Heritage Lottery-funded animated film we're making for The Seaside Museum Herne Bay - is likewise characterised by a bunch of talented people working together towards a common goal.  As of writing, the Pudding Pans production team comprises CAA's course leader, Phil Gomm, senior lecturer, Alan Postings, lecturer in 3D Production for Animation, Simon Holland, and Animation lecturer, Nat Urwin, and CAA alumni, Emily Clarkson and Ethan Shilling.  Joining the production team more recently is 2017 graduate, Charlie Serafini (based in Poland), and 2018 graduates, Thomas Smith and Deanna Crisbacher.  The important thing about this project (and likewise Romeo and Juliet etc) is that any perceived differences between staff, alumni and students are vanished - everyone is working together and getting stuff right together - and also getting stuff wrong together!  Trial and error doesn't end when you graduate, and problem-solving, fire-fighting and managing compromise is pretty much constant!

There is that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy 'looks behind the curtain' to discover that the great and mighty Oz is just an ordinary guy after all; for me, one of the great generosities characterising my favourite teachers was always their preparedness to admit to their own fallibilities and put their own learning in plain-sight.  These big wonderful projects in which we involve ourselves are indeed examples of talented people achieving memorable outcomes for diverse audiences, but they are also exercises in walking the walk.

Marcus and the Mystery of the Pudding Pans / Promotional poster 

Marcus and the Mystery of the Pudding Pans / Test render #1 / Lighting by Alan Postings

Marcus and the Mystery of the Pudding Pans / Test render #2 / Lighting by Alan Postings

Marcus and the Mystery of the Pudding Pans / Test render #3 / Lighting by Alan Postings

Marcus and the Mystery of the Pudding Pans / Test render #4 / Lighting by Alan Postings

Marcus and the Mystery of the Pudding Pans / Test render #5 / Lighting by Alan Postings

Marcus and the Mystery of the Pudding Pans / Test render #6 / Lighting by Alan Postings

Marcus and the Mystery of the Pudding Pans / Shot 7 / Animated by Nat Urwin 

Marcus and the Mystery of the Pudding Pans / Shot 10 / Animated by Nat Urwin 

Marcus and the Mystery of the Pudding Pans / Shot 11 / Animated by Nat Urwin 


The Last Word...




During my trip to Katowice, I visited the camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  It was a cold, clear day, the afternoon light antiseptic in its clarity.  I'm struggling to reconcile myself with everything I saw there.

For the last six years or so I've been fortunate enough to work with other artists from all over Europe on projects predicated upon the lowering of walls between different creative disciplines and their representatives, and between art, culture and audiences.  I also have the ongoing privilege of working everyday in a creative community characterised by difference while sharing the same goals.  

Commonality isn't a very inspiring word - indeed, it sounds rather prosaic - but it isn't.  It transforms us and it saves.

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