Monday, October 28, 2019

FAO CAA Yr 1: Invisible Cities 2019 / Submission Checklist & Final Crit Requirements 01/11/2019

What follows are instructions for your crit presentations and reminders of what you need to present and submit on Friday, 1st November. Any queries, please leave a comment and I'll clarify.

A new CG animated adaptation of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities is in pre-production. In response to the source material allocated to you at the briefing, you have been commissioned to produce 3 fully-resolved concept paintings of one of Calvino’s fantastical cities.

You have been asked to visualise your chosen city in three different types of shot:

1) Exterior Establishing Shot
2) Exterior Low Angle Shot
3) Interior Establishing Shot

Your concept paintings should be 16:9 and painted digitally.

You are asked to maintain a comprehensive blog archiving and annotating your creative development for the duration of the project. You should use the blog to reflect critically upon your own creative practise, the wider cultural and thematic context of the project, and engage collaboratively with your creative partners, peers and tutors.

Important! Your blog must include:

1) Your 3 finished concept paintings.

2) Your Invisible Cities 'Art Of' as Scribd document.

3) A minimum of a 100 developmental thumbnails exploring all of Calvino’s cities.

4) Animated GIFs of your digital paintings in progress.

5) Research into your source material presented as a Scribd document.

6) Your influence maps.

7) Your One Point, Two Point & Three Point perspective exercises.

8) Your Concept Artist ‘Who’s Who?’ as a Scribd document.

9) Reviews of the Space Oddities Film programme.  Please note – in addition to and support of your own critique, your reviews must include a minimum of 3 quotations from 3 different published sources + poster art + supporting stills. Please note - Harvard Method must be used for all quotations and all illustrations to be referenced correctly. Reviews are to include bibliography and illustration list.

10) All Digital painting exercises from Photoshop workshops.

11) 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.

You will present on crit day from a blog-embedded Scribd document that should, in terms of structure, follow the order of slides as given below.
  1. Title page, giving your name, unit title and date of presentation.
  2. The name of your city.
  3. Your definitive 'visual concept' influence map.
  4. Your final exterior establishing shot.
  5. Your build-up sequence of your exterior establishing shot.
  6. Your final exterior low angle shot.
  7. Your build-up sequence of your exterior low angle shot.
  8. Your final interior establishing shot.
  9. Your build-up sequence of your interior establishing shot.
  10. Your three concept paintings together.
We expect a high level of professionalism from CAA students, so please give the preparation of your crit presentation the requisite care and attention. Your presentations should be branded, spell-checked and polished.  Don't clog your content with unnecessary typography etc. Your presentation should serve your content sympathetically.  Sensibly, your Crit Presentation and Art Of should share a visual language - but they're not the same presentation (see examples below).

Keep it simple - only include what you've been asked to include.

Example Crit Presentation

Example Art Of

Important: please note, your Invisible Cities crit starts at 10am sharp.  You need to be in the Lecture Theatre 1 by 9.45am at the latest

Please note: unauthorised non-attendance at a final crit will be counted as a non-submission of work.

Non-submission of work = fail at 0%

The order in which you'll be presenting 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 Hazel Searles before 10am. Your project management and professionalism counts - there is an assessment criteria against these skills, remember!

FAO CAA Yr 1: Invisible Cities - The Final Push!

So first years you are on the final few days before your first crit presentation and submission!  We know you're very busy and feeling the pinch and we know you're nervous about Friday, but there are things you can do to feel less nervous and take more control!

1) Make sure you're looking at the information we've provided you and you're paying attention to it. The information is there to make your lives easier and your goals crystal-clear.   For your convenience, I'm including here the links to the original post re. your submission requirements, the advice and guidance re. What is an 'Art Of', and the examples of previous student submissions.

You're no doubt worrying about 'your grades' already and fretting about my feedback.  On MyUCA are three examples of feedback forms.  These are the forms you will receive when I've marked your submissions.  If you haven't looked at these forms,  look at them 

now . 

Or you can find them in a folder on myUCA/Environments/InvisibleCities (scroll down to the bottom of all the resources and you'll find it).  I've included a range of grades: a 'B+', a 'C-' and a Fail.  Please focus on the written feedback - on what I'm saying to the student in relation to what they submitted and how they spent their first five weeks.

Finally, some reassuring words about Friday's presentation: it is not an audition 'X-Factor-style', where you are fighting to stay on the course.  It's your chance to talk about the ideas behind your three paintings and for us to have a chat about those ideas.  You've all presented already (a few times in fact!) and Friday is no different: your biggest voice, banish your inner-monologue, and when in doubt, look at what's on the screen and 'say what you see!'.  It's really important you prepare for your presentations: think about what you're going to say before you say it.  Be strict - stay on message.  If you get stuck, I'll be there to ask a question or two to get the ball-rolling again!

The REALLY important bit of advice is 'avoid the melodrama' - don't spend this week whipping yourselves up into a froth of fear and anxiety on social media; don't feed negativity, don't dramatise your stress - just get ready and give your time and energy to doing the best job you can. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

FAO CAA Year 1: Invisible Cities 2018 / What Is An 'Art Of'?

As part of your Invisible Cities submission requirements, you're being asked to produce an 'Art Of'. You'll be asked to submit an 'Art Of' document for all your forthcoming projects, so there's no time like the present in terms of getting the hang of them.

Your Art Of is a curated exposition of your pre-production, production and final piece.


1) to take charge of (a museum) or organize (an art exhibit):
2) to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation


1) a comprehensive description and explanation of an idea.

In other words, your Art Of is the 'edited highlights' of all the work you've produced in the working-up and execution of your 3 Invisible Cities paintings.  

You need to create your Art Of with the uninitiated reader in mind; it needs to explain the brief (succinctly), introduce Calvino (succinctly), introduce Invisible Cities (succinctly), and introduce us to your city of choice.  It needs to include a selection of your most striking and successful thumbnails, and the quality of all images in the document needs to be high and of a 'client-facing' standard - so no grubby scans, or poor reproductions or poorly cropped images etc.  Likewise, your spelling, grammar, typography and layout needs to be first-class.  Your Art Of should be able to take its reader from the very beginnings of the project, right through to the final pieces in a way that is logical and engaging. 

Your final paintings should occupy a page each, so we can really look at them.  You should include close-ups of details of your final paintings - so that the reader may take a closer look at your worlds and at your techniques in creating them.  

You should include 'behind-the-scenes' type sequences, in which the reader is shown how you created your final images, so break-downs of compositions and explanations of work-flow.  Your Art Of might be annotated - i.e. you write short descriptions against the various stages.

Be warned - the more you write, the more you have to spell-check and design graphically.  If you write something about your work, you need to think about what you're writing and you need to spell-check and grammar-check accordingly.  Your 'Art Of' is not a diary and should never be negative.  

Your 'Art Of' should be designed in agreement with your content.  Think about how the 'mood' of your chosen city might be incorporated into the overall design of your Art Of  - its layout and colour palette. You are expected to design the cover of your Art Of and everything else.  Be wary of using overly complicated backgrounds which might distract from the work.  Avoid 'shitty typefaces' and think about the way in which you're laying-out your work on each page: no random gapping between multiple images; when in doubt ensure the spaces between your image layouts are the same.

Here are some useful resources to help you in putting together some effective Art Ofs: for a huge range of fonts visit - some wonderful examples here that might fit with your Calvino-inspired city perfectly (but use wisely and use sparingly!) and in terms of putting impactful colour-schemes together for the overall look of your documentation, this online colour scheme designer and this one takes some of the guess-work out of successful branding and 'getting the look' - have a play and you'll see what I mean!

Think very carefully about your Art Of and the impression it makes; it is a professional catalogue seeking to present your work in the very best light.  

You should be thinking about your Art Of as of now.  

By way of inspiration and guidance, enjoy this selection of Art Ofs from various student projects from various levels of the degree.  Study them wisely in terms of their design, layouts and exposition of workflow.

Julien Van Wallendael

Richard Vosper-Carey & Sam Hayes

For a few more great examples go here.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

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Available for a limited time. Get your £5 pass today:  HERE

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

FAO CAA Yr 1: Invisible Cities 2019 / Online Greenlight Review 16/10/2019

Wednesday, 16th October is your Invisible Cities Online Greenlight Review (OGR) 

 Your OGR is to be presented as a single Scribd presentation on your blog, beginning with your name, date, and project title. If you are still yet to get to grips with Scribd go here for some easy-to-follow instructions. Save your documents as PDFs before uploading to Scribd, as this should mitigate against formating glitches. When pasting Scribd embed code into your blog, you must first select the HTML mode tab, then switch back to 'Compose' to view the embedded presentation.

 Your OGR presentations should be uploaded to your blogs on Wednesday 16th October.

Written feedback will follow as comments on your OGR post and will take between 1 and 3 days. 

Invisible Cities 2019 OGR: What do you need to present?

 1) Your 100 thumbnails exploring all cities (minimum).

 2) Your chosen city, its key descriptions and associated thumbnails. (Please include the original text in your presentations, with key descriptive passages highlighted or extracted.)

 3) A short mission statement identifying and justifying your 'visual concept' in relation to your chosen city (i.e. what are the underlying principles driving your design ideas and from what and where are they derived - and why? This might include your ideas in regard to colour palette, architectural elements, exaggeration, expressionism, symbolism, lighting, point-of-view, time period, stylisation, narrative, intended audience... I want you to be able to identify and articulate your visual strategies for the design and staging of your three concept paintings. Remember - you are not just painting pictures digitally, but rather 'designing worlds' for an animated film. There's a big difference. I want to understand your internal logic, your influences and your creative decision-making
 4) A single 'Visual Concept' influence map that illustrates and unifies your production design ideas in terms of the exterior concept paintings.

 5) A single 'Visual Concept' influence map that illustrates and unifies your production design ideas in terms of the interior concept paintings.

 6) Key Thumbnails (those thumbnails on which you think you'll be basing your final three paintings or have most inspired them or invite further development).

 7) In addition, your OGR should evidence that you are up-to-date with your film reviews and ongoing CG Artist's Toolkit project work (Maya tutorials, digital painting exercises etc).

Your OGR should include links to the corresponding posts. Historically, students who use their OGR to manage their weekly tasks in this way manage their workloads successfully. Please note: your OGR should be professionally presented, spell-checked, with consideration given to graphic design, layout and project branding.

 I'm including an example OGR presentation as guidance in terms of preparing your content in line with the OGR checklist and course expectations.

Invisible Cities OGR Julien... by TangentPyjamas on Scribd

Monday, October 14, 2019

FAO CAA Year 2:Collaboration OGR's

Additional OGR (Online Greenlight Review)

Having spoken to you all, I have decided to break the OGR submission into two parts. Hopefully, this will help you to refine your concept in the first instance, and then focus your practical work. The second OGR submission will be on Monday 4th November (by 5pm).

Collaboration OGR 1 Requirments: October 21st 2019

Overall: The main goal of the group OGR is to bring together all of the different 'strands' of your project into a unified presentation and demonstrate that your idea works. In addition, by presenting your work as a 'team' you are demonstrating how successfully you've been able to collaborate so far.
Concept & world building pitch: For the first OGR I would like each group to submit a document (PDF) which 'pitches' your concept. Your document should include...
1) The proposed concept: The idea (title), the 'comedy setup' and an explanation of the world of your animation (world building).
2) The proposed characters (the people, props, and sets - these are all 'characters').
A good way to work is to look at the personality of your characters, if you know them well enough they generally have the answers to whats needed (see OGR 2 - Production Design below for more details).
3) A written proposal  of each comedy 'skit', including how this relates to the overall structure of the short (episodic etc)
4)  Evidence of branding for your studio. This includes the design of the document itself and your studio blog. For example a designed document looks like this - link

Important - Don't just use text in your document, use images to support your ideas and decisions. Including, early design skteches, paint overs of Moom, example images/photos. The goal of this document is to clearly communicate your ideas.

Collaboration OGR 2 Requirments: Novermber 4th 2019

This second OGR should demonstrate progression in all areas of your work - Building upon the first OGR, feedback, and advice, this document will confirm that you are ready to go into 'production'.

- Final Storyboards/Animatic (Video): This is your ideas in both an early written and visual form (for example using a 'post-it-note' approach to develop your skits) through to the final 'refined' version. This is one of the most important aspects of your project so try not make this OGR submission a 'first draft repeat'. By this point, you should be working to a 'refined animatic/storyboard' 

Note 1: Don't forget to work at 16:9 ratio, stage each scene, and use a single camera.

Note 2: Try to edit your images over time into an animatic to see how it plays with each change. Edit your ideas on a timeline to understand performance/yiming. This often reveals story/performance 'gaps' and poor timing issues. Remember, the goal is to 'find your comedy' and that can take several tries and additional images/work. You may wish to work in 3D instead, creating a pre-viz/animatic instead of a drawn version.

 - Sound Design (Video):  As part of developing your animatic, you will need to consider sound effects. This may be 'foley' sound effects or music (royalty free).

- Finshed Production Design:  This is the finshed character designs using Moom alongside set designs and prop designs. It it important that you think of all of these as being 'characters' and how they relate/support each other. All design answers come from understanding your comedy universe (world building).

Note 1 (Moom): As mentioned above, knowing the personalities of your characters is vital in understanding your comedy. This is an important concept when thinking about character design and your comedy performance. For example, externally a Victorian Strongman may require a stripey costume, slicked down hair and curly mustache, but if we know that he is nervous/clumsy on the inside that may change the way we think about him on the outside. Suddenly, his hair and mustache are not so perfect, his costume becomes baggier, and the way he lifts weights is haphazard. Try to think about what your characters require on the outside as well as what your skit needs from them on the inside. With this in mind, you may want to pose Moom first to understand the internal personality and then think about what that personality requires on the outside whilst painting over him.

 - Early 3D Production:  At this point you may have progressed into 3D. Including, starting to build sets, transer designs onto the Moom Rig, or roughing out animation (layout). You may also have a production 'to-do' list which includes a series of problems to overcome. Such as, adding things to Moom, an effect which is important to a skit, or a tricky piece of animation. It is important that you include these problems in your document as 'Research & Development'.

- Presentation Document (Branding/Design): Make sure that your OGR document is graphically designed and suitably presented. 

Note 1: This is an online OGR so write/design your document so that a person who knows nothing about your work can understand it. For example, treat your page layout like a story of how your project has and is being built, with a view to building upon the document in the future - To construct your final Making Of document. Make sure to include your research and influences in the document as part of your projects 'story'.

- Blogging/Basecamp: Make sure that you have (and continue too) blog your process on both your group (studio) and personal blogs. This includes keeping your discussions going on Basecamp and uploading any relevant files. Both platforms represent evidence of your collaboration and are the heart of your project.

If there are any questions, please ask -

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

FAO 1st years: Academic writing - Some do’s & don’ts -­‐ An incomplete style guide to writing effective film reviews and written essays.

Following on from my earlier post regarding writing your film reviews (and ultimately your essays), here is the link again for a guide to developing an academic writing style -


Tuesday, October 08, 2019

FAO: 2nd And 3rd Years.... Incoming Blogs

As this new year in the Computer Animation arts wonder sphere gets underway you may have noticed a motley collection of new faces inhabiting the base and associated rooms. Fear not, for these are not interlopers with nefarious plans , but, a new intake to nurture and look after.

Drop by their blogs and make them welcome:

If any of you would like to act as mentors for the first years then let me know in the comments below.


Wednesday, October 02, 2019

FAO 1st Years - Film reviews - some hints and tips !

I just thought I would drop by with a few hints and tips for you, as you prepare to write your first film review...

Some of you might be confused by what a CAA film review actually is; it's possibly easier to say what it ISN'T!  It is NOT you writing a 2000 word essay, recounting the plot of the film.  What we are looking for, is evidence that you have thought about how the film maker has used techniques to convey a message, or the relationship between the narrative and the environment; in 'Caligari', the use of the warped sets to depict the insanity of the protagonist, for example.  As you get deeper into the film programme, you might start to consider how the films use sound to build tension, or how editing techniques can enhance the viewing experience.

You are asked to support your own ideas with quotes from at least 3  different published sources.  This means you will need to do some background reading; try and find sources that allow you to develop a discussion.  You should introduce the quote, rather than just dropping it in; a good way to do this is via the author's name -
'As Ebert says in his review, "blah blah blah..."(Ebert, 2009)' (...believe me, Roger Ebert will become your best friend ;)

You need to reference your writing using the Harvard method; this is so that you cannot be accused of plagiarising other people's work.  This is particularly important when it comes to writing essays that are submitted through the system called 'Turnitin', a plagiarism detecting tool.  So that's why we ask you to do it from the off... so by the time you submit essay number 1, you will have had plenty of practice! There is a guide on myUCA that tells you how to reference most sources, and shows you how a bibliography should look; there has been some debate over whether quotes should be placed between single marks ' ', or double " ".  Turnitin wants you to use the doubles, so that is what we are going for, for the film reviews too...

So the long and short of it is - don't get stressed about the reviews; no one is expecting you to be writing perfectly referenced pieces right away! BUT!!! - do read your feedback comments and act on them - there is nothing more frustrating for me than saying the same thing to the same person, week after week!

If you are after an example of a film review, this was written by current 3rd year Dee, when she was in the same spot as you, contemplating Dr. Caligari - HERE

A summary!

1. Be prepared; read up on the films before you watch them.  You have the details of what you will be watching for the next few weeks on your timetable, so get ahead of the game, and get reading!

2. Watch the film; not only as an entertainment, but look out for themes, topics and ideas.

3. Start the review right away; you will be amazed by how quickly you get a backlog, if you don't keep on to of the reviews.

4. Use academic writing; no "it was great!!" Get into the habit early on.

5. The importance of using quotes correctly; they are the backbone of your review. You should use them to bolster your own arguments and open up discussion.

6. Likewise, images; choose images that are relevant, and that you can discuss.

7. Use the library for books on film studies etc.; don't just rely on online film reviews...

8. ...which will lead to you producing a comprehensive bibliography.  Use bibliographies in the published sources as a 'springboard' for further research.

9.  When you first mention an author/director etc., use his full name ie; 'As Roger Ebert says in his review...'.  When you mention him again in the same piece of writing, you should just use his surname - 'As Ebert mentions...'

For some more info, please see HERE