Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Guest Author: Misc: CG and Theatre

Day two and I want to share some more about where inspiration for story and characters can be drawn from by looking at theatre. Maybe when looking for an adaptation piece or a method for story-telling or clear examples of story/character arcs, theatre has a lot to offer. PLUS with the increasing amount of intractability being offered through devices used for watching films and videos it may be some of that traditional theatrical interaction isn't far from being available.

These plays I'll share with you are mostly film adaptations or trailers because it's difficult to find a good recorded version of the live plays (and the effect is lost because you're not watching live)... but I hope they'll give you an idea for perhaps less mainstream forms of entertainment/ performance and offer a wider platform for research.

Power of Performance

Punk Rock by Simon Stephens

He writes plays for young adult performers. This play is really shocking... it's about bullying and its effects, among other troubles of young adulthood. Basically everyone dies except 2 people in a school shooting... so pretty heavy but interesting read.

Power of Humour

Oh! What a Lovely War! by Joan Littlewood (and the Theatre Workshop)

Just watch it... It's amazing! They use humour and satire to create an amazingly impactful piece of theatre... the film is great too... just look at the use of facial expressions and editing in this song to carry the message.

Power of Words

Twelfth Night (or what you will) by Shakespeare

Or any Shakespeare... Ok so its hard to understand sometimes... but story-wise... characters... they are stunning pieces of work. Shakespeare basically uses the old Commedia dell arte format for his characters (stock characters) but places them in complex scenarios. Twelfth Night has so many layers of story its insane but all the story-lines are resolved in one big scene at the end like a very clever panto. This scene (from 1:50) is heartbreaking as Viola indirectly has to tell the Duke how painful it is that she can't tell him she loves him.

Tomorrow will possibly be weird side of the internet animations...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

FAO CAA Year 1: Space & Environment - Audio Available On myUCA + Your "Do's & Don'ts" & Creative Partnerships!

I hope you're alll suitably revved up and ready to wow the CAA community with your first explorations of those Invisible Cities!  Just letting you know that the audio recording of today's briefing presentation is now available on myUCA/Space&Environment/Invisible Cities/Brief&Presentation.

See below - your creative partnerships for the duration of Project 1: Invisible Cities:

Becky Patterson @

Dan Harrington @

Abdulhagh Majeh Makwar @

(Josh & Ridge... still awaiting your urls...)

Remember, isolationism is counter-productive on CAA (and 'out there' too). You need to get comfortable working collaboratively and receiving feedback routinely, for it is a principle characteristic of professionalism and the expectation from industry of graduates.

I want you to use your creative partners as sounding boards, constructive critics, proof readers, quality controllers, mentors and creative allies. Work with one other to come up with ideas for your respective creative projects. Follow each other's progress and get each other up-to-speed with course info. Meet up, draw, discuss the movies you watch, reflect on each other's development, support each other technically, trade expertise and scaffold your weaknesses. Use each other for life-drawing practice! Take part in mini-crits, in which you present your work to one another and reflect critically on its strengths and weaknesses. Why not use these 'mini-crits' as smaller, weekly deadlines, as ways of structuring your workload?

Chances are some of you are still playing catch-up, still unsure of where to find course resources or how to blog confidently or what the brief is asking of you, so pool your knowledge, share ideas and save yourselves valuable time.

Remember: the brief asks you to archive your creative partnerships as part of your ultimate assessment; so, if you get together for a 'sketch jam' or brainstorming session, identify creative, visual and dynamic ways to capture it for your blog. People love to see how 'stuff gets done' and how ideas develop so engage your audience effectively. Again - let me be clear: effective collaboration and creative partnership associates with your assessment criteria.  You need to work at these collaborations and find effective ways of communicating.

Obviously, you've got the whole CAA community to work with, but consider your creative partners as your 'inner circle of influence'. I very much look forward to seeing how these collaborative relationships develop over the next 5 weeks. Have fun and "Be Amazing!"

Jackie Hagan very kindly left these pearls of wisdom on the group blog today in readiness for your debut reviews.  Jackie cites a 'do's and don'ts' guide available on myUCA, written by me after years of correcting undergraduate written assignments and reviews.  For your convenience, I've uploaded the document here too for more immediate access.  It really is worth reading through this advice before embarking on your first reviews; lots of advice re. developing your academic style and avoiding some typical school-boy errors.

I know not everyone will be used to following the group blog, so those of you who are, please ensure your classmates are aware of this content.  Spread the word!

FAO 1st Years - Film reviews

Hello 1st Years!

I just thought I'd drop by and give you a couple of pointers for when you embark on your first film review...

1) Get it written asap - before you know it, it'll be Tuesday again, and you'll have another one to write!

2) It doesn't have to be a novel! Focus on the reason you are watching the film (the cinematography, the soundscape etc)

3) Use at least 3 images to back up your review; make sure you label them 'Figure 1' etc, and refer to them within your text.

4) Write in the 3rd person; this may seem really strange at first, but it is a good habit to develop early on, as your essays and dissertation will need to be approached in this way.  For Phil's excellent guide to using the 3rd person, go to your Invisible Cities unit, scroll down to below the Thumbnails template, to 'Essays & Articles'.

5) And finally...... The Harvard Method!  You must make sure that any of your written work - film reviews, essays etc - is referenced correctly, otherwise it will be flagged up as plagiarised when it goes through the plagiarism detector, called Turnitin.  There is a complete guide to referencing on myUCA, in the library section - the link is here

That's all for now! Enjoy the films - some of them will be 'challenging' - and I look forward to reading your reviews soon!

Monday, September 22, 2014

First Year Blogs - We're Nearly There!

Another one-post anthology of new first year blogs to be added to your reading lists...

4 Becky Patterson @
6 Julien Van Wallendael @
7 Ella Pinnington @
12 Sankavy Balasingam @
28 Dan Harrington @

Blogs not yet received:

29 Abdulhagh Makwar 
30 Josh Audsley-Smith
31 Catriona Barber
32 Ridge Yeboah- Mensah
33 Sean Mcnarama

Could these students please email me their urls so we can complete the list.  Until I have a complete list, I'm unable to apportion mentors, and creative partners for Project 1.   Many thanks.

Guest Author: Sammy - Monday

Hello! Sammy Butler (one third of Polydoodle Pictures) here! I am to kick-start a new year of CAA as first graduate guest author! I'll be sharing videos, artists, books, drawings and advice that lets you in on what inspires me when working on a project.

Firstly, a bit about me and what I'm doing now. My background previous to joining the course was in performing arts, particularly Brechtian and Shakespearian theatre. I worked on '& Son' for my minor and major project as a collaborative piece in my 3rd year. You can see my group blog Here and my personal blog Here. I graduated only this summer with a first in CGAA and I am now training to teach Design Technology: Graphics (and food) at secondary school. Which means I get to answer questions like "why is the dodge tool called that?" and "would you rather bath in scrambled eggs or baked beans?" and other such bantaaaarr. I have plans to continue my collaborative work with fellow Polydoodler, Chrissie and other classmates to write interactive children's books. We will, of-cause, share our process. My special areas and story-telling and project management but I love character design also.

The first things I want to share with you are 'making of' videos for the production of Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast' (1991). There are a few reasons for this:

  • It is my favourite film
  • It took 60 years to make it
  • It was one of the first Disney films to have CG in (the fourth animated film if you want to know)
  • The struggles they went through in production are very interesting.
  • It is every kind of awesome!
This first video looks at the hand-drawn elements of the film. Note how they use the team of animators they have and that they refer to the lead animators as actors/performers. This becomes hard to think about when you fight a model in Maya to get it moving the way you want but remember you are just acting through a puppet and giving it a character and a personality of its own.

This video is the most important because it holds with it an important lesson that I struggled with most. Letting go of an idea that just doesn't work or is OK but there isn't a good end. This is the original opening to beauty and the beast that was designed by the London team. Disney spent thousands developing the story that was scrapped completely and redone with a new team. If you watch it you'll think... but there was nothing wrong with this version (ok maybe the script) but it has developed characters, comedy and opens the story with more weight then the final version. They scrapped it because they eventually decided it was too dark and they wanted it to be a musical. So sometimes its just best to... Let it Go :-D

This final video it the original 'making of' made for the release of the film that talks through the whole process from idea to screen. It shows all the character designs in development too which I always find fun to look at :) but the voice over explains the reasons for their choices such as Gaston being 'handsome' because he's beautiful on the outside and ugly within... which is in direct contrast to Beast. It's easy when designing characters to forget that one design has an effect on another.

So that's Monday! I follow a blog called Gurney Journey which is authored by James Gurney, creator of Dinotopia... He shares a lot of Disney production work and insider knowledge for those interested.

Tomorrow... CAA & the Theatre.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

2015 Field Trip Barcelona - Head Count Required

It looks as if our February trip to Barcelona is 'good to go', but in order to take things to the next stage, I need an up-to-date headcount. The following students have already expressed interest:

Anass, Akinbiyi, Gemma, Emma M, Kayleigh, Ant, Rosie, Chrissie, Anita, Lisa, Ruby, Sam C, Tyler, Megan, Danny R, Dan Reason, George N, Charlie, Kavia...

That's 19 students, but I need at least 30 before I can go back to the travel agents and move things along. If you're interested, but haven't confirmed yet, please can you leave a comment on this post today/tomorrow.
There's a relationship between how quickly we do this and the ultimate price of the trip, so spread the word asap. Many thanks.